Getting the right bag for your gear is essential to staying productive and organized. If you travel light, a 20-pocket, flashy backpack with excess features won’t always make the cut. It’ll definitely be more than what you need, and the temptation to overpack will set in. However, a light minimalist backpack with enough storage space for your basics can always do the trick for you.
Minimalist backpacks embody the simple philosophy of its wearer while providing the fundamentals of a bag. At the moment, several models around the world fall into this category, and many seem nice. However, we’ve picked only the best minimalist backpacks for different needs in this article.
If you continue reading, you’ll find our top seven bags and a buying guide that’ll help you decide the right one.
Our top 3 picks
Don’t have time to go through all backpacks? Perhaps you’ll rather not skip to content reviews. Well, here are the best three minimalist backpacks on this list:
1. Herschel Settlement Backpack (Best overall minimalist backpack): Herschel combined durability, comfortability, and quality design into one piece in this backpack. It has a decent capacity and can fit a 15-inch laptop in its laptop sleeve easily.
2. Vaschy Unisex Classic Backpack (Best backpack for comfort): Manufactured by a top brand, this everyday carry (EDC) pack is well-built, affordable, and water-resistant. Although it is designed for work or school, it can also pass as a minimalist travel backpack.
3. AmazonBasics Classic Backpack (Best budget backpack): This polyester day pack offers a decent 21-liter capacity. It holds up nicely and is comfortable to carry for long hours.
|Herschel Settlement Backpack, Blk, Classic 23.0L||Prime||Buy Now|
|Backpack for Men,Vaschy Unisex Classic Water-resistant College School Backpack Bookbag Laptop Backpack Black||Prime||Buy Now|
|AmazonBasics Classic School Backpack - Black||Prime||Buy Now|
What is the best minimalist backpack of 2020?
After digging through several products and going over reviews, we came up with this top seven list of backpacks:
1. Herschel Settlement Backpack (Best overall minimalist backpack)
When it comes to quality backpacks, Herschel leads many lists of manufacturers. Its Settlement backpack has a vintage style and basic bag features.
This backpack is great for work, school, and light travels. It is available in 38 color options.
Dimensions: 17.75 x 12.25 x 5.75 inches
Capacity: 23 liters
Material: 100% polyester
1. Large main compartment: The Settlement bag’s compartment has a 15-inch laptop sleeve. It also sports pebbled and exposed zipper pulls.
2. Handy front storage pocket: The pocket is for easy-to-access items. It has a key clip.
3. Media port: The Settlement backpack has a small hole at its exterior. This hole can double as a charging or headphone port.
- Feels sturdy
- Has quality fabric lining
- Spacious compartment.
- Shoulder straps don’t sit comfortably
If you’re petite or a fan or simple bags, then consider this Herschel unit next time you go shopping. It’s undoubtedly one of the best minimalist backpacks you can get.
We like that this shoulder bag holds its shape pretty well and is well-built. However, customers have had concerns about its fragile zippers. Thankfully, the backpack’s limited warranty covers them.
Our research found that the Settlement backpack should pack a phone, calculator, laptop, a couple of folders, and more. Overall, the Herschel Settlement backpack is a great product.
2. Amelie Galanti Small Purse Backpack (Best backpack for women)
Like other simple backpacks, this EDC pack is fashionable. It has a unique cone-like design and is specifically made for women.
The Amelie Galant small purse backpack can pack an iPad mini. It comes in five vibrant colors.Error: Unknown Link Type
Dimensions: 15.08 x 10.79 x 2.56 inches
Material: Faux genuine leather
1. Multiple pockets: Its large compartment has one zip pocket and two open-air pockets. Aside from these, the backpack also has one outer-zip pocket and one flap space.
2. Reversible shoulder straps: You can carry this leather backpack as a crossbody bag or a sling unit.
3. Anti-theft space: This backpack has a convenient anti-theft zippered pocket on its backside. It also has a durable clap design.
- Comfortable to use
- Can’t pack a 13″ laptop or 15″ notebook.
The Amelie Galanti backpack is a favorite for many women, so much so that finding a negative review was grunt work for us. It’s really stylish and different from your everyday bag.
