Best bags and backpacks for carrying your gear this spring (Spring 2020)

We all have things we carry with us on a daily basis. Whether it’s the student with books, laptops, and paperwork, or the worker bee with important documents, a 2-in-1, and a whole array of gadgets, we rely on bags and backpacks.

Even those who don’t necessarily need a bag for daily usage will occasionally need to grab one as they head out the door for a weekend getaway or trip to the gym every few days.

When it comes to toting things around, there are plenty of choices. And while some of the more familiar brands might always have something interesting, there are other names in the space who offer equally compelling solutions.

We’ve gathered a handful of some of the best bags and backpacks around. If you’re looking to pick up a new one for yourself, or maybe as a gift, we’d definitely suggest starting with the following selection.

Ascentials Pro Meta Travel Pack

Deceptively flexible, this is the sort of bag that serves many masters. As a backpack it’s perfect for lugging around your books, portable electronics, and daily paperwork. Turned on its side, it becomes more of a messenger bag with a handle and/or shoulder strap. Indeed, there’s room to toss in a 15-inch laptop.

On the outside of the bag you’ll locate three pockets, each with its own size and use case. Dive in and there are nine pockets hidden away for all sorts of stowage.

It’s a lightweight bag/backpack, but its comprised of a tough ballistic nylon and water resistant nylon. In other words, it’s tougher than you’d imagine.

No matter what you do with it, or where you go with it, you’ll have no issue cleaning it up. Everything wipes down easily, even the inside pockets. $149.95 at Ascentials Pro

Samsonite REMAGG Shieldpack

For some of us, the daily grind revolves heavily around gaming. Maybe it’s LAN parties, Esports, a fully stocked Nintendo Switch bundle, or something else. Either way, you need a solid bag for carrying around your gear.

On the surface it more closely resembles a travel bag or standard piece of luggage. Inside, though, it gives way to mesh zippered pockets, padded compartments, and places to tuck away microSD cards, batteries, cables, and the like. Indeed, each section has a tiny graphic to notate where you might place items.

Similarly, the exterior is made up of grays, silvers, and black but the inside is much more playful with a red-accented design. This bag lends itself very well to gaming consoles and games, but also transitions well for laptops, headphones, chargers, and more “traditional” gear.

There are a pair of stash pockets on the front side for things you need to quickly grab when on the go. Additionally, there’s a quick access zippered pocket on the side which works great for snacks. $139.99 at Samsonite

Solo Re:store Tote

Those of you who prefer a giant pocket/purse-like experience, may be interested in this bag from Solo. Made from five recycled PET bottles, the heathered grey bag is more than just a big hole in which to shove your items.

Inside you’ll find a padded compartment that fits laptops and tablets up to 15-inches. Moreover, an interior organizer section lets you tuck your purse or wallet so they’re not tossing about.

On the outside is a zippered pocket that’s perfect for a phone, notebook, or something you might want to grab quickly. Flip the bag around and you’ll locate a back panel that slides over the handle of your luggage.

Kudos to Solo for making a bag that could very easily be much more boring. The color is neutral and stylish with a modern aesthetic that works for users of all ages. $55 at Solo

Sherpani Quest AT

This bag skews more toward the female demographic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less capable. With pockets for days, there are sleeves and pouches for laptops or tablets, two water bottles, and smaller items. And then there’s the spacious main opening which houses your yoga outfit, gym shoes, or papers and files.

The exterior offers up two quick access areas for things like books, journals, passports, headphones, or portable chargers. While it might appear as if the pair of zippers access the same space, they actually overlap one another.

At the top you’ll locate a sunglasses pocket that’s lined with fleece, keeping your favorite shades safe from the other items in your backpack. On the very bottom are straps for securing a yoga mat, hoodie, or tripod.

As secure as it is stylish, the RFID card guard keeps your wallet and credit cards safe from ne’er-do-well types who’d like to swipe your information. The anti-slash material is extra durable, and won’t fall prey to a quick cut and run. Rounding things out are a few locking zippers that slow criminals down, and a chair loop lock that can secure your bag when at a coffee shop or the library.

