Types of Backpacks: Which Backpack is Right for Me?

Not to brag but we kind of consider ourselves pseudo-experts in the backpack world. Or at least that is what we tell relatives at Thanksgiving because saying “I work for Dime Bags” requires more explanation than we have weed for. 

Whether you are looking for an everyday bag, a technical backpack or you don’t know what bag, we’ve got the rundown for you on the ten different types of backpacks to consider when shopping as well as what to take into account when you are browsing. 

The perfect backpack does exist and with a little research you'll be packing in no time. Sorting through the different types of backpacks and the different occasions they are designed for can feel insurmountable, causing you to fall into an existential hole. We're being dramatic but with all the different kinds of backpacks available, it can be hard to feel confident in your decision. 

10 Different Types of backpacks to consider

The Study Buddy everyday backpack

1. Everyday Backpacks

Like these backpacks suggest, they are perfect for everyday use like school and work and chances are when we said "everyday backpack" you thought of a simple design like The Study Buddy. Regular backpacks are a great choice for carrying your daily essentials like books, electronics and your stash bag. With an everyday backpack, you can expect to find padded straps and a padded back panel to maximize comfort for daily life.

If style is of utmost importance to you, this is the type of backpack that provides for the most versatile options when it comes to colors, patterns and other designs. When shopping for a backpack, keep in mind that this style may not have the storage space for your bigger items or weekend getaways. In addition to less storage space compared to some of its counterparts, this style of bag may lack some more specialized features like water bottle holders or organizational solutions. 

If you are looking for something super simple, drawstring backpacks are another everyday style that is a different design than your normal backpack. They can feature an independent drawstring or one that is adjusted by the adjustable straps. 

The Administrator Road Trip backpack

2. Road trip Backpacks

When we think of road trip backpacks, we think of something that has ample storage space without sacrificing organizational features. If you are planning on packing up and hitting the road for a longer trip away this summer,  you will want a bag that will hold up to being on the move. Look for things like a reinforced bottom and seams as well as a durable exterior. 

Regardless of the brand or style, the perfect road trip knapsack will be larger than your everyday backpack and have a host more organizational features. Because they are on the larger backpack size, your road trip backpack may be overkill for short jaunts away.

If your road trip includes some time spent meandering through the wilderness on a day hike (or longer), a hiking backpack with an internal frame can help with even weight distribution of your personal items. These backpacks are often water-resistant and a must-have if you are planning to spend a substantial amount of time outdoors. 

3. Biking Backpacks

Typically when you think of traveling around town on your bike, a pannier is the first style of bag that comes to mind. While they definitely serve their purpose and have their place in the cycling world, they can lack storage space and portability with their almost messenger bag style. If you are looking to upgrade how you bring your gear on your bike, there are some key features that make biking backpacks stand out from everyday backpacks. 

Biking specific backpacks will come equipped with an aero-dynamic design to reduce wind resistance so you can make sure you are going fast as fuck, boi. In addition to helping you keep up your speed racer status, the perfect cycling bag will have a water reservoir because how are you going to set any speed records if you are not properly hydrated?  

Because these backpacks are meant to be worn while riding, their capacity may not quite be that over your everyday backpack. In addition to a smaller carrying capacity, cycling backpacks have a lesser carrying load to keep you light on your wheels while allowing for an even weight distribution.

The City Dweller laptop backpack


4. Laptop Backpacks

Designed for people that do laptoppy stuff, these backpacks are designed for protection and moving on up the corporate ladder. How can you complete your best work and listen to that murder podcast if your laptop bites the dust? Exactly. You can’t.

When looking for a laptop bag, there are few key features that come standard- protection, organization and durability. In addition to being designed for your computer, these backpacks have a more professional aesthetic to them than your more utilitarian or everyday backpacks. 

Because these bags are designed with a specific purpose in mind, they may be too specialized for everyday use or storing larger items like your stone tablet and chisel. On a similar note, laptop bags may not be the best choice for heavy loads or extended wear. 

Hot Box Extra work and school backpack

5. Backpacks for School and Work

Maybe you opted for graduate school instead of bangs and are shuffling back and forth between school and work. Maybe you didn't. Either way, a versatile knapsack that allows you to jump from one world to another seamlessly is needed. 

When shopping for a knapsack that is suitable for both a work and school backpack, you’ll want to find something that has enough organizational features to give you the appearance of having it all together. Be careful though- too tactical of a backpack and  you may spend more time looking for your stuff than actually using it. 

When looking for the best backpack to help you move between two worlds, you can expect to find a variety of styles. These backpacks can range from having a single pocket to multiple compartments and  often come in a variety of colors and patterns so you can express yourself as much or as little as you desire. Most are complete with a laptop sleeve but you'll want to double check.

6. Skateboarding Backpacks

Hey there, Tony Hawk! That’s probably an outdated skating reference but we are who we are. 

If you are in the market for a new skatepack, there are two primary styles that you have to choose from. One allows for you to carry our board vertically while the other allows for a horizontal carry. Both typically feature velcro straps to keep your board secure while you aren’t riding it. 

Skate packs are made of durable materials to keep your board from wearing the fabric down and maximizing the lifespan of your backpack. Other features that you may be able to find on skateboarding backpacks include a chest clip, retractable skateboard straps, padded shoulder straps and back panel and water bottle holders. Remember to keep in mind that skateboarding backpacks tend to be very specific in their use and may not come with some of the features that you can find in a laptop backpack or everyday backpack. 

From left to right: Festy Bound, Club Kid and Hot Box mini backpacks

7. Mini Backpacks

Mini backpacks are making their comeback and transforming into one of the most popular backpack types. While these don’t have the storage capacity that their larger counterparts do, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t packed full of features. 

