9 Best Totes and Backpacks For Work or School
They'll fit your laptop, notebooks, planners, and more.
If there's one thing that Dora the Explorer got right, it's the value of a backpack. When you find a good backpack or handy tote bag, it really does become the reliable friend you need for all your adventures. While we may not be going on any magical quests anytime soon, heading out for a busy day at work or school can feel like quite the journey, with plenty of unforeseen twists and turns of its own. So, having the right bag to carry your laptop, books, and more is essential.
Less essential, but still important, is finding a bag that looks good at the same time. When shopping for a bag for school or work, you're choosing something that will become a consistent part of your wardrobe from Monday through Friday (and sometimes weekends, too). So, it's important to find something that fits your style and can keep up with your daily needs. Below, we rounded up the nine best backpacks and totes for school and work that are functional and fashionable. Keep scrolling to find your new go-to bag.
1. Best minimal backpack:
Maybe you don't want your backpack to make a major statement, but just want something that will seamlessly fit into your everyday wardrobe. State's Lorimer backpack makes it a great choice with its minimal yet functional design. It's made with a lightweight nylon fabric so it'll never feel too clunky and has double zipper pockets in the front as well as a padded laptop sleeve in the main compartment. If you like to wear more earth tones, you can also opt for the same backpack in olive green, or go for the steel gray if that's more your style.
2. Best laptop backpack
Equal parts tote and backpack, this Fjällräven Kånken bag is perfect for carrying your laptop and earning fashion points at the same time. It comes with two side pockets, a zippered front pocket, a main compartment with a laptop sleeve, tote handles, backpack straps, and, of course, that iconic logo patch. Whether you're headed to class or the art museum, you'll look like the main character when wearing this trendy tote.
3. Best backpack purse:
If you don't need to carry your laptop around all day but still need a handy tote for all your things, this backpack purse is the perfect pick. While it's more of a financial investment, this Kate Spade backpack has long-lasting potential thanks to its timeless yet trendy design and durable leather material. Whether you're headed to work or class, you can throw in a planner, your wallet, phone, keys, a snack, and a water bottle—you'll be set for the day.
4. Best mini backpack:
This mini backpack is another great small option for those who don't like to carry a large load. While it won't fit a laptop, it's roomy enough for a few books, a planner, or whatever else you consider "the essentials" for your day-to-day routine. Plus, it comes in fun colors, like the chartreuse shade above, and is made from 100% recycled nylon—so this bag will be good for your wardrobe and the planet.
5. Best waterproof backpack:
Whether you live in a rainy climate or are just prone to spills, this waterproof backpack will give you the security you need. Like the aforementioned Everlane backpack, this larger option is also made from all recycled materials, but this one is big enough to fit a laptop, two water bottles, and lots more. The minimal yet utilitarian design also means this backpack can transition from your work or school day to a weekend camping trip or hiking adventure if the opportunity arises.
6. Best (faux) leather backpack:
This sleek, faux leather backpack is perfect for anyone who works in an office and needs a daily bag to match their business attire. It's hyper functional with a secure laptop compartment, multiple interior pockets, and a trolley sleeve for traveling. Plus, the faux leather stitching and gold detailing make this backpack look super high-end. Want to learn more? You can read an HG editor's entire love letter to this backpack—which gets her compliments every time she wears it—here.
7. Best college backpack:
It's rare to find a backpack with this many pockets that still looks pretty. Athleta's Kinetic Backpack comes with two side pockets for water bottles, a front zipper pocket, a main compartment with small interior pockets, and a separate padded compartment for a laptop. Even better, it's made sustainably with recycled nylon and can be thrown in the wash whenever it needs a refresh. This backpack is more than equipped to handle a long day of attending classes, studying at the library, and going to work.
8. Best carry-on backpack
If you travel frequently for work, this convertible backpack is about to become your new best friend. The smartly designed bag can be carried as a tote, a backpack, or slid over a suitcase using the handy trolley sleeve. It's also designed to offer convenience for anyone doing work while in-flight, featuring a laptop compartment and several organizer pockets to store all your tech accessories, pens, planners, and more. Plus, the tote is compact enough to store in the overhead bin if you decide to put the work away and just enjoy your flight.
9. Best bargain backpack
It might be time to throw it back to your early school days and get yourself another JanSport backpack. This iconic bag is one of Amazon's best-sellers in the backpack category and it's for good reason. This backpack keeps it simple, with just one front pocket and one main compartment, but it gets the job done with its durable polyester fabric and padded, adjustable straps. If you're a fan of the classics and don't need all the bells and whistles, this backpack will be perfect for you.