There’s nothing quite like that new backpack smell. Fresh on your doorstep or locked and loaded at the back corner of your favourite local outdoor store lies 40 litres of limitless potential.  

Things have changed a lot in the last few years. You might hardly recognise some options if it’s been a while since you’ve perused the shelves. We’ve come a long way from the days of the classic Jansports and Dana Designs. 

While those bags certainly still have value, and many traditional looks hold a stylish appeal, modern backpacks have reached new heights.

New backpacks come in more shapes and sizes than ever before, whittling down to super specific niches and packing extra bags inside backpacks. In our search, we even found backpacks that are six different storage ecosystems, all magnetically connecting in some Matryoshka doll crossover. 

All that technical mambo jumbo is already enough to make some heads spin. You add in the multitude of sustainable promises companies make and the surprising number of lies some makers can get away with, and the waters muddy even further. 

The industry can be a lot to navigate. How can you be sure your new backpack will do what it promises and actually carry your load? Any quantum physicist will quickly tell you we can never measure a true value with 100% confidence, but this epic guide is the closest thing to a guarantee out there. 

We’re broke backpackers, damn it! Our bags have gotten us through countless international layovers, surprise snowfalls halfway to the mountaintop, month-long motorcycle journeys, and – cue the gasps – guided walking tours. 

But our bags aren’t just in it for the long haul. They’ve also helped us head straight from work to the gym, simplified our bike commutes, and packed our lunches. We have tried and tested metric shitloads of backpacks, and these are our picks. 

Quick Answers – Looking For A New Backpack?

New Backpack For Travel – TropicFeel Shell

New Backpack On A Budget – REI Co-Op Trail 25

New Backpack For Work – Innovator Backpack

New Backpack For Hiking – Osprey Airscape

New Backpack For Cycling – SealLine Urban Pack

New Backpack For Backpacking – Osprey Aether

New Backpack For Weekend Trips – Nomatic Travel Pack

New Backpack For Shopping – Travel Pack 3

New Backpack For The Gym – Exped Radical Duffel

New Backpack For A Laptop – Tortuga Outbreaker

A New Leather Backpack – Kobuk Leather Backpack

New Hybrid Backpack – The Settra Duffel Backpack

New Vegan Backpack – Osprey Archeon

New Hipster Backpack – Tropicfeel Hive Backpack

New Backpack For Diapers – Kodiak Diaper Bag

Product
Description
New Backpack For Travel
New Backpack For Travel

TropicFeel Shell

  • Capacity (L) > 22-40
  • Weight (oz) > 52
  • Dimensions (in) > 60 x 30 x 23 (fully expanded)
  • Best Use > One Bag Travel
New Backpack On A Budget
New Backpack On A Budget

REI Co-Op Trail 25

  • Capacity (L) > 25
  • Weight (oz) > 32
  • Dimensions (in) > 19 x 13 x 7
  • Best Use > First backpacking bag
New Backpack For Work – Innovator Backpack
New Backpack For Work – Innovator Backpack

Innovator Backpack

  • Capacity (L) > 22
  • Weight (oz) > 31
  • Dimensions (in) > 18 x 12 x 7
  • Best Use > Working 9-5
New Backpack For Hiking
New Backpack For Hiking

Osprey Airscape

  • Capacity (L) > 68
  • Weight (oz) > 100
  • Dimensions (in) > 32 x 16 x 15
  • Best Use > Haulin’ heavy loads
New Backpack For Cycling
New Backpack For Cycling

SealLine Urban Pack

  • Capacity (L) > 26
  • Weight (oz) > 48
  • Dimensions (in) > 21 x 12 x 7
  • Best Use > Biking no matter the weather
New Backpack For Backpacking
New Backpack For Backpacking

Osprey Aether

  • Capacity (L) > 65
  • Weight (oz) > 80
  • Dimensions (in) > 32 x 16 x 11
  • Best Use > Backpacking
New Backpack For Weekend Trips
New Backpack For Weekend Trips

