- Buyer's Guide
Buyer’s Guide :: Best All-Rounder Backpacks
The world of carry is built on the foundation of reality – fabrics, threads, buckles, straps, zippers…but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an element of alluring legend to it. A fantastic magical beast that you can’t help but be enchanted by. Myth calls it the unicorn. Carry enthusiasts call it the perfect bag. Sure, you’ve never seen either, but you don’t stop dreaming…
Unfortunately, we’re fresh out of unicorns. However, we do have something to soften the hard landing back in reality. Our buyer’s guide to the best all-rounder backpacks. They’re not perfect, but they can do a lot of things well without being completely rubbish at anything. So if you need a pack that can trot between work, leisure and travel environments, check these out…
When you need to carry your tech and a change of clothes, Arc’teryx’s Blade 30 has you covered. The pack features a clamshell style opening with a compartment for storing enough clothes for an overnight trip or several days depending on your packing style. The separate laptop section fits a 17-inch laptop and there’s plenty of padding to keep the pack’s contents safe while you’re on the go.
The Khard 30 features Arc’teryx’s meticulous construction and fantastic access from the sides, front and top thanks to its zippered design. You can unzip the bag and lay it out flat for maximum packing access, or just unzip one section when you need to get to a particular item. Another highlight of the pack is that it’s esentially a blank canvas for you to customize as desired, thanks to interior Velcro strips for attaching pouches and the like, as well as exterior daisy chains. See our road test for more details.
Lexdray’s Boulder Pack (version 2.0) straddles the work/adventure divide. Lots of interior and exterior pockets keep your gear organized, along with a fleece-lined compartment that fits up to a 15-inch laptop. The removable waist belt helps bear the load when you’ve got a lot to carry and can be left at home when you don’t. Plus a removable raincover protects the pack and its contents from downpours, whether you’re commuting to the office or setting off on a lets-see-where-the-day-takes-me trip.
Slightly smaller than the Boulder Pack (22 liters versus 24 liters), the Tokyo Pack is a compact daypack for your essentials. The aesthetics blend into work, travel and leisure environments and a choice of quick-access pockets and interior organization options prevents a free-for-all with jumbled contents. Like the Boulder Pack, the Tokyo Pack has a fleece-lined compartment for a 15-inch laptop and a removable raincover but forgoes the removable waist belt. See our road test here.
Lots of space when you need it. Less when you don’t. A rugged Raptor buckle and tough waxed canvas construction. Quick access to contents stashed in the front exterior pocket, while your laptop is readily available from the back exterior compartment. Plus the laptop section is suspended so you’re not going to bump your precious tech when you put the bag on the floor. There’s lots to like about the Drive rolltop backpack and its sleek looks keep things stylishly understated. Cruise for more info in our drive by.
Looking for a pack that’s classy, minimalist and just as happy to lounge by your side in the park as it is to venture into new territory on your travels or carry your work tools in style? Meet the Archival Rucksack. The pack features quality materials, with an attractive combination of water-resistant waxed cotton twill and Horween Chromexcel leather. Organization comes in the form of two exterior pockets, while the drawstring closure under the flap keeps the contents secure. See it in action with Berlin Muse here.
Rocking waxed twill and Horween leather but with a bigger volume than Archival’s Rucksack, the Archival Roll Top gives you the flexibility to deal with a variety of different loads thanks to the rolltop closure. There’s two side pockets on the outside of the pack, along with one internal pocket and a good dose of eye-catching aesthetics.
Whether you’re hitting the trail or the local coffee shop, the Wilderness Rucksack is right at home in both the urban jungle and more remote outdoor spaces. Featuring a choice of pockets (including a felted wool laptop sleeve) and crafted with attention to detail and premium materials, this is one handsome pack that will stand the test of time.
Sometimes you need a backpack. Other times you may want a shoulder or briefcase-style bag. You could get three different bags…or you could get QWSTION’s Office Bag, which lets you carry it using grab handles or easily converts to a shoulder bag or pack. If you love organizing your gear, you’ll dig the variety of pockets in the Office Bag, and the laptop section will fit a 17-inch laptop.
Lots of colorways, no shortage of pockets, plus a range of other handy features makes the Hot Shot a backpack that can suit students, working professionals, outdoor adventurers and travelers alike. Sternum and waist straps help distribute the load, while compression straps give you the flexibility of compressing the contents if required. The pack fits a 15-inch laptop and the daisy chain attachment points boost your carry capabilities.
A beautifully pared-back exterior gives the Delireis a clean look that fits in with work and play, while the hand-printed lining brings the fun on the inside. The exterior double sleeve pocket gives you quick access to items you need on the go and the interior laptop sleeve fits up to a 15-inch laptop. The construction is solid, with Scottish waxed canvas, top-grain vegetable-tanned leather and an AustriAlpin Cobra buckle, so you can rest assured this pack can handle heavy-duty use for years to come.
The tactical inspiration for the Kezar is evident without being overwhelming, giving this daypack the flexibility to suit more casual work environments as well as downtime outings or travel use. In addition to being compatible with the Boreas modular Super-Tramp suspension, the pack’s concealed daisy chains in MOLLE-compatible rows let you customize your carry setup to your needs. Add in a hydration port and a front waterproof pocket and you can stay hydrated easily while making sure your important items don’t.
What do you get when you cross CamelBak with Mystery Ranch? The awesomeness that is the TriZip. The backpack features Mystery Ranch’s Futura Harness and tri-zip design which makes packing and accessing your gear a breeze. Combine that with a 3-liter hydration bladder and multiple exit ports for the drinking tube, a removable waist belt, MOLLE webbing and handy quick-access side pockets and you’ve got a tough companion for relaxed work environments, adventure travel or simply hauling your groceries home. Side note: CamelBak have discontinued the pack, so if you’re keen to snag one whilst they’re still available but aren’t entirely convinced, check out our road test to see if it’s right for you.
Vintage hiking pack meets modern tech carry with Burton’s Prism Pack. If you love having a range of pockets in your bag, you’ll be stoked with this pack. With space to stash all your EDC including a laptop and tablet, plus sternum and waist straps to keep the load secure and distributed while you’re on foot or two wheels, this handy all-rounder shows its credentials when work, school or travel calls.
TAD’s uber-popular FAST Pack Litespeed was given an update last year, making a great pack even better (see key changes in our drive by). There’s a lot of scope for tailoring this bag to changing carry needs, and while the tactical vibe won’t gel with a suit, your inner Rambo will rejoice equally at the prospect of traipsing through a rainforest or tackling the challenge of hunting down a pint of milk.
Load it up with more weight than you would ever realistically carry in a bag of its size, haul it through the mud, chuck it over walls…and the GR1 will simply ask “Is that the best you can do?” Built to withstand frequent abuse, the pack will happily keep up whether you’re at work or play. Plus with a design that lets you open it out flat, it’s easy to pack too. Chuck in a mix of organization options including zipped internal pockets, external and internal MOLLE webbing and a separate compartment that fits a 17-inch laptop, and you’ve got yourself a rad all-rounder.
We can’t include every great all-rounder backpack out there – we’d need a lot more than one post to do that! 😉 However, if you think there’s something rad out there that hasn’t been included, share it below in the comments and make others aware of it…