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Ask HN: What backpack are you using?
51 points by HipstaJules on March 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 94 comments
I'm looking for a new one and since HN is supercritical towards everything I'd love to have some tips! Thanks

Goruck GR-1. Benefits: - Padded laptop compartment helps keep laptop safe and easy access - Built like a tank, will last forever (made in USA!) - Outer and Inner organization pockets - Panel loading, can be fully opened by a side zip and easy to pack/unpack - Big enough for multi-day travel. I have used it as a carry on pack for upto 7 days (did laundry on the road). - Discreet enough (black) and fits into a corporate env without looking too tactical

Have no affiliation with GoRuck, am a happy customer

I love that there's no wasted space to "organization". I found all my backpacks wasted so much space with padded pockets I didn't need. The benefits of being able to customize with packing cubes or molle attachements allow this bag to carry more than bags larger than it.

Ditto. I've been using a GR1 for seven years now. It's been through multiple GORUCK events as well as countless flights and road trips. When it gets dirty or starts to show sweat stains if I've been training with it a quick trip to the car wash and it's clean again. Without question one of the most versatile and resilient items that I own.

I too have no affiliation with the maker.

Edit: I literally have a closet full of mission-specific packs. Ice climbing, backcountry skiing, multiday hiking, rock climbing, speed ascents, etc. The GR1 isn't suited to any of those things. But it's ideal as a multi-purpose EDC that will literally not wear out in a human's lifetime.

This is what I have. I've been using mine every single day over the past 5 years and it's still in excellent condition. I love it.

I used to go through a bag every 2-3 years so it speaks to the build quality of the the GR-1 that it still looks this good.

For $400, it would have to last me (2 years * (400/60) between 10 and 15 years.

Haha exactly what I thought. I might be overly frugal, but I'm currently using a $50 backpack that I bought at REI in 2009 (!!) and it still works perfectly, just barely showing signs of wear. I use it every single day for my daily commute to carry food/books/laptop/etc, and on weekends for trips and hikes, to carry water and food.

Maybe I also have a habit of treating my belongings too nicely: most of my acquaintances break a phone on average every year, and they also replace screens so many times.

My iPhone 6S, bought in 2015, it's basically brand new cosmetically, and I literally live on my phone, averaging probably at least a couple hours a day of usage while on public transportation.

i bought a GR2 a few years ago and it's the best backpack i've ever owned. it's a pleasure to use. i promise i'm not a shill, it really is an exceptional product.

it looks attractive, bears weight far more comfortably than any other pack i've ever owned, it's easy to clean, it's waterproof, and the ability to open flat means that it's easy to pack very densely. i was able to live out of my 26L pack for nearly a week, and it goes with me wherever i travel.

the MOLLE straps are functional, and i strap my water bottle to them all the time. gotta be careful to avoid that overly tacticool look though!

i'm a total fanboy since my purchase -- the high price point was definitely worthwhile.

In case, you need recommendation from previous discussions. Here are the list:

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13369197 (Jan 10, 2017 - 135 comments)

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14721746 (July 7, 2017 - 42 comments)

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15250044 (Sept 24, 2017 - 48 comments)

Whoa, so I do like the Wirecutter link just because first you have to identify your needs. Then you have to identify your budget and what else is important to you. I have a lovely Swiss Guard laptop (and more) backpack I use every day, but I also have a $10 Best Buy thin and light backpack that is perfect for my ultrabook when I'm heading to Dungeons and Dragons. I see these $400 recommendations, and I think - OK if money is no object and you have some sort of really high end needs that fit the bill, that might make sense. But is that you?

The $10 Amazon Basics backpack. Laptop sleeve, big hole that has straps for my back for everything else. Small pocket in front with zipper. So far lasted 4 years in the rain and weather with its thin cordura. Why complicate things?

I have Osprey Quasar for over a year. (https://www.backpacks.com/osprey-quasar-backpack) I use it everyday, has dedicated laptop sleeve, and it can expand to quit large size if needed. It is a good choice for good money, the only thing I dearly dislike is a plastic keys clip. I have actually found my keys self-unclipped a few times.

REI Ruckpack 28 (https://www.rei.com/product/118790/rei-co-op-ruckpack-28-pac...)

I bike commute with it every time, sometimes with a laptop, and it is wonderful. I really enjoy that it sits on my back comfortably while pedaling and has enough venting to not leave me crazy sweaty.

How far do you commute?

