Top 10 Best Urban Backpacks + Buyer’s Guide to Urban Backpacks

Man with urban backpack

If you need a backpack that is going to be your daily companion, then you need an urban backpack to help you out. In fact, this can be one of the most invaluable packs you ever own. Of course, since it can be difficult to narrow down what bags actually meet the necessary criteria, it isn’t always easy to find what you are looking.

Due to all of the confusion surrounding these types of backpacks, we decided to simplify things for you. Here, you will figure out what to look for with these packs and to how to be able to choose the best possible options. Here is the guide that you need.

Urban Backpacks: Find the One You Need

It is becoming more common to take a backpack with you, regardless of the nature of your journey or your destination. If this is something that you too are interested in doing, you are going to need an urban backpack to sling from your shoulders. This article provides you with all of the material that you need to make the right decision:

What Are Urban Backpacks?

Before we move any further, the first thing we need to do is actually define what an urban backpack is. From the name of the backpack, you may have surmised that this is something to do with city living and you would be right. See, urban backpacks are packs that you can essentially carry with you wherever that you go in a city.

The main difference between these packs and those that are meant for the outdoors is that urban backpacks tend to be a little less rugged. Not to mention, they are also often quite stylish and don’t look out of place in most urban settings. At the same time, they perform the same function as any other backpack – help you to transport your belongings from one place to another with as much comfort as possible.

Matching the Urban Backpack to the Environment

The best way to find an urban backpack that is perfectly suited to you is to determine what you need it for. Then, you can consider the series of features that will be most useful to you:

Your Daily Commute

Do you want a backpack that will securely hold all that you need while you are traveling? Now, if you are journeying in a vehicle, there are too many specifics that you need to worry about. However, if you are a runner (or walker) or cyclist, you may need to think a bit harder about backpack choices. If you are running, you should find a lightweight pack that is made from breathable material and that clings to your torso well. Cyclists should think about getting smaller backpacks that sit well on your back and doesn’t move all that much.

For School

With this type of backpack, you need to think about organization most of all and depending on how much you need to carry, space too. So, look for medium to large backpacks that are sturdily built and that have comfortable carrying systems. They should be equipped with lots of pockets and compartments as well.

For Work

Interestingly enough, it is actually becoming more commonplace to find backpacks in the workplace. Of course, the big difference here is that these backpacks don’t look like the traditional models. Rather, they have a more compact and stylish appearance and can even be made from leather or canvas so that they look more sophisticated. These bags also tend to have a greater number of compartments for documents and files.

For General Use

Then, there are the urban backpacks that you simply take wherever you are going to – a grocery run, outings, and perhaps even overnight trips. These backpacks need to look good as they should be versatile enough to blend into most surroundings. It can also be helpful to have more durable bags as they will be used frequently.

What Size Do You Need?

Urban backpacks tend to run a little larger than most other types so you will usually only find ones that are medium sized and bigger.

  • 18 – 25 liters: these work well as urban daypacks and are perfect for anyone who is commuting by foot or on a bicycle. They are smaller in size so they fit well on your torso but will also be able to carry most of what you will need for the day.
  • 25 – 30 liters: backpacks of this size work well for those who want to lug around laptops, books, and various other documents. It is large enough to carry all of this but will also avoid looking bulky at the same time.
  • 30 – 50 liters: if you are the type to live out of your backpack, then you will find this size to be quite useful for you. in addition to your digital devices, you will also be able to carry clothes and some pieces of athletic gear as well.

While the capacity of the urban backpack is one thing that you may want to pay attention to, the actual size and length of the pack is another. For the most comfortable fit, look for backpacks that are able to sit lower than the base of your neck and end above your waist. This way, the size of the pack will not impede your movement in any way and the weight will be distributed evenly across your torso.

The Carrying System

The carrying or suspension system on most urban backpacks tends to be quite simplistic. After all, you are unlikely to be carrying too heavy a load and don’t want a backpack that looks overly bulky. With urban backpacks that are geared towards corporate or professional use, you may find an additional shoulder strap. This is relatively common with backpacks that have a more satchel-like design to them.

In most instances, though, you will find that shoulders straps are the main component of the suspension system on urban packs. You should look for ones with slightly wider straps and perhaps a little padding. This way, the packs will be more comfortable to carry, especially if they are a bit heavy.

There are a few that sport a sternum strap although this is more to keep the backpack closer to your body so that it doesn’t move around as much. These should be high enough on your chest so that they don’t result in chafing if you have your backpack on for an extended period of time.

