MightyGoods > Canvas backpacks

Canvas backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide (Feb 2019)

Canvas is a bit of an oldschool material, but it's still a great choice if you want a nice and durable backpack.

Unfortunately not all canvas backpacks are that well-made, so you must be ready to spend some time checking the different brands and models before you buy.

Make sure the quality of the bag you choose is good enough - and also make sure the bag has the size and the features you need.

The 33 Best Canvas Backpacks

RankCanvas BackpackRating
1Brooks PickwickBrooks Pickwick
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
4.5224 reviews
2Timbuk2 RambleTimbuk2 Ramble
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
4.3245 reviews
3Marmot Urban HaulerMarmot Urban Hauler
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
4.2645 reviews
4Dakine MissionDakine Mission4.251,365 reviews
5Herschel Pop QuizHerschel Pop Quiz4.221,035 reviews
6Dakine 365Dakine 3654.21639 reviews
7Jansport HatchetJansport Hatchet4.21842 reviews
8Dakine CosmoDakine Cosmo4.20838 reviews
9Burton ProspectBurton Prospect4.19790 reviews
10Sherpani AmeliaSherpani Amelia4.1975 reviews
11Sakroots Artist CircleSakroots Artist Circle4.1513,115 reviews
12Buxton ExpeditionBuxton Expedition4.1224 reviews
13Peak Design EverydayPeak Design Everyday4.06744 reviews
14Sherpani IndieSherpani Indie4.0419 reviews
15Timbuk2 SpireTimbuk2 Spire3.96855 reviews
16Hynes EagleHynes Eagle3.954,533 reviews
17Jansport BaughmanJansport Baughman3.92258 reviews
18Jansport HoustonJansport Houston3.91215 reviews
19Herschel HeritageHerschel Heritage3.911,526 reviews
20Timbuk2 CaskTimbuk2 Cask3.8916 reviews
21Tumi SinclairTumi Sinclair3.8848 reviews
22Timbuk2 RogueTimbuk2 Rogue3.87515 reviews
23Herschel SupplyHerschel Supply3.7920,712 reviews
24Cotopaxi NazcaCotopaxi Nazca3.7521 reviews
25Pacsafe UltimatesafePacsafe Ultimatesafe3.7310 reviews
26Timbuk2 SunsetTimbuk2 Sunset3.69205 reviews
27Kavu Pack AttackKavu Pack Attack3.66125 reviews
28Timbuk2 HitchTimbuk2 Hitch3.5020 reviews
29Everest ClassicEverest Classic3.486,778 reviews
30Timbuk2 HeistTimbuk2 Heist3.4137 reviews
31Timbuk2 WalkerTimbuk2 Walker3.0826 reviews
32Dakine DarbyDakine Darby2.6647 reviews
33Dakine WillowDakine Willow2.6024 reviews
How we rate the bags

We have checked 55,571 Canvas backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Buyers Guide to Canvas Backpacks

Backpack styles and fabric have evolved over time. However, if you like the old-school style, you probably still appreciate a well-crafted canvas backpack. While these types of backpacks aren’t as common as they once were, they are still popular choices.

Of course, if you know anything about canvas, you are aware that it is important to make the right decision when it comes to backpack. Only the ones that have been well designed and built are going to hold up. Here, we go through all of the different aspects of such backpacks and help you decide how to narrow down your options.

Tips for Selecting a Canvas Backpack

Before you actually get to the backpack selection process, there are a few things that you should know regarding the material and its properties. In this guide, we cover everything that you need to be aware of with canvas backpacks so that you can make the best possible choice. Let’s get started:

The Properties of Canvas Backpacks

Now, the first question that you need to answer is just what can this material offer you? What are its properties and do these attributes make for a good backpack material? You should be informed of regarding modern canvas backpacks is that there are rarely made of canvas alone. Pure canvas is usually found in day to day packs, typically for fashion purposes. In most instances, this fabric is often blended with polyester or the backpacks are made from synthetic canvas. This is why the actual properties of canvas backpacks can differ from those of those of the canvas material.


One of the reasons that canvas was used in the first backpacks was due to its strength. This material tends to be able to endure quite a bit of stress and carry a considerable amount of weight as well. This is why it is still used for book bags where considerable solidity is required.

Water Resistant

The modern versions of canvas material are actually water resistant to a certain extent. This is because the fibers in the fabric are woven so tightly together. As a result, it is quite difficult for moisture to pass through. A backpack made of untreated canvas, however, may be prone to absorbing moisture.

Wind Resistant

The same properties that make this material water resistant also make it wind resistant as well. The interlocking features of the fabric make it quite difficult for the wind to pass through. In backpacks, this helps with insulation and to keep the wearer warm in windy climates.

Responds Well to Treatment

Canvas can easily be made waterproof. In fact, this material is frequently fortified with a variety of other attributes. This is possible because the fabric responds well and holds treatments applied to it. This means that it is very good at taking on additional, more improved properties.

Types of Canvas Backpacks

Canvas backpacks are available in all forms, designs, and sizes. Therefore, it is quite possible to find one for almost every occasion:

Waist Packs

These are the smallest type of canvas backpacks. They often have several liters in capacity and are worn around the waist. The main purpose of these packs is the compartments, which have enough room to carry phones, wallets, and other small personal belongings. They are typically worn by travelers.