Nomatic Travel Pack

  • Capacity (L) > 20-30
  • Weight (oz) > 65
  • Dimensions (in) > 18 x 12 x 10
  • Best Use > Business trips
New Backpack For Shopping
New Backpack For Shopping

Travel Pack 3

  • Capacity (L) > 35
  • Weight (oz) > 54
  • Dimensions (in) > 19 x 13 x 7.5
  • Best Use > One bag travel with space for souvenirs
New Backpack For A Laptop
New Backpack For A Laptop

Tortuga Outbreaker

  • Capacity (L) > 27
  • Weight (oz) > 50
  • Dimensions (in) > 18 x 12 x 9
  • Best Use > Potential personal item
A New Leather Backpack
A New Leather Backpack

Kobuk Leather Backpack

  • Capacity (L) > 40
  • Weight (oz) > 56
  • Dimensions (in) > 21 x 13 x 11
  • Best Use > Every day carry

Choosing A New Backpack

Unfortunately, there is no universally perfect backpack. Travellers, commuters, and weekend warriors take on different challenges, and we all need slightly different modifications to make that happen. 

To make things easier, companies gear each backpack on the market towards one specific niche. Some multitask better than others, but no bag does a whole lot of everything. A perfect bag for a backcountry skier is not the same backpack that helps you pack each individual outfit you need for a stag party with stringent requirements.

That’s why this list is full of new backpacks that take on all sorts of different shapes. We scoured the market according to a few key traits; quality materials, overall weight vs carrying capacity, versatility, commitment to a classic style, and special features unlike anything else on the market.

You’ll notice one key trait missing from this list – price. What gives!? This site is called Broke Backpackers, is it not? 

In a perfect world, there would be plenty of budget backpacks that can take you across the world (but really, I’d settle for just one!) But the reality is a bit different. Trust us when we tell you that there is no more important piece of gear in your bag than the very backpack you use to haul it all.

Your backpack has to store everything you need for the day, week, or year, while staying comfortable on your shoulders, crammed on a crowded bus, stuffed under the seat in front of you, or whizzing through a crowded street on your new electric bike.

 If that wasn’t hard enough, your bag will have all sorts of rules and regulations to dodge to get on the plane or into the stadium. And remember, your new backpack will play an essential role in keeping your valuables inaccessible to anybody who may have bad intentions.

We can’t ask for a new backpack to do all that while staying under $50. Buying cheap can often mean buying twice, and splurging for a bag that can really do everything within your list of requirements can keep you confidently ahead of the line for years to come.

Just this once, don’t let a price tag stop you from getting the right backpack. 

Treat Yourself To a New Backpack

Let’s get right down to the real nitty gritty. Our team held a microscope, packed our camera equipment, and slipped an extra pair of underwear into hundreds of the industry’s best backpacks, and only a few proud options passed the myriad tests.

The result is a varying list that is bound to provide bountiful storage.

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    New Backpack For Travel – TropicFeel Shell

    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 22-40
    • Weight (oz): 52
    • Dimensions (in): 60 x 30 x 23 (fully expanded)
    • Best Use: One Bag Travel

    Many new backpacks carry on traditions, providing the usual: a wide open main compartment, exterior stash pockets, and a water bottle holder. That is not this backpack. The TropicFeel Shell has the potential to smash the industry on its head and provide a completely new backpack experience. 

    We only wish we were exaggerating. The three-in-one pack can break apart from 40 L’s down to 22 by splitting into a portable wardrobe, a day bag, and a toiletry kit. That means you can get to the hostel and set up your own personal closet in two clips, then turn around and hit the grocery store without having to unpack your bag or rely on plastic.

    The list of features in this unit goes on and on. The bag is making lots of big promises, but it’s done nothing less than revolutionising what you can store with 40 litres.

