The 11 Best Backpacks for Women of 2023 That Are Actually Chic

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack has it all: a luxurious material, a spacious interior, and serious style

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best backpacks

Joy Kim

The thought of a backpack can conjure images of elementary school hallways or that summer in Europe when you didn’t shower as often as you would have liked. Forget that. When chosen and styled correctly, a backpack can be an indispensable part of a woman’s wardrobe. Think of them as a hands-free approach to a purse. 

A backpack isn’t a frivolous buy though. Oftentimes they’re an investment, so you’ll want to make sure you love every inch of it before committing. That’s why we went on a mission to find the best of the best backpacks on the market now, using stylists’ recommendations as well as our first-hand experience. 

Ultimately, a backpack must work for your everyday needs. Will you be carrying it to work or along the hiking trails? Can it fit your laptop? Does it have adjustable straps that can be fine-tuned depending on if you’re wearing a linen dress or a thick knit turtleneck? While you have to answer those questions for yourself, we found that The Dakota Backpack from Dagne Dover checked all of our boxes, proving to be the perfect mix of fun and functional. But we have more options below for those who like to shop around.

Best Overall

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Saks Fifth Avenue

What we love: It fits literally everything.

What we don’t love: The neoprene material can crease if not taken care of properly.

For a fits-everything, lasts-forever, comfortable-to-wear backpack, look no further than Dagne Dover’s Dakota backpack. The neoprene bag comes in three sizes — small, medium, and large — but for everyday use, we suggest the medium, which can hold everything from a pair of gym shoes (it has a dust bag to keep them separate!), a laptop, a water bottle, to all the various little items you carry with you, too. It even features a sleeve in the back to comfortably fit over your suitcase in case you plan to travel with it. 

Even though it’s extremely durable, the neoprene can crease if not taken care of properly — meaning, never lay it flat or under anything heavy. If you wash it, only do so by hand and reshape before letting it dry.

Price at time of publish: $155

Size: 11.5” L x 5” W x 17” H | Material: Neoprene, performance air mesh, recycled repreve | Padded Straps: Yes | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best Budget

Baggu Drawstring Backpack


What we love: At this price point, you can afford to experiment with a backpack in a wild and wacky pattern.
What we don’t love: It fits a laptop, but only one on the smaller side, like a 13-inch.

Baggu is a go-to when it comes to bags and accessories that are equally fun and affordable.  Maybe you already have their strawberry-patterned puffy laptop sleeve or a half dozen of their oh-so adorable reusable totes. Now, here’s betting you’ll want to add their drawstring backpack to your Baggu collection too.

This spacious backpack comes with plenty of room to carry all of your everyday essentials, from a laptop to a textbook to a makeup bag, while the two exterior pockets can house anything on the smaller side (your phone, keys, wallet) that you need within easy reach. Choose between a slew of muted neutrals and fun patterns. There’s no going wrong color-wise, but the moss trippy checker gets our vote. Then take this backpack out for a spin to a picnic lunch or on a hike. It’s machine washable, so you can take it on all of your adventures without worrying about grass stains.

Price at time of publish: $46

Size: 14.5” H x 14.5” W x 5.5” D | Material: Recycled cotton canvas | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best Splurge

Cuyana Leather Backpack

Cuyana Leather Backpack


What we love: The chic design comes in two sizes to fit your laptop and includes safety features to keep your valuables protected on your commute.

What we don’t love: The price is nothing to scoff at.

You’ll feel like a true professional strolling into work wearing this refined leather backpack that would pair well with business-casual or more formal office attire. While many backpacks can be work-friendly, this Cuyana one is particularly work appropriate thanks to its built-in safety features.

Take its interior sleeve for your laptop, for instance. Choose between the 13-inch or the 16-inch, then rest easy that your laptop is protected against all the other items in your backpack that could damage it. (Keys are usually the culprit.) Another large slip pocket keeps your phone, wallet, and other valuables safe, too. The hook closure and magnetized flap also add another level of protection. 

Price at time of publish: $478 - $498

Size: 13.2” H x 9.6” W x 7.2” D | Material: Leather | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

best backpacks

Joy Kim

Best Leather

Parker Clay Abby Drawstring Backpack

Parker Clay Abby Drawstring Backpack

Parker Clay

What we love: The luxe leather is equally lightweight and luxurious.

What we don’t love: The drawstring close could benefit from a magnetized feature to hold the flap down.

From the second you unwrap this backpack and get a good whiff of the sumptuous leather, there’s no denying how high-quality it is. Crafted from premium Ethiopian full-grain leather (and only leather, except for the brass rings and zipper pulls), it’ll last for years to come, only getting better with age. The fact that it’s a sophisticated shape that’ll always be in style? All the better. 

This unlined backpack is on the petite side, and so lightweight you may forget you’re wearing it. You won’t fit a laptop in this backpack, but you will have plenty of room for your other everyday essentials, like snacks for an easygoing hike or your phone and wallet to hit up happy hour. You don’t need us to tell you this, but we’ll remind you anyway: remember that leather is a natural material, so each individual backpack will vary slightly in tone, texture, and grain variations. Consider it one-of-a-kind.  