We found that the main compartment opens wide, and this makes accessing items easy. We like the light beige liner on the inside and the securely sewn straps of this purse backpack. However, its recent users report that they prefer plastic zippers to the metal ones that come with this bag.
Here’s an idea of things you can pack inside this Amelie Galanti at a go:
- Front pocket – wallet, pens, small medication bottles, makeup kit, and much more
- Main compartment – camera, iPod Nano, USB charges, camera battery, books, folders, and flashlight
- Back pocket – phone, papers, small wallet, and more items
If you’re in to get the best minimalist backpacks, then you should consider this bag when shopping.
3. The North Face Kaban Backpack (Best backpack for design)
This product is another quality EDC laptop backpack for minimalists. Manufactured by a reputable company, the North Face Kaban features easy-to-access compartments and pockets for your stuff. It has a 15″ laptop sleeve and stands up on its own nicely.
Dimensions: 19.02 x 13.5 x 3.82 inches
Capacity: 26 liters
Material: 900D Polyester with TPE PVC coating
1. FlexVent suspension system: This system includes injection-molded, padded shoulder straps. Its mesh back panel also has paddings and a spine channel.
2. Dedicated laptop compartment: The Kaban has an ejector handle for quick access to the laptop pocket.
3. Multiple pockets: Like other bags from this manufacturer, the Kaban has an anti-theft pocket and a front three-quarter compartment.
- Has two side pockets
- Easy to carry with sternum strap and top handle
- Shoulder straps hurt when carrying a lot of items.
The Kaban doubles as a minimalist travel backpack or college bag for essential gear and small items. We like that North Face put in some thought into making it, and many customers report that it holds up well after many years.
Like other users, our favorite feature is the dedicated tablet pocket with fleece lining. While that section can fit an iPad Pro conveniently, the small front pockets are great for wallets, keys, and your phone. The Kaban’s side pocket can take a 32 oz bottle easily. However, we found that you can’t stretch them.
On the downside, water can get past its zippers. Also, it’s not the best backpack for carrying multiple textbooks at a time. However, its main section is pretty roomy.
In a nutshell, we’d tip this backpack to come in handy if you want a simple bag from a popular manufacturer. The Kaban has a lifetime warranty.
4. Peak Design Everyday Backpack (Best minimalist laptop and camera backpack)
Peak Design is a well-known backpack manufacturer with many years to its name. So, consider the Peak Design Everyday Backpack if you need a 16″ laptop pouch.
As one of the best minimalist carry-ons, this Peak Design backpack has a streamlined design for simple use. It works as a camera day pack or a travel bag.
This Everyday carry unit is available in four vibrant colors. In its box, you should find:
- Three FlexFold dividers
- One sternum strap
- One anchor link key
- Four cord hook external carry straps
Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 6.75 inches
Capacity: 20 liters
Material: 400D nylon canvas shell, nylon
1. Durable Water-repellent fabric: The material of this camera backpack is durable. It offers lasting protection for personal items and a 16″ or 15″ laptop in its laptop sleeve.
2. Multiple dividers: Asides from its laptop compartment, this minimalist bag has dedicated spaces for quick access to small devices, cameras, and other things. It also has a dual side entry for easy access.
3. Comfortable fit: This EDC bag has adjustable straps and a quilted panel.
- Roller compatible
- Spacious main compartment
- Easy to carry and clean
- Slim padded laptop pocket.
Not many backpacks are better than the Everyday minimalist laptop backpack, especially when you consider its innovative construction. It comes in handy when you want to pack essentials like cameras, pens, headphones, and a laptop while keeping its shape.
According to its manufacturer, the Peak Design Everyday bag can pack a:
- DLSR camera’s body and lenses
- Mirrorless camera’s body, lenses, and accessories
- Crop-sensor DSLR, lenses accessories, and more
Recent customers are convinced that this model is sleek and great for organizing items. One elated user even claimed that she ‘loves this backpack,’ and it’s not difficult to see why. The seams stay in place, Ultrazips work well, and there are two ways to get to your things.
