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Best school backpacks for 2020: great college backpacks to consider

best back to school backpacks

Getting the best backpack for school can ease some of the burden of a busy college or high school year. When you're carrying textbooks, a new laptop and your everyday essentials (like the best graphing calculators), a top quality backpack can quite literally help take the weight off your shoulders.

Lucky for you, then, we happen to be experts in picking out the best tech products around, as well as the best back to school backpacks to carry them around in. 

Taking into consideration things like durability, comfort, space and price, we've scoured the market for the best back to school backpacks for you. 

From designer names offering bargain deals to sensible, affordable picks all year round, these are the very best back to school backpacks we’ve found for 2020.

Our selections, ranked from cheapest to most expensive, take into account online reviews, brand reputation, product capability and unique features, to help you pick through the maze of choices available to you. These are products that we haven't had in our test labs, but based on our experts' opinion and knowledge of the most reputable brands around, we think these are worth looking at.

Back to School 2020 is certainly going to be different, and we’re here to guide you through what you'll need. Whether you’re truly going back to school or remotely attending classes online, we’re rolling out a series of in-depth guides for students, teachers and parents to ensure you're buying the right technology and accessories.

AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

Gets the job done for cheap

Key Features: Fits 15-inch laptops; zippered Speed Pocket; organization panel | Dimensions: 14.3 x 7.8 x 19.8 inches (L x W x H) | Weight: 1.6 pounds

15-inch laptop sleeve
Super affordable
Quick-access speed pocket
Lacks premium look and feel

If you only have the budget of about 30 bucks (or around £18) to spend on a backpack that will get you through the year, then the AmazonBasics Laptop backpack is a terrific option. Most folks that just want a bag to hold their stuff, and this one does exactly that. Made and sold by Amazon through its Basics program, this all-black backpack has a laptop sleeve for 15-inch laptops, and several types of pockets, for but a pittance compared to most.

JanSport Baughman Backpack

JanSport Baughman Backpack

The classic returns once more

Key Features: Fits 15-inch laptops; fleece lined media pocket; front flap with organizer; front zippered pocket with removable storage pouch | Dimensions: 17.5 x 12.6 x 5.7 inches (H x W x D) | Weight: 2.4 pounds

15-inch laptop sleeve
Removable storage pouch
Fine canvas look and feel
No weatherproofing

The tried and true JanSport is tough to make a case against, especially the Baughman backpack. A full-canvas bag with nylon mesh inside including a 15-inch laptop sleeve, this backpack also comes with a media pocket lined in fleece as well as a removable storage pouch. Of course, it also includes the comfortable padded straps that the brand is famous for so your shoulders won't be torn to shreds. Lastly, for the aesthetic inclined, it also comes in several different colors – from solid black to ones with a patterned material.

JanSport Big Student Backpack

JanSport Big Student Backpack

A classic made even bigger

Key Features: 2,100 cubic inch capacity; two main compartments; front pocket; upper zippered accessory pocket; lower front zippered stash pocket; web ergo handle with reinforced hold; ergonomic, S-curved shoulder straps | Dimensions: 17.5 x 13 x 10 inches (H x W x D) | Weight: 1.2 pounds

2,100 cubic inch capacity
Upper zippered accessory pocket
Ergonomic, S-curved shoulder straps
No weatherproofing

For those that like the look and feel of JanSport, but need even more storage for a particularly heavy semester, the brand’s Big Student Backpack is a shoo-in. With 2,100 cubic inches of carrying capacity, this backpack should hold everything you need and then some. Plus, ergonomic shoulder straps help prevent your cargo from weighing down on you too much. As far as organizing all your stuff, this one’s got several sections, including three front pockets, one side pocket and the two main compartments.

Burton Tinder Pack

Burton Tinder Pack

Old-school look, modern niceties

Key Features: 25L main compartment with rucksack-style drawstring closure; pocket on top; padded 16.5 x 10 x 1.5-inch laptop compartment; ergonomic shoulder harness; backed by lifetime warranty | Dimensions: 6 x 38 x 58 inches (W x D x H) | Weight: 1.4 pounds

Fun, classic style
15-inch laptop sleeve
Lots of pockets
Can get pricier

Burton is one of those brands that has come in vogue in recent years, and for good reason. Its backpacks come in countless colors and fabric styles, even nylon so that water isn't easily absorbed. The Tinder-style backpack has a 15-inch laptop sleeve, as well as ergonomic shoulder straps and a lifetime warranty should something break via natural wear and tear.

Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

Herschel Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

An ultimate premium school bag

Key Features: Fleece-lined, 13-inch laptop sleeve; magnetic strap closures with metal clips; front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip; media pocket with headphone port | Dimensions: 16 x 10.75 x 5 inches (H x W x D) | Weight: 1.9 pounds

13-inch laptop sleeve
Magnetic closures
Fantastic style
A bit small

Meet the ultimate backpack for your next school semester, marrying the worlds of form and function like few others can. The Little America comes in several colors and patterns, all mirroring that look and feel of a hiker’s pack. That feeling comes through even with the 13-inch laptop sleeve, magnetic closures and media pocket with headphone port.

Adidas Premium Essentials Modern Backpack

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Premium Essentials Modern Backpack

A sophisticated choice

Dimensions: 58 x 38 x 30cm | Fabric: 100% polyester | Volume: 24 liters | Color: Black | Weight: Unknown | Max laptop size: 15-inch

Mature, sophisticated, clean – the Premium Essentials Modern Backpack from Adidas has an understated and professional look. It features two side pockets, an outer zip laptop compartment that can take up to a 15-inch laptop, and there’s a front zip pocket too for smaller bits like keys, pens and power banks. Inside you'll find a bevy of compartments to carry your spare USB cables, and other small items, and the backpack also includes a chest strap to secure it in place during long bouts of walking.

Nike Heritage 2.0 Backpack

(Image credit: Nike)

Nike Heritage 2.0 Backpack

Key features: 15-inch laptop sleeve, zipped front pouch, padded shoulder straps | Dimensions: 43 x 30.5 x 15cm (H x W x D) | Material: 100% polyester | Colors: Black/Blue/Pink

The Nike Heritage 2.0 is a super affordable backpack capable of carrying a 15-inch laptop that's perfect for media students or creatives. With a large front zip compartment, which is ideal for carrying a bluetooth speaker, the Nike Heritage 2.0 also has a zipped main compartment for the tech you want to keep safe and secure like your smartphone.