Ah, the humble backpack. An undisputed wardrobe essential, the backpack effortlessly combines functionality and style. At least, the ones on our guide do.
No longer are we limited to bulky, utilitarian backpacks akin to those our mothers burdened us with as children (a painful memory, we know). No: thanks to the great work of talented designers, sports brands, and travel experts, there are as many gorgeous (and practical) backpacks out there as women who wear them.
From sleek, stylish backpacks to travel backpacks and even our favourite hybrid: the purse backpack, you’re sure to find the perfect home for your daily essentials.
Cool backpacks rival the best totes or shoulder bags, offering up (typically) plenty of allocated pockets for your things, adjustable straps, and a slip-on-and-go vibe.
Upgrade your bag collection with our guide to the best backpacks for women. We promise: you’ll never look back.
The 19 best backpacks for women
|4||Senreve||Best for work|
|7||Alo Yoga||Best everyday carry|
|9||The North Face||Best for day hikes|
|10||Away||Best for travel|
|11||Nike||Best for the gym|
|12||Herschel||Best for college|
|15||Senreve Maestra||Best vegan|
|16||Tory Burch||Best backpack purse|
|17||Anya Hindmarch||Best for commute|
|19||The Row||Most expensive|
Check our special women’s backpacks buyers’ guide after the list to see exactly what you should pay attention to before purchasing your next backpack online.
Cuyana Leather Backpack: Best overall backpack for women
Our readers know how we feel about Cuyana: the female-led and environmentally-conscious fashion label strikes again with their Leather Backpack. Chic, functional, and of exceptional quality, this stylish backpack is the ultimate girl-about-town backpack and built to last.
Slip this beauty on your back, and you’ll have envious eyes following you down the street—soak up the attention, girl. Stash your daily essentials in the front pockets, and your purse, books, and other must-haves in the spacious main pocket.
Crafted from heavyweight, pebbled Italian leather in a quaint factory on the outskirts of Pisa, the Cuyana Leather Backpack is also LGW certified. Why is that great? LGW certification ensures the tanning process is sustainable, responsible, and ethically sourced.
Best for: Combining feminine style with functionality. Colours: A range including Blush, Black, or Caramel
RIMOWA Never Still Backpack: Best luxury backpack for women
Fondness for the finer things? Shrug on the RIMOWA Never Still Backpack, and feel your confidence shoot through the roof.
Yep, it simply doesn’t get more luxe than this: crafted in the epicentre of haute fashion, Italy, this classy backpack makes a runway look of even your most thrown-together outfit.
Made with durable canvas and full-grain leather, this luxury backpack manages to make functionality sexy. And we are so on board. Slip your (up to 13-inch) laptop in the designated pocket, and stash your keys, phone, and other essentials in the grooved front pockets, adorned with the brand’s bespoke monogram.
Got a bigger laptop? No dramas: RIMOWA serves up the Never Still Backpack in a larger size, too, so you won’t have to pass it by due to pesky logistics.
Best for: Women seeking stand-out luxury in every aspect of life. Colours: Black, Cactus, Grey and Saffron
Adidas Prime Backpack: Best value backpack for women
No longer is the sporty backpack destined for the far-back of our wardrobes, emerging only when there’s simply nothing else. No, sporty-chic is categorically en vogue. If you missed the memo, no fear: jump on the bandwagon with the Adidas Prime Backpack.
Whether you’re headed to a seminar, sweat session at the gym, or you’re smashing a day at the office, this slick backpack is on hand. Boasting a Narnia-like interior, it’s meticulously organised with plenty of mesh pockets, a padded laptop sleeve, and multiple zipped compartments.
Plus, the shock-absorbing shoulder straps are a saviour when you’re hurtling to the bus, that meeting (hey, looking this good takes time), or gym class. In short, the Adidas Prime Backpack is no muss, no fuss, and a worthy companion to your hectic day.
Best for: The on-the-go woman whose default speed is 110mph. Colour: Black
Senreve Maestra Bag: Best women’s backpack for work
Is it a tote? Is it a shoulder bag? Wait, it looks like a satchel, too. Or perhaps a backpack? Answer: all of the above. Yes, this quadruplet of cool can be worn just how you like it, easily matched with the theme of your day.
