Best Tech Backpacks in 2019

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Whether you’re a writer, photographer, or just someone with a long commute to work every day, backpacks are the most efficient way to carry a full day’s worth of gear without having to fuss with annoying rolling bags or messenger bags that wreck your shoulder. They’re also a huge commodity, with thousands of backpacks to choose from, ranging from plain empty bags to more specialized options with dividers, pouches, and pockets galore. These are our favorite backpacks that cater specifically towards technology.

Best Overall: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Peak Design makes one of the most instantly recognizable backpacks around. The San Francisco-based company makes backpacks that put an equal focus on both aesthetics and functionality. The result is a bag that many of us on the Android Central team use every day. The Everyday Backpack is available in 20L and 30L configurations to accommodate different body types and carry needs.

The design is the same on either size bag, and starts with a magnetic latch on the top flap that allows for quick access and helps keep others out. That flap, along with the rest of the bag, is protected by a hydrophobic coating (translation: it’s water-resistant). And there are four metal bars along the front that you can attach the magnetic latch onto to adjust the storage capacity of the bag.

No other bag is as easily adaptable as the Everyday Backpack.

Inside, there are several adjustable dividers that you can rearrange to fit your belongings perfectly, and the bag opens from the sides for easy access to everything at once. The Everyday Backpack is also covered in hidden compartments and expandable pockets. They can hold everything from water bottles to small tripods. Peak Design even makes its own travel tripod that’s specifically designed to fit in the Everyday Backpack’s side pockets.

There’s also an assortment of straps included with the Everyday Backpack that all serve different purposes. You get a chest strap to help offset some of the weight of the bag from your back. There are mounting straps that let you attach larger tripods or even drones to the front of the pack. The shoulder straps are easily adjustable with a simple pull tab.

The Everyday Backpack isn’t cheap by any means. But if you do a lot of travel and you need a durable bag that can hold up to regular use and adapt to your ever-changing carry load, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Pros:

  • Easily adjustable internal dividers
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Tons of hidden and expandable compartments
  • Available in two sizes
  • Plenty of theft-preventative features

Cons:

  • Straps are a bit stiff
  • Expensive for a backpack

Best Overall

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

The most adaptable backpack out there.

The Everyday Backpack features adjustable dividers that let you organize your things any way you like, along with expandable storage compartments and a bevy of hidden pockets and specialized straps.

Great Alternative: Lowepro Freeline

Lowepro is one of the largest brands in camera bags, and the Freeline is the company’s take on Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack. It’s designed around a similar system of customizable dividers on the inside, with the same side access to everything at once. The big kicker with the Freeline? Those dividers attach to a removable back panel, meaning that if you just need a simple backpack for a day trip, you can quickly remove the dividers without affecting their arrangement.

There are other convenient features like an included tech organizing pouch, special slots in the side openings for essential items like SD cards, and straps on the front for carrying larger items like tripods externally. At the top is a broad, somewhat hardshell opening for safely carrying smaller items. The Freeline is roughly the same price as the Everyday Backpack 20L and could be a better buy for some users.

Pros:

  • Removable Quick Shelf system
  • Side access to everything at once
  • Included tech organizing pouch
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Hardshell top for protecting smaller items

Cons:

  • Organizers aren’t as flexible as Peak’s
  • No side handles

Great Alternative

Lowepro Freeline

Lowepro learned from and even surpassed Peak in a few ways.

The Freeline has adjustable dividers like the Everyday Backpack, but you can quickly remove them with the back panel, turning the Freeline into a more straightforward bag for short trips. It includes an organizing pouch and a bevy of pockets, straps, and compartments.

Best Value: OnePlus Explorer Backpack

OnePlus’s Explorer Backpack has the slimmest profile of this list, but it’s surprisingly roomy and full of handy pockets — eight of them, to be exact, each specialized to hold phones, wallets, passports, water bottles, and so on. There’s even a hidden pouch on the back for discretely tucking away a spare phone or battery pack. The whole bag is water-resistant and opens via a magnetic latch, similar to that of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack.

There’s a laptop sleeve inside the main compartment and a second laptop sleeve on the back for easier access. Speaking of easier access, there’s also a storage compartment at the bottom of the bag. When the Explorer Backpack launched, it was frustratingly only available with an invite code from OnePlus. Thankfully the company has since made the pack available for purchase just like any other product on its site.

