Top 10 Best Minimalist Backpacks in 2018

Most minimalist backpacks are super elegant and look great, but unfortunatly not all of them are of the same high quality.

Depending on the brand and model, some of the packs just can’t handle being used every day!

It therefore pays to spend some time checking the different brands and models, so you can make sure you choose a quality bag.

Having checked hundreds of minimalist backpack reviews, we can say that the Cotopaxi Cusco is the best choice for most people.

Cotopaxi Cusco

Cotopaxi Cusco

The best reviewed minimalist backpack
Rated 4.80 out of 5

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PS: We have checked 624 reviews to make this top 10 list!
1Cotopaxi CuscoCotopaxi Cusco4.80Check Price
2Timbuk2 UptownTimbuk2 Uptown4.52Check Price
3Incase CityIncase City4.35Check Price
4Gregory Border 35Gregory Border 354.30Check Price
5Arcteryx GranvilleArcteryx Granville4.30Check Price
6Brooks HackneyBrooks Hackney3.00Check Price

How we rate the bags

We have checked 624 minimalist 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.

Not sure what minimalist backpacks to choose? Read on as we are going to take a closer look at each bag!

1 – Cotopaxi Cusco

5 review stars Rating 4.80 based on 41 reviews

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Cotopaxi Cusco

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Cotopaxi Cusco:

Reviewers like these things about the Cotopaxi Cusco

  • Most users said that the most versatile backpack they’ve ever owned.
  • Reviewers have mentioned that the little top pocket is perfect for keys, Chap Stick, earbuds, etc.
  • Many users praised the fact that the pack is a combination of a stylish and functional backpack.
  • Some other reviewers said that the zippers are beefy.
  • Users also said that the stitching is straight and strong.
  • Reviewers who have used the pack said that water beads on it rather than soaking in.
  • Several users said that the curved shoulder straps are comfortable and the chest and waist straps hold it in.
  • Reviewers have also mentioned that it is well designed and constructed in a sturdy manner.
  • Some other reviewers said that the material looks and feels durable.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users complained that the water bottle side pockets don’t really stretch,.
  • Others users mentioned that though there is plenty of pockets, they don’t have a closure.

2 – Timbuk2 Uptown

4.5 review stars Rating 4.52 based on 190 reviews

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Timbuk2 Uptown

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Uptown:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Uptown

  • According to users, the Timbuk2 Uptown backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Reviewers noted that the pack is versatile.
  • Other reviewers noted that there is a designated compartment that could fit 15-inch laptops.
  • They also mentioned that it has a separate compartment meant for tablets.
  • Users noted it has a front zip pocket for keeping small items in check.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its large main compartment is meant for books, sweaters, and other carry-on essentials.
  • Testers said that it has ample pockets for storage and organization.
  • Users pointed out that the bag has a ventilated back panel.
  • Reviewers mentioned that they could also store a lot of stuff in its main compartment.
  • Others noted that the bag has a haul handle making it easy to grab the bag on the go.
  • Reviewers recommend the bag for travel and outdoor adventures.
  • They also noted that the bag could be used for school or office work.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that it is not as rigid as it is meant to be.
  • A tester had issues with the zipper of the bag.

3 – Incase City

4.5 review stars Rating 4.35 based on 322 reviews

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Incase City

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Incase City:

Reviewers like these things about the Incase City

  • Many users recommend this bag to anyone looking for a compact profile bag that is versatile and looks great.
  • Overall, users chose this bag for its solid construction, good structure, multiple pockets ans spacious compartments.
  • Others appreciate the pouch that is lined with deep pile luxurious faux fur, as it keeps their devices protected and scrath free.
  • Some like how the access to the main compartment keeps everything from spilling out.
  • Many chose this bag for its minimalist, beautiful design, comfy straps, thick nylon top handle, soft plush interior smaller pockets and compartments.
  • Some love how the entire backpack is constructed with thick lip that protects the laptop sleeve from bumps and whatnot.
  • Others find its color and texture impressive.
  • A number of users noted how the bag doesn’t bulge or sag even when it is mostly full.
  • A lot of owners thought the bag looks slim but has the perfect amount of space for all the essentials plus more.
  • Some users refer to it as a fantastic everyday bag.
  • Others thought it’s a solid compact backpack with just enough space to carry travel essentials.
  • One owner described it as super sleek, yet casual, perfect for school and travel.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users find the outer material and zippers stiff.
  • Others thought the shoulder straps are too wide.

4 – Gregory Border 35

4.5 review stars Rating 4.30 based on 10 reviews

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Gregory Border 35

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Gregory Border 35:

Reviewers like these things about the Gregory Border 35

  • Testers said that the pack is very comfortable and full of features for commuting.
  • Some of the testers also said that the multiple carry handles makes it easy to place and retrieve it from overhead luggage compartments like in aeroplanes.
  • Reviewers say that the backpack can be fully unzipped making it fully accessible to everything and pack like just like a suitcase.
  • A few travellers said that the pack has good storage capacity to carry their laptop and clothes for weekend trips.
  • Some travellers also complimented for the highly durable built of the pack.
  • Some reviewers said that the pack is roomy to help organize things well for vacations.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some reviewers complained that the padding of the pack is so much to protect the laptop that it left little space for other stuffs to be loaded.
  • A few travellers also complained that the pack is uncomfortable on their shoulders for longer carry.
  • Some reviewers also said that the inner pockets are pretty buried and are hard to access them easily.