The Senreve Maestra Bag is one of our favourite work bags, without a doubt. Crafted in Italy (where else?), this thoughtful backpack features a stain-resistant interior (leaky bottles happen to the best of us), metal feet to save scuffs, and a slick flap closure. Wary of the new guy? Don’t worry: there’s a hidden zip to keep your precious things safe, too.
What’s more: the Maestra Bag bestows plenty of scope for organisation, with a laptop compartment, a central pocket, and a cute pocket for your lip balm, phone, and keys.
Best for: The ever-evolving woman seeking a bag to keep up. Colours: A range including Chestnut, Marine, and Noir
Bellroy Tokyo Totepack: Best convertible women’s backpack
As dynamic (and orderly) as the eponymous city, the Bellroy Tokyo Totepack is the ultimate hybrid: sling it over your shoulder for a carefree vibe or rock it as a backpack.
Crafted from environmentally-certified leather (the only kind we’re interested in), and water-resistant, recycled fabric, this backpack takes the gold for sustainable chic. And, no matter how you wear it, one thing remains consistent—your things will stay well and truly organised, thanks to the considered compartments.
Featuring a duo of pop-pockets, the Tokyo Totepack offers a home for your water bottle, umbrella, and even a spare pair of heels—making after-work cocktails more tempting than ever. Naturally, there’s a padded pocket for your laptop, alongside plenty of compartments for your other can’t-go-withouts.
Best for: Those whose days are as dynamic as they are. Colours: Black, Desert, or Lichen
Calpak Kaya Backpack: Best laptop backpack for women
Office angels, CEOs, and co-working queens will adore this laptop backpack by Calpak. No matter what your job title, if you work on a laptop, the Kaya Backpack is about to become your favourite colleague.
First up: we’re head-over-heels for the cute contrasting colours, serving up unexpected style for a backpack so functional. Plus, the faux-leather is a dream for those avoiding animal products, offering all the charm without the cruelty.
Digital nomad? Kaya has you covered: this backpack comes with a luggage trolley sleeve, ideal for unencumbered treks through the airport. Not only will it safely hold your laptop, but there’s plenty of space for your smaller tech, purse, phone, and pick-me-up biscuit stash, too.
Best for: Laptop-lifestylers with an eye for style. Colours: A range including Black, Blush, and Stone
Alo Yoga Stow Backpack: Best everyday carry for women
Those acquainted with Alo (and if you’re not yet, get to know) will be familiar with the brand’s ethos: making practical, chic. The Stow Backpack is true to form—making the perfect companion for days where you just don’t stop.
Heading straight from Teams to tai chi? The Stow is at-the-ready, with a laptop sleeve, space for your activewear, and a bungee strap for your yoga mat. Yep, if your day’s schedule makes Wonder Woman’s look like a walk in the park, you need this bag to see you through.
Your daily essentials will remain protected under the water-resistant neoprene, so whether it’s a drizzle, downpour, or an overzealous approach to your morning coffee, your things will stay dry. Simply put, the Stow Backpack is the ultimate day-pack for women, effortlessly keeping up with your pace.
Best for: A backpack that’ll exceed your expectations, even when the day doesn’t. Colour: Black
Burberry Quilted Backpack: Best women’s leather backpack
No business casual wardrobe is truly complete without a leather backpack. And Burberry out-do themselves with the Quilted Backpack, without a doubt one of the best leather backpacks for women.
Why? Um, take a peek. Naturally, your eyes will be drawn to the glittering, gold ‘B’ emblazoned on the front. Yes, there’ll be no doubts as to who you’re wearing with this designer backpack.
The buffed leather detailing simply demands attention, while the contrasting gold-tone zips and sleek zip tags catapult this backpack into true luxe. But it’s far from just a pretty face: the signature Quilted Backpack is categorically capacious, with plenty of room for your day-to-day must-haves.
So, whether you’re brand new to Burberry or your wardrobe is chock-full with the beloved check, this luxury backpack deserves a place on your shoulders.
Best for: Women with an eye for detail and an appetite for finery. Colour: Black
The North Face Borealis: Best women’s backpack for day hikes
Sure, a luxe leather backpack is all fine and dandy—but scaling a mountain or trekking through a national park? Not so much. For the best women’s hiking backpack, lay your eyes on The North Face Borealis Backpack.
