Top 10 | The Best Minimalist Backpacks [2021 Buying Guide]

I hope this guide helps you find the best minimalist backpack for your needs!

I hope this guide helps you find the best minimalist backpack for your needs!

Minimal backpacks always make epic travel companions.

They’re functional, well-designed, stylish, sleek, and simple. As urban backpacks, in particular, you really can’t go wrong.

However, tonnes of minimal backpacks line the shelves these days, which can be hard to know the good ones from the bad.

So, I decided to try and find the best minimalist backpack out there and put together a buying guide to help you pick one.

If you’re looking for minimalist backpack reviews, urban backpack ideas, and a general look into the best minimalist backpacks on the market, then this post should help!

Keep reading to find comprehensive reviews of the 10 best minimalistic backpack options I came across.

[Last Updated: January 2021]


Heads up, this post contains affiliate links.


The Best Minimalist Backpack – Summary Table

 
1.jpg

Type: Front Loading

Capacity: 40L

Rating: 4.7/5

Price:

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Type: Front Loading

Capacity: 40L

Rating: 4.7/5

Price:

1.jpg

Type: Top Loading

Capacity: 26L

Rating: 4.8/5

Price:

 
2.jpg

Type: Front Loading

Capacity: 40L

Rating: 4.8/5

Price:

6.jpg

Type: Top Loading

Capacity: 35/55L

Rating: 4.7/5

Price:

2.jpg

Type: Top Loading

Capacity: 34L

Rating: 4.8/5

Price:

 
3.jpg

Type: Front Loading

Capacity: 40L

Rating: 4.6/5

Price:

7.jpg

Type: Front Loading

Capacity: 40L

Rating: 4.6/5

Price:

 
4.jpg

Type: Top Loading

Capacity: 50L

Rating: 4.6/5

Price:

8.jpg

Type: Top Loading

Capacity: 45L

Rating: 4.7/5

Price:


The best minimalist travel backpack is the right size, is sufficiently stylish, practical and durable, and has all the features you need.

The best minimalist travel backpack is the right size, is sufficiently stylish, practical and durable, and has all the features you need.



How to Choose the Best Minimal Backpacks for Travel

I want to begin by looking at the key characteristics of the best minimalistic backpacks.

Of course, you want to make sure anything you buy is fit for purpose. There’s no point spending money on something that won’t do the job.

With than in mind, here are some important considerations when choosing your minimalist backpack.

1. Urban Backpack Size

Minimalist backpacks tend to be smaller than others.

Online, the average size hovered at around 40L (hence why most of the packs in this list have that capacity!)

I suppose it makes sense. After all, minimalism is about simplicity. Excessive space lends itself to packing lots of stuff! The two don’t really go together.

Smaller packs force you to travel lightly, in the true spirit of minimalism.

However, you want to make sure you’re going to have enough space too.

Take travel, for instance. I’ve travelled a lot with a 40L bag. It’s been great. I never take a lot of stuff anyway, and for shorter trips it was ideal. I’ve done more than one extended trip with nothing more than 40L.

I’m on the road indefinitely now though and, honestly, I think I’d struggle with anything less than my 55L bag. What with warm weather gear, my laptop and walking shoes…there really wouldn’t be that much space left with anything less.

Of course, not everyone will want a minimalist backpack for travel. For everyday use 40L is going to be more than enough!

It’s something to keep in mind though. What are you planning to carry with you? Make sure the bag you buy has sufficient room for it all.

2. Minimal Backpack Style

Minimalist backpacks tend to be awesome looking.

They’re sleek, stylish, and chic by nature.

If you’re after a true minimalist backpack, then looks might matter.

That said, I’d always opt for practicality first. The most fashionable looking bag in the world is pointless if it doesn’t do its job. Make sure it covers the primary functions too.

Minimalism is a practical approach as much as it is a design movement. It combines the two: simple lines and forms, without sacrificing on functionality.

It’s about doing as much as you can with as little as you can. The best minimalist bags are those that tread the line between aesthetics and function.

Heads up, you might like smart backpacks too. Here’s my guide to the best smart backpacks if you want to learn more!

3. Minimalist Backpacks Durability

All backpacks take a beating over time.

It doesn’t matter if you’re taking them to work or travelling around the world. The materials must be up to the task.

Look for minimalist packs made from quality materials. I’ve done my best to find options that adhere to this standard. Some will undoubtedly be better than others.

As a rough rule of thumb, the more money you spend, the higher quality the pack will be.

4. Minimalist Backpack Features & Personal Requirements

Minimalist backpacks shouldn’t have many bells or whistles.

By nature, they should be simple, basic and beautiful. That’s the whole premise behind minimalism.

That said, the best ones will have enough features to be truly useful. Again, this comes down to identifying what you need the bag for.

For example, people travelling or commuting may benefit from extra security features. Digital nomads may enjoy headphone ports and charger docks (as well as a laptop compartment). Water bottle holders may be a handy feature too.

Going hiking? Then you may want the ability to attach trekking poles and hold water bladders. The list goes on. Make sure the bag you choose caters to all of your needs.


On the subject of minimalist gear, you might also like this guide to the best minimalist hiking shoes and boots!


Okay, time to move on to the best minimalistic backpack guide itself. These are 8 of the best backpacks I could find.

Okay, time to move on to the best minimalistic backpack guide itself. These are 8 of the best backpacks I could find.

The Best Minimalist Backpack Reviews - 8 Best Urban Backpack Reviews

Time to go through the best minimalist travel backpack options on the market.