It isn’t often that you see hip belts in urban backpacks and they tend to be quite thin and offer very little padding, if any. Just make sure that the hip belt can fit properly around your waist and that it rests just above your hip bone.

Women Specific Backpacks

There are many urban backpacks that are available in women sizes. This usually means that the backpacks are a bit smaller and that the straps are suited for a woman’s body. If you are a bit taller or have a more narrow or athletic physique, you may be able to use traditional backpacks. On the other hand, if you are short or petite women-specific backpacks may offer more comfort and support.

How Durable Should Your Urban Backpack Be?

Now, since you aren’t scrambling through rugged terrain or walking through brush, you may feel that you don’t need a backpack that is all that durable. If you are using your backpack simply to carry papers and files and don’t abuse it too much, you may be right.

However, if you want an urban backpack for school, commuting, or general purposes you will need a slightly sturdy pack. In terms of school use, the main thing to pay attention to here is the stitching of the backpack. Since at times you may need to cart around heavy books, for instance, you need to make sure that your bag will not split in half. Here, double stitching or welded seams will come in quite handy.

If you take your urban backpack everywhere and leave it all over, you are going to need one that is made from tougher material. In this instance, rip-stop nylon will serve you well. Not only is it abrasion resistant, should any tears appear, they will not get any larger.

Since there is a chance that you will have to deal with rain at least some of the time, you will need to have an urban pack that will repel water. it is unlikely that you will require a full-blown waterproof backpack as you will always be close to some type of shelter. Nonetheless, getting a backpack made from water resistant material will help to protect your belongings in a drizzle.

If you are outside a lot and live in an area with a lot of sunshine, you may want to look into a material that has been treated to be UV resistant. This way, the fabric of the backpack will not degrade as quickly and you will be able to maintain its appearance more easily.

Other Features

Here are some of the additional elements that you may want to appraise in an urban backpack:

Laptop Sleeves/Compartments

If you want an urban backpack for either school or work purposes, you should definitely look for a laptop compartment. These keep your device in place and also protected against most minor dings and scratches. Some backpacks even have space for tablets and similar devices as well.

External Pockets

If you use your backpack to travel with, having external pockets can be quite useful. This ensures that everything that you need is within easy reach. It also helps to further organize and arrange your belongings more systematically.

Water Bottle Holders

Most urban backpacks aren’t outfitted with hydration sleeves as this isn’t what they are usually meant for. At the same time, you should always check for water bottle holders if you tend to walk or run around with your backpack on.

These are the aspects that you need to look for if you want to invest in an urban backpack for yourself.

Top 10 Best Urban Backpacks

1 – Patagonia Toromiro 22

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Patagonia Toromiro 22:

Reviewers like these things about the Patagonia Toromiro 22

  • Reviewers thought that the Patagonia Toromiro backpack provides optimal durability due to its Recycled-polyester fabric body.
  • Other reviewers noted that the pack is waterproof due to its durable water repellent (DWR) finish.
  • Many of the users were able to fit essential things and equipment due to its generous main compartment.
  • Those who have used the backpack felt that the bag provided enough safety for their stuff due to the bag’s zippered stash pockets.
  • Laptop users commend the pack for having a designated padded sleeve where they can place their laptop in place.
  • Other users found the backpack comfortable to wear.
  • Testers lauded the shoulder straps which are shaped after the human curve to provide additional comfort.
  • Other testers also commented that the backpack has a simple yet versatile design.
  • Many reviewers found the stability and load dispersion of the bag great.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the backpack might get saggy if he did not place much stuff in it.
  • Another user noted the lack of a water bottle holder.

2 – Burton Prospect

Burton Prospect backpack, True Penny Ripstop, One Size
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Main zip compartment with internal Velcro secured slip pocket and zippered mesh pocket with key clip
  • Padded laptop compartment [15.5in x 10.5in x 1in] [39cm x 26.5cm x 2.5cm] and tablet sleeve [9.5in x 10.5in] [24cm x 26.5cm]
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness, adjustable sternum strap and dual mesh water bottle pockets

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Prospect:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Prospect

  • Testers say that it is a lightweight, compact and great backpack for daily use.
  • Some of the testers have also said that the pack is durable with good built materials.
  • Reviewers say that the pack is spacious to fit a large laptop.
  • Some reviewers also mentioned about the good number of external pockets that helped them to carry extra gears for daily use.
  • Some travellers said that they have used the pack for snowboarding and camping also and it was a good fit.
  • A few travellers have also complimented about the excellent waterproofing quality of the pack.
  • Most reviewers said that it is a stylish backpack and is very comfortable to carry.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some reviewers have complained that pack to be small in size for travelling.
  • A couple of reviewers also complained about the built of the pack. They say that the pack is not enough padded to carry sophisticated gears like a professional camera.