    New Backpack On A Budget – REI Co-Op Trail 25

    REI Coop Trail 25 Pack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 25
    • Weight (oz): 32
    • Dimensions (in): 19 x 13 x 7
    • Best Use: First backpacking bag

    This affordable trail hiking specialist has real benefits for all sorts of new backpack seekers. REI is the best outdoor company at doing it all, and this bag manifests that goal. Its subtle stature and serious reinforcement make it an excellent choice for hikes, trips, daily carry, and everything in between.

    Making the choice even easier is the Trail 25’s meagre price combined with an ironclad return policy that lets you try out the bag for a year before fully committing. Our favourite perk of this budget bag is the U-shaped zipper, a freedom often ignored at lower price points.

    This zipper gives you full access to the main compartment, and with loads of handy external pockets, the chances are low you’ll need to open her up before it comes time to set up camp. The pack also has trekking pole holders that also work great for a yoga mat, alongside several daisy chains and hip pockets to stow the little things.

    New Backpack For Work – Innovator Backpack

    Gulu Innovator Backpack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 22
    • Weight (oz): 31
    • Dimensions (in): 18 x 12 x 7
    • Best Use: Working 9-5

    If you want your bag to work as hard as you do, look towards something handmade for a great new backpack for work. Not only will the Innovator get you to and from work with style, but it will also put food on the table and provide jobs to the ladies of the Gulu tribe in Uganda. Each bag is hand-sewn in Gulu and focuses on the details for success in the modern world. 

    Despite the name, This new backpack isn’t trying to reinvent the industry. It’s got a classic backpack look and feel, meaning everything will be exactly where you expect it to be. The Gulu spread storage across two large compartments, a stash pocket up top and nice water bottle holders capable of stretching out and taking on some extra snacks. 

    New Backpack For Hiking – Osprey Airscape

    Osprey Airspace UNLTD
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 68
    • Weight (oz): 100
    • Dimensions (in): 32 x 16 x 15
    • Best Use: Haulin’ heavy loads

    The outdoor brand Osprey is becoming a backpack empire, churning out modern travel bags, baby carriers, and day hikers that all rival anything else on the market. Through all their success, they still remember what they set out to make; technologically advanced backpacking bags. 

    The Airscape hiking pack is one of Osprey’s newest and boldest backpacks yet, featuring a wholly revamped back support system that uses Carbon DLS 3D printing technology to take more weight off your shoulders. It also creates an auto-fit support system that easily moulds the shoulder, hip, and back supports to the contours of your body. There is simply nothing else like it on the market!

    The bag adjusts as the day wears on to ensure no one body part has to take on the entire day’s work. Unfortunately, innovation like this won’t come cheap, but this bag could be the best heavy-load carrier out there, and anyone who needs some serious support should spend the extra bucks to save your back from early retirement. 

    New Backpack For Cycling – SealLine Urban Pack

    SealLine Urban Pack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 26
    • Weight (oz): 48
    • Dimensions (in): 21 x 12 x 7
    • Best Use: Biking no matter the weather

    This next option proves that a new backpack doesn’t always require a facelift. The SealLine Urban Pack has remained the same design since the mid-2000s while subtly slipping in waterproofing upgrades and material boosts. It’s the very definition of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, because these bags last for decades. 

    Sourcing this bag with nothing but waterproof materials wasn’t enough. The fine folks at SealLine also added welded seams and a rock-solid roll top to keep your gear dry through a downpour. 

    A true commuters pack, this bag comes with a flashy yellow reflective outside that will help drivers notice riders even after dark. Thanks to vented shoulder pads, a sternum strap, and adjustable straps, you can easily carry a laptop, book, lunch, and a change of clothes on your back while you head to work the old-fashioned way. 

    New Backpack For Backpacking – Osprey Aether

    Osprey Aether 65
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 65
    • Weight (oz): 80
    • Dimensions (in): 32 x 16 x 11
    • Best Use: Backpacking

    If the 700$ price tag scared you off the Osprey Airscape, we don’t blame you. Luckily, Osprey has excellent options for all budgets, and none prouder than the Osprey Aether, the company’s classic backpacking bag. 

