Style Guide

Ten Backpacks for Grownups: A Buyer's Guide

Not just for school kids any more, backpacks come in all shapes, materials and levels of maturity

Summer is gear season. 

If you're going to the beach, you need sunscreen and your towel. If you're headed outside to do some work, you need your laptop and a blanket. Or your camera, gym shoes, bottle of water, very small dog—whatever. 

Regardless, you need a versatile carryall to conquer these logistical challenges. My suggestion: Consider the backpack. 

One can be compact and minimal, or cavernous and covered in pockets. Some, like the leather beauties from Tom Ford and Balenciaga, can cost as much as your lady's favorite bag. Others, such as Chrome’s functional roll-top, are inexpensive alternatives to the passé messenger bag. The main idea, though, is that—lucky for us—they’re not just for schoolboys and gym rats anymore. So here are 10 new choices for the summer. One is sure to fit your style, whatever your type.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Walter Canvas Backpack


Marc Backpack
Source: Marc Jacobs via Bloomberg Business

The multi-use pockets and olive green material give this sack a vintage military look. It’s structured enough to keep things separate inside, but big enough to swallow gym clothes and books—or a field jacket and hiking shoes. Style tip: Wear it with a white T-Shirt and rugged blue jeans for summer. ($270,

A.P.C. Indigo Denim Backpack

APC Indigo
Source: APC via Bloomberg Business

A.P.C. uses the traditional backpack shape here in indigo denim, with leather accents and a simple, rounded zipper top. It’s medium in size, bookish in style. Style tip: Wear it with slim khaki pants and a baseball hat. ($220,

Balenciaga Calfskin Phileas Backpack 

Source: Balenciaga via Bloomberg Business

This black calfskin backpack looks minimal and clean, but it has interesting details like the slanted top cover along the sides, the magnetic snap closure, and the slim silver buckles on the straps. Style tip: Wear it with all white. ($1,765,

Chrome Rolltop Daypack

Chrome Rolltop
Source: Chrome via Bloomberg Business

This is the bag for the urban warrior, messenger-boy wannabe, or the casual camper. It’s compact with a roll-top close, extra hanging handles and versatile vertical straps. Style tip: Wear it when climbing. ($100,

Tom Ford Leather Buckley Backpack

Tom Ford
Source: Tom Ford via Bloomberg Business

Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s chic—the kind of thing you could pass to your godson when you tire of it. The top is discretely rounded in a way that perfectly offsets the large gold zipper and golden D ring buckles below. Style tip: Wear it with something sleeveless. ($2,950,

Kastrup Utility Backpack

Source: Kastrup via Bloomberg Business

It looks small, but this cognac leather and woven bag is big enough to fit a laptop computer, extra magazines, and power chords to boot. The adjustable straps are covered in leather and soft Japanese webbing. Style tip: Wear it with something navy. ($525

Bally Leather Montey Medium

Source: Bally via Bloomberg Business

Here’s an option if you want something blue and true. The Bally Montey backpack is made in Italy from fine-grain Spanish leather. It’s discrete and modern but with cotton lining and plenty of room inside for personal effects. Style tip: Wear it with a soft, red pullover. ($1,395,

Cledran Grained Leather Backpack

Source: Cledran via Bloomberg Business

Wear this when you want something that looks vintage, feels luxurious, and works as practically as canvas does. It’s traditional in its modest form but unique in its supple leather body and Japanese heritage. Style tip: Wear it with a crisp button-down shirt. ($635,

Bill Amberg Hunter Nubuck Backpack

Bill Amberg
Source: Bill Amberg via Bloomberg Business

The interior of this dual-strap rucksack is huge—and lined in twill. The front has smaller pockets for storing phones and wallets; the exterior straps will hold rain gear. Style tip: Wear it with designer sweatpants and Nike trainers. ($840,

Saint Laurent Classic Suede Backpack

Saint Laurent
Source: Saint Laurent via Bloomberg Business

Consider this the complex option for the complex guy: Four small exterior pockets line the front, topped by a dual buckle closure. The cognac suede exterior is trimmed in tonal leather. Style tip: Wear it with something slim and black. ($2,490,

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