10 best backpacks for urban commutes, gym trips & summer fun: Herschel, Nike, Mi Pac

Chances are you’ve been avoiding backpacks like the plague ever since you broke free of the education system and didn’t have to cart 3,853 textbooks, 56 folders and 41.482 unnecessary pieces of stationery around with you 24/7.

But sometimes you need to carry just as much stuff now you’re all grown up, whether you have to take your laptop to work, transport your workout gear to the gym or you’re going on a weekend away. Of course you could just take a huge holdall or cram everything into a totally-not-appropriate handbag, but chances are you’ll strain the straps, it’ll be hard to manoeuvre and also HURTY SHOULDERS :(:(:(.

Just bite the bullet and accept that you need a backpack again. But this time it doesn’t have to be covered in tippex notes from your mates or hung so low it hits your bum cheeks (were these trends in anyone else’s secondary school?!). Instead it can be stylish, sporty, comfortable and pretty discrete if you’d rather not shout about the fact you look 15 again.


1. Vans Nova Backpack in Black

If minimalism is your thing, then opt for a simple black backpack like this one from Vans at ASOS. Vans doesn’t just create the comfiest skate shoes EVER, but its accessories are durable and pretty cool by association to all of the brand’s other products. It’s canvas, so might not be ideal for frequent UK rain showers, but is a good option for the last few months of summer. Oh, and doesn’t she just look DELIGHTED to be carrying this backpack!? That expression is enough to persuade us that we want one of these and we want it to make us just as happy as her.

Available from ASOS for £30.


2. Nike Legend Backpack in Zebra

Nike’s Legend range of backpacks are slimline and don’t bounce around when you walk or run and yet you can fit a hell of a lot inside them. We love this new colour-way, with a grey and back zebra print exterior, and a bright pink swoosh-y thing and interior. It’s fairly muted colours make it perfect for carrying your gym kit to work.

Tip: If you hate having aching shoulders and a sore back after carrying around a bag, then always opt for a sports brand over a fashion-focused brand. These guys (generally, not always) often know much more about comfort, longevity and how to carry stuff around in the most compact way.

Available from ASOS for £35.


3. Herschel Classic 21L Backpack in Seafoam

Herschel is still the backpack of choice among young Londoners, but if you’re sick of seeing the same black bag with brown straps, then you’ll LOVE the brand’s new pastel range. It’s still made from Herschel’s signature ‘poly-coated’ fabric, but looks so much better and much more appropriate for summer. You may think it looks kinda HUGE, but it’s long length-wsie, but doesn’t have a great deal of depth, so it’ll stay streamlined against your back and be ideal for carrying your laptop to work. The problem is we just can’t choose between this seafoam one and the mauve. Man, life is tough.

Available from Urban Outfitters for £45.


4. Mi Pac Floral Tapestry Backpack

If you don’t like the harsh lines and bold patterns of sportier bags, then check out the Mi Pac brand. It makes a huge range of different backpacks of the same style with a range of colours, patterns and even textures if you get your hands on one of the animal print ones. We love this floral design for the summer, it’s great for holidays as it’s got super padded straps to avoid the dreaded shoulder ache.

Available from ASOS for £29.99.


5. Grainy Pocket Backpack in Burgundy

If you like your accessories to have that grainy, old leather look, then opt for this burgundy backpack from Topshop. It’s ideal for travelling as it’s got a number of different, smaller pockets where you can stash coins, a camera or your passport. Granted it isn’t actually leather even though it looks like it could be, but that probably means you’re less likely to care about it getting scuffed and covered in mud on summer trips and picnics.

Available from Topshop for £34.


6. Rains Messenger Backpack in Black

If you’re after a backpack that can also be worn on your shoulder or just carried in your hand, then the Rains Messenger Backpack is a great option for a multipurpose bag for work. It’s particularly handy if you like the messenger-style and sometimes don’t have much to carry around, but really want the straps just in case you have to pack your laptop one day. The great thing about the Rains range (the team also makes jackets), is that all of its material is completely waterproof. So although this may look like a stylish and minimal bag, it’ll take everything you throw at it (particularly if what you’re throwing at it is water!).

Available from Urban Outfitters for £59.

To see our final six backpacks for summer click here for part two.

Becca Caddy

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