    The bag is half the price of the Airscape and brings an incredibly similar range of functions, minus the 3D-printed back panel. In its place is the signature air support system that started it all, plus a bunch of old-fashioned adjustabilities that help make this pack your own. 

    It’s got all sorts of daisy chains, clip-ons, and doodads that help you bring along the ice picks, sleeping bags, rain cover, and more, all with straightforward access. There’s even a slick beaver tail mesh pocket that will pump a breath of fresh air onto yesterday’s sweaty socks. 

    New Backpack For Weekend Trips – Nomatic Travel Pack

    Nomatic Travel Pack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 20-30
    • Weight (oz): 65
    • Dimensions (in): 18 x 12 x 10
    • Best Use: Business trips

    Nomatic’s first backpack is full of features that make the bag an excellent choice for a long weekend or a quick getaway. The major highlight is the 10 litres of expandable capacity. The travel pack has the versatility to trim down in size when all you need to pack is a few extra bathing suits and beefing up when it’s time to go north for winter. 

    Several new backpacks suitable for weekenders try to do a bit of everything, but a jack of all trades is a master of none. This bag is for those who aren’t pretending they may head out for a two-day hike on their next trip and sacrifices a focus on carrying comfort in favour of storage ingenuity. 

    That certainly doesn’t mean the bag is uncomfortable on your shoulders; it’s actually quite a snug fit. Still, I wouldn’t take it into the backcountry. Instead, the bag carries like a backpack and packs like luggage, with a fully expanding main compartment and plenty of dividers that allow you to bring everything you’d like on your next weekend away from home. 

    New Backpack For Shopping – Travel Pack 3

    Aer Travel Pack 3 Small
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 35
    • Weight (oz): 54
    • Dimensions (in): 19 x 13 x 7.5
    • Best Use: One bag travel with space for souvenirs

    The AER travel bag 3 is a perfect shopping companion, maximising storage while fitting tight spaces. This bag can slide into any locker space, under cramped aeroplane seats, and confidently in your lap on crowded bus rides while pumping in a shocking amount of storage. 

    A great shopping backpack will fit in as well on Champs Elysee’s streets as it will at the Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. How exactly does a bag do that? By staying sharp without standing out. 

    This travel bag protects a highly sophisticated backpack with a monotone black interior that will let the world know you mean business without letting the world know you’re a tourist. Underneath the hood, you can compartmentalise your gear and even find space for two laptops if the black Friday deals are too great to pass up. 

    The best present of all… is CONVENIENCE!

    Now, you could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

    So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card! REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

    Buy on REI!

    New Backpack For The Gym – Exped Radical Duffel

    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 30
    • Weight (oz): 24
    • Dimensions (in): 22 x 12 x 9
    • Best Use: Gym, Tan, Laundry, Jetset

    We just can’t resist the allure of a good duffel-backpack hybrid. Loads of new backpacks that also work as duffels are fine and dandy until you get them fully loaded, and then neither carrying option is ultimately up to the task. Thanks to super comfortable shoulder pads, sternum straps, and a waist belt, this Exped is radically different. 

    Padding in all the right places is just the beginning of this gym bag that can take you across town or the country. Two separate solid layers of polyester and recycled nylon coated in a polyurethane extremity make the bag water-resistant. Exped does an equally great job protecting you from the elements as they do from expropriation. 

    When worn as a backpack, your back hides the main compartment’s zipper, so nobody gets in there until it’s time to work out. The cherry on top is a separate outer compartment large enough to store dirty gym clothes without contaminating the central storage. 

    New Backpack For A Laptop – Tortuga Outbreaker

    Tortuga Outbreaker
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 27
    • Weight (oz): 50
    • Dimensions (in): 18 x 12 x 9
    • Best Use: Potential personal item

    You may have noticed this backpack frequently doubling as a pillow for digital nomads who chased cheap flight deals that come with an overnight layover or two. The Outbreaker captured the hearts of a new generation of travellers, whose office fits underneath the seat in front of them. 