If your happy place is a blustery peak, miles from civilisation (we get it), you’ll need a backpack that can match your energy. Built for rain or shine, the Borealis boasts plenty of comfort features, ensuring you bypass shoulder-ache, digging straps, and consequently, a frustrating hike.
Yep, you’ll find the brand’s FlexVent technology, a suspension system working to take the weight off your back and shoulders. Plus, the breathable lumbar panel on the Borealis works wonders in keeping you cool and dry, while injection-moulded shoulder straps feel (almost) like a second skin.
Finally, clip on the waist belt for extra snugness, saving incessant readjustment, so you can focus purely on those spectacular views.
Best for: The wanderlust woman, leaving footprints in beauty spots near and far. Colours: A range including Black, Asphalt Grey, and Rose Tan
Away The Backpack: Best women’s backpack for travel
Going away on holiday, business, or digital nomad-ing? Bring Away with you. A travel companion that won’t hinder your progress with one-too-many bathroom breaks, steal your water, or insist on the window seat, the Away Backpack is a must-have for the intrepid traveller.
The travel backpack for women was born to see you through rushed check-ins, late trains, and bustling busses in total comfort. In their own words, the Away is ‘designed to keep you moving’. With three spacious compartments, you can stash your spare clothes, flip flops for arrival, and books, tablet, or Kindle to keep your occupied in-flight.
Naturally, it features a trolley sleeve, so you can perch your Away Backpack on your luggage for seamless airport slogs. With a minimalist design, you can throw it on safe in the knowledge it’ll meld with your travel style. Complete with water-resistant fabric, you can persevere even in the toughest of weather (read: that eight-hour London stop-over).
Best for: Getting from A to B in chic, wanderlust style. Colours: A range including Navy, Coast, and Sand
Nike Futura Luxe Backpack: Best women’s backpack for the gym
Three guesses for who makes the best gym backpacks? As if you need telling: Nike shines with their Futura Luxe Backpack, perfect for hitting the gym in style.
Crafted with both Nike’s expected quality and sustainable materials to boot, this sports bag shows you mean business. Combining feminine touches with a backdrop of sports-slick, the Futura Luxe hits the ultimate sweet spot.
Discover a satin lining, subtle chain detailing, and chain-effect key clips—yep, you’re sure to be the best dressed at your gym. Plus, nothing evokes motivation more than treating yourself to cool new kit, and the Futura Luxe delivers in swathes.
Easily slip your towel, water bottle, and purse in your new bag, and book in for an extra class this week—if only to show off.
Best for: Sporty meets elegant—the ultimate gym backpack. Colour: Black
Herschel Little America Backpack: Best women’s backpack for college
Motivation + commitment + organisation: that’s the recipe for a successful student. But wait—there’s a missing ingredient. Yep, without a brilliant backpack for girls, your studious efforts will be greatly impeded. That’s where the Herschel America comes in.
Providing all the space you need (and more) to store your books, lecture notes, stationery, and laptop, this college backpack is a must-have study buddy. The preppy design will have you living the student dream Freaks and Geeks-style (or like, something cooler), with a timeless silhouette, buckled straps, and the brand’s woven label.
The 25-litre capacity in the Little America will have you set for your day’s lessons, leaving heaps of space for your lunchtime wrap, snacks, and water bottle, too. Make use of the front pocket, fantastic for storing essentials for easy access (or simply those free pens you’ve been hoarding). Headed off for Spring Break? Cool: take this backpack with you—just switch the books for bikinis, and you’re golden.
Best for: An A-star backpack for the A-star student. Colour: Black
Paravel Shell Backpack: Best lightweight women’s backpack
When we’re carrying everything but the kitchen sink, the last thing we need is to be weighed down by a cumbersome backpack. Enter: the Paravel Shell Backpack, designed to be light-as-a-feather (though we can’t speak for the contents).
Despite its super light weight, this backpack is happily durable, and you can even fold it up to a fraction of its former glory when not in use. And, eco-warriors rejoice: this backpack for women is crafted from recycled bottles, ensuring your new favourite bag doesn’t cost the Earth. On the subject of cost, it’s easy on the purse strings, too, making this a fantastic choice for the cost-conscious.
