Let’s get real for a second:
If you’re anything like me, you were rocking that same JanSport backpack since freshman year of high school.
While that classic may have supported you through high school and undergrad, it’s time to consider an upgrade.
I’ve got just the thing.
In this post, I’ve collected my top picks for the best backpack for grad school. If your grad school is actually Law School, I’ve got a post specifically for law students about the best law school backpacks, based on my survey of actual lawyers and law school attendees!
Here’s what I’ll be reviewing in this buyer’s guide:
- Timbuk2 Authority Pack (Top Pick)
- Herschel Little America Pack
- HP Power Up Backpack
- Tumi Fallon Messenger Bag
Let’s get started!
Best Overall: the Timbuk2 Authority Pack
Buy on Amazon
If organization is your number one priority, this is the backpack for you. As Timbuk2 says, their Authority Pack is “a supremely organized monster of a work pack.”
This bag allows you to bring your whole office – whether it’s books, files, computer and whatever else you carry – wherever you go.
- A rear access laptop pocket that will keep your device protected while providing more space in the main compartment (fits laptops up to 15 inches).
- A slim front pocket with internal organization for pens, phones, tablets and other small items
- A side Neoprene pocket for your water bottle so you can stay hydrating lugging your items around
- Sternum and bottom cinch straps and a lush grab handle at the top so you won’t put too much strain on your back
- Dimensions: 10.2 x 5.9 x 18.1 inches
- Weight: 2.43 pounds
The big reason to pick up this great bag, though, is to take advantage of Timbuk2’s best-in-class lifetime warranty. I’ve said it in other posts – Timbuk2 is one of the best companies out there for backpacks and messenger bags!
Check out this great video direct from Timbuk2, explaining a lot of the great things about this bag:
To top it off, this backpack is made with an air mesh back panel that will ensure your dress shirt stays dry and you remain calm, cool and collected.
Best for classic style: the Herschel Little America backpack
Buy on Amazon
If you’re not quite ready to give up those classic JanSport looks, but are still looking for an upgrade, consider the Herschel Little America pack.
These backpacks are certainly a style upgrade and can be taken from grad school to the office, or to the bar for your much-needed celebratory drink after passing that exam while on a full-time work schedule (I’ve been there).
Herschel backpacks have quickly become known for their iconic style while providing a functional modern backpack.
- Fleece-lined laptop sleeve that fits computers up to 15 inches
- Adjustable drawstring closer with magnetic strap closures for added security – ensuring you won’t lose any of your valuables
- Dimensions: 19.5″(H) x 11.25″(W) x 7″(D), 25L
Like the Timbuk2 Authority Pack above, the Herschel Little America also features an air mesh back padding for breathability.
If you’re looking for a backpack that offers a stylistic edge, the Herschel is for you. It’s offered in more than 35 colors ensuring you’ll be able to set yourself apart from others in your class.
Best for carrying electronics: HP’s Powerup Backpack
Buy on Amazon
Whether I am at work, school or just sitting at home, I always have at least 3 pieces of tech within arms length.
With this bag, you’ll never have to worry about finding a seat near an outlet – it comes with the power source built-in!
This backpack features:
- A 22,000 mAh battery that provides a full charge to most HP laptops, a smartphone up to 10 times, and a tablet up to 3 times
- Built in heat sensor monitors backpack temperature and will adjust for overheating
- Includes 2 USB micro cables for android decides and a laptop charging cable
- Dimensions: 6.23 x 19.69 x 13 inches
- Weight: 4.23 pounds
Plus, the Powerup meets security requirements for traveling on planes, so it’s perfect for weekend trips home. And the canvas exterior is heavy duty and water resistant so you won’t have to worry about water logging your devices while trekking across campus.
The only downside with this backpack is that the laptop charger in one of the available models is for HP products only.
Best Grad School Messenger: the Tumi Fallon Messenger
Buy on Amazon
If you’re ready to give up your classic backpack but still need to carry around your devices, consider a messenger bag.
The Tumi Fallon Messenger back is the perfect bag for any young professional balancing work and grad school. This bag merges modern design with great functionality and tons of organization.
What’s makes it special?
- Features a dedicated tablet pocket to keep your device safe
- 3 open interior pockets for organization
- 1 zippered pocket for valuables
- Convenient zip pack slip for convenient carrying on your luggage
- Dimensions: 4 x 15 x 11.4 inches
This stylish messenger bag with adjustable shoulder strap and handle is a great option for those ready to upgrade from a traditional backpack while making a seamless transition from work to grad school.
While this Tumi does fall on the higher end of the pay scale, their products have a great reputation for quality. This bag is sure to last you through the ages.
How to pick the best backpack for graduate school
Many students find themselves balancing a full or part-time job while juggling a full class schedule. I know my schedule was full of internships and other work during law school.
So finding a backpack that can support all aspects of one’s lifestyle is a necessity.
Finding a bookbag with plenty of organization will help in keeping your work and school items separate while ensuring you have enough pockets to organize your electronics, charging cords, books, pens, and whatever other personal items you might be carrying.
Here’s the secret.
Consider what you will be carrying on a day to day basis will help determine the number of pockets and size you’ll need. It will ensure that your life stays organized while carrying what feels like your entire life – books, work items, laptops and tablets – from home, to class, and to your job.
Remember though, while you might want to carry everything you can, try to consulate when possible to avoid unnecessary strain on your back and shoulders. Carrying too much weight can cause issues down the line but with the right bag and contents, all that can easily be avoided.
Got another idea? Leave it in the comments below!