Pros:

  • Deep main compartment with plenty of storage
  • Eight specialized pockets
  • Two laptop sleeves
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Well-padded shoulder straps and back

Cons:

  • Fidlock latch doesn’t always perfectly align
  • Items in hidden pocket can dig into your back

Best Value

OnePlus Explorer Backpack

Affordable low-profile bag with plenty of space.

OnePlus doesn’t just make great phones, its backpacks are worthwhile, too. The Explorer has a spacious main compartment, plus a variety of specialized pockets and well-padded, comfortable straps.

Easily Expandable: Nomatic Travel Pack

The Nomatic Travel Pack is a gorgeous backpack that can expand from 20L to 30L, giving you the best of both worlds between small size and large storage capacity. With a quick unzip, the Travel Pack can go from a lightweight day bag for quick trips downtown to a travel-ready bag that can fit several days’ worth of supplies with ease.

Along with storage expansion and great looks, the Travel Pack also features a laptop compartment that easily folds out to expedite TSA encounters, along with a protected pocket for tablets. There’s a mesh dividing wall inside the bag for separating items, and the Travel Pack even supports compression packing cubes for storing things like small articles of clothing.

Pros:

  • Expands from 20L to 30L
  • Great-looking design
  • TSA-ready laptop sleeve
  • Mesh dividing wall for organization
  • Cord passthrough for charging devices

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Missing the useful removable panel of Nomatic’s other bags

Easily Expandable

Nomatic Travel Pack

A stylish bag with expandable storage.

The Travel Pack can quickly expand from 20L to 30L, and offers conveniences like RFID-safe pockets and a TSA-ready laptop sleeve. The packing cubes also you to easily organize small clothes.

Great for Students: Timbuk2 Authority

Timbuk2 has a wide range of backpacks at just about any price point, and the Authority offers a beautiful blend of affordability, style, and functionality. It’s a reasonably slim bag with a variety of color options that, like many of the other packs in this list, is loaded with pockets large and small for organizing your things, including an expandable side pocket on the outside to hold a water bottle.

For added comfort, the Authority includes sternum straps that can be tucked back into the shoulder straps when you’re not using them, along with a mesh back panel to help keep your back and shirt dry. Best of all, the Authority holds laptops as large as 17 inches, because — surprise! — not everyone owns a MacBook. There’s also a spot for stowing away your keys while you’re out, and compression straps at the bottom of the bag let you tote around a large jacket, blanket, or, well, whatever else fits.

Pros:

  • Affordable option
  • Stowable sternum strap and mesh backing for comfort
  • Numerous pockets for organizing small items
  • Holds up to a 17-inch laptop
  • Compression straps for external carries

Cons:

  • Fabric material scuffs easily
  • No adjustable dividers inside

Great for Students

Timbuk2 Authority

A simple, efficient bag that easily accommodates for larger laptops.

The Authority is an excellent bag for half the price of some of the other options out there, with a wide variety of color options and a roomy 28L of storage. You won’t get super-adaptable dividers inside like bags from Peak Design or Lowepro, but there are plenty of pockets for organizing small items.

If we were buying

Any of the backpacks in this list will serve you well, but if we had to choose, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack remains at the top of our recommendations. Nearly half a dozen people on the Android Central team already use the Everyday Backpack because it’s such a versatile bag, and works equally well as a camera bag or a light day pack. For me, the collapsible dividers have been incredibly useful, since I can adjust the sub-dividers on the fly without having to remove and reposition the velcro walls, allowing me to safely stow away small lenses during travel and access them quickly when needed.

That being said, I’ve been seriously considering the Lowepro Freeline as of late. It takes a lot of design cues from the Everyday Backpack, and while its dividers fall more in line with the ones you’d find in traditional camera bags — which is to say they aren’t quite as flexible and don’t offer sub-dividers — I like a lot of what Lowepro has added on. The top compartment is much more protective than that of Peak Design’s bag, and the side flaps open towards the front of the pack, rather than the back, allowing for easier access to the inside with the bag slung around one shoulder.

These backpacks aren’t cheap by any means, but they’re built to last and designed with clever stowaway options galore. No matter which bag you end up buying, there’s no wrong answer so long as it fits your needs. If you’re not a photographer or videographer, or you just don’t need precise spots for each of your things, you might be better off with something like the OnePlus Explorer.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman. Got a tip or inquiry? Drop him a line at hayato@mobilenations.com.

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August 20, 2019 at 05:07AM