Commute/Laptop Backpacks

As mentioned, one of the most common uses for canvas is for knapsacks, school bags, and now laptop backpacks. These backpacks usually have a capacity between 20 and 25 liters. The newer designs have a separate compartment specifically for laptops and most of them have plenty of internal organization features. They may or may not be waterproof, depending on the material treatment.

Hiking Packs

With canvas backpacks, the hiking packs are usually daypacks. These bags usually do not come in larger than 30-liter capacities, although there are exceptions. These hiking packs are typically large enough for a day’s worth of food, drink, supplies, and clothing. They are durable, have wider straps, and are mostly water resistant or waterproof.

Outdoor Backpacks

There are canvas backpacks that are made to be completely waterproof. These are complete with no-rust features and impenetrable closures. The outdoor backpacks can be submerged and don’t contain any exterior compartments.

Camera Backpacks

There are actually quite a few backpacks that are solely made to carry cameras around. These are sturdy backpacks that are capable of carrying additional weight. They also have organizational compartments inside to store all the equipment safely.

Waterproof Canvas Backpacks

When it comes to choosing a backpack that can repel moisture, you need to understand the distinction between the various options. The most common type is water resistant canvas backpacks. These are the backpacks that use a canvas material that is tightly bonded together. This means that it takes a while for the moisture to seep through. These backpacks should be more than sufficient for drizzles or light rain showers. Anything more prolonged than this, however, and the backpack will take on water, especially if there is no waterproof lining.

Waterproof canvas backpacks are ones that can actually be submerged in water for a while and still not absorb water. Untreated canvas cannot do this. To achieve waterproof properties, a backpack must be made from waxed canvas. This is done by pouring liquid wax over the fabric, causing it to repel water. This layer does have a tendency to wear off over time, especially if it is exposed to the elements or friction. However, this layer can be reapplied oftentimes with store-bought waterproofing products.

Now a waxed canvas backpack is only as waterproof as the rest of the components. Therefore, if the seams, zippers, closures, or other features are constructed properly, water will leak in. A true waterproof canvas backpack will have as few seams as possible through which the water can get in. The seams that are there should have tape across them to act as a sealant. The same product will need to be applied to zippers and other openings.

Canvas backpacks that are truly waterproof will also have components that cannot rust. This means that the buckles, zippers, or other external parts will either be made from heavy-duty plastic, stainless steel, or aluminum.

Types of Access

The places of access tend to differ in canvas backpacks, depending on where the openings are. The type of access usually depends on the design of the backpack. A common theme among canvas backpacks used for school, work, or commuting is a vintage design. These packs are largely focused on storage and convenience. As a result, they have top loading access points, complete with drawstring. There is a flap over this opening which can be secured with a buckle or strap.

Other top loading canvas backpacks are waterproof ones. These, however, have a roll-top design. Here, the opening is rolled down several times until it effectively seals it off. The flap is then fastened down with a buckle. This is one of the most effective ways of keeping the water out.

The more modern versions of the canvas backpack are front loading, however. These have numerous pockets and compartments on the outside. This makes it quite easy to access your belongings as well as organize them internally.

The Straps

Since canvas backpacks have been somewhat phased out in the outdoor gear market, they are most typically used for daily commutes and fashion purposes. This is why the straps on bags for these purposes are quite thin and made of tough fabric. These, however, are only suited for smaller weights, such as a few personal belongings carried in a knapsack.

If you want to carry around heavy books or want a backpack for hiking, you are going to need to pay attention to the straps. You will need wide straps, preferably with a little bit of padding. These types of straps help to distribute the weight of the bag more evenly. This, in turn, prevents the material from digging into your flesh as you are moving. You will feel more comfortable when carrying this type of bag.

On the same note, you should always look for adjustable straps. Despite the trend to wear canvas backpacks slung below your waist, this can actually be quite bad for your back. You will need to adjust the backpack so that the majority of the weight is being carried by your hips. This way, the weight of the backpack feels more natural and is easier to carry.

To ensure that a canvas backpack is truly strong and durable, you need to pay attention to the seams where the straps are sewn. To offer the best support, these should have double stitching. This way, even if the backpack has to carry a considerable weight, the straps won’t separate from the rest of the bag.

The Cost

The canvas backpacks used for commuting or as school bags are often the least expensive options. These tend to have minimal features and as such, don’t cost a lot. If you are looking for specialized bags, however, like incredibly durable options or ones that are waterproof, you will find yourself having to pay more.

This is because, on its own, canvas material is strong and water resistant but is lacking in many other departments. To fortify it, the fabric needs to be treated with wax, chemicals, and other substances. Due to this, there are usually additional charges included. Nonetheless, these types of backpacks do offer one advantage – aesthetic appeal. Even the hiking backpacks or the more durable ones tend to look quite stylish when made from canvas. This material also holds dyes quite well, making the color look quite unique. Therefore, if you want the best of both worlds, paying a little more for canvas backpacks is completely worth it.

This is all of the information that you need on hand when choosing a canvas backpack. By understanding the properties, advantages, and disadvantages you will be better equipped to make the right choice.

5 More Canvas Backpacks

Classic canvas backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankCanvas BackpackRating
Gregory TahquitzGregory Tahquitz
Sherpani HavanaSherpani Havana
Burton MetroBurton Metro
Dakine MileyDakine Miley
Hynes Eagle Retro

Last updated on February 22, 2019