- Buyer's Guide
Alternatives: Brands like Herschel Supply Co?
Let’s be real, Herschel Supply Co. backpacks are the most popular backpacks on the planet right now. There’s no denying it. You’ll spot them on every corner, from Singapore to NYC. But when a brand gets as big and ubiquitous as Herschel, there’s the inevitable ‘push back’. Essentially, folks don’t want to be carrying what everyone else is carrying. That means you’re one of the herd, and that’s not cool. And judging by our inbox and emails with the subject title: ‘Brands like Herschel Supply Co?’, there’s a growing swell of people in the world looking for a great alternative.
What’s their criteria? 1) It has to have that ‘heritage vibe’ and play on nostalgia. 2) It has to be great for a college or high school campus. 3) It has to carry books and a laptop. And 4) it’s got to be budget-friendly and under $200. Simple. The obvious choices we could reel off are JanSport, Burton, Eastpak, Sandqvist, Rains and Fjällräven, so let’s just avoid those, that’d be too easy and very un-Carryology.
With that in mind, here’s 10 great alternatives to Herschel Supply Co.
Colorado-based Topo Designs are experts at merging classic outdoor aesthetics with modern urban functionality. Pieces such as their Klettersack, Rover Pack and Y-Pack all offer handy features such as a laptop sleeve and water bottle holder, with durable 1000D Cordura construction that holds up equally well on city streets or wilderness trails.
Looking for city style, sustainability and easy access? German brand pinqponq have you well covered. Bags such as their Large Cubik Backpack, Blok Backpack and Okay Maxi Backpack all offer great access to your gear, along with a padded laptop sleeve and urban styling that looks right at home in college settings. Even better, their focus on using recycled and bluesign® materials lends a helping hand to the planet too.
Bradley Mountain’s handsome bags bring a touch of sophistication to your carry, combining durable handmade construction and everyday functionality. The Day Pack is a solid option for school, as is the Scout if you want to push your budget a little. Both feature an attractive combination of quality waxed canvas and leather, with quick-access storage for smaller essentials.
One of the original heritage brands, Filson have been going strong for over a century. And with a focus on durable functionality, it’s not hard to see why. Their Day Pack and Ranger Pack both feature clean silhouettes and a removable wool pouch which is handy for storing smaller essentials. Best for school days or EDC when quick-access organization is key, their Field Pack includes a convenient exterior water bottle holder and large zipped side pocket.
Datum Outdoor offer a refined balance of street style and outdoor ruggedness, ensuring their gear is durable enough to endure whatever the day may bring, while looking darn fine doing so. The California-based brand craft their gear in the US, merging quality construction and practical features for a range of carry needs. The Trecknos Deuce Expandable Pack handles diverse loads with ease thanks to its clever design that alternates between backpack and sling bag mode. Upping the style game, the Trecknos Roll Top Pack offers sleek sturdiness, with an eye-catching silhouette and a dedicated 17″ laptop compartment.
Take one look at Epperson Mountaineering’s gear and the outdoor inspiration is evident, particularly with the Large Climb Pack. Taking inspiration from climbing rope bags, the pack features a carabiner closure and comes in a variety of colorways that give a nod to the outdoor gear aesthetics of the ’70s and ’80s. And if an abundance of heritage charm is what you’re after, look to the Day Pack which offers plenty of leather lash tabs and straps for exterior attachment of your gear, along with a useful front pocket and removable organizer for your smaller items.
Dana Gleason is undoubtedly one of the most influential carry designers around today. But the design revolution begins well before Dana Design and Mystery Ranch with Kletterwerks, a brand founded in 1975 that brought great innovation to the carry industry. However, the brand dropped off the radar in the ’80s, only to be revived decades later by Dana’s son. Kletterwerks enjoys a new home side by side with Mystery Ranch, offering rugged pieces handcrafted in Montana. The Kletterwerks Drei Zip combines classic heritage styling with convenient access throughout the bag courtesy of the 3-Zip design. If versatile portability is a priority, scoop up the Market Bag with its hybrid tote/daypack design. And if flexible aesthetics are key, the Summit daypack with its understated urban styling is definitely one to consider. Even better, each bag adds modern functionality to the mix with an interior laptop sleeve to keep tech secure on the go.
United by Blue
United by Blue combine versatile designs with a strong eco-conscious ethos, removing one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold. The certified B-Corp offers a varied choice of bags to suit diverse needs, such as their 45L Range Daypack and 30L Base Backpack. Both are made with recycled polyester and backed by a lifetime guarantee. The Range Daypack is a great option for day-to-day and outdoor needs alike, with top and front access and space for up to a 17″ laptop. The Base Backpack is a good alternative for smaller loads, with a 15″ laptop sleeve and front, top and side pockets to keep the essentials within easy reach.
North St. Bags
North St. Bags crafts their gear by hand in Portland, with durable materials and a lifetime guarantee so you can haul with peace of mind for years to come. Their 20L Davis Daypack offers an attractive, pared-back style with a rolltop closure, waterproof liner and quick-access exterior pockets, with optional accessories such as a laptop sleeve and interior pockets. If something a little larger is in order, scope out their 30L Clinton Backpack which includes an interior laptop sleeve and easy-access external pockets.
Built for urban adventures but tough enough to tread off the beaten track, Trakke’s bags offer a great mix of versatility and durability. The Assynt 17 and Fingal backpacks are solid choices for college and beyond, giving a nod to the outdoors with heritage aesthetics but built for modern urban needs. The packs are handcrafted in Glasgow with hard-wearing waxed canvas, with a 15″ laptop sleeve in the Assynt and space for a 13″ laptop in the Fingal.