Best backpack for Grad School students [Top Picks!]

In a hurry? Check out my top pick for grad students, the Timbuk2 Authority Pack, over on Amazon now.

Let’s get real for a second:

If you’re anything like me, you were rocking that same JanSport backpack since freshman year of high school.

While that classic may have supported you through high school and undergrad, it’s time to consider an upgrade.

I’ve got just the thing.

In this post, I’ve collected my top picks for the best backpack for grad school. If your grad school is actually Law School, I’ve got a post specifically for law students about the best law school backpacks, based on my survey of actual lawyers and law school attendees!

Here’s what I’ll be reviewing in this buyer’s guide:

Let’s get started!

What's the best backpack for grad school students?

Best Overall: the Timbuk2 Authority Pack

TIMBUK2 Authority Laptop Backpack, Fog


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If organization is your number one priority, this is the backpack for you. As Timbuk2 says, their Authority Pack is “a supremely organized monster of a work pack.”

This bag allows you to bring your whole office – whether it’s books, files, computer and whatever else you carry – wherever you go.

Features include:

  • A rear access laptop pocket that will keep your device protected while providing more space in the main compartment (fits laptops up to 15 inches).
  • A slim front pocket with internal organization for pens, phones, tablets and other small items
  • A side Neoprene pocket for your water bottle so you can stay hydrating lugging your items around
  • Sternum and bottom cinch straps and a lush grab handle at the top so you won’t put too much strain on your back
  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 5.9 x 18.1 inches
  • Weight: 2.43 pounds

TIMBUK2 Authority Laptop Backpack, FogThe Authority Pack comes in 7 different colors, ensuring you find the perfect color to compliment your daily wear (I’m a fan of the Fog color, pictured above).

The big reason to pick up this great bag, though, is to take advantage of Timbuk2’s best-in-class lifetime warranty. I’ve said it in other posts – Timbuk2 is one of the best companies out there for backpacks and messenger bags!

Check out this great video direct from Timbuk2, explaining a lot of the great things about this bag:

To top it off, this backpack is made with an air mesh back panel that will ensure your dress shirt stays dry and you remain calm, cool and collected.

Ready to get one for yourself and head back to class? Check it out over on Amazon now.

Best for classic style: the Herschel Little America backpack

Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack, Black/Tan Synthetic Leather, Classic 25.0L


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If you’re not quite ready to give up those classic JanSport looks, but are still looking for an upgrade, consider the Herschel Little America pack.

These backpacks are certainly a style upgrade and can be taken from grad school to the office, or to the bar for your much-needed celebratory drink after passing that exam while on a full-time work schedule (I’ve been there).

Herschel backpacks have quickly become known for their iconic style while providing a functional modern backpack.

Features include:

  • Fleece-lined laptop sleeve that fits computers up to 15 inches
  • Adjustable drawstring closer with magnetic strap closures for added security – ensuring you won’t lose any of your valuables
  • Dimensions: 19.5″(H) x 11.25″(W) x 7″(D), 25L

Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack, Dark Shadow/Black/Black Rubber, Classic 25.0LThe front pocket has a hidden zipper and includes a key clip so you won’t be fishing for your house keys at the end of a long day.

Like the Timbuk2 Authority Pack above, the Herschel Little America also features an air mesh back padding for breathability.

If you’re looking for a backpack that offers a stylistic edge, the Herschel is for you. It’s offered in more than 35 colors ensuring you’ll be able to set yourself apart from others in your class.

Want to find out more and pick one up for yourself? Check out the Herschel Little America over on Amazon now.

Best for carrying electronics: HP’s Powerup Backpack

HP W7Q03AA#ABC 17-inch Laptop Canvas Backpack with 22400 mAh Battery Charging Pack (Grey)


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If you’re a gadget junkie like me, the HP Powerup Backpack might be the bag for you.

Whether I am at work, school or just sitting at home, I always have at least 3 pieces of tech within arms length.

With this bag, you’ll never have to worry about finding a seat near an outlet – it comes with the power source built-in!

This backpack features:

  • A 22,000 mAh battery that provides a full charge to most HP laptops, a smartphone up to 10 times, and a tablet up to 3 times
  • Built in heat sensor monitors backpack temperature and will adjust for overheating
  • Includes 2 USB micro cables for android decides and a laptop charging cable
  • Dimensions: 6.23 x 19.69 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 4.23 pounds

HP W7Q03AA#ABC 17-inch Laptop Canvas Backpack with 22400 mAh Battery Charging Pack (Grey)Plus, the Powerup meets security requirements for traveling on planes, so it’s perfect for weekend trips home. And the canvas exterior is heavy duty and water resistant so you won’t have to worry about water logging your devices while trekking across campus.

The only downside with this backpack is that the laptop charger in one of the available models is for HP products only.

Is this the bag for you? Check it out over on Amazon for the best price and more info.

Best Grad School Messenger: the Tumi Fallon Messenger

TUMI - Alpha Bravo Fallon Messenger Bag - Shoulder Crossbody Bag for Men and Women - Black


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If you’re ready to give up your classic backpack but still need to carry around your devices, consider a messenger bag.

The Tumi Fallon Messenger back is the perfect bag for any young professional balancing work and grad school. This bag merges modern design with great functionality and tons of organization.

What’s makes it special?

  • Features a dedicated tablet pocket to keep your device safe
  • 3 open interior pockets for organization
  • 1 zippered pocket for valuables
  • Convenient zip pack slip for convenient carrying on your luggage
  • Dimensions: 4 x 15 x 11.4 inches

TUMI - Alpha Bravo Fallon Messenger Bag - Shoulder Crossbody Bag for Men and Women - BlackThis stylish messenger bag with adjustable shoulder strap and handle is a great option for those ready to upgrade from a traditional backpack while making a seamless transition from work to grad school.

While this Tumi does fall on the higher end of the pay scale, their products have a great reputation for quality. This bag is sure to last you through the ages.

Want to get one for yourself? Click over to Amazon to find the best price.

The best messenger bag for grad school

How to pick the best backpack for graduate school

Many students find themselves balancing a full or part-time job while juggling a full class schedule. I know my schedule was full of internships and other work during law school.

So finding a backpack that can support all aspects of one’s lifestyle is a necessity.

For my money, I’d go with the Timbuk2 Authority Pack. It’s just an amazing all-around performer and super organized.

Finding a bookbag with plenty of organization will help in keeping your work and school items separate while ensuring you have enough pockets to organize your electronics, charging cords, books, pens, and whatever other personal items you might be carrying.

The best backpack for graduate school

Here’s the secret.

Consider what you will be carrying on a day to day basis will help determine the number of pockets and size you’ll need. It will ensure that your life stays organized while carrying what feels like your entire life – books, work items, laptops and tablets – from home, to class, and to your job.

Remember though, while you might want to carry everything you can, try to consulate when possible to avoid unnecessary strain on your back and shoulders. Carrying too much weight can cause issues down the line but with the right bag and contents, all that can easily be avoided.

Got another idea? Leave it in the comments below!

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