Price at time of publish: $218

Size: 12” H x 8” L x 4” D | Material: Ethiopian full-grain leather | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: No

Best Travel

TAH Commuter Backpack

TAH Commuter Backpack


What we love: Use this one as a backpack or a shoulder bag. Either way, this travel-friendly bag allows you to be hands-free. 

What we don’t love: It’s a serious investment piece.

Designer Alyson Eastman raves about the TAH Commuter Backpack, and it’s easy to see why. The full-grain leather bag easily transforms between a backpack and a shoulder bag with a convertible strap. Simply remove the adjustable strap from the solid brass circle rings to convert it to a shoulder bag. Voila! It has room for everything you need to fit in it – a laptop, phone, charger, too many lipsticks, you name it – as well as an outside pocket that fits all your must-haves that you need within close reach. 

Eastman opted for the easy-to-style black, but it’s also available in a slew of other colors, including red, fuschia, navy, and blush. “I love to wear it with jeans and a white tee or a cute summer dress,” she says. It’s the care that goes into each piece that she particularly loves though. “Everything is made locally in Portland, Oregon from beautiful leather,” Eastman says. “It’s made in small batches so it creates little to no waste.”

Price at time of publish: $645

Size: 12.5” H x 12.5” W x 8” D | Material: Leather | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best College

Stoney Clover Classic Backpack

Stoney Clover Classic Backpack

Stoney Clover

What we love: It blends fun and functional. 

What we don’t love: It costs extra to customize.

Be the talk of your college campus (or office) with this oh-so fun backpack that is available in an array of standout colors. You don’t have to be nose-deep in a philosophy textbook to wear this backpack though. Clara Lago, Miami-based founder and CEO of resort wear brand pitusa, loves it too. “As a mom, I'm always looking for convenience, but as a designer, I also need my accessories to be fun and stylish,” she says. What’s not to like? It’s a comfortable price point (at least compared to other backpacks out there), comes in 25 radical colors, and its material is a breeze to take care of. 

“It's made of nylon, so it's easy to clean,” says Lago. “And as I usually dress in vibrant colors in Miami, it's the perfect backpack to take with me to yoga class, the beach, or as my diaper bag for a playdate with my boys. It's super lightweight and I personally love the gold hardware.” You have to pay extra in order to personalize it — it will also become final sale afterwards — but sometimes good things are worth a little more.

Price at time of publish: $148

Size: 16.5” H x 13.7” W x 6” D| Material: Nylon | Padded Straps: Yes | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best Rainproof

Rains Backpack


What we love: This waterproof backpack will stylishly spare all your belongings from getting soaked. 

What we don’t love: The smooth material is distinctly raincoat-like, and may feel odd to carry on sunny days.

If you live in a climate that constantly threatens to rain (looking at you, Pacific Northwest), it’s smart to invest in a rainproof backpack. There’s no one we’d trust more with rain gear than the Danish, including Denmark-based rain gear company RAINS. Known for their sleek yet utilitarian styles, Rains offers this rainproof backpack – simply called The Backpack – that will keep your items safe from Mother Nature.  

It has everything you need: an internal laptop pocket, a hidden external phone pocket, and a spacious main compartment to stash your raincoat when the drizzle ends, all in a durable, waterproof fabric and oversized modern square shape. RAINS’ signature waterproof fabric is soft to the touch, lightweight, and available in eight neutral colors. 

Price at time of publish: $110

Size: 18.9”H x 11.8” W x 4.7” Deep | Material: Polyester with polyurethane coating | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best Mini

Fjällräven Kånken Classic Backpack

Fjällräven Kånken Classic Backpack


What we love: It’s cute, compact, and available in dozens of colors. 

What we don’t love: Reviewers note the colors can vary slightly from the online images. 

Fjällräven isn’t new to the backpack game. In fact, the Swedish adventure gear brand created this Kånken mini style in 1978, originally to prevent back problems among school children. Decades later, the Kånken is just as stylish and functional as it ever was. 

Whether for a little kiddo or as a petite backpack for yourself, this one is a winner. It’s available in 62 colors – best of luck narrowing down a favorite – with long, adjustable shoulder straps. Every detail has been thoughtfully designed. Take, for instance, the main compartment, which has a large zipped opening, intended to make it easy to pack and unpack. Then there’s the included foam seat cushion, which is stored in the interior back pocket, preventing whatever poky items you stuff in there from digging into your back. It’s also created out of a weather-resistant vinylon fabric that can withstand dirt and moisture. Win-win.

Price at time of publish: $70

Size: 11.4” H x 7.9” W x 5.1”D | Material: Vinylon | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: No

Best Convertible

Latico Baxter Backpack Crossbody

Latico Baxter Backpack Crossbody


What we love: It’s a backpack and a crossbody and chic as can be.
What we don’t love: The addition of a side pocket would be handy.

