Different Types of Backpacks

One of the staples in terms of bags is the backpack. Everyone and their mothers have had used a backpack in their life.

different types of backpacks

Not all bags are created equal.

Much like how there are genres of music, there are also different “genres” of carry. From school book bags to technical hiking backpacks, each type of backpack has its own style and purpose.

But how many different types of backpacks are there? And how do I you which one is right for me?

different types of backpacks

In this guide we break down the different types of backpacks by category and sub-category with real life examples for each. Need a backpack for school? Then start by checking out the types of school backpacks. Have a vacation coming up? Our breakdown of the different types of travel backpacks is where you want to start. You get the gist.

School Backpack

different types of backpacks

School bags are usually what comes to mind when most of us think of backpacks. Although school backpacks come in all different shapes and sizes, most are known for their large main compartments made to carry text books as well as extra pockets and organizers for accessories such as laptops, pens, and even a lunch.

Work Backpack

different types of backpacks

Made with business carry in mind, work backpacks combine the convenience and comfort we love about backpacks with mature designs that won’t look out of place at the office. With work backpacks you can expect a greater variety of premium materials, sophisticated colorways and special compartments for things like laptops, business paperwork and other office essentials.


A substitute for the business briefcase, professional backpacks are made to be worn in business settings without looking out of place. You can expect premium materials such as leather and high denier nylon as well as a mature and sophisticated designs. Special compartments inside accommodate business essentials such as business cards, pens, laptops and paperwork.


Like the professional backpack, you can expect to carry all of your work items but with additional room for your travel essentials. Business travel backpacks usually have special features such as a TSA-friendly laptop compartment, a larger main compartment for clothes, and special pockets for passports and boarding passes.


Modern work backpacks are the perfect cross between business professional and urban casual. Meant to be dressed up or down, the designs and materials can be more adventurous than your average business backpack. There is usually an emphasis on organization, laptop carry and overall aesthetics.

Fashion Backpack

different types of backpacks


“Urban backpack” is general catch-all term for a stylish general carry backpack. These backpacks usually emphasize functional carry for things like laptops, umbrellas, water bottles and other daily essentials.

What makes urban backpacks so special is that here is where brands like to experiment with new materials, construction and designs. Because of this urban backpacks range from mid-tier to high-end and from functionality obsessed to totally experimental. So whether you are a daily subway commuter or just want a stylish way to carry your essentials, urban backpacks are your answer.


Heritage backpacks became popular during the American Maker Movement in the mid-2000’s. It was at this time where young brands became inspired to produce handcrafted goods as a return to form. The style became so popular that mass produced backpack brands like Jansport even jumped on the trend.

Many heritage backpacks are heavily inspired by old hiking and mountaineering packs but that’s about where their similarities end as they aren’t functional enough to be used on more than a casual hike. But one can still appreciate the craftsmanship of American-made brands like Bradley Mountain and Topo Designs.


Considered the chameleon of backpacks, convertible backpacks allow you to change the way you carry by converting the backpack into a tote, duffel or shoulder bag. Many convertible backpacks have shoulder straps that can be hidden or stowed away for an easy transformation. These bags are popular with travelers who want multiple looks without having to pack multiple bags.

Tech Backpack

different types of backpacks

Tech backpacks are made specifically for tech carry such as laptops, photography equipment and drones. These specialty backpacks come in handy for professionals or enthusiasts who need a safe and comfortable way to lug around expensive gear and accessories.


Although most modern backpacks include a laptop sleeve, a dedicated laptop backpack can still be a must-have if you carry lots of expensive tech and accessories. Many laptop backpacks include special pockets and compartments for accessories such as external hard drives, cables, and keyboards to help keep your gear safe and organized. For those with larger laptops, a dedicated laptop backpack is necessary since most regular backpacks do not accommodate laptops over 17-inches.

Outdoor Backpack


Backpacking backpacks are made for those who need a comfortable and stable way to carry their gear during hiking, trekking and mountaineering trips. These backpacks are usually much larger than your everyday backpack and are designed to carry heavy loads for longer periods of time.

Since there are so many different sizes and technical differences, these backpacks must be fitted to each person to ensure safe and comfortable wear. You’ll often see the same backpacking bags come in different sizes because of this.

Travel Backpacks

Different Types of Backpacks

While wheeled luggage still reigns supreme for longer trips, backpacks are becoming increasingly popular as a carry-on option thanks to their hands-free carry and ease of use while on the move. Unlike weekender duffel bags, backpacks distribute weight evenly for a more comfortable carry. In recent years, new backpack designs have allowed travelers to ditch the carry-on suitcase altogether by allowing smart storage of things like clothing, shoes and toiletries right on your back.


Champion LY-S1809 Business Backpack

What sets weekender backpacks apart from regular backpacks is their large main compartments that open up like a suitcase for storing clothing, shoes and toiletries. It’s the same concept as a weekender duffel bag except in backpack form. While some weekender backpacks are strictly backpacks others can convert to duffle bags as needed.


A packable daypack allows travelers to leave behind their bulky bags and luggage for a small lightweight backpack that can be carried on short hikes, out to the beach or while exploring a new new city. What makes packable daypacks special is their small footprint when empty. You can roll, fold and flatten a packable daypack to take up minimal space in your travel bags.

Packable daypacks are also popular with outdoor enthusiasts who needs a smaller lightweight alternative to large backpacking bags when camping or on the trail.

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