There’s a trend we’ve noticed taking over New York City streets as bright-eyed, peach-fuzzed Gen Z 20-somethings strut into their midtown offices. No, it’s not just the iPhone glued to their right hand and the Starbucks iced matcha to the left, it’s the way they’re carrying work essentials. It seems like the classic work briefcase has fallen off and work backpacks are on the rise in younger demographics.
And, you know what we have to say? It’s about damn time.
No shade, but men’s briefcases are some of the worst options for a lot of commuters in 2022. That uncomfortable leg slap whenever you’re walking too fast, the raw strap rub against the side of your neck, the constant reconfiguring and in layman’s terms, they’re simply corny. Big cringe energy, for sure.
Work backpacks are everything and more than your current briefcase. They’re entirely stress-free as they sit totally out of the way on your backside without needing to maneuver as much for comfort. The most important features you need? Well, work backpacks are built with numerous pockets and zipped spaces to keep various work essentials safe, such as your work laptop and important documents. If your work backpack isn’t a laptop backpack, it simply isn’t a work backpack. Lastly, work backpacks won’t ever unlock without permission and spray files all over the city streets. If you haven’t been there before, consider yourself lucky.
At this point, work backpacks feel like a total no-brainer. Gen Z really had a point by transforming their classic college backpack into their newest office bring-along. That said, it’s time to kiss your briefcase adieu and check out the best work backpacks to consider below in 2022.
1. Day Owl Backpack
BEST WORK BACKPACK
We’ve had the experience of testing backpack after backpack as SPY editors, and one of our favorites, by far, is the Day Owl Backpack. This minimally straightforward backpack has a classic appearance on the outside that avoids any eclectic branding and vivid colors. It’s got a muted look to it with all the bells and whistles folks expect in a work backpack in 2022. Each pack includes a padded laptop pocket that can fit 16-inchers, a spill-resistant water bottle pocket for your Hydro Flask, a floating top pocket for small knickknacks like lip balm and eyeglasses, a front pocket where you can keep your wallet and a sneaky side pocket for valuables. In addition, this backpack is made with water and stain-repellent, 100% circular recycled canvas. That means no landfills today, tomorrow or ever. Full send, this is the best work backpack you can own. We even named it one of our favorite products of the year in the 2021 Man, our end-of-year product awards.
2. Monos Metro Backpack
Monos’ Metro Backpack was built for your daily commute. Our favorite kind of work backpack exudes the same subtleties your classic work briefcase does. Meaning, we don’t typically want our backpacks to stand out with any out-there designs or obvious branding. This backpack throws you into a sea of city commuters with a sleek all-black exterior that’s ideal for everyday travel. It’s got a totally separate compartment from the main interior to hold your laptop for safekeeping, a space to keep shoes if you commute in something different and numerous pockets for other work-related essentials.
Going on a weekend trip? Leave straight from the office and pack your Monos Metro Backpack to the brim, this puppy opens like your clamshell carry-on so you can see everything at once. If that’s not enough, this backpack is topped with a unique QuickSnap™ Modular Kit System which you can snap on and off the front for an added pocket.
3. Mancro Laptop Backpack
Business meets affordability with Mancro’s water-resistant laptop backpack. This backpack is constantly on sale and even if it weren’t, we’ve never seen it reach over $30. Included in this pack are a slew of interior pockets for keeping your laptop and other work-related must-haves safe, including a practically invisible front slanted pocket for keeping valuables. If you need to charge your phone, there is a USB port included with a built-in charging cable to juice up your iPhone. Worried about the safety of your pack’s interior? Don’t be. This backpack has an anti-theft lock to keep your laptop safe and sound from anyone with sticky fingers.
4. Everlane ReNew Transit Backpack
The ReNew Transit Backpack is an Everlane fan favorite, so much so that they can barely keep it on the shelves. Seriously, it’s almost always on backorder. This gorgeous backpack is made with 100% recycled polyester and is complete with a water-resistant coating to ensure everything inside stays dryer than the Sahara. It’s got a padded area to fit a 15-inch laptop snuggly and a luggage pass-through slit on the backside in case you’re headed on a business trip. Complete with numerous interior and exterior pockets for fitting water bottles, keys and documents, this is definitely one of the most worth-it backpacks to consider bringing on your commute.
5. Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0
This one’s for all those Lulu-obsessed folks out there. The Everyday Backpack 2.0 is one of Lululemon’s newest, featuring updated organizational methods every on-the-go commuter needs. To start off, Lulu knows no work backpack is complete without a laptop sleeve, so they’ve included a padded pocket to fit up to 16-inches total. Easily access your backpack’s interior with a quick zip to access everything you might need from pens to your sweat towel for that post-work workout. Find more pockets throughout including a super impressive exterior water bottle pocket whenever you need a quick sip. It’s topped with a pass-through sleeve so you can easily take this one on work trips.
6. Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Backpack
BEST FROM COLLEGE
If you want something on the more casual side, show your age with Herschel’s Pop Quiz Backpack. Visually speaking, this has a younger vibe to it, but it still has a semi-professional aesthetic that will have you fitting in with the big dogs in the office. The interior of this backpack holds a 15-inch laptop through a padded, fleece-lined sleeve. The front pocket is perfect for keeping any objects you want to keep on hand such as pens and smaller notepads. The interior is pretty huge, so whatever you need to bring to work, you’ll be able to fit it. While we typically suggest lower-key colors for the office, there is a number to choose from including brighter reds and yellows.
7. The Brevitē Backpack
We know, we just said it, we do stay away from colors for the most part when it comes to work backpacks. But when considering The Brevitē Backpack, you simply can’t pick black. It’s not the way the cookie crumbles. The Brevitē Backpack is TikTok’s favorite backpack for two reasons: all of the candy-esque colors and simply how much this backpack can fit. In addition to a 16-inch MacBook through a water-resistant padded sleeve, fit everything you need to pack via Brevitē’s many pockets and zippers. Our favorite part of this backpack? The added J-Zip zipper at the bottom of the bag, allowing for access through the bottom. No more digging!
8. Away Zip Backpack
BEST FOR WORK TRIPS
When talking about travel, you can’t leave out the modern luggage brand Away. They’ve practically reinvented the way we see luggage in 2022 with their almost indestructible carry-ons. But, that’s not the only reason we’re raving over the brand. Away’s Zip Backpack is made with water-resistant nylon to help get you to and from without fear of damaging the inner contents. Inside, there is a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve and a magnetic locking zipper to keep everything safe. Slip it right over your carry-on (whether it’s Away or something else) to effortlessly get your necessities where they need to be on your next work trip.