3 – Deuter Gigant

Deuter Gigant 32L Backpack, Dresscode/Black
  • ENGINEERED WITH INNOVATION - Deuter's Gigant pack brings together all around versatility and advanced ergonomics to deliver optimal comfort and performance through anatomically-sound construction; Removable hip belt
  • OPTIMAL AIRFLOW - Deuter's Airstripes offers effective ventilation; 2 contoured, air-channeled foam profiles are encased in a breathable mesh that reduces contact with your back; A channel between the pads pushes warm air away and draws fresh air in, keeping you cool through your rush hour commute
  • STORAGE OPTIONS - This everyday backpack was designed to keep your school or office essentials organized; Main compartment is sized to fit folders and documents and second compartment fits a 17.3-inch laptop; Built-in organizer for laptop accessories, plus a detachable key holder and stretch side pockets
  • BUILT TO LAST - Made from Super-Polytex, the Gigant daypack delivers lightweight, high-performance durability; PU coating makes this backpack water- and abrasion- resistant, ensuring it'll work as hard as you do
  • SPECIFICATIONS - This 32-liter pack comfortably carries up to 15 lbs (6.8kg); Zipper closure with side compression straps for volume adjustment; Features comfortable grab handle, padded base, and reflective strip for visibility

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Deuter Gigant:

Reviewers like these things about the Deuter Gigant

  • Buyers said that the bag is quite spacious.
  • Majority of the users said that the bag is sturdy and highly durable.
  • Some reviewers commented that the backpack is light and is ideal for use at work or travel.
  • Reviewers mentioned that there are plenty of pockets to store the smaller items.
  • The side compression straps for volume adjustments work great.
  • The comfortable grab handle of the bag is quite useful as highlighted by buyers.
  • Other reviewers said that the back-air circulation of the bag is up to the mark.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users said that the bag’s side pockets are too tight.
  • A buyer mentioned that an outer pocket for rain cover would have been made the bag even better.

4 – Kenneth Cole Reaction No Looking Back

Kenneth Cole Reaction No Looking Back 1680d Polyester Triple Compartment 17.3" Laptop Backpack, Black
  • Durable 1680D Polyester Exterior With Fully Lined Interior Triple Gusset Top Zip Construction Front Exterior Stash Pocket For Easy Access To Smaller Items, Exterior Also Features Two Zippered Pockets That Includes Several Pockets To Hold A Variety Of Business Essentials Roomy Front Compartment Includes An Open Top File Pocket And A Padded iPad/Tablet Pocket
  • Center EZ-Scan Compartment Is Designed With Checkpoint Friendly Feature Which Complies With TSA Guidelines So Your Laptop Does Not Need To Be Removed When Passing Through Airport Security Checkpoints, Allowing You To Get On Your Way Faster Center Compartment Includes A Full Length Zipper Pocket And Two Smaller Zippered Accessory Pockets Rear Compartment Is Padded To Accommodate Most Laptops With Up To A 17.3 inch Screen
  • Durable Molded Top Handle Rear Exterior Features Ultra Padded Air Mesh With Air Flow System (AFS) And Padded Backpack Straps Side Exterior Features Dual Compression Straps And Accessory Zipper Pockets Trolley Strap for Easy Carrying on Top of Wheeled Cases

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Kenneth Cole Reaction No Looking Back:

Reviewers like these things about the Kenneth Cole Reaction No Looking Back

  • Most of the users said that the bag is designed smartly and looks great.
  • Users also mentioned that the bag is quite easy to carry and comes with a strong carry strap.
  • Reviewers mentioned that there are lot of compartments and pockets available in the bag.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that water bottles can easily fit into the bag.
  • Buyers said that the internal full lining of the bag is pretty strong.
  • Many buyers said that the pricing of the bag is just.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Users said that the bag should have had better vented padding so as to keep sweat away.
  • Due to weird angle the side pockets zipper is difficult to open as per reviewers.