    This sleek kit is not just carry-on certified but a potent personal item, a term I just made up that means you can use it along with a larger piece of luggage and still not wait in line at baggage claim. Luggage pass-through handles further support the cause.

    The Outbreaker isn’t just great for plane travel; it’s also an incredible choice for daily commutes on four wheels or two. In addition to secure laptop storage, several handy exterior pockets and a waterproof outer fabric help the bag navigate the worst days of the year with ease. 

    A New Leather Backpack – Kobuk Leather Backpack

    Kodiak Kobuk Leather Backpack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 40
    • Weight (oz): 56
    • Dimensions (in): 21 x 13 x 11
    • Best Use: Every day carry

    The right leather bag could be the last new backpack you ever have to buy. Synthetic materials have come a long way towards bridging the gap, but high-quality leather still sets the standard for the hyphens. It’s the perfect material for hard-working, flexible and long-lasting builds. So allow us to introduce you to the finest purveyors of leather goods on the market: Kodiak leather. 

    Kodiak’s Kobuk series is the best leather backpack on the planet. The bag brings a material as old as time into the 22nd century with a finely padded laptop compartment, magnetic closures, and a hip roll-top style closure that allows you to size the bag exactly as you see fit. Kodiak protects your investment with a signature top-grain leather look that only improves with time. 

    New Hybrid Backpack – The Settra Duffel Backpack

    Monarc Settra Duffel Backpack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 40
    • Weight (oz): 72
    • Dimensions (in): 24 x 13 x 11
    • Best Use: Eco-friendly travel pack

    Complete with a laptop compartment, a separate storage spot for shoes, and an exterior stash pocket full of mesh dividers, this duffel backpack is raising the bar. The best part about it is that Monarc made this technically advanced hybrid backpack from 50 recycled bottles and a lot of elbow grease. 

    The Settra is an impressive bag, even without its inspiring sustainability credentials. The packable space is well organised and brings plenty of potential for improvement with add-on travel packs. It all stays comfortable to carry thanks to the air mesh ventilation that helps your shoulders breathe. 

    Beyond the unique hybrid nature and durable, sustainable construction is a whole bunch of surprising features that further elevate this new backpack. Monarc made the bag with longer trips in mind and threw in a built-in laundry bag to keep things fresh on the road. 

    New Vegan Backpack – Osprey Archeon

    Osprey Archeon 45
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 45
    • Weight (oz): 64
    • Dimensions (in): 25 x 13 x 11
    • Best Use: Seeing the world without destroying it along the way

    Most of Osprey’s new backpacks incorporate recycled materials where they can and stay Bluesign certified, but the Archeon series takes things to a new level. Ranging from small briefcases to 70 litre overnight backpacking specialists, every Archeon bag is nothing less than 100% recycled fabrics – that’s just the tip of the iceberg! 

    These bags are also 100% vegan, all the way down to the glues and dies. No animals were harmed in the making of this backpack. So this bag sustains, and it also slaps. The bag is as technically advanced as Osprey’s other inspiring options, and it’s still protected by the company’s lifelong All Mighty Guarantee. 

    This backpack finally settles any debates nay-sayers could offer about sustainably sourced outdoor gear. You’ve got the same Durable Water Repellent exterior, plush pockets, solid breathable backing, and adjustable harness for a perfect fit, all with none of the cruelty that plagues the industry. 

    New Hipster Backpack – Tropicfeel Hive Backpack

    TropicFeel Hive Backpack
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 22 – 47
    • Weight (oz): 64
    • Dimensions (in): 60 x 30 x 26
    • Best Use: One bag travel

    We already covered the Tropicfeel Shell, a three-in-one backpack forcing loads of one-bag travel options into early retirement. Well, why stop at three bags in one? The hive pumps a staggering six separate storage ecosystems into one super pack. 

    One by one, these layers start adding up to a great adventure. A wardrobe unit ready to hang a closet anywhere, a camera cube, a toiletry kit, a kangaroo pouch, a fanny pack, and another 12-litre packing cube. The equipment says, why not pack more inside this durable, waterproof shell?