Luxe touches like leather trims and grosgrain straps elevate this backpack to modish heights. And, ever-industrious, the handy front pocket keeps practicality at the forefront of design with the Paravel Shell Backpack.
Best for: Smashing out your daily errands without the weight of the world on your shoulders. Colour: Black
TUMI Voyageur Carson Backpack: Best black backpack for women
As Henry Ford said of his cars, ‘you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black’. Okay, technically, there are a few shades to pick, but we enjoy the sentiment. This black backpack is a one-and-done for your daily adventures, coming in a design that’s as functional as it is versatile:
Flex your organisational muscles with the many useful compartments, from that all-important front pocket, magnetic-snap phone pocket, zipped bottle holder, to the sleek detachable keyring. Yep, allocate places for all your essentials, and fumbling your wallet, phone, and emergency eyeliner are problems of the past.
And inside? Expect top-tier organisation, too. Hold your cards in the for-purpose cardholder, your stationery in the pen pocket, and your raincoat and spare comfortable flats in the roomy compartment. Indeed, whatever the day throws at you, the TUMI Voyageur Carson will have you handling it with finesse.
Best for: Bringing a touch of order to a hectic day. Colours: Black or Iron
Vegan Maestra Bag: Best vegan backpack for women
Grateful we live in an era where fur is a faux pas, and PU is as good as leather? Us, too. Satiate your inner vegan (no matter how deep down she lies) with the Vegan Maestra Backpack, crafted entirely from cruelty-free methods and materials.
The vegan cousin of Senreve’s eternally popular Maestra Bag, this gem gives vegan lifestylers the opportunity to get on board with the bag without compromising their values. Sounds like a dream, right? And there’s no catch: 100% vegan, this bag offers a one-way ticket to ethical fashion.
Completely convertible, you can switch your style with your mood. Heading to school? Transform the Vegan Maestra into a satchel for a preppy vibe. The crossbody look is unbeatable for a city-slicker look, while the backpack is stylish and practical, ensuring you’re admired from all angles.
However you wear it, you’ll have space for a 15-inch laptop, making this a perfect choice for the office, college, or co-working space.
Best for: The va-va-voom vegan. Colours: A range including Pecan, Noir, and Forest.
Tory Burch Piper Backpack: Best backpack purse for women
Good things come in small packages, right? Just ask Tory Burch. This cute-as-a-button black backpack purse is perfectly homunculus and crafted with the utmost attention to detail. The subtle leather notes and luxe gold emblems make this designer backpack purse truly refined, with the sleek black shade pairing with any outfit.
Sure, small backpacks for women can be hard to come by, but no fear: we’ve got you covered. The Piper Backpack is one for the minimalist, with just enough space for your key essentials, gently inspiring you to pare down.
Complete with double-adjustable shoulder straps, you can tailor the fit just as you like it. We adore the charming look of this teeny backpack purse perched on your back, allowing you that barely-there feel. Stash your daily must-haves in the main compartment, and designate the front pocket to your keys, purse, and phone. Teaching us that less really is more, the Piper Backpack deserves a place on your shoulders.
Best for: A mini backpack for the minimalist. Colour: Black
Anya Hindmarch Cycling Backpack: Best women’s backpack for commute
Eek: the dreaded commute. Whether yours is a two-hour train journey, a traffic-jammed e-scooter ride, or an uphill e-bike cycle (go you), it’s nobody’s favourite part of the day. Alas, we have a secret: the best way to look forward to your commute is to arm yourself with the Cycling Backpack, designed to make that journey more bearable.
This backpack is (shocker) designed for cyclists. Thus, it’ll stay put, keeping your essentials safely stored, whether you’re hill-climbing or cruising along the freeway. There’s even a fold-away mesh section to stash your helmet—yeah, that’s your excuse not to wear it out the window.
Equal parts luxurious and functional, the Cycling Backpack is finished with glimmering gold detail, leather-tasselled zips, and more pockets than you’ll know what to do with. Crafted from recycled nylon, this backpack is showerproof, helping you choose bike-over-bus on those rainy days.
Best for: Cycle-to-work style for the chic commuter. Colour: Black
Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack: Best compact women’s backpack
Unless you’re headed off on an arduous thru-hike, you needn’t be lumbered with a Bear Grylls-level backpack. So, swinging to the opposite end of the size spectrum, is the Le Pliage Backpack by luxe brand Longchamp.