5 – Osprey Nova 33

Osprey Packs Nova Daypack, Mariposa Purple
  • A heat embossed scratch-free slash pocket keeps your sunglasses and other small items safe
  • blinker light attachment strap located near the base of the pack's front panel
  • Padded Laptop and tablet Sleeve
  • Women's-specific fit
  • Laptop sleeve TSA airport security approved

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Nova 33:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Nova 33

  • Reviewers are ensured of the safety of their things because of the heat embossed scratch-free slash pocket of the Osprey Nova backpack.
  • Other reviewers recommend the backpack for those who are hiking in relatively dark places due to its blinker light attachment strap.
  • Laptop users commend the pack for having a designated padded sleeve where they can place their laptop and tablets in place.
  • Testers found its fit specifically designed for women’s use.
  • A lot of users felt that its spacious pockets are great for holding personal belongings including phones and wallets.
  • Other users commend its lightweight design brought about by its smart use of fabrics.
  • Many of those who have tried the bag noticed that the bag is comfortable to wear due to its proper ventilation that it provides.
  • Others who have used the backpack recommend the bag for work use and school use.
  • Many reviewers found it easy to organize their things on the bag.
  • Users applaud the minimal yet compact design of the backpack.
  • Other users praised the volume capacity of the bag which is enough to place all essential things.
  • Many reviewers felt comfortable using the backpack.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the zippers of the backpack might have the tendency to be fragile.
  • Another user felt that there were stitching issues of the pack.

6 – Brooks Pickwick

Brooks England Pickwick Day Pack
  • HANDMADE IN ITALY - Manufactured by skilled craftsmen using 100 year old traditional techniques and the finest vegetable tanned leather on the planet.
  • BLUESIGN CERTIFIED- The Pickwick is made using water resistant, Bluesign certified textiles.
  • ROLL TOP CLOSURE- The Pickwick features a roll top closure that protects its contents from the elements, a large front pockets, side pockets and elastic net.
  • INCREASED STABILITY- The chest strap locks in the Pickwick for better stability while riding.
  • VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER- Brooks England uses only the finest 3.5mm vegetable tanned leather for their bags, straps and accessories.

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

Reviewers like these things about the Brooks Pickwick

  • One user described it as smart looking and utilitarian.
  • Some users liked how the inside sleeves fits a full sized macbook pro.
  • Other reviewers thought it’s a nice vintage bag with a nice color.
  • Well built, solid zippers, perfect size, heavy duty stitching and materials, lightweight and long lasting materials are cited as the main reasons for choosing this bag.
  • Many users thought the wide straps are properly placed, no tangling, solidly made and high quality.
  • Some reviewers thought it has a clean look and simple design that goes well with some outfits.
  • Many owners liked how it’s very spacious yet very compact and sturdy.
  • Many agree that it’s got top notch quality and style and works great for commuting.
  • One user said that every detail of this bag was made with love.
  • An owner described it as an epic, aesthetically pleasing and functional bag.
  • Some users find the straps useful in keeping the bag’s weight well balanced.
  • Other reviewers find its straight forward simple design timeless.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some users thought it’s a bit expensive for a backpack.
  • Other reviewers said it would’ve been perfect if the straps are padded.

7 – Burton Tinder

BURTON Tinder Pack, True Black Triple Ripstop
  • Dimensions: 20" x 13" x 6"; Volume: 25L; Durably constructed
  • Rucksack-style main entry with drawstring closure for convenience
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap for comfortable carrying
  • Top accessory pocket and internal zippered mesh pocket for storage
  • Externally and internally accessible padded laptop compartment [16.5" x 10" x 1.5"] and tablet sleeve [10" x 10"]

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Tinder:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Tinder

  • Many reviewers noted that the Burton Tinder backpack had varied exceptional designs to choose from.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a compartment dedicated for laptops.
  • Many users also pointed out that the presence of several pockets makes it easy for storing equipment and gears securely.
  • Several reviewers found out that the pack is lightweight, providing ease when using it for a variety of activities.
  • Many of the users thought that it was easy to place and access gears due to its rucksack style entry.
  • Users noted that it is easy to close the pack due to its easy-cinching drawstring closure.
  • Other users pointed out that the bag has mesh pocket with zipper closers making it easier to organize and store things.
  • Several reviewers found the bag to be highly functional.
  • Reviewers said that it was comfortable to use the backpack.
  • Testers thought that the compact design of the bag made it useful for those with relatively many things to place.
  • Other reviewers felt the bag could be used for school, work, or pleasure.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the buckle of the bag might break easily.
  • A reviewer said that its fabric does not stretch too much.

