Best College Backpacks

It’s almost time to head back to college. Whether you’re a parent looking to buy a backpack for your loved one to keep all of those expensive books in, or a college student looking for one that can hold a 30 rack, you’ve come to right place. We took a look at the best college backpacks and compiled a list of reviews that include the best brands and what to look for.


Backpack Materials & Considerations

There are many different types of backpacks. Leather backpacks look stylish, but they can wear out much quicker than those made of canvas or mesh. As a college student, you should look for a backpack that fits your lifestyle. College athletes should look for a lightweight and durable backpack. Computer majors need a backpack with storage for accessories and padding to protect the electronics. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find a college student that doesn’t have a laptop. Make sure that the bag you select is big enough to fit and protect the laptop – not every backpack can fit a 17” screen laptop. Although you might assume that more storage space is better, that isn’t always the case. College students want to look good in front of their peers, so a backpack that is too large could be embarrassing.


Swiss Gear Backpacks

swiss gear backpack

Featured on Amazon’s “college checklist” with over 700 five star reviews, the Swiss Gear Travel Gear ScanSmart 1900 could be the best backpack for college. For the college athlete, this bag is specially designed to keep your back cool and it even has a water bottle pocket. The “ScanSmart” feature (and the backpack’s namesake) allows you to open the back in half for quicker security checks. If you’re travelling to college from a distance or frequenting summer concerts, this can save considerable time and frustration in the security line. If you are travelling, read our guide about how to choose a travel backpack. Other features include padded pockets to protect your electronics, a removable key fob for scanning into the dorms, and dividers for pens, pencils, or other school supplies. There is a limited lifetime warranty included with the backpack.


Jansport Backpacks

jansport backpack

JanSport arguably makes the best backpack for college: The Right Pack. The company’s lifetime warranty is second to none. I have personally sent in a backpack that was starting to rip after years of heavy use. The company replaced the backpack with no questions asked. Another benefit that sets Jansport apart is that you can customize the size and color of your bag. Jansport backpacks come in many varieties, but more and more of those options will go out of stock as we draw closer to the school year. The pack boasts a spacious 1900 cubic inches and several pockets for accessories like a graphing calculator or charger cable. You can comfortably fit a 17.5” laptop inside. The bag is also built to carry 3-5 heavy textbooks, and with the padded straps you won’t feel the weight of them cutting into your shoulders. The nylon construction is water resistant, though it is not waterproof.


Best Backpacks For Laptops

amazon backpack

A number one best seller, the Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack is a cheap backpack for college students at the price of $30. The backpack is designed specifically to hold laptops up to 17”, with extra padding for protection and side pockets for chargers or accessories. The shoulder straps are padded to make carrying even the heaviest laptops easy on your body. Dual mesh pockets are flexible for carrying different sized water bottles. Although it will fit a 17” laptop, 17.3” are more commonly sold and they are a struggle to fit into the bag. And, you’re not getting any style points for this one.


Cool Backpacks For Men

cool backpack

Social life is a huge part of college. Apart from your smartphone, your backpack is something that is going to be with you 24/7. The Btmall Canvas Leather Rucksack  is a cool backpack for men. One of the few backpacks to pull it off, the Btmall is fashionable and manly at the same time. With a special pocket for your laptop, this is an excellent bookbag for college. It has a quick access pocket on the outside for sunglasses or iPhones storage. The elegant leather straps looks expensive, but it comes in at the very affordable price of only $38.99.


Cute Backpacks For Women

Cute Backpack

This is a cute backpack for college students by Shengxilu. Although it is labelled as unisex, I couldn’t see a guy wearing this. The chic design and leather straps remind you of a day at the beach. There isn’t much room for books, but you could certainly fit a 13”-15” laptop in the main compartment and your accessories in the side pockets.


Mesh Backpacks

mesh pack

If you like to frequent the gym, concerts, or the beach consider buying a mesh backpack. Mesh backpacks are especially helpful if you have a bicycle to get around the campus. The JanSport Mesh Backpack is one of the best backpacks for college. The backpack has a large, main mesh pocket with ample storage that can fit 3 large textbooks with ample additional space for notebooks, binders and your lunch. The mesh bag is also equipped with a canvas pocket on the inside where you can hide your keys or cell phone without them poking you. There is a smaller, mesh pocket on the front as well. JanSport’s warranty is the best in class. If the pack breaks, they will replace it under the lifetime warranty. Lightweight construction makes this mesh pack highly portable and perfect for activities. The ventilation will prevent your back from sweating. For the outdoor enthusiast, it dries quickly and allows sand to easily pass through. However, there are a few drawbacks to mesh backpacks. Theft is always a risk on college campuses, and the number one rule of preventing it is keeping your valuables “out of sight, out of mind”. Not that you should be leaving any backpack unattended, but a mesh backpack with a shiny new laptop inside may be too good of an opportunity for a broke college student to pass up stealing.