I've been happy with a Dakine Duel 26L. I know that's going to seem too pedestrian to some because it's pretty inexpensive, but it fit my requirements.

First, it had to be relatively compact. Specifically, it had to fit under a standard economy-class airplane seat with room for my big feet.

Second, I wanted something more vertically oriented than usual. Most backpacks have multiple pockets in a "sandwich" configuration, so everything slumps into the bottom of each one and the top remains completely slack. I hate that. Having two decently sized outer pockets in an over/under configuration really helps. The straps (it's meant to be a skateboard pack) are occasionally handy to hold a jacket or hoodie instead of stuffing it inside.

It's not as weatherproof as some, certainly not as stylish, but it has survived a dozen week-long coast-to-coast trips and still seems barely worn. I looked at a lot of camera and other packs that might satisfy my preference for verticality even better, but for one third the price this one has done just fine.

I like Dakine's Mission. Similar size, but the one large front organizer pocket is great. Side pockets for a small charger and mouse. Main compartment can handle my 15" gaming laptop fine. Jacket can easily be strapped to the back using the skateboard straps. Has waist straps for when your kit is really heavy (15" mac + Surface Pro + Chargers + notebooks?) I own two, one for work, one for the gym. They handle washing extremely well too.

Mainly surplus Swedish army packs with external frames, I have both the smaller ~25l as well as the bigger ~35l aircrew versions. They're made of heavy canvas, have a strong external but integrated (the top of the frame is held in a leather sleeve on the bag) frame and are comfortable to carry even with heavier loads. They can be found at military surplus stores for around €15.

I have been using a Thule Crossover backpack for almost 8 years now, and it’s still as good as new! The laptop compartment is well padded and it’s got a hard-shell compartment for smaller electronics. It is incredibly well built. I have the older version which is not produced any more but in the meantime Thule have introduced an almost identical model (the main difference is the tablet compartment in addition to the laptop compartment), link here: https://www.thule.com/en-gb/au/backpacks/laptop-backpacks/th...

PS there is also an even newer model, the Crossover 2. But it’s different and I don’t know if it’s as good as the one I have.

+1 on this. Picked mine up around about the same time as you. Built tough. It's a little too big for my daily though these days as I live close enough to walk to work. I bust it out for anything beyond that though.

If you need to carry a laptop I highly recommend this one: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTQT1NB/ref=oh_aui_se...

Filson Journeyman Backpack. https://www.filson.com/journeyman-backpack.html#sku=11070307...

I think it looks great. It's well built, and should last me my lifetime (if looked after)

Lululemon Para Backpack 23L: https://www.lulufanatics.com/item/36691/lululemon-para-backp...

Fits 15 inch MBP. A lot of pockets. Very stylish, I get a lot of compliments on this.

When I was going to gym during lunch, this was perfect, cause could hold shoes and gym clothes in separate pockets each. Though no place for towel.

What I wish it had was another pocket for personal iPad. Well it kind of does but it is too tight when both laptop and iPad is in.

5.11 Rush 24

I love it. It's spacious enough that I can pack everything I need for a week away from home, yet compact enough that it fits under the seat in an airplane. Kind of pricey but sturdily built, I've had it for six or seven years now and it isn't showing any signs of wear or tear.

Mission Workshop The Rambler, https://missionworkshop.com/products/the-rambler Amazing bag, not cheap though, have had it for 5 years. Perfect for biking or travel.

For many years I had a Chrome Bravo but all the Velcro stopped working and it was pretty beat up so I looked for a new bag.

With some recommendations from friends, I ended up with the Timbuk2 Especial Tres. I love it because:

- it carries a ton of stuff (rolltop bags are great for this. I use it to carry a week’s worth of groceries home with me on my bike)

- waterproof (for biking in the rain/winter)

- sits much more comfortably on my back than the Chrome bag

- buckles for securing the top instead of Velcro that will wear out or breakable zippers

- good laptop compartment and organization pockets

Here’s a link (no affiliation): https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00E1O36AC?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_...

For travel, I'm happy with the Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack. It's optimized for photographers, with separate packing cubes that clip into the bag. https://www.peakdesign.com/products/travel-backpack

Their Tech Pouch in particular is an amazing design, and has organized all of my random cables and adapters. https://www.peakdesign.com/products/tech-pouch/

For just around town, I like Timbuk2 messenger bags. Sadly, they stopped making the Especial messenger bag, which was the best product they've ever made.

Dakine factor bag. I have the older version and its amazing

My version: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00S87MSKW/ref=oh_aui_sear...

