The best backpacks for middle and high school students in 2021

A gray Everlane Modern Snap backpack, one of our picks for the best backpacks for high school and college students, sits next to a stack of textbooks, with a metal water bottle in the pocket. lateral.
Photo: Tim Barribeau

Our choice

Everlane The Modern Snap Backpack

Sleek materials combine with a minimalist design and utilitarian features to create a 19 liter backpack that is just as comfortable in the classroom as it is in the city.

Who is he talking to: Students who want a more classic look that works just as well as they walk across campus as they do when hopping on the subway to an art museum. Thanks to its understated style and traditional materials, it should still look good enough for a summer internship or a first job.

Why it’s great: But Modern snap backpack from Everlane isn’t the most durable, chic or impeccably constructed bag available, it is very, very good on all of these points which makes it excellent for the price. Simply put, it’s a functional, affordable, and sophisticated unisex backpack.

The Modern Snap’s cotton-twill exterior comes in several subdued hues, each of which is crisp enough to look great in the classroom, coffee shop, or at a music festival. The shoulder straps are seamless, understated extensions of the twill exterior rather than the heavily padded technical shoulder straps that often spoil the otherwise classic design of bags in this category. However, the shoulder straps are also extremely comfortable.

The back panel of the Everlane Modern Snap backpack. Photo: Tim Heffernan

Pockets and organization: The main compartment of the Modern Snap 19 liter backpack has only one pocket: a padded and open laptop slot. The exterior of the bag features a zippered pocket that can hold a paperback book, as well as two non-elastic side pockets. We stuffed a pair of 11EE sneakers, a heavy cotton hoodie, a pair of nylon swim shorts, a sunglasses case, a thick hardcover book, a phone, a 15 inch MacBook, a charger for each and a 16-ounce bottle of water in the modern Snap.

The main compartment of the bag is a simple square cylinder closed with a drawstring and protected by a flap cover. The lid closes – much faster and much less difficult to close than buckles. The cylinder expands or contracts to accommodate varying loads, and the cover adjusts to accommodate them as well. While the top-loading approach isn’t as easily accessible as a full-perimeter zipper, it does provide visual sharpness no matter how soft or padded in the main compartment.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Everlane has extremely limited organization and compartments. And if you live in a rainy place, this backpack is not the best choice: cotton absorbs water easily, and while the Modern Snap also has a woven cotton-poly liner, it is not. designed to repel a downpour. Cotton stains easily too, so darker colored versions will hide but not hide dirt. And while we see the aesthetic appeal of a clean back panel, we would prefer a ventilated panel to help ease back sweat in the summer.

The Modern Snap comes in and out of stock frequently, often with minor design changes. If it’s not available when you want to buy it, there’s a good chance the bag will return, but you never know exactly when.

Everlane as a company has recently been criticized for the way he treats employees, which was seen as going against the company’s external claims of ethical commitment.

Long-term test notes: Tim Barribeau, editor-in-chief of Wirecutter, has owned the Everlane Modern Snap backpack for over five years and notes that although the material has scuffed and lightened around the edges, it is still in great condition. He uses it frequently for shopping on a bicycle and can support a lot of weight.

Dimensions: 18 by 12 by 5.5 inches
Weight: 1.9 lbs

Also consider: the Herschel Heritage backpack

Also awesome

the Herschel Heritage Backpack is an elegant backpack with a classic and simple design. This is a favorite of former Wirecutter employee Medea Giordano, who told us it lasted better than any other bag she’s tried, including a JanSport that started to have holes in the fabric. after only two years of being dragged to school and whose zippers frequently snag on the fabric of the bag. The Herschel does the job of a backpack, but it’s more versatile in fashion thanks to its clean lines and simple shape, and it can easily go from school to work. With a sturdy water-resistant polyester blend exterior body, synthetic leather bottom and nylon interior, and with extras such as an internal pocket for your phone with a headphone port, the Herschel has stood up to it all. what we threw on it – whether we loaded it with heavy books, put it in lockers, or carried it through a sudden thunderstorm on our way across campus, that bag lasted.

Herschel manufactures the Heritage bag in two sizes for adults: the standard 22 liter version and the 15 liter version Average volume-Plus one kids version and two youth sizes, the ordinary and XL. The Heritage bag lasted all of Medea’s last year of college, commutes to work, and countless weekends where she filled it with shoes and clothes, and after three years it’s only start to show scuffs on the leather bottom. She told us her only regret was that she hadn’t bought a Herschel bag sooner.

Dimensions: 11 by 8.75 by 4.25 inches
Weight: 1.5 lbs

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