We were also impressed with the quality of this backpack. Its reinforced 900D waterproof bottom is great. But we were more impressed with its grey, nylon interior.
We would have liked this camera backpack better if it had an inside or outside bottle holder. Nevertheless, the highs of this minimalist laptop backpack outshine its almost negligible drawbacks.
5. AmazonBasics Classic Backpack (Best budget backpack)
From its looks, you can tell that this AmazonBasics Classic is designed for school and work. The China-made bag is one of the best minimalist carry-ons you can get on Amazon for its price tag. It is built specifically for anyone older than 13 years.
Dimensions: 15.8 x 12.2 x 6 inches
Capacity: 21 liters
1. Spacious interior: These zippered backpack sections are big enough for essentials. The bag has a laptop compartment and one zippered pocket. In addition, it has a small front pocket where you can pack small items.
2. Handy water bottle pockets: Instead of being stretchable, these pockets have Velcro closures for easy access.
3. Comfortable design: The back panel and shoulder straps of this backpack have paddings. You can also adjust the straps to get the best fit for your back.
- Secure and properly sewn straps
- Made from quality fabric
- Slightly small
If you want the best backpacks, minimalist designs like that of the AmazonBasics Classic should catch your attention. The bag comes in cool colors and helps its wearer stay organized. But its ultimate advantage is that you can use it as hand luggage to pack almost everything you need for trips.
Looking at its design, we definitely think its plastic zippers could be better. But, we have to say that the entire unit is well-stitched and sturdy. Although it fits a 15.6-inch laptop in its laptop pouch, we found that it will budge out and hurt your back if you put several things in it.
If you don’t like bringing extra luggage with you on trips or to school, then you can’t go wrong with this AmazonBasics Classical unit.
6. Vaschy Unisex Classic Backpack (Best backpack for comfort)
If you’re a backpack minimalist, then consider this Vaschy bag. Based on customer reports, it is one of Vaschy’s most popular models. It has a neat design that makes it suitable for school and work, but it can also pass as a minimalist travel backpack.
In addition to its quality construction, this carry-bag has advanced features like a suede-like bottom and earphone port.
Dimensions: 18.9 x 12.6 x 5.9 inches
Capacity: 20.7 liters
1. Roomy compartments and pockets: This bag has one main compartment with double zippers. It also features one exterior pocket, two water bottle pockets, four interior zipper pockets, and an anti-theft pocket.
2. Comfortable design: The straps on this bag are padded, reinforced, and adjustable. Its vintage design has a fully padded backside panel.
3. Smooth zippers: When it comes to its zipper pulls of products we’ve reviewed, this minimalist backpack is an outlier. It has extra-long leather pulls on its SBS zippers.
- Durable construction
- Easy to carry for long hours
- Convenient to wash black interior
- Fabric leaves watermarks
If you’re wondering what backpacking unit to get for your simple lifestyle, then consider this Vaschy product. We think it has almost everything you need in a minimalist backpack and is big enough to pack many things at once without tearing up. We also found that it holds up quite well and can take a 15″ laptop conveniently.
Recent customers report that the bag is sleeker than it looks in pictures and much easier to carry than bulky bags. However, some weren’t impressed with its water resistance.
We like that this brand included extra leather pulls in the box. But the icing on the cake is that Vaschy offers a one-year warranty replacement for this backpack.
7. Muzee Canvas Laptop Backpack (Best travel backpack)
Only a few minimalist backpacks for men outrank the Muzee Canvas laptop backpack. Its sleek look and high-quality construction make it one of the top units available.
A 15″ laptop and virtually every other thing (including your camera gear) can fit inside this Muzee travel bag.
Dimensions: 16.5 x 12.6 x 6.3 inches
Material: Water repellent canvas
1. Decent capacity: This bag allows you to pack notebooks, an umbrella, and a few clothes. It has one main compartment (with several internal pockets), one exterior pocket, and two side pockets.
2. Anti-theft design: There’s a secure pocket in this unit. Furthermore, the Muzee Canvas laptop backpack comes with an anti-theft lock for its main compartment.
3. Comfortable build: Its canvas fabric is smooth to touch and comfortable. The unit also has a USB charging port but no power bank.