New version: https://www.amazon.com/DAKINE-Factor-22L-Laptop-Backpack/dp/...

MUJI Paraglider Cloth Foldable Rucksack (packs in my suitcase for travel).


I use an Osprey Aether 70 for search and rescue. I used to use a Kelty Tioga 5500, but the external frame snagged branches in awkward situations. I've also done the Bataan Memorial Death March, civilian heavy, 10 times, with all but one or two of them using the Kelty. When I tried the Osprey for that, it was too hot.

One of my two upright tubes on my (third) Tioga broke during BMDM this year after a punishing training schedule, so I'm going to use something different for 2020. However, I was doing three training runs a week with bulky dried food (beans and lentils) taking my pack weight to 40 pounds and that's not what the Tioga is designed for, so it's my own fault, not Kelty's.

Might help to state some of your requirements. I need a laptop compartment, a separate document compartment, a large storage area, external water sleeve, and one or more external easy access pockets. Bonus for a electronics or sunglasses hard case. I didn't need to worry about rain.

I got an Ogio (I think at Target). Tried to find the same model on Amazon just now and don't see it, but lots of similar options. I like that it fits my reqs and has a hard top strap (aluminum) for hanging from hooks in stalls. The two large compartments help keep thing accessable for travel. Commuted several years (trains and flights) and still going strong. I wouldn't use it for extreme weather or terrain.

The North Face - Surge II


Reasons: After 5 years of everyday use, it's still in perfect shape, it's definitely build to last. I cycle to work every day with it, it's very comfortable for short (~40 min) rides. It's also good for travelling since it's capable of expanding quite a lot if needed, fits most 15" laptops (probably also some 17").

Tom Bihn Synapse 25.

Prior to that, Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L.

I think I'm going against the flow here, but I have an IKEA Family backpack [1]. It is composed of two parts: a travel part with wheels, some large storage for clothes and other things you need on a trip and a retractable handle, and the backpack part uses for everyday commuting.

The backpack part consists of a part where you can store a 15½ inch laptop, and a part for small stuff like cell phones, head phones, cables, adapters, etc.

[1]: https://atrancetotravel.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/mochila-...

I have this backpack:


I use it mostly when going on a weekend trip or a week trip for work. Is big enough, has a lot of compartments, space for a laptop/gadgets.

Sturdy enough, laptop is safe there, but don't expect it to keep your DSLR camera safe ;) As the biggest compartment is meant for clothes, not for electronics

I see they discontinued it, I couldn't find it on official website (they changed the design, can't tell you if it's still the same quality)

I always recommend Deuter. Lovely back systems and true life-time service. My 20year old cross-air cycling pack looks like new, despite its abuse. All the fittings are super tough and they well replace under warranty I'm told.

Pretty open-ended question! I bought an Osprey Flapjack Pack [0] in a rare impulse buy while I was at an event that happened to be selling them. I didn't know anything about them, except it seemed pretty sturdy, comfortable and I was in the market for a new backpack. That was in 2015, and it still looks new. I like that it has an orange lining inside, which makes it really easy to find things.

[0] https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/flapjack-pack-FLPJKPACK...

Thule Covert - Laptop Sleeve - Remove-able DSLR Camera Insert - Ability to separate top and bottom components - Water resistant

The bag is a bit on the heavy side (5lb), and a bit on the pricy side ($180), but I absolutely love it. Use if every day for almost 2 years. Laptop, Work, Photo Gigs, Groceries, Bike Commuting, etc.


I really like my Patagonia Black Hole (25L) [1]. It's pretty robust, looks nice, and fits everything I need quite easily. I have used it for sport but it's really poorly suites for it as the back is not very aerated and it doesn't have a waist strap. Great for city life though.

[1]: https://www.patagonia.com/product/black-hole-backpack-25-lit...

A venerable Berghaus Dart 40 pack. it's a 40 litre bushwalking day pack -- largely just one big compartment with adjustable waist and shoulder straps and a U shaped aluminium bar in it to give some structure.

I cycle commute or walk with it 5-7 days a week and it is large enough for single person grocery trips.

It is not particularly trendy but has already lasted 20 years, probably with use at least once per week for the last 15 years.

I have been thinking about replacing it with another locally made high quality bushwalking pack, if I can find pack with a simple design made with durable components.

Goruck GR1. I’ve used it daily for over 5 years, including as my only bag for multiple business trips to India and all across the US. I bought Gorucks for my kids as they were wearing out backpacks every year.

