The Best EDC Backpacks for School 2019

The Best EDC Backpacks for School 2019

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It's never too early to start preparing for what's ahead, and with summer coming to a close for a lot of people that means it's time to go back to school. The perfect school bag can be hard to find as there are tons of options out there and everyone needs something a little different. That said, there are a few key aspects of a bag that are worth looking for. Textbooks and laptops aren't exactly light, so getting a bag that's comfortable to carry around is an obvious must-have. Similarly, those items aren't cheap so a bag tough enough to protect your gear from a passing storm should also be a priority. Whether you're going to be commuting to class everyday after work or walking across campus after a long night out, a good backpack can help make sure you always have what you need without slowing you down. We took the time to put together a list of some of the versatile backpacks that should fit your needs.

Brooks England Sparkhill

College is a time for fun, but it's also a time to start being a professional. One bag that's both practical and smart-looking is the Brooks England Sparkhill backpack. Some of the features are also geared towards cyclists. The sleek all-black design has reflective strips so you remain visible while riding, and you won't have to worry about water damaging your gear thanks to a waterproof Cordura exterior and YKK Aquaguard zippers. A vertical front-zippered pocket gives you quick access to smaller essentials while the main compartment is perfect for books or a quick change of clothes. Round it out with a padded laptop compartment, a water bottle pocket on the side, and sternum straps for weight distribution and this is a solid all-around backpack perfect for getting to class.

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Aer Tech Pack

When it comes to clever organization, few bags combine form and function like the 16L AER Tech Pack. At first glance all you see is a minimal black bag, but underneath the unassuming exterior is a bag with organization inspired by your toolbox. The main compartment features dedicated slots for everything from pens to glasses, with larger pockets that fit your extra charging cables. There's also a quick access pocket near the top handle, an exterior side pocket, and a dedicated padded laptop compartment. But the outside is as impressive as the inside, with a 1680D Cordura exterior and YKK Aquaguard zippers for good measure. It also remains upright when you set it down which is perfect for when you're studying at the library or working out of a coffee shop.

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Bellroy Classic Pack

If you're looking for a tried and true design with a modern twist, Bellroy has you covered with their take on the classic backpack. From the outside its simple design won't attract any unwanted attention with its polyester fabric and leather build, but on the inside there's a place for everything. There's a spot to carry up to a 17-inch laptop, a sleeve that fits a notebook or standard-sized iPad, and a zip pocket for any smaller essentials you might need. But what makes this bag stand out is that even with all that tech packed inside (and probably a few textbooks), the bag still hugs your back so you don't look like you're carrying around a turtle shell.

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Osprey Arcane

When you think of Osprey the first thing that comes to mind is their hardcore backpacking bags, but their 20L Arcane Day Pack brings that same level of quality to your daily life. It's constructed from a waxed poly-cotton material and has angled straps that follow the curve of your torso for a more comfortable carry. The minimal aesthetic is reflected on the inside thanks to a main compartment that keeps it simple. In it there's only a padded laptop and tablet sleeve, giving you plenty of space for books or clothes. For storing items like charging cables, pens, or your keys, there's a zippered front pocket that should get the job done.

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Fjallraven Raven 28L

For a bag that will get the job done whether you're going to class or flying somewhere for break, check out the 28L Fjallraven Raven. It's size is small enough to carry all your gear, but can also double as your carry-on if you need to catch a flight. The Raven takes full advantage of its extra size with three main compartments. The first is a lesson in organization, with zippered mesh pockets and a few smaller sleeves as well. Then there's the main compartment which has yet another zippered pocket for small items along with a tablet sleeve. The last compartment is the mandatory padded section that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. If you have smaller items that you don't want at the bottom of the bag when you need them, there's two quick access pockets on top and on the front of the bag. The top one is even lined with soft fleece to protect your glasses or phone from scratches.

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Timbuk2 Lightweight Launch Backpack

If you're going to be commuting then you'll want a bag that's super lightweight and made to keep your gear dry in the rain. Enter the Timbuk2 Lightweight Launch pack. This 18L pack has a Tyvek fabric construction, so not only is it water-resistant but it also keeps the bag weighing only 1.3lbs. It can hold up to a 13-inch laptop in the main compartment which is further protected from rain thanks to is drawstring closure and cover. Along the side is a water bottle pocket and you also get a small zippered pocket on the front perfect for pens or even a spare pair of earbuds. If it ever gets a little too heavy there's a sturdy sternum strap to distribute the weight.