    You can altogether remove each of the six systems from the bag before, during, or after your travel day. If you take them all out, you’ll still have a 22 Litre day pack with a laptop compartment! The bags are connected magnetically and with a few sneaky clips that will have your portable walk-in closet deployed in no time.

    New Backpack For Diapers – Kodiak Diaper Bag

    Kodiak Katmai Diaper
    SPECS
    • Capacity (L): 16
    • Weight (oz): N/A
    • Dimensions (in): 16 x 12 x 5
    • Best Use: Your next go-to backpack

    If there is one bag you don’t want to crap out on you halfway through a trip, it’s your diaper bag. Capable of holding all sorts of dirty little secrets plus plenty of snacks and a change of clothes, this leather diaper bag is one of the sturdiest leather bags out there.

    While the Katmai is legally a diaper bag, much more is going on under the hood. A smattering of external pockets allows enough storage for a work day or a long flight, and a plush interior keeps valuables as fresh as the unmentionables.

    Because the bag is offered by our good friends at Kodiak, you can rest easy knowing your bag will have nothing less than the highest quality, top-grain cowhide in the market. That makes this versatile everyday carry an excellent investment in keeping things under wraps for decades.

    Getting A New Backpack
    NameCapacity (L)Weight (oz)Dimensions (in)Best Use
    TropicFeel Shell22-405260 x 30 x 23 (fully expanded)One Bag Travel
    REI Co-Op Trail 25253219 x 13 x 7First backpacking bag
    Innovator Backpack223118 x 12 x 7Working 9-5
    Osprey Airscape6810032 x 16 x 15Haulin’ heavy loads
    SealLine Urban Pack264821 x 12 x 7Biking no matter the weather
    Osprey Aether658032 x 16 x 11Backpacking
    Nomatic Travel Pack20-306518 x 12 x 10Business trips
    Travel Pack 3355419 x 13 x 7.5One bag travel with space for souvenirs
    Exped Radical Duffel302422 x 12 x 9Gym, Tan, Laundry, Jetset
    Tortuga Outbreaker275018 x 12 x 9Potential personal item
    Kobuk Leather Backpack405621 x 13 x 11Every day carry
    The Settra Duffel Backpack407224 x 13 x 11Eco-friendly travel pack
    Osprey Archeon456425 x 13 x 11Seeing the world without destroying it along the way
    Tropicfeel Hive Backpack22 – 476460 x 30 x 26One bag travel
    Kodiak Diaper Bag16N/A16 x 12 x 5Your next go-to backpack

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      Final Thoughts on Getting A New Backpack

      We said it once already, but it bears repeating. No, these are not the cheapest new backpacks that money can buy. But yes, they are the best backpacks out there by leaps and bounds. While many packs cost a small fortune, you won’t find any better return for your investment than the new backpacks on this list. 

      If you want to save a few bucks, look towards a new backpack that’s only new to you. Facebook marketplace, REI garage sale, GearTrade, and Patagonia Worn Wear are great resources for finding top-of-the-line bags at a reduced price. Except for Facebook Marketplace, where any purchase is a gamble™, the newly used backpacks on these sites will only sport minor cosmetic damages.

      A new backpack should last you for the next decade, even with daily use, and any company worth its salt will provide some guarantee that helps you log some serious miles in your bag. 

      All backpacks purchased through REI come with a yearlong trial period courtesy of their incredibly consumer-friendly return policy. If you are ordering straight from a manufacturer, find out the details of their warranty program. 

      Besides that, happy hunting! And remember, the number of choices can seem overwhelming, but don’t spend months debating different pocket sizes. Lock in the traits you find important to you, find a bag that checks off all the boxes (and a few that weren’t on the list but may come up later!) and take the plunge. Not committing to a choice is just as much a choice as adding something to your cart. 

      As long as you choose from this list, your next new backpack will help you keep the things you value most close to your chest wherever the road takes you. 


      Bye for now, but not forever!

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        And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!