I use an Osprey Farpoint 40 for international travel. Packing cubes are absolutely essential for fitting in all my clothing, and there's no denying that I have to sacrifice plenty of things that I would otherwise be able to fit in a suitcase. But at the same time, I'm blind, so I always have a white cane in my right hand. Once I'm dragging a suitcase, I have no hands left and everything becomes difficult (to potentially unsafe levels). I'll never travel with a suitcase again if I can avoid it.

I currently have a “Daypack”, from QWSTION and I’m very happy with it.


Disclaimer: a family member works for QWSTION

It has a compact (rectangle) shape, one large space compartment, you can convert it from a backpack to something you carry by hand like a suitcase. And it looks really good :)

The company makes high quality products, a bit expensive though (190+€), but I would recommend if you don’t care too much about the price.

Lots of in depth write-ups here: https://thewirecutter.com/search/?s=backpack

I use the first version of the Direct Action “Dust” - https://us.directactiongear.com/dust-backpack#BLK

My brother liked it so much he bought the mkII.

It is on the small side, but fits a Dell XPS 13 or even a 15” MBP (but definitely not any bigger). Helps me keep the amount of crap I carry way down, and is super tough. Straps are wide and comfy, and the back has padding that helps the back breathe a little.

5.11 Rush24. I bought it for travel, it doesn't even have a laptop compartment. But all my laptop backbacks, some fancier than others, fell apart and I've just defaulted to using this instead as it will not die. The compartment design also turns out to be perfect, even though I've owned a lot of other bags that are more "clever". I've used the accessory loops to add a drink holder for a 1 liter bottle which otherwise is a rare option on a bag.

REI trail 40: https://www.rei.com/product/136586/rei-co-op-trail-40-pack-m...

It's great for commuting: fits large laptops in sleeve, has space for 2 mugs on each side (coffee and water), and has 2 support straps (chest and waist). It's also good for hiking and travelling. I've had mine for 4.5 years and it still going strong.

Been using Incase Halo Courier Backpack every day for about a year. Super handy and always seems to fit what I need. However I ended up buying a couple of small bags to keep things organized as it's just one large compartment.


For backpacking/climbing trips I use a Black Diamond Element 60L (https://www.backcountry.com/black-diamond-element-60-backpac...)

For everyday use I have a SwissGear bag that I got at Target outside Siggraph a few years ago. Decent bag at ~$60 that's held up well for 3 years of abuse.

GoRuck GR-2. I got it used on eBay for 1/2 price (used in this case isn't a big deal because these things are bulletproof and last forever). It's great because:

* It has a laptop sleeve

* It's big enough to pack for I'd say 3-5 days

* For the day-to-day I can also pack all of my gym gear (shoes, belt, wraps, clothes)

* It's so heavy duty that you'll never have to worry about it breaking down (and if it does they have a guarantee for repairs)

For regular laptops my Togo Designs daypack works really well. It's been my daily backpack as well as through rainy bus stops and out hiking with no show of wear.


North Face Big Shot II. It's very nice, and has perfect pockets, zipper strength, and all the other things you'd expect. It's also matte black and looks great. My wife got it for me as a gift 4 years ago and it's still in great condition. Will probably last another 4 years. Not sure what she paid for it but it's definitely been worth it I'm sure!

I've used the same leather want les essentiels kastrup backpack for 7 years. It's fantastic and stood the test of 2 years of devrel. :) https://www.barneys.com/product/want-les-essentiels-kastrup-...

$995? Nope.

The Timbuk2 Spire... https://smile.amazon.com/Timbuk2-306-3-2007-Spire-Backpack/d...

Waterproof, well made, roll-top (you can cram things in if you need to without worrying about stretching zippers), holds a laptop well, etc.

Everiki Suite fits two 14" laptops, a TKL keyboard, a palm support, a trackpad and a headset. And it looks like an office backpack.


Osprey Tropos 32


Big enough for travel but compresses down pretty flat if all you're carrying is a laptop and a few bits.

Kickstand feature is actually quite useful to stop it falling over.

I've been using this backpack for 5 years now and it's been great. https://www.amazon.com/SwissGear-Gear-Scansmart-Backpack-Bus...

> Swiss Gear Carbon II

It's sturdy, it can host a multitude of stuff (for me, it has hosted laptops going from as light as the ThinkPad T440s to as heavy as the ThinkPad W530 -- with its 170W power supply).