Perfect for low-key adventures to concerts, mini backpacks are ideal for day trips out with friends or everyday packs acting as a nice alternative to your tote bag. These backpacks have adjustable shoulder straps because well, it’s still a backpack. A lot of mini backpack styles still have an internal storage sleeve to help keep things tidy. 

In addition to their versatility, these backpacks come in an almost endless amount of styles and different sizes. With options available in different fabrics and shapes, the styling options are near endless for these little guys. From canvas to corduroy and micro to mid-size, these bags will compliment whatever energy you're projecting. 

The Slinger sling backpack

8. Sling Bags

Not quite a backpack but also not your pockets or your purse, sling bags allow for a similar storage capacity as a backpack but with the added security of a crossbody strap instead of two backpack straps. In addition to being down a strap, these bags are often lightweight and compact making them easy to travel with. 

Another thing that sling backpacks have going for them is its easy access design. Able to be swung around to the front of your body, you can easily access your gear without having to remove your bag. This can be especially handy when you need to grab something ::wink wink:: quickly while enjoying your outdoor activities, if you are picking up what we're putting down. 

While sling bags have a lot going for them, you’ll want to keep in mind that sling bags don’t have an even weight distribution so the shoulder you favor may get a little tired. We also know that switching the side you carry your sling backpacks on can feel like wearing somebody else’s shoes so it’s just something to keep in mind while you are shopping around. 

The Transporter anti-theft smell-proof backpack

9. Anti-Theft Backpacks

We get it. Anti-theft bags aren’t knife or chainsaw proof. Nothing can prevent someone from stealing your whole backpack so don’t come at us, alright? Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about anti-theft backpacks. 

As far as styles go, anti-theft backpacks span the spectrum from simple packs to more heavy-duty, highly tactical backpacks. Because they are designed to be discreet and low-key, you can expect most of these backpacks to come in neutral colors whereas regular backpacks can be found in an endless amount of style options. 

What distinguishes anti-theft backpacks from the others is their special features. There are three types of locks most commonly used on theft deterrent backpacks:

    Cable locks: The simplest of locks, a cable lock essentially acts like a bike lock for your bag via a steel cable. This cable is then attached to something (probably not a bike rack) and secured with a padlock.

    Zipper locks: These locks secure the zippers to prevent bags from being unzipped. The zippers can lock into place to prevent the bag opening. Zippered locks can range from combination locks to ancillary padlocks. 

    Keyed locks: Keyed locks are like a deadbolt for your bag. Much like a house, these bags are often uniquely keyed and getting replacement keys can be difficult. 

Anti-theft backpacks can have a host of other special features in addition to their lock. Other features commonly found on anti-theft backpacks are slash/cut-resistant fabric, RFID technology and puncture proof zippers. They may even be smell-proof ;) Since these bags are commonly used for overseas travel, they can feature additional attachment points for comfort like a hip belt or chest strap.

10. Carry-On Backpacks

If you are looking for a carry-on backpack the most important thing to check is your airlines carry-on size parameters since they can vary from airline to airline. Generally speaking, carry-on specific backpacks are designed to fit airline size restrictions which makes them ideal for short trips but often serve a variety of different purposes.

This style of travel backpacks often features a large main compartment with a clam shell opening much like a suitcase so you can easily pack your weekend essentials. Exteriors are loaded with smaller pockets so you can not only stay organized but also have easy access to everything you need at the moment.  Because these bags tend to hold significantly more weight than traditional backpacks, they may feature a hip belt to ensure a comfortable fit for long periods of time and long distance hikes. Like other bags with larger main compartments, having multiple attachment points make these a good idea if you are going to be on the go.  

Be smart though- this isn’t a replacement for a suitcase. Long trips or business trips may require something larger because shoes. If you plan on hiking with your carry-on, you will want to look for a frameless hiking backpack versus one with an external or internal frame.

How to Choose the Right Backpack for You


Knowing how big of a bag you need is the first step in determining what bag is right for you. Most larger, more utilitarian backpacks are sized in liters. If you’re American, that means nothing to you so we’ll break it down as much as we can. A backpack with a 28L main compartment is great for day trips and maybe overnight trips. A backpack with a 60L main compartment is for multi-day backpacking trips.

With regards to other backpack styles, most will give a size reference based on a common object like a laptop or tablet. If you are sizing a hydration pack, they are typically sized based on the volume of the bladder.


Let’s be real- regardless of its use, your backpack is an extension of your personal style. While some backpack styles, like anti-theft bags, may limit their design options while less specified bags are available in an endless amount of colors, patterns and designs. 

If you are a student, you will want something that has a larger main compartment to hold your laptop while you are making the Dean's List. If you are looking for a backpack to just run errands with, a mini backpack with a smaller main compartment may be more your style. Smaller compartments on the exterior of your backpack for your must-have items may be a critical feature for you if you are frequently taking them out. 


Once you figure out the size and design of the backpack you are looking for, it’s time to try it on. If you are going to be wearing your backpack for an extended period of time, padded shoulder straps will come in clutch. Depending on the length of your torso, some larger backpacks may sit uncomfortably on that dump truck you got going on. 


If you are planning on being rough and tough with your backpack or traveling abroad, durability should be a key consideration. Look for heavy-duty fabrics or slash-resistant features to make sure you are getting the most out of your bag. 


We only have one Earth and we don’t know if you’ve heard but we’re destroying it. When purchasing a new backpack, taking into account the process and materials the bag is made from is a nice thing to do. Choosing eco-friendly and sustainable materials as well as supporting companies actively combating climate change is one way to let Earth know we do actually care instead of gaslighting her by saying climate change isn’t real.

October 03, 2023 — Amber Sparks

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