The Quest AT is smaller in overall stature but still big enough to carry your everyday items. With a great blend of silver, black, and an olive-like green, we really dig the Sterling colors. Wanna go dark and keep a low profile? Opt for the Carbon. Or, add some spice to your life with the reddish-orange Copper variant. $99.95 at Sherpani

UAG STD. Issue 24-Liter Backpack

Urban Armor Gear (UAG), the brand behind some of the strongest phone cases on the market, has dipped its toes in the proverbial backpack waters. And if this first model is a sign of things to come, we’re already fans.

Offered in three color options (Orange Midnight Camo, Grey Midnight Camo, and Black Midnight Camo), the backpack is one massive pocket with a handful of dividers and sleeves. Unzip it all the way and you’ll find there’s room for about two days worth of clothing, plus an array of daily items.

There are two side zippers on the exterior that give way to quick access pouches and pockets. It’s here where you might toss in a portable charger, cables, pens, pencils, and/or a water bottle.

Our review sample (Orange Midnight Camo) has very solid orange colors with a more muted camouflage that’s really only obvious upon closer inspection. It’s definitely hip looking stuff and doesn’t feel like a brand with no experience in the space.

When it comes to everyday items, there’s room for up to a 16-inch laptop, plus a sleeve for a tablet or 2-in-1. It’s a big bag, with up to 24 liters of space, but certainly doesn’t feel heavy. Also nifty, the weather-resistant material wipes down with no hassle. $99.95 at Urban Armor Gear

Peak Design Everyday Backpack

If your day-to-day lifestyle necessitates that you tote around cameras, lenses, tripods, and other gear, you’ll love this backpack. On the other hand, it’s tough for us to imagine someone not loving this one, regardless of need.

It doesn’t look like it from the exterior but the backpack is massive. And because of the way it’s designed, it can be made to be one giant pocket. Packed properly, you can easily put a week’s worth of clothes inside.

The removable and adjustable “FlexFold” dividers are incredibly helpful if you’re trying to compartmentalize things. Insert and remove the three separators to meet your needs, even if they chance from day to day.

While most bags tend to open at the top and have access from the sides, we found the Peak Design works best on its side. Well, that’s when we used the dividers.

The MagLatch clasping system is damn cool, too, and really makes top loading and access easy. If you’re the type to just shove things in a bag with no regard for separation, you’ll appreciate the easy entry.

Don’t mistake this for a bag designed for photographers or people who need to carry around larger items. There are side pockets, sleeves, and a top pocket for toting around everyday items. Indeed, it works just as well as any other listed here for laptops, paperwork, water bottles, and more.

We really dig the design of the bag, from its hip and modern color to the choices in fabrics and materials. The closer we look, the more we love it.

It’s not just looks, either. Crafted from weatherproof nylon, it has reinforced stress points, a waterproof bottom liner, and solid zippers. And as if that doesn’t bring you peace of mind, maybe the lifetime warranty will.

If you’re looking for a day-to-day bag, opt for the 20L ($260) option. But, if your needs are a little more specific or require larger items, go big with the 30L ($290) version. Our review sample was Charcoal but the three other color options look just as fashionable.

HEX Back Loader DSLR Backpack

Those of you routinely carry a camera with lenses, a tripod, and other gear might be interested in this one.

Constructed from water-resistant materials, there’s padding throughout with multiple-use compartments that can be configured to your heart’s desire. Need to take 3-4 lenses in the field? No sweat. Just looking to carry a couple of basic items with your shooter? Mix and match the partitions to suit your needs.

As the name implies, the bag is easily accessed from the back. Unzip it like a suitcase and you’ll be able to reach directly into the pockets. The top zipper on the bag provides immediate access to your DSLR or most important items.

On one side of the backpack side straps allow for easy transport of a tripod; on the other is a mesh pocket with adjustable strap for a water bottle.

There are plenty of pockets for phones, notebooks, chargers, cables, and other items. If it’s a phone you’d like to keep safe and snug, use the exterior one on the bottom and take advantage of the ultra soft material.

It might not be immediately obvious, but there’s a padded laptop slot that can house any standard laptop, Chromebook, or 2-in-1 device. $190 at Hex Brand

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