We hold our bags to the same high standards as everything else we review and buy, and while we’d like to pick a “best backpack,” it’s impossible to make one pick that fits most people’s style, budget, body type, and carrying needs.
But we can highlight a few of our favorite bag models and brands, drawn from the hundreds that we’ve come across during our combined decades of bag reviewing and ownership.
After testing hundreds of bags over the course of our careers, these are the ones we would personally recommend to our own friends and family. We’ve focused on bags that cost less than $250, because if you spend more than that you’re almost guaranteed to get something good. It’s more about what fits your personal style. If we’re missing something, please let us know in the comments or via email, and we’ll check it out when we can. Although this article focuses on specific models, in many cases you should be able to apply the conclusions we make about one bag to other models from the same brand.