The back padding is nice on my back, and so far it hasn't shown any sign of destruction (I've owned it for two years now).

I got the Tom Bihn Smart Alec after reading this:


Would always recommend diving into Wirecutter articles to figure out what's best for your specific needs.

I used a Booq backpack (not the one they currently sell) for the better part of a decade before the internal wood pieces broke. I used it for days in a wide variety of environments and it was excellent. Internal space was a bit limited at times, but it was professional looking and fairly water resistant.

Millican Smith The Roll Pack 25L. I'm very happy with it, has everything I want and looks great.


you should probably start with your needs..

Personally, I have the Wandrd Prvke 31 but who knows if that fits your requirements

I'm using this bag from Decathlon: https://www.decathlon.co.uk/intensive-25l-black-id_8496248.h...

If you want some backpack recommendations you should go to /r/onebag

Crumpler Dry Red N5. Expandable, easy to clean, robust, with small features that I like a lot. It has been serving me for 6 years and the only sign of its age is slight wear-off of the top handle. This particular model is discontinued, but they have Mantra which looks similar to N5.

I’m a big fan of Waterfield Designs. Just replaced the ancient JanSport with one of these Sutter Slims: https://www.sfbags.com/products/sutter-slim-backpack

Incase EO Travel Backpack - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000023VPY/

Tons of room, comfy, and has zipped expansion section for packing for overnight trips.

Nomatic Travel Pack. Really solid every day bag with plenty of storage options, with the added benefit of being expandable so I can rely on just it for a 2-3 day trip. I find it looks good but is neutral enough that you can bring it to the gym airport or work and not look silly.

I'm using a Daypack from booq, for a couple years now and I'm happy with it.


Tom Binh synapse 25

Synapse 19 here and love it 3 years in

Same. I’ve been to the factory. Love this backpack.

5.11 All Hazards Nitro.

Pretty heavy, but I like it a lot, holds my laptop and other gadgets, clothing, etc. And if I need to get out, this one won't let me down - I volunteer for a local SAR team sometimes (or, more lately, a lot).

I am using the Piquadro CA3214BR-BLU. It is a stylish backpack and it fits the my Macbook Pro 15” 2018, my iPad Pro 10.5 and everything ai need for them, even though it is described to be for 14” laptops. I love it :D

Deuter Speedlite 20. Fantastically made, light, holds my stuff.

Not the same model, but I gotta back Deuter on this one. My Deuter Giga Office has seen some heavy use over the last 12 years and it's still going strong.

The fabric below the notebook compartment ripped open a few years ago (probably because I used to carry two heavy notebooks, a private one and a work-issued Thinkpad), but my mother sewed a patch over it and the backpack is still going strong.

While we're at it, I strongly advise against Wenger. I got one of their backpacks from my employer. Although they're supposedly just as high-quality as Deuter, that particular backpack came apart at all seams within just a year. Total disappointment.

im using a ogio mach5 [1] due to riding motorbikes and it has a laptop compartment

i would fully recommend it, i got knocked off and the only damage done to me/bag was a small scratch, bike needed 7k(gbp) work, but me and all my stuff was fine


Eastpak Floid. The materials are as good as good as new after 5 years of daily use. I think this pack is going to outlive me!

I personally love the elleven ones. Multiple laptop compartments and small pockets for random crap and they last.

I just bought an Osprey Pixel to have a minimal size for a laptop and not much else. Dirt cheap at $60 shipped!

Made a shoulder-strap laptop bag out of leather. 8-9oz, shoulder. Very basic, but works well.

Hand sewn leather bag custom made by some folks in a market in Morroco. It will outlast the sun.

Tom Bihn Brain Bag. 7 years old, going strong. Love it, daughter loves hers.

I had one of those, and I ended up selling it because it was too big, and one of my personal failings is that I will fill bags. So with a big bag, it's always full and heavy.

I went to a smaller Osprey model, I got on sale, but holy hell I have nothing but nice things to say about the TB build quality.

Plus, unlike GoRuck, no troublesome tactical aesthetic.

It is big, but I am the family sherpa. Agree on the esthetic.

Have had mine about 6-7 months and the more I use my Brain Bag the more I love it.

I use it every day and it goes pretty much everywhere with me, and doubles as a good sized carry on when I fly.

Does this already have a name? If not can we call it bike-trolling?

Goruck GR-2 34L for packing a lot. SOG TOC 20 for packing little.

Samsonite something

A 5 years old eastpak

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