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Evergoods Civic Panel Loader 24L

If you want a bag for school that's tough enough for the trail, the 24L Evergoods Civic Panel Loader should be on your shortlist. When you’re going to be carrying a lot you can lay it flat for easy packing, and thanks to its clamshell design accessing your gear from the top or side is easy thanks to perfectly placed mesh pockets. The same is true for accessing your laptop which has its own side-loading padded compartment. But besides the clever organization, it's the tough build materials that make this bag a great option. Its 500D nylon exterior offers weather and abrasion resistance while its rigid 7075 aluminum stay in the main compartment helps maintain the bag's shape when you carry it with the side handle. To top it all off, the bag is hydration bladder compatible with asymmetric shoulder straps that make carrying heavy loads a breeze.

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Incase Icon Slim

When it comes to carrying your tech, the 14.5L Icon Slim pack from Incase is a go-to. Its discreet design, internal organization, and attention to comfort is matched by the 840D nylon that protects your books and laptop. The 15-inch padded laptop comparment is lined with faux-fur to protect from scratches. Plus, you still have plenty of room for books and even a change of clothes in the main compartment. But having access to your gear on-the-go is also an important part of the design. Along the front are two zippered pockets that offer organization for your smaller items, but the kicker here are two hip-side pockets. They end up being like two extra pants pockets perfect for carrying your stuff, though these have zippered closures and are more secure.

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Eagle Creek Wayfinder 20L

For a bag that makes carrying all the little things that come along with school as easy as possible, check out the Eagle Creek Wayfinder. This 20L pack excels at keeping your smaller items organized, with rows of pockets along the inside and dedicated sleeves for a laptop and tablet. Eagle Creek also took a unique approach to its quick access pocket. Rather than placing it along the back, it’s hidden along the side. It's perfect for your phone or a battery pack, and you can also feed a cable through to the shoulder strap for when you need to charge on the go.

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Thule EnRoute

Thule is no stranger to making tough gear, and the 18L EnRoute upholds that reputation. It has a dedicated laptop compartment with SafeEdge construction, which means that there's some some extra protection for your laptop which is always useful. The tablet sleeve in the main compartment is also padded and you'll get a small zippered pocket alongside it to keep your smaller items all in one place. Two extra pockets along the outside give you quick access to frequently used gear in a pinch, and an elastic pocket on the side won't have you fighting with your water bottle every time you need a drink.

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Discussion (7 total)

I'm sure I am wrong since I don't own any of those packs, but they don't seem sturdy enough to hold up to being overstuffed with books, binders and everything else a student would carry.No worries. I own some of them and i can attest to their durability. Materials have cone a long way since I was a kid. I've an Osprey bag I've carried on my back 6+ years while motorcycling everywhere, and it's still in great shape! Been through sun, rain, snow, etc for years. But these are pretty minimalist bags. Can't carry the kitchen sink. I guess you won't look like a ninja turtle
No worries. I own some of them and i can attest to their durability. Materials have cone a long way since I was a kid. I've an Osprey bag I've carried on my back 6+ years while motorcycling everywhere, and it's still in great shape! Been through sun, rain, snow, etc for years. But these are pretty minimalist bags. Can't carry the kitchen sink. I guess you won't look like a ninja turtle
I used to work in the Pentagon and you could almost always tell the civilians from the military when not in uniform by the bag they had. Civilians had Thule, Bellroy or Osprey. Military would carry Camelback, Blackhawk or some other tactical brand. My grey Camelbak from 2013 is holding up nicely and I overload the heck out of that thing.
This is why I have a bunch of Thule gear for civi travel and a bunch of military brands for playing ;)

Jeans, chucks and a t-shirt. If anything gives me away, it's the oakley's.
Personally I carry my books and all extra stuff in an OGIO Renegade RSS. I'm on campus all day, so everything I need that day has to be on my back on the way in and out. It carries everything I need for college and my (maybe not so) portable gaming setup. It does bulge out a lot, but I'm not afraid to rock the turtle shell look.
What's your opinion on the Dakine Network II backpack?
Heads up to the author - the link for the Timbuk2 backpack doesn't work (404)