5 – Arcteryx Granville

4.5 review stars Rating 4.30 based on 48 reviews

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Arcteryx Granville

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Arcteryx Granville:

Reviewers like these things about the Arcteryx Granville

  • Many users thought that the Arcteryx Granville backpack provides optimal comfort.
  • Laptop users lauded the presence of a padded sleeve dedicated to keeping their gadgets safe and secure.
  • Tablet users can also place their device safely through a suspended sleeve.
  • Many of the reviewers noted that its zippered back panel makes it easy to access the laptops and tablets which are stored in their respective compartments.
  • Reviewers noticed that the zipper on its top pocket might resist water, keeping the contents dry and safe.
  • Those who used the bag thought that its dual closure makes the bag even more secured.
  • Other users felt that the bag was comfortable to use due to its padded back panel.
  • Some reviewers noted that the backpack might be used for traveling and light backpacking.
  • Many reviewers thought that the bag might be used for school or work use.
  • A lot of users praised the variety of designs which are available to choose from.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack might need more internal pockets.
  • Another user thought that the bag might not be suitable for long day hikes and other high-intensity activities.

6 – Brooks Hackney

3 review stars Rating 3.00 based on 13 reviews

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Brooks Hackney

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Brooks Hackney:

Reviewers like these things about the Brooks Hackney

  • Most users said that it is great as an everyday backpack.
  • Users also said that the traps are a wide canvas which gives no padding at all but the weight is distributed in a way that is still very comfortable on your shoulders.
  • Many other users loved that the roll top allows you to adjust for different volume.
  • They said that the quality is very high.
  • Reviewers said that there are internal pocks which are suitable for an iPad or a compact camera .zippered pocket which is pretty big and handy for holding a bunch of smaller loose stuff.
  • Some users said that it could fit my work stuff and a pullover in this bag.
  • Most buyers said that the straps and hardware are really nice.
  • Buyers also said that the overall design is simple but well executed.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained the metal rivets that are used are not bonded tightly enough and do not hold up under any load.
  • Another user said that the elastic material mesh water bottle pocket began to unravel and cinch up at the top.
  • Another reviewer said that the stitching on the velcro on the outside pocket failed pretty quickly.

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Buyer’s guide to minimalist backpacks

There are lots of people who don’t want to carry personal belongings in as understated a manner as possible. If you fall into this category, then you are in need of a minimalist backpack. These backpacks are stylish, sleek, and are a good fit for practically any environment. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal known about this type of carrier either.

So, if you do want to choose one, it can be a little tricky. To provide you with the insight that you require to buy a proper minimalist pack, we have offered up some much-needed information. After you have read through this article, you will be able to choose a bag for yourself with greater confidence.

Flying Under the Radar with a Minimalist Backpack

These days, the concept of minimalism is spreading through various industries and lifestyles. From daily living to travel, more and more people are trying to find a way to whittle down their lives into a streamlined form. Well, if you are looking to do this with your bag, then a minimalist backpack is just what you need. It will certainly change the way that you carry things. So, without any delay, here is a comprehensive guide to this type of pack:

What is a Minimalist Backpack?

Before we go any further, you need to know precisely what a minimalist backpack is. After all, this term can mean different things to various people. With backpacks, however, minimalist refers to the design of the bag. You will often find that these bags are understated and have very few features. If it doesn’t serve a function, you will probably not find it on or in a minimalist backpack.

Therefore, minimalist packs tend to look quite bare on the outside and sometimes lack pockets in this area as well. While the interior does have a few more details, it isn’t all that extravagant on the inside either. That is not to say that these backpacks are stylish, though. In fact, it can be argued that these are one of the more fashion-forward types of backpacks. The classic designs never go out of style.

Sometimes, the term minimalist can be extended to refer to the structure of the backpack as well. This isn’t a hard and fast rule and isn’t observed by all manufacturers. Typically, though, you will find that most minimalist backpacks have a basic configuration and tend towards a more medium size.

Which Minimalist Backpack is Right for You?

The thing with minimalist backpacks is that they aren’t always easily categorized. However, when it comes to the design and even structure of the bags, there are some clear differences.

If you are looking for a backpack to take with you everywhere that you go, then an urban minimalist backpack is a good option. They typically range from very small to medium sized backpacks. These have a moderate level of organization features, although the main compartment is the most significant feature.

For those who are looking for student or work packs, then there is the minimalist laptop bag. As the name entails, the major focus of this type of backpack is the laptop compartment. There is a dedicated sleeve for your laptop and there is also a separate place for a tablet as well. This bag tends to be a bit more padded than most to help protect the electronic devices. If this is a bag that you are considering, you should remember that the compartment should be able to accommodate a laptop with your screen size.