8 – Timbuk2 Robin

Timbuk2 Robin Pack, Jet Black, One Size
  • A reflective, weather-proof roll top with tons of hidden features
  • Dual side stretch pockets fit water bottles or U-lock
  • Internal slip pocket fits up to a 13 inch MacBook Pro
  • Hidden vista loop, under the front bottom panel, for attaching blinky light when riding
  • Incognito reflective mesh panel - subtle when not in use and illuminates when hit with Direct light

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

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Robin

  • Most reviewers mentioned that the Timbuk2 Robin backpack is durable due to its 940D Cordura nylon material.
  • Many of those who have tried the pack have commented that its roll top feature is reflective and weather-proof.
  • Others noted that its dual side stretch pockets could fit water bottles, making it easy to quench thirst when needed.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a compartment dedicated to laptops.
  • A lot of reviewers thought that its hidden vista loop could provide an avenue for attaching blinky light when riding.
  • Users highlighted on the comfort the pack delivered by its shoulder straps and back panel.
  • Several of those who have used the pack also said that its mesh panel provides a subtle illumination when hit with direct sunlight.
  • Many testers praised the bag for having attractive and colorful designs.
  • Users have noted that the back panel of the pack provides sufficient ventilation on the back.
  • Other users thought that its removable waist strap could secure a heavier load on the hips.
  • Reviewers mentioned that its sternum strap could be adjusted depending on the preference.
  • Reviewers recommend the product for everyday use, including work and school.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack lacks sufficient pockets for better organization.
  • Another user noted that the bag is not large enough to place a lot of stuff in it.

9 – Burton Annex

Burton Annex Laptop Backpack One Size True Penny Ripstop
  • Dimensions: [20in X 10.5in X 7in]
  • Padded Laptop Compartment: [18in X 10in X 2in] [46cm X 25.5cm X 5cm]
  • Sleeve For Tablet Or Small Laptop: [11.5in X 7.5in] [29cm X 19cm]
  • Volume: 28l
  • Weight: 2lbs

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Annex:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Annex

  • Most users said that the pack is perfect for weekend trip.
  • Many users said that it is a great looking backpack with a lot of features.
  • Reviewers said that the pack is lightweight & not bulky.
  • Many users said that the interior is great, especially the lining at the top.
  • Reviewers said that the dense foam back frame provides some rigidity and structure to the bag while keeping it light.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users that there is a secured laptop pocket and secondary pocket for tablet.
  • Users said that there is a micro-fleece lined top cover pocket for cell phone.
  • Many users said that the laptop pocket is sewn into the back frame a couple inches above the bottom of the bag which provides protection from the ground.
  • Many other buyers said that the side pockets with flap and clip buckle closure are good sizes for accessories.
  • Many reviewers said that the main cinching buckles are metal and slide in an out of strap loops easily.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that the fabric isn’t as comfortable, feels a bit cheap.
  • Some users said that the handle is very flimsy.
  • Other users said that the chest strap can’t be adjusted high enough on the shoulder straps.

10 – Eagle Creek XTA

Eagle Creek Xta Backpack, Black
  • Sporty and protective backpack featuring no-sew overlays, padded mesh shoulder straps, and contrast zipper pulls^Anti-theft two-way lockable zippers on main compartments^Digital Safe-Zone padded sleeve sized for a 15" laptop and an electronic pocket^Personal Safety sternum strap buckle with integrated safety whistle and reflective accents with light attachment loop for dusk and nighttime visibility
  • Pockets: 4 interior slip, 1 interior zip, 3 exterior

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Eagle Creek XTA:

Reviewers like these things about the Eagle Creek XTA

  • Most users said that the size of this bag is just right for day hiking.
  • Many users said that the outer pouch is just what they needed for stashing their camera for easy access.
  • Users also said that the shoulder straps are nicely padded as is the handle on top.
  • Reviewers mentioned that there is a narrow chest belt for a bit more adjustability and to somewhat relieve the load off of your shoulders.
  • Another great feature mentioned by some users is that there is a sleeve in the back to slip on your luggage pull handle.
  • Most users mentioned that it’s solidly built, expandable and, more importantly, functional.
  • They also said that this is an elegant, roomy, extremely well-thought-out and constructed.
  • Travelers said that they were able to keep all their electronics secure.
  • Most reviewers said that the front pocket can actually hold a lot and has an inner mesh pocket as well.
  • They also said that the zippers are of good quality, and the pack sits comfortably on your back and won’t slip during a bike ride.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some reviewers said that the material is thin and the build is not strong.
  • Some other users said that there are very few pockets.
  • One user complained that it is not waterproof, not exactly water resistant either.

Selected reviews

Utah Outside reviewed the SealLine

Sure, the design and function of dry sacks are nearly universal. It seems that the outdoor industry can agree on some things. The SealLine bags are priced very competitively, so there is no reason not to grab one before your next trip. If Mother Nature doesnt cooperate, youll be glad you did.

Posted 3 May 2013 by Ryan Malavolta – Read full review

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Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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