Whether you are traveling abroad, down the trail, or to work, a backpack is one of the few bags out there that offers practicality, versatility, and durability. And with the best backpacks under $50 rounded up below, you can also add affordability to that list. These backpacks are comfortable, stylish, and surprisingly spacious — and all designed to fit in seamlessly with your on-the-go lifestyle.
When shopping for a budget-friendly backpack that's going to last, it's important to consider a few key factors.
- Material: A water-resistant polyester or nylon fabric will be able to hold up to daily wear and tear and keep your valuables protected from rain and spills. But if you're drawn to the classic look of a canvas or woven material, you might decide you're okay with just storing an umbrella in your pack.
- Straps: For maximum comfort, look for ones with contoured straps, sometimes called S-shaped straps, that will help reduce friction with your body by curving around your trapezius muscles instead of over them. You'll also want straps that are padded and adjustable, and if you're going to be out on long hikes, a stabilizing sternum strap will help keep your load balanced.
- Pockets: The more the merrier — you want a backpack that's going to have enough compartments for your gear, accessories, and everyday essentials.
- Warranty: Not all budget backpacks will come with a warranty, but some brands, like JanSport, offer a hassle-free lifetime warranty, and other brands will come with a limited lifetime warranty.
With all that in mind, it's time to find yourself a backpack. All of the options below cost less than $50 and come highly rated on Amazon.
1. The Best Everyday Backpack
If you're looking for a backpack that you can take everywhere, the Herschel Classic backpack is a great choice. It features a classic, clean silhouette, and contoured shoulder straps for comfort. The inner compartment is big enough to fit all of your on-the-go items, like a tablet, water bottle, umbrella, bike lock, sunglasses, makeup bag, and more. The classic woven fabric is durable (though not water resistant), and the brand's signature striped fabric liner adds a little extra style. While there are only two compartments, the front access pocket makes grabbing whatever you need easy. Plus, this pack comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Fans say: "It has great back support and it's very comfortable to carry around. Fits a lot of things, including my 13'' laptop."
- Available Colors: 27 different color/print options
2. The Best Laptop Backpack
The Mancro backpack has so many features that make it ideal for hauling your tech gear. For starters, there's a softly lined laptop compartment, plus an external USB charger with a built-in cable for charging on the go. The pack is available in two sizes (15.6-inches, and 17.3 inches) and is loaded with pockets to keep you organized. There are three main pockets, nine inner small pockets, and two zippered side pockets. The water-repellent, tear-resistant nylon fabric will keep your items safe, and there's an anti-theft combination lock for added protection. The two S-curve padded shoulder straps are designed to relieve stress on the shoulders. Plus, the Mancro bag is backed by more than 6,000 Amazon reviews, and there's a one-year limited warranty to boot.
Fans say: "I bought this bag a few months ago to replace my old messenger bag I was using for work. [...] One big reason I chose this bag was the water resistance and it has also surprised me in that aspect. I got caught in a downpour walking back to my car one afternoon and the contents of the bag stayed completely dry. I carry quite a few notebooks, portable hard drives, etc. Nothing was wet or damaged!"
- Available Colors: eight different color options
3. Another Great Laptop Backpack With Vintage Touches
Measuring 15.6-inches, the Ronyes unisex daypack, looks retro cool but comes equipped with modern tech offerings, like an external USB port with built-in charging cable and a padded pocket that accommodates laptops up to 16 inches. Made with a waterproof, canvas-like material, the stylish yet durable pack comes with padded and adjustable shoulder straps and lots of pockets, including the aforementioned laptop pocket that comes with a secure Velcro strap, plus a charging cable pocket and a power bank pocket. This lightweight bag is perfect for airplane travel too since it's well within the carry-on size requirements.
Fans say: "I was surprised at the quality of this product as I was not expecting it to be a really good quality for the amount I paid for. The bag is sturdy and the backpack belt is comfortable. I love it! It secures my laptop and I have other pockets for it to fit my other gadgets.. I also love the pocket slot for the powerbank and also the cord hole so i can charge my phone without having the powerbank out."
- Available Colors: eight different color options
4. A Stylish Backpack That's Pickpocket-Proof
Pincnel's anti-theft backpack has amassed a cult following for its smart pickpocket-proof design. Boasting a 4.7-star Amazon rating after more than 2,900 customer reviews, the durable, water-resistant nylon backpack has a zip opening on the back rather than the front, so no one can open the bag from behind. Available in two different sizes, the stylish bag comes with two adjustable long shoulder straps, and one detachable single-shoulder strap for versatile wear. There are also a ton of pockets, including two exterior side pockets, one main interior pocket, two smaller interior pockets, and a small, zipped pocket. However, it's worth noting that this pack doesn't come with a warranty.
Fans say: "The real beauty of this thing is the functionality. The inside compartment is deceptively large. I could fit everything I needed for hikes, shopping, and travel in a cold climate."
- Available Colors: seven different color options
5. The Best Hiking Backpack
If you're hiking, backpacking, or camping, you can't go wrong with the 40-liter, high-capacity MOUNTAINTOP hiking backpack. The water-resistant nylon pack comes with ample pockets, including a small hidden pouch behind the Velcro for your most valuable items. There are six adjustable straps for hanging sleeping bags, mats, and other gear, plus a place to attach a trekking pole or tripod. The intrepid pack is equipped with comfy, S-shaped shoulder straps that are reinforced with an adjustable sternum strap for balance, and the breathable, molded foam back is designed for comfort. The bottom zipper access means you can reach the main compartment without having to unload your whole pack from the top. Plus, it comes with a 90-day limited warranty and it meets the carry-on size requirements for most airlines.
Fans say: "I bought this pack for a 4-day backpacking trip to Havasupai. I’m 5’0” and I was able to adjust perfectly for best comfortability. The mesh cushions on the back area, shoulder straps and waist belt were comfortable and made the 27 lbs feel light on my back. I was able to fit 4-days worth of clothing, dry food and 3.5L of water, downbag, sleeping pad, water shoes, emergency kit, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, snacks, portable charger, trekking poles, tent sticks, portable stove, flashlight and 32 oz. water bottle. Also comes with a neon yellow waterproof cover attached to the bottom of the pack where I also stuffed my rain poncho."
- Available Colors: 14 different color options
6. The Best Kids' Backpack
The JanSport Big Student Backpack is a classic for a reason. With an extra large capacity for everything from books and tablets to gym shoes and water bottles, this classic rucksack features two large main compartments, a front utility pocket with organizer, a zippered front pocket, a pleated front pocket, and a side pocket for a water bottle or umbrella. The ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps are reliably comfortable and durable, and the pack's 600 denier poly fabric is made to last. Best yet, it comes with a no-hassle lifetime warranty.
Fans say: "[...]Top notch quality, but I would not expect anything less from JanSport. The bag is very comfortable and functional with all the different compartments. [...]"
- Available Colors: Over 35 different color and print options, although some have higher price points
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