Whether you’re looking for a backpack that is functional, stylish, or both, determining which of the many great backpacks on the market in 2011 is the best will really depend on how you’ll be using it. The backpack you’d use for a weekend in the wilderness is likely not the same one you’d give your child to haul his school books in, and the backpack you’d use to transport your laptop may not necessarily be the same one you’d want to use every day in lieu of a purse. Here are some of the best this year, arranged by function.
Kids can lug some serious weight to and from school and choosing the right backpack can help to reduce stress to back, shoulders, and neck. Avoid single strap styles, which place too much weight on one shoulder. Look for backpacks that have lots of cushioning like L.L. Bean’s Apex Pack, which has thick padding on both straps as well as at the back. Available in five colors, the Apex sells for about $50.00. Eagle Creek’s Wit backpack is lightweight to begin with, and also has ergonomic straps. Available in three colors, the Wit backpack sells for about $70.00. Good distribution of weight can also help cut down on back strain, so a backpack with a lot of pockets, like Land’s End’s Multitask, is a good choice. The Multitask sells for about $39.50 and is available in seven colors. Your child should always try on a backpack before you settle on keeping it to make sure the bag fits comfortably and closely at his or her lower back.
If you’re going camping or hiking, you’ll want a sturdy backpack that can hold a lot but still feels light and comfortable. For just enough space for a day of hiking, check out Deuter’s Speed Lite packs. The smaller ‘10’ is tough as nails and offers just enough room to store lunch and an extra layer or two when temperatures rise, about $69.00. The larger ‘20’ is just as durable and has a smaller pocket for quick stowing and retrieving, about $79.00. For a weekend getaway, try Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for 2011, Granite Gear’s Blaze AC 60. It’s lightweight with plenty of room and sells for about $200.00.
Laptop bags that look like laptop bags are ideal targets for theft, so look for bags that suit your style but don’t necessarily give away their contents. Ladies might like Laurex’s selection of cool colors and designs, each around $75.00, that have a sleek design but still offer enough padding to keep your laptop safe and your shoulder comfortable. Targus’s XL backpack is roomy enough to fit an entire office with plenty of additional compartments to keep you organized, around $70.00. Frequent travelers may want to check out SwissGear’s SA 1908 ScanSmart backpack that opens flat for easy access at checkpoints, about $120.00.
If you like the functionality of backpacks but want one that’s fashionable enough to use every day, check out Fossil’s classic canvas Vintage Reissue II, about $110.00. Looking for something a mite edgier? Topshop’s black leather fringe backpack has plenty of biker chic for $160.00. If color’s your craving, try Marc by Marc Jacob’s Dr. Q backpack in reef blue, $458.00.