Certainly more at home on the Champs Elysees than the Caucausons, this charming little backpack, crafted from 100% leather, will easily pair with your city-girl outfit. Simply pop in your purse and hit those boutiques, feeling light as a cloud.
We’re obsessed with the charcoal shade on the Le Pliage, subtly adorned with the brand’s emblem, with an eye-catching gold fastener to finish. The handle gives you the choice of backpack or cutesy handheld, while the adjustable straps make for a personalised fit.
Best for: Refined women who love the little details. Colour: Charcoal
The Row Massimo Backpack: Most expensive women’s backpack
Treat yourself to some first-class fashion with the Massimo Backpack by The Row. Exuding ultimate luxe, this high-end backpack is truly something special.
A backpack in the loosest sense of the term, the Massimo serves up utilitarian-chic, married with runway-ready vibes. Obviously, it’s crafted in Italy, from supple grained leather that’s addictive to the touch. The unique cylindrical silhouette takes this “backpack” to the next level, while the drawstring closure keeps things simple.
Sling it over your shoulder je ne sais quoi style, or wear it as a conventional backpack—the versatile straps allow you to wear it your way. Inside, you’ll discover a supersoft suede lining and an inner pocket, perfect for accommodating your essentials. For a dose of street-slicker sass, you can’t go wrong.
Best for: Upmarket luxe with an urban twist. Colour: Black
The best women’s backpacks: what to look out for
Different lifestyles demand different backpacks. Some are predominantly eye-candy, while others deliver space, organised pockets, and comfort in droves. So, which is the best backpack for you? Let’s take a look at the cornerstone styles:
For the traveller
Travel backpacks offer comfort as their first point of call. Naturally, if you’re heading off on a long flight, several train journeys, or a stifling bus trip, you want to be as comfy as possible. So, a good travel backpack will feature adjustable, padded straps, waterproof fabric, plenty of pockets, and a large main compartment for your travel essentials.
Our advice? Don’t be tempted to go for style over functionality—anyway, as our guide proves, there are heaps of options offering both!
For the 9-to-5er
If your backpack is destined to serve as part of your work get-up, it needs to offer these features at the very least:
A good office backpack will have a padded pocket for your laptop (always check the dimensions!), a smart style (think leather, PU, or a preppy canvas), and little extras like a front pocket plus a water bottle holder. Avoid anything too sporty, since (we assume) you’ll need to maintain a professional aesthetic.
For the gym bunny
Newsflash: sports brands make excellent gym backpacks for women. Yep, as you might expect, activewear brands like Nike, Alo Yoga, and Adidas are your go-tos. Ideally, your backpack will feature a separate inner compartment to house those sweaty workout shoes, a water bottle holder, and waterproofing for those rainy jogs to your class.
For the city-dweller
Is your idea of paradise a day spent perusing cafes, boutiques, and galleries in the city? Brilliant: there are heaps of runway-ready backpacks to store your day trip essentials while still offering haute couture in bucketloads.
This is the time to opt for that mini backpack you’ve been eyeing up, or perhaps the drawstring leather number (check out the Massimo for the ultimate gift to yourself). In short, if you’re simply cruising around town, go style-wild, and worry not about functionality. Yep, town is the place to be and be seen—and after all, you’re never far from a coffee, water, or awning.
Frequently asked questions about the best backpacks for women
For female-led, sustainable fashion (and a great range of backpacks), we tip our hats to Cuyana and Senreve. However, Nike and Adidas are fantastic for sporty women, while we recommend The North Face for the intrepid traveller.
Honestly? Let your imagination run wild. Drawstring backpacks, sleek leather affairs, and cuter-than-cute mini backpacks are all very in. And, with the copious options out there, one needn’t sacrifice trends for practicality, either. Check out our guide for a treasure chest of trendy backpack brands for women.
No matter which aesthetic you opt for, there are a few important features to look out for. Consider space (where are you taking it? The gym, the office, or town?), adjustable straps for a tailored fit, and easy access to your essentials.
A backpack purse is arguably more handbag than backpack. ‘Backpack’ in the very vaguest sense, a backpack purse is typically crafted from leather or PU and features elegant straps and a minimal design.