Do you have a backpack that should be on our list of best college backpacks? Tweet @drluggage and let us know!


Best Luggage Brands: How Do We Choose These Luggage Reviews?

What Are The Best Luggage Brands?

How do you make a choice when buying your your luggage? Price? Style? Size? These days it really isn’t a one size fits all kind of world. I’m sure that like me you’ve fallen prey to the “too much clothes or too little” trap when on a jaunt. The main problem is, that there are often so many factors to take into account when planning for a time away.

The weather, length of stay, activities, and the type of appointments you are planning to keep are all factors that affect whether you go for the smooth and easy carry-on approach, or head full-on into the more executive luggage brands with a classy spinner as well as a carry-on.

So here you now have an across the board look at the few best luggage brands which combine at least some, or all the factors you should consider when going in for the one item that can make or break your time on the move.
In the name of total fairness we haven’t ranked these names, in keeping with the horses for courses approach which is only fair, as we’re all trying to make an individual choice based on our own preferences.



First up is the omnipresent Samsonite. One of the oldest players in the game, Samsonite makes high quality luggage. This well stablished and savvy member of  the top rated luggage brands leaves no stone unturned in it’s quest to provide you with the largest range of affordable and reliable baggage options on the planet. From the business travellers stalwart Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2, right through to the New York Cityscape Spinner 20- Samsonite has done a fantastic job of appeasing most crowds and purposes. Samsonite rolls in as the mid-priced German car of luggage brands- solid, reliable, and with enough style to keep a broad range of passengers safe and happy on their journeys.
In 2012 Trip Advisor in effect decided to start doing it’s own luggage reviews as a part of their service to support travellers by creating the Travelers’ Choice Awards.  Over 100,000 travellers a year give their input on the awards, which now includes prizes for the best luggage brands. Samsonite was lucky enough to get their award for the best carry-on luggage in both 2013 and 2014.

In covering so many bases, Samsonite has formed a series of partnerships for kids luggage including:

Disney By Samsonite

Marvel By Samsonite

Star Wars By Samsonite


The Parisian big hitter of luxury luggage brands, Delsey has a an eye on the more chic and sleek traveller. The great thing about most Delsey bags is that they ooze class. Check out this innovative take on the standard small size backpack:

Delsey Starcktrip Bogotack Backpack

100% Polygiene – an innovative material that prevents the existence of microbes on the inside and outside of your bag.

Stain resistantdelsey2ebags

Water resistant

Great for casual use but staying clean and dry

Multiple pockets- well suited to technology and accessories such as cables and power cords

Worldwide Warranty

Anti-theft data protection system

Dimensions 13.78×5.91×16.92

This is the kind of new look that sees the  sophisticated girl about town breaking the mould of handbag versus backpack ( a common conundrum in the modern world of tablets and laptops) with style and panache- expect more to come from Delsey in this area.


Another huge name in American luggage brands, Olympia runs a similar show to Samsonite- sturdy, solid bags that you can trust. It’s general reputation has kept Olympia consistently in the best luggage brands in recent years and this doesn’t look likely to change.

The Olympia range of luggage is pretty diverse. They make a lot of different classes of bag, and they are generally well worth a look. We’re happy to include the Olympia Gen-X Rolling Backpack in our list of luggage reviews.

Gen-X Rolling BackpackThe Gen-X is much more of throw-it-around item. It’s the kind of thing more suited to the young outdoors adventurer or traveller. Someone who’s expecting a bit of mud and dust along the journey. This bag is great for literally chucking anywhere and dealing with it.
I’ve owned one of these myself and its the kind of thing that seems to magically fit way more in then I was expecting.

Yes, the Olympia Gen-X comes through in the luggage reviews as the best throw around bag we’ve come across in some time. Definitely a useful buy for the outdoor enthusiast or young traveller. Don’t be deceived by it’s holdall looks. It comfortably fits on your back like a rucksack when it’s jammed full of stuff and needs to give your arms a rest. This one has been a personal favourite in the past and comes highly recommended. You won’t find yourself falling in love with this rough edged beast, but what you lose in romance, you gain in piece of mind. This one is built to last.

In the past Olympia has been described as no-frills which I personally think sounds a little unfair, as I rate it as one of the best luggage brands out there. If no- frills is a by word for solid and reliable, then personally I’m in!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Purchase

It’s not complicated to deal with buying a bag form any of the luggage brands listed, but we’d still like to give you a quick rundown of our list of things not to forget when getting yourself a good buy.

