Best urban backpack for city commuters [Top Picks for 2019]

Backpacks have quickly become the accessory of choice for urban commuters.

They’re comfortable, easy to carry both on the streets and on crowded subways, and have enough room to carry all of your daily items no matter where you’re going.

Because backpacks are such a versatile way to carry all of your gear, there’s a huge market for them. They’re available in thousands of colors and styles, ranging from professional leather to modern Oxford cotton and everything in between.

With so many backpacks available on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one.

  • What size should you go with?
  • Do you need a bag that can also function as a briefcase?
  • Do you want it to be waterproof?
  • What about keeping your camera and other equipment safe?

If you’re looking for an urban backpack for your commute, I’ve got the goods! Take a look at my top 3 picks!

In a rush? Check out my favorite overall urban backpack, the Authority Pack from Timbuk2, over on Amazon now.

Choosing the best urban backpack

Best Overall: the Timbuk2 Authority Backpack

TIMBUK2 Authority Laptop Backpack, Fog

The Timbuk2 Authority is a sleek, urban bag with a modern look!

This 28L bag can store any laptop up to 17” in a separate padded laptop pocket in the rear of the backpack, making it easy to get to your laptop without opening the main pocket. As a travel or work bag, the Timbuk2 Authority Backpack is a highly versatile pack that will make packing for your commute a breeze.

Because of the size of the Timbuk2 Authority, you’ll find that the backpack is useful for several other uses!

The two main compartments give you enough room for all of your gear while the organizational pockets and key keeper FOB make it easy to stay organized if you’re using the bag for school or work. Two side stretch pockets on the side make it easy to access gear with the bag still on your back.

The ventilated back panel and water-resistant exterior also make it a great bag to carry for extended periods of time. Dual purpose compression straps allow you to strap gear to the bottom of the pack while still keeping the weight of the backpack centered for easy maneuverability.


  • 28L carrying capacity gives you more than enough room for all of your daily items
  • Top handle available for carrying capability and extra maneuverability
  • Opens at different angles (30, 90, and 180 degrees)
  • Water-resistant exterior keeps your laptop and other gear dry
  • Ventilated back panel to keep you comfortable on the go
  • Compression straps to ensure a good fit and carry around extra gear
  • Lifetime warranty provides you with ease of mind
  • Key keep FOB keeps your keys from getting lost
  • Removable sternum straps help distribute backpack weight to provide maximum comfort
  • Side pockets for water bottles mean you don’t have to take off the backpack every time you get thirsty


  • Slim profile isn’t well suited for larger or bulky items

Read more reviews from actual users and check out the best price for the Authority Pack over on Amazon.

Want to know more? Check out this video straight from Timbuk2 that shows you all of the Authority Pack’s great features in detail:

Best Anti-theft Backpack: Bobby Anti-Theft Backpack

XD Design Bobby Original Anti-Theft Laptop USB Backpack Grey (Unisex Bag)

The name speaks for itself!

The Bobby Anti-Theft Backpack is the ultimate anti-theft bag for anyone who often finds themselves on crowded subways or busy streets.

Its minimalistic design is sleek and cool without drawing attention to itself, helping you stay under the radar of any possible thieves in the area. When fully closed, there are absolutely no exposed zippers on the backpack, making it impossible for someone to get into your bag without you knowing!

This includes the zippers on both the main compartment and side pockets.

While the zippers are a nice little anti-theft feature, the material of the bag takes it to a whole other level. Made of multiple layers of cut-proof PP Protection Board and an anti-shock foam, this backpack will keep your gear safe from both thieves and any accidental drops that might happen on your commute!

Another addition that makes this a great urban backpack is the dedicated spot it has for a portable charger, meaning you can charge your phone as you go!


  • It measures at 7.9 x 13.4 x 17.3 inches, making this an extremely portable bag
  • Weighing in at 250 grams when empty, you’ll hardly even notice it’s there
  • 13L total carrying capacity is enough to carry the essentials
  • Portable charger pocket keeps you charged at all times
  • Can store up to a 15.6” laptop, as well as a 10″ tablet
  • Opens at different angles (30, 90, and 180 degrees) for ultimate maneuverability
  • Shock-proof design keeps your gear safe and secure
  • The weight-balancing feature helps keep your gear secure on your back
  • Anti-theft zippers keep your items safe from pickpockets
  • Available in several different colors including black, blue, gray, and red
  • Cut-proof PP Protection Board make the bag impossible to slash or rip open
  • Water-resistant to keep your items dry and safe
  • Illuminating safety strips keep you safe at night from traffic


  • Because the zippers are hidden, it’s not as easy to get into as other bags. If you are constantly going in and out of your backpack, this may not be the right choice for you
  • The size is a little on the small side, so if you carry bulky items you may have some trouble

Want to know more? Check out more info and reviews of the Bobby anti-theft pack over on Amazon now.

You can see it in action, in this video straight from designers XD Design, in the video below:

Best Premium Pack: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L (Charcoal, Expandable 12-20L)

The Peak Design Everyday Backpack is the perfect backpack for the high-tech photographer on the go.

Designed specifically to hold cameras, the backpack features a spacious expanding compartment design. The main compartment is large enough to hold a full frame DSLR camera and 3-4 lenses. It also features three flexfold dividers that can be used to protect your gear from bumping into each other while in the bag.

As if that wasn’t good enough, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack also includes a tablet sleeve and a separate laptop sleeve that can fit laptops up to 15”.

The Peak Design also offers exterior pockets and organizational interior pockets to help keep your gear organized! A neat feature it also offers is dual side-body access so you can access your gear from either side without taking your backpack completely off. It’s easily carryable, offering pass-through roller luggage compatibility.

The Peak Design Everyday Backpack also features premium materials.

The MagLatch hardware keeps your gear secure and the external carry straps are handy for attaching a coat or tripod to the outside of your bag. The zippers are built to keep out water and the 500D nylon canvas shell helps to keep gear dry.


  • 20L carrying capacity offers enough room for your daily gear
  • Expanding compartment design fits even the largest cameras
  • Dedicated tablet/laptop sleeve can hold a laptop up to 15”
  • Three flexfold dividers keep your gear separated and safe
  • Exterior pockets provide easy access to small items
  • Organizational interior pockets keep everything neat and organized
  • Dual side-body access makes accessing your gear quick and easy
  • Pass-through roller compatibility is handy when traveling long distances
  • External carry straps offer extra carrying capabilities
  • Watertight zippers keep out the rain
  • 500D nylon canvas shell keeps your gear dry


  • Stiff straps don’t make this comfortable to carry for long periods of time
  • The dark fabric is easily scratched, meaning this isn’t the best option if you’re constantly throwing your bag around

You can read more about this premium urban carry backpack over on Amazon by clicking here.

See more about the Everyday Backpack in this great (and thorough) video from Peak Design below:

What’s your favorite urban backpack to commute with?

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What's the best urban backpack for your commute?

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