Small but mighty. That’s how you can describe both stylist Liv Schreiber and her favorite backpack, Latico’s Baxter design. It blends utilitarian with fashionable, with plenty of interior and exterior pockets that’ll organize all of your must-haves. Wear it as a backpack or switch the strap into crossbody mode. Either way, it’s a beautiful bag.

“The best part,” Schreiber says, “is the padded, secure section for my laptop inside.” Other hidden features include four interior credit card slots, and another section where Schreiber stuffs her sunglasses. “What you can’t see from a picture is the hidden magnetic snap pocket located behind the front pocket, perfect for tucking away my phone and sunnies,” she says.

Price at time of publish: $260

Size: 13.5” H x 11” W x 4.5” D | Material: Leather | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best Hiking

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack

REI Co-op Trail 25 Pack


What we love: This backpack doesn’t sacrifice style when you’re out on the trails.
What we don’t love: It’s only available in three colors: black, green, and orange.

The features checklist of a hiking backpack varies widely from the more fashion-forward categories on this list. There’s no need to squeeze a laptop in it. It won’t have to coordinate with your happy hour outfit. It will, however, need to withstand weather obstacles, include plenty of compartments for your hiking necessities, and be comfortable enough to wear all day on the trails. Still, there’s no reason not to look good while you’re out enjoying nature.

This long-time favorite REI backpack has it all. Reviewers rave that they can carry it all day long, not a single backache in sight. It’s sturdy and spacious, with an abundance of pockets and a removable waist strap, too. And yes, of course, there’s a pocket for your water bottle. The fact that it has a sleek, not sloppy, design? All the better. 

Price at time of publish: $80

19” H x 13” W x 7.5” D | Material: Recycled ripstop nylon | Padded Straps: Yes | Fits a Laptop: Yes

Best for Work

Madewell The Lorimer Backpack

Madewell The Lorimer Backpack


What we love: Everything about this backpack, from its lush leather to classic silhouette, will stand the test of time.
What we don’t love: It fits 13-inch laptops only. 

Meet the Goldilocks of backpacks. It’s not too big, it’s not too small, it’s not too expensive, and it’s not too trendy. Every way you look at Madewell’s Lorimer Backpack, it’s just right. It’s practical and fashionable – our favorite combination for any accessory, but especially for an everyday piece like a backpack. 

First you’ll be lured in by the rich, vegetable-tanned Italian leather, available either in black or an English saddle hue, which is as soft and supple as it sounds. Then you’ll be sold by its traditional shape, spacious interior, and smart interior and exterior pockets, which will (hopefully) keep you organized. Every aspect of this backpack, from its material to its silhouette, is impeccable. The more you use it and break in its beautiful leather, the more it’ll patina perfectly too. 

Price at time of publish: $228

Size: 15.5” H x 11.38” W x 4.75” D | Material: Leather | Padded Straps: No | Fits a Laptop: Yes

What to Keep in Mind


What good is a backpack if it doesn’t comfortably hold all your must-haves? (No good.) Keep a close eye on the dimensions of a backpack you’re considering clicking “add to cart” on, making sure that it’ll fit your laptop or whatever else you’re intending to carry. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, though. Instead, look for a backpack with a spacious main compartment that you can easily access – whether through a drawstring or a zipper – as well as several smart pockets, interior and exterior. That way you’ll never be digging around, swearing your phone is in here somewhere.  


The material not only sets the tone of a backpack’s style, but also how it’ll age. Leather is always a good option. It’s durable, beautiful, and gets softer as it patinas. If you’d rather have a colorful backpack that’s easy to clean, opt for nylon. Hiking backpacks, meanwhile, are all about withstanding all that Mother Nature could bring, so look for a performance ripstop fabric. 


Comfort is everything when it comes to backpacks. Otherwise, the chances of you reaching for it on a day-to-day basis are slim-to-none. In general, a backpack should hit just above your hips and the wider the straps, the more comfortable they’ll be. Adjustable straps are also key. They’ll help you get the closest fit to your back that doesn’t sway side to side, no matter what you’re wearing that day. 

Your Questions, Answered

Why might a backpack be better than a purse for work?

If you’ve ever lugged around a heavy-as-bricks purse, you and your sore shoulder know why a backpack might be a better option for carrying your essentials to work. Ultimately, a backpack offers better support than a purse since the weight is distributed more evenly across your shoulders and back. The more you haul back and forth from work and home – laptop, a packed lunch, and gym shoes, for starters – the more you should consider switching to a backpack. Your back will thank you.   

How can I style a backpack to look professional?

Backpacks can read as professional – trust us! – but you need to be thoughtful about its material and shape. In general, avoid slouchy looks and synthetic fabrics, like nylon, that can look too casual. Go upscale, with a leather backpack in a structured shape. That’ll pair perfectly with all of your favorite work outfits, from an oversized blazer with menswear-inspired trousers to a breezy sundress.

Why Shop With Us

Megan McCarty is a full-time freelance writer who writes about everything from design, to beauty to fashion. She regularly contributes to outlets like Domino, InStyle, People, Architectural Digest, Bustle, and many more. Aside from using her own expertise and completing lots of research, she interviewed style experts to find the best backpacks out there.

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