Do I Need Wheels?

Good question. I most cases the answer is yes, unless you are going for the backpacking or ultralight approach.

Luggage moves on either 2 or 4 wheels these days with spinner suitcases being the four wheeled variety. the two wheelers are sometimes know as uprights and tend to have bigger wheels to compensate.

As a general guide, four wheelers tend to run better on smoother surfaces, whereas two wheel suitcases deal with rougher surfaces a bit better.

Wheels are either plastic or rubber. The more expensive luggage brands often tend to have rubber wheels which are quieter when on rough surfaces- the plastic ones can get a bit noisy. This is the sort of detail that is hard to find in reviews

What size suitcase should I choose?

If you’re flying to your destination, be aware that the airline will impose baggage restrictions on the size of hold luggage. This is an important factor when choosing and packing your suitcase.

Larger suitcases can be appealing to families but be sure to check the airline’s luggage restrictions before you travel to avoid excess luggage charges.

Suitcases with expandable compartments are a good option for travelers who switch between shorter and longer, winter and summer holidays, when the amount of baggage you take may vary.

There are no standard measurements used to classify medium and large suitcases. If you’re after a slightly smaller or larger case than those in our luggage reviews you can expect durability results of large and medium suitcases within the same range to be similar, but ease-of-use ratings are more susceptible to change. 

We would, however, expect less variance in the ease of use if downsizing from a large case to a medium-sized version within the same suitcase range as opposed to going up in size from a medium-sized suitcase to a large-sized suitcase.  For smaller carry-on luggage, it’s best to read our dedicated hand luggage reviews which are tailored to these smaller suitcases.

Does the suitcases trolley handle affect comfort?

Trolley handles can be fixed height or adjustable. Choosing a suitcase with an adjustable handle means you can set the trolley handle to a height that best suits you.

Suitcase trolley handles vary between luggage. Most are plastic, but some are padded or ergonomically shaped with the aim of increasing pulling comfort. 

Most handles retract into the suitcase when not in use. When buying luggage, open the suitcase to see how much internal space the handle takes up and whether this affects the useable packaging space.

Try before you buy

To find the best suitcase for you we recommend you try before you buy.

Head out to the high street to try out some of these suitcases first-hand. Trolley handle heights and grips will vary, so choose one that suits your body frame.

See how easy it is to lift the suitcase using both the top and side handles, ideally with some weight in the case. If it’s going in the car boot, then think about size, especially when traveling with more than one case.

There is a mix of two and four-wheeled suitcases. Generally four-wheeled cases are easier to pull on smooth floors, while two-wheeled suitcases fared better in our tests on rougher ground. Bear this in mind when trying out a case on a shiny department store floor. 

As a lifelong adventurer, both as a holiday maker and as a long-term traveller, I have a depth of experience in getting it wrong when it comes to what to take away with you and how much of it.
They say that your life is fuller, and more successful  because of your past failures. If this is true, then I must now be one of the most successful people alive when it comes to lugging things around the planet. A shameless 30+ countries and covering everything from an army style backpack to a Gucci holdall as my faithful companion, I’m not proud of my mistakes, but they’ve meant that I’ve made some so that you don’t have to.

How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack

When you select a backpack you should keep in mind that best travel backpack can help make your journey comfortable. So choose according to the kind of usage you want from it. Consider the activity you will use it for, weight and volume of the stuff you want to carry. Although best for backcountry travel but nowadays if you want to skip the lines at the airport while waiting for your luggage, a backpack can be your best friend.

Best Travel Backpack

Types of Backpack

Soft Backpacks:

These are traditional backpacks and in my opinion the best travel backpacks if you travel a lot.

A soft backpack can be put on shoulders and you are good to go. Make sure you buy one with the waist belt as that helps to lessen the burden on your shoulders and may avoid back pain if you are carrying it for a long time.

They come in both front loading and top loading models. So take your pick according to your convenience.

When to buy Soft backpack:

  • You are going backpacking in the countryside and you are physically fit to carry your bag on your shoulders.
  • The terrain you are traveling in may not be feasible to carry wheeled luggage.
  • You do not want to check in luggage at the airport.
  • You travel light and do not want to bring breakables home.
  • You do not mind carrying a separate day bag for your handy items.

When not to buy Soft backpack:

  • If your travel includes long hours of carrying your luggage. So buy wheeled backpack unless you want to go soul searching like ‘wild’. Better to opt for rolling backpacks if you are not going in the countryside and you have to keep your luggage by your side for a long time.
  • If you want to check in your luggage, they are not a good option for you. You might need quite a few locks to manage the safety of the zips. Plus the way the baggage is handled, you may just pray for the safety of your belongings.