There are minimalist backpacks that are also suited to hiking, camping, and travel. These can be considered as travel or adventure packs. These bags are on the bigger side and may have more exterior pockets than other styles. They are also made from hardier materials so they don’t rip or get damaged as easily. These bags are often weatherproofed as well.

Men’s vs. Women’s Minimalist

Unlike with many of the other types of backpacks, the difference between men’s and women’s packs aren’t as obvious with minimalist bags. In fact, most of the backpacks are unisex and work with each gender. That being said, there are some backpacks that noticeably targeted towards women. There isn’t a lot of difference in the fit of the backpacks either.

Minimalist Backpack Capacity and Size

As we already mentioned, minimalist backpacks aren’t all that big. The smaller backpacks have capacities between 2 to 9 liters. The medium-sized backpacks are often available with capacities up to 15 liters. The larger packs are typically travel bags but it is unusual to find backpacks that can hold more than 25 liters.

When trying to figure out which capacity is right for you, the thing to remember is getting the smallest possible option for you. After all, this is precisely what minimalistic packs are meant for. By only choosing a capacity that you need you will also avoid packing a larger load than necessary.


If you are considering a backpack in a larger size, there is something that you need to understand about the size. The dimensions of a backpack determine how easy it is for you to carry. This is because humans carry weight naturally with their hips. For you to be able to do this and avoid back strain, the bag needs to be a particular size.

Ideally, the backpack should sit, on your back, between your shoulder blades and the hip bones. The bag shouldn’t sit any lower than your hips as this will make it more difficult for you to walk. So, if you are buying a bag online or want to be precise about the measurements, make it a point to measure this length of your torso first.

The Fabrics

Minimalist backpacks are actually made from a wide variety of materials. This includes leather, canvas, nylon, polyester, and more. The material that you settle on should depend on the characteristics that you would like your backpack to have.

For instance, is durability your main concern? If so, you should consider a stronger version of nylon. Most sturdy backpacks use nylon that is made from nylon of a higher denier (1000D or higher). However, for something that will stand up to the test of time and rugged terrain, you may need a more robust fabric. You can choose from Cordura nylon, ballistic nylon, or ripstop nylon. These materials have varying levels of abrasion resistance. As such, they don’t tear or wear away easily, even if they are exposed to continuous friction.

If you are willing to spend quite a bit of money, you can actually get some minimal backpacks that are almost completely impervious to damage. Technology such as Sealtech or nano cure tech (NCT) offer self-repairing fabrics. So, even if a hole or tear does form, it quickly seals itself back up.

On the other hand, you may be more worried about your backpack being able to withstand the weather. In this case, waxed canvas or nylon that has been treated with a durable water-resistant coating is a solid choice. If it is sunlight that you are most exposed to, look for fabric that has been treated to prevent damage caused by UV rays.

Waterproof Features

Incidentally, a minimalist backpack’s ability to be waterproof isn’t solely based on the fabric that is used to make it. This is because the material isn’t necessarily the weakest point in a backpack. The zippers and other openings can all allow water and moisture to get in. So, if you want a backpack that is truly waterproof, you are going to need to pay attention to these elements as well.

First, look for a backpack that has few zipper openings as possible. Considering that you are shopping for a minimalist backpack, this shouldn’t be too difficult. If there are any zippers there should be waterproof material acting as a hood to protect them. Furthermore, the interior part of the zipper should be closed off with a waterproof sealant. This sealant should also be applied to any seams on the bag as well. There are some minimalist backpacks that are made almost entirely out of one length of fabric so that there are few or no seams at all.

Minimalist Backpack Closures

Minimalist packs can be closed up (and opened up) in one of three ways. There could be the typical zip-top feature that separates the backpack into panels. Or, there could be the roll-top that allows you to place things through the top of the bag and then roll down the rest of the material and fasten it with a buckle. Last but not least, you have the drawstring closure that may or may not be accompanied by a flap on top of it.

If you want to go with the more traditional zip-top option, then you are opting for easy access. These bags can be zipped almost in half which makes it simpler for you to get to your things quickly. Some zippers can also be locked which does come in handy while you are traveling. The downside of these backpacks is that the zippers can allow water to seep in so they aren’t the best choices for waterproof bags.

There is no denying that roll-top bags can be quite tricky to deal with. They can make organization quite difficult and it is not easy to get to your things as quickly as you would like. The advantage of this, however, is that roll-tops make the bag completely waterproof. The design ensures that bag will not take on water, sometimes even if it has been submerged.

Drawstring bags are great if you want to quickly access the items in your bag as it can take only seconds to do so. At the same time, these closures aren’t all that secure. So, if you want to carry about expensive or valuable items, this is not a good closure for this purpose.

So, this brings the discussion about minimalist bags to an end. Hopefully, you have gained more insight into this type of backpack and are better equipped to choose one for yourself.

Notes about this top 10 list

The list was last updated 19/09/2018.

The list shows the best reviewed minimalist backpacks from a much bigger list of selected products. The list should not be considered a complete list of all available, excellent minimalist backpacks

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

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