- Easy to wash
- Available in three colors (coffee, khaki, and black)
- Shallow side pockets
Muzee claims that this unit is an amazing backpack, and we think that’s an accurate description of the bag. It is great for everyday use and undoubtedly one that should last you many years if you decide to check it out.
From our research, the backpack’s SBS zippers aren’t top-notch. So, it’s a good thing that there’s a one-year warranty on the entire bag. It’s also not the lightest minimalist backpack out there. But we think that’s the price to pay for comfortable canvas material.
Consider this backpack if you like to travel light and are big on getting the best value for your money.
What matters when shopping for the best minimalist backpack for your needs?
If you’re looking for a minimalist backpack, then you likely don’t have your eyes fixed on feature-packed bags with military-grade functionalities. Other things like ornate styling, a billion compartments, a colorful inside, and a top pocket won’t also matter much to you.
However, if these things aren’t important, what then should you consider when you go shopping?
This is the first thing that meets the eye. It includes the backpack’s shape, size, closure system, and overall construction.
Choosing backpack minimal designs is entirely up to your needs and preference. For example, some women like conical-shaped travel backpacks because it looks unique. However, some men prefer travel backpacks with Velcro closure systems because they provide quick access to their things.
If you don’t want aching shoulders while you carry your things, this factor is one to keep in mind.
A backpack’s comfortability depends primarily on its shoulder strap and back panels. However, the construction material also has a part to play.
While you don’t need a thick padded laptop space model, having a few layers can make the backpack easy to carry for long hours. Mesh panels also help to prevent over-sweating.
If you search Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites for ‘top minimalist backpacks,’ we’re positive links to a 45-liter travel bag won’t pop up. Such bags are simply too large for the description. However, this doesn’t mean a 10 to 15-liter EDC backpack would be better to carry.
If you want a decent capacity bag, check out EDC units with a 20 to 35-liter capacity on any popular site. More importantly, consider bags with organizer pockets.
This factor estimates how long a backpack stays with you.
There’s no measure for backpack durability. However, you can tell its longevity from its seams, material quality, zipper quality, and construction (waterproof or water resistance).
There’s no telling what could happen to your backpack after you carry it for a few months. Therefore, having a warranty can save you from spending huge amounts on getting a replacement.
How to know the right backpack fit for your back
The backpacks we’ve reviewed all seem small or medium-size. Generally, these are the sizes for the best minimalist backpacks. However, how would you know if your favorite bag will fit your back?
1. Measure your torso: This is the distance between the iliac crest and the C7 vertebrae. While the iliac crest is on your hip bone, the C7 vertebrae sits on your neck.
The right backpack for you should stay comfortably on your back and not stoop below your waist.
2. Try on the pack: To get a feel of how your preferred backpack is, put at least 10 to 20 pounds in it. Camera equipment is a great first item to throw in a backpack. Check the shoulder straps and ensure they still sit smoothly on your shoulders.
Your shoulder straps should be about 3-inches below your shoulders. If these straps start lower, then you might want to try out another backpack.
Q1. What is the best minimalist backpack?
Our overall best minimalist backpack is the Herschel Settlement Backpack. It delivers on the fundamental backpack features and is comfortable to carry.
Q2. Why should you consider minimalist backpacks?
Minimalist backpacks are generally light, easy to carry, and packed with exactly the storage space you need. Unlike large units with several backpack features, you don’t run the risk of overpacking your stuff.
Q3. Are there minimalist backpacks for men?
Yes. We’ve included some of the top backpacks for men on this list.
Q4. Can I use a minimalist backpack for hiking?
Yes. A hiking backpack can have a minimal design. Therefore, you can use such a hiking backpack for day hikes as long as it’s the right size.
Q5. What can you fit in a minimalist backpack?
You can pack your camera equipment, a laptop, some notebooks, and there’ll still be room for more stuff.
Most times, a minimalist backpack with basic backpacking features is enough to get by.
If you’re considering getting a minimalist backpack, you’ll need to find a unit you like that can meet your backpacking requirements.
Check out our minimalist backpacks list and use our buying guide to help you decide the right one for your needs.