Classic Backpacks under $50

by , April 2, 2013

We’re here asking you this time… What are some other super classic backpacks that you love?

We’re looking for packs that meet a very specific set of criteria, ones that:
– Are under $50.00
– Have a cult following
– Have been around for 10ish+ years
– With a classic silhouette (think simple/iconic/less-is-more)

So far we’ve got probably the two most classic backpacks (“bookbags” if you’re old school) of all time, the Jansport Superbreak and the Eastpak Padded Pak’R.  Two that are simply impossible to ignore when using this set of criteria.

The Fjallraven Kånken nearly made this list, as it hits all of the marks above…except the cost comes in just a bit high at $75.

We’d love to hear your input here in the comments below, as we have a fun plan once we round up one or two more crowd-submitted examples that fit in perfectly.

Happy carrying.

11 thoughts on “Classic Backpacks under $50

  1. Linus says:

    The German army, Bundeswhere, mountain ranger backpack is a classic. At least in northern Europe. Stylish, simple and durable. Practically unbreakable. Sells for 20 euros or less.

    1. Dean Grove says:

      As a German…I’m not sure which you mean. But yes, I agree that every backpack we use (and I was in the army cause it was mandatory until not too long ago) is made to widthstand everything.

      Allthough I simply can’t take one,because of the experiences I had with it. I only know idiots in germany who are voluntarily in the army and I’d rather not be associated with them.

      This one:

      or: ?

  2. Mike S says:

    I don’t know if a lumbar pack counts, but what immediately lept to mind is the Mountainsmith Day Pack. I’ve had one hugging my hips for practically every hike I’ve gone on for 20 years. They apparently still make some version of it, and I can’t vouch for that one, but the original is sturdy, handy, and handsome (in my opinion at least!).

  3. James Austin says:

    the LL Bean delux bookbag was the biggest awesomist thing when I was in middle/high school . Google tells me it runs about 40 bucks… there is also a junior version that I remember being about equivalent to the Jansport (the other major middle/high school bag) which is about 30. I am from New England, and that may have something to do with their ubiquity, but these were great packs. Held at least 30-40 pounds of books at all times, lasted for years.

    1. Popped Collar says:

      Same here. That’s the first bag I thought of–I went to prep school in New Jersey and it was a big part of whatever vibe preppies in the 80s were trying to tap.

      Good bag, though. Whatever you put them through was always functionally (if not cosmetically) fixed up by Bean. I probably ended up with two packs’ worth of material over the lifetime of patches and panels they sewed in.

      I wish I remember where I put it because I’m pretty sure it didn’t die on its own.

  4. Zeilend says:

    I kept an eye out for backpacks on my commute to work today and the most common by far was the North Face Vault, in black. I’ve never used it myself, but if the three people standing on the same corner waiting for the light to change are any indication, it’s a popular choice.

  5. prentiz says:

    YMMV, but if you don’t mind a military look, you can’t go far wrong with an ex-British Army “Northern Ireland” pack (like this Utterly indestructible, holds 40ish litres and fits in most carry on sizes.

  6. Matt Grandin says:

    I’m going to have to second the L.L. Bean Book Packs. As L.L. Bean says, “They’ve been a favorite since 1986″, It’s true too, there are 481 five-star reviews. There are a few versions of it (Original, Original Plus, Original Junior and Deluxe), all well under $50 including the obligatory custom monogram for $8.00. See them at the . For a more classic look (rucksack style in muted colors), although a newer product, check out for $49.

  7. andrew says:

    ll bean, no question. i have a gr1 now but my original ‘beast’ was the ll bean.

    1. Taylor says:

      We’ll certainly be adding the LL Bean pack to the list. This is going to be a fun one.

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