Internal frame Backpacks:

For those long journeys when you are travelling alone or with fellow travellers and you want to be able to carry your own baggage for long distance. Internal frame backpacks come with an internal support structure that helps balance the weight on your hips and takes support from shoulder straps. Thus making it easy to carry them for a long journey.

When to buy Internal frame backpack:

  • For long journeys when you have to carry your own baggage.
  • You weigh comfort more than money, as these bags can be expensive as compared to normal backpacks.

When not to buy Internal frame backpack:

  • Uncomfortable to carry in airplane as they might not fit every overhead bin as the internal structure makes it hard to squish them.
  • You have a small frame (physically), as most of these bags are on the longer side.

Rolling Backpacks:

Rolling backpacks have great features of both the worlds. They give you the flexibility of travelling with wheeled baggage and carrying your baggage on shoulder straps when required.

When to buy Rolling backpack:

  • If you are ready for the tradeoffs of comfort with having to carry the added weight of wheels and retractable handle.
  • You carry your baggage for small amount of time and roll in most of the time.

When not to buy Rolling backpack:

  • If you pack to eat up every inch of space available in your bag, as the wheels and handle may take up a lot of internal space in rolling backpacks.
  • You will be mostly carrying your baggage.

Congratulations! The difficult part is over. Now you know what kind of bag you want for your travelling needs. Now consider the features you would want in your backpack. Do not overwhelm yourself with features, just look for basic ones that you will need. Weigh comfort more than usability in backpacks.

Features of Backpack to consider

Size of the backpack:

Usually, you should not for a size larger than 14” X 21” X 9” and in case you have rolling backpack than considering the wheels go no bigger than 14” X 20” X 9”. But in present time when regulations keep changing in budget airlines, you should always check with your airlines before you make a decision.

Other than airlines, make sure if you have a small stature than you do not buy a long bag. Always try on the bag before you finalise it.

Weight of Backpack:

Although you may put less items in the bag if you want to travel light but if the weight of bag itself is less than obviously that is an added advantage for a thing which you have to carry on your back.

Construction of Backpack:

  • Backpacks are meant for rough handling. So buy the ones which can handle the abuse you are going to put them through.
  • Seams should be very neatly and closely stitched. Try to look at the seams by pulling the joints, it should be difficult for you to see the stitches. Go for durable fabrics.
  • If you are buying a backpack for outdoor travelling than obviously you would want it to be made of weather resistant fabric.
  • One thing that most of us ignore is the sturdiness of zippers. In front open backpacks, the zippers have a lot of pressure so make sure they are of good quality.
  • Shoulder straps should have foam so they do not dig into your shoulders.

Features of Backpack:

You may want to check the various features in the travel baggage. For example, for some it may be an added advantage to have more zippers but for someone like me it is a disadvantage as to find a single thing I have to go through all the compartments. Moreover if you want to check in your bag you may have to buy more locks for the zips. So check the features like zippers, expandability, usable space, etc. before you click buy.

Make a list of your best travel backpacks on the base of their type and size, now it is time to compare them on the basis of their features. Few pointers to keep in mind while comparing:

Pockets: Built in pockets or zips help in keeping frequently used items handy.

Compartments: Compartments help in organizing stuff in a travel backpack.

Expandability or compressibility: You may want to increase or decrease the size of your backpack. So check for the ease with which you can use these features.

Daypack: Few backpacks also allow you to zip off a removable day pack, so if you do not want to carry a separate day pack you may want to consider this feature.

Quality and cost:

Though some people might consider these different but cost and quality go together. Mostly, unless you are just paying for a brand, cheap bags mean low quality and reasonable cost can get you a bag with good quality material. When you are backpacking this is the last thing on your mind to go hunt for a new bag in the middle of your travel.

Regulations of the airlines for carry on backpack:

If you want to escape the waiting time for luggage on the airports and the cost associated with you then you may carry your backpack with you. For this check the airline you frequent with for the dimensions of the bag they allow as carry-on baggage.

Tips for Buying Backpacks

Finally, few tips to consider while buying backpacks:

  • Do not buy over costly backpacks. If you are paying over $ 300 for a backpack than unless you are looking for some specific feature, chances are that you are just paying for an overpriced brand.
  • Always check for size with your airlines.
  • Never buy cheap backpacks as they offer low quality. The backpack may fall apart more quickly than you have anticipated it to.
  • For organising in a backpack always consider investing in some good packing cubes. They help to compress your clothes, organize them and you may easily find your stuff without throwing out everything.