If there’s one trend I’ve been hesitant to embrace, it’s wearing backpacks. No matter how many model-off-duty images I see, I can’t help but shake the schoolgirl connotations. The dilemma? Having lived in New York City for two years, I realize backpacks aren’t just trendy—they’re a weekend and workwear essential if your commute involves catching the subway or walking. In this city, that’s basically everyone.
After a few sheepish trips to the chiropractor, I’ve started searching for a stylish backpack that ticks all the boxes: It needs to be big enough to fit a laptop, durable for my daily commute, and understated so that I feel comfortable taking it to the office and after-work events. Here are 10 of the best I’ve found during my three-month-long search. If you pass me on the streets of New York, this is what I’ll be wearing.
Personalize this leather backpack by adding your monogrammed initials for no extra cost.
This buttery-leather backpack has a Y-shaped strap for back support.
Small but spacious, this Kara backpack is made from incredibly soft leather.
This Longchamp option is available in blue or black, and has both a drawstring closure and snap flap.
Just because it’s a practical item doesn’t mean you have to opt for brown or black. This muted sage color is surprisingly versatile.
This powder-blue Topshop bag is a great budget find.
Understated and subdued, this is an ideal pick if you don’t want statement hardware.
Chloé’s iconic Faye backpack makes any outfit look polished.
Simple and well-designed, this classic backpack by Mansur Gavriel will never go out of style.
This Longchamp option is big enough to fit a laptop, water bottle, and notebook.