Hopefully you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!

1. Hynes Eagle 40L Travel Backpack (Best Everyday Backpacks)

Key Features

  • Front loading

  • 40L capacity

  • Meets hand luggage dimensions for flights

  • Hideaway Adjustable straps

  • Carry options: top, side and back

  • 15.6” laptop pocket

  • 10.5” Tablet pocket

  • Water bottle holder

Description

The Hynes Eagle seems like a great place to start.

It’s hard to find fault with it to be honest!

This pack ticks all the right boxes for a practical, cheap, and well-made minimalist backpack.

The design is simple. There are no bells, whistles or distracting gizmos. Instead, the priority is clearly functionality.

For one thing, the dimensions mean you can use it as carryon luggage for flights. That saves the cost of putting luggage in the hold!

Also, as a front loader there’s easy ‘suitcase-like’ access to all contents. The multiple compartments cater for all technical equipment too. Computers and tablets are held firmly in place via designated pockets.

I like the front compartment in particular. This ‘organizational pocket’ would provide instant access to all valuables, such as travel documents, passports, cash, keys and so on.

Anything you want to hand is right there.

The Hynes also caters to different travel needs. You can carry it in different ways. The shoulder straps stow away, converting it easily from backpack to duffel bag in an instant.

The only slight niggle I have is the aesthetic side. As far as minimalist backpacks go, I don’t think the Hynes is particular stylish!

In all other ways it’d be ideal.

Pros

  • Can be used as a carry on

  • Multiple handy pockets and compartments

  • Holds laptop

  • Can pack rear straps away

  • Alternate between duffel bag and backpack

  • Quality materials

  • Lots of colours and styles available

Cons

  • Not particularly stylish

  • Flimsy waist belt


2. Osprey Farpoint 40L (Best Urban Backpack)

Key Features

  • Front loading

  • 40L capacity

  • Meets hand luggage dimensions for flights

  • Hideaway Adjustable straps

  • Carry options: top, side and back

  • Laptop & tablet sleeve pockets

  • 2 x water bottle holder

Description

I’ve loved using the Osprey Farpoint 40 in the past.

It’s literally ideal for carryon travelling. Like the Hynes, the dimensions are suited to almost all carryon luggage dimension requirements. It fits easily in the overhead compartment.

The Farpoint is definitely not as minimalistic as some of the others on this list.

It boasts its fair share of straps, loops, and buckles. But I decided to include it anyway. I don’t think it goes overboard and everything has a valuable function.

There are 2 front loading compartments. The central one has compression straps to help squeeze in all your stuff; the outer compartment has securable sleeves for laptops and tablets. A pocket on the front carries all valuables.

I can’t recommend this bag highly enough. I’ve taken it with my all over the place and it’s never let me down.

The Farpoint also looks awesome, with the classic Osprey design shining through.

Oh, and another note on Osprey: this brand is world-renowned for its quality. Don’t like it? Take them up on the guarantee they provide on all products.

A slight downside is the price. Now, in my experience it’s definitely worth the money. However, the Hynes offers almost all of the same functionality for half the cost.

That may be a game-changer for some people.

Equally, the bottle holders on the front don’t work (aka you can’t fit a bottle!) when the pack stuffed full. It expands outwards and makes the mesh pockets impossible to expand.

Don’t let this put you off. The Farpoint is exceptional for minimalist backpacking.

Pros

  • Stylish

  • Can be used as a carry on

  • Multiple handy pockets and compartments

  • Holds laptop and tablet

  • Can pack rear straps away

  • Alternate between duffel bag and backpack

  • Highest quality materials

  • Osprey lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Water bottle holders lose function with full pack

  • Relatively expensive


3. 40L KAKA Backpack Review (Best Black Minimalist Backpack)

Key Features

  • Carry on dimensions

  • 40L capacity

  • Anti-theft design

  • Hideaway Adjustable straps

  • Carry options: top, side and back

  • Laptop & tablet sleeve pockets

Description

The KAKA travel backpack is another discount option that’s hard to fault.

The design is very cool. It offers a great balance between aesthetic appeal and functionality.

All of the benefits of the Osprey and Hynes are present here too:

It’s carry on approved, holds laptops and tablets, can be carried in different ways, and has all the compartments and pockets you could ever want.

In fact, with 10 pockets total, there may be too many for some! Minimalist calls for simplicity. And masses of pockets is arguably a little complicated. That said, they probably come in handy!

I like the emphasis on anti-theft too. The lock that’s included is a nice touch and one that is sure to provide peace of mind on the road.

The pack seems well-made, with quality materials and emphasis on ergonomics.

For a cheap, laptop friendly backpack I’d be very tempted to get the KAKA.

Pros

  • Exceptionally good value for money

  • Recommended by Amazon

  • Anti-theft (lock included)

  • Holds laptop and tablet

  • Can pack rear straps away

  • Alternate between duffel bag and backpack

  • High quality materials

  • 1 year quality assurance

Cons

  • Excessive number of pockets


4. OutdoorMaster Hiking 50L Backpack (Best Everyday Carry Backpack for Hiking)

Key Features

  • Top Loading

  • 50L capacity

  • Adjustable padded straps

  • Padded laptop compartment

  • Multiple pockets and attachments

  • Rain cover

Description

This OutdoorMaster backpack has a different vibe to the others on this list.

It’s oriented around hiking and the outdoors, as much as general travel. I thought it might be of interest to anyone who enjoys these activities on the road.

One primary difference is its top loading design.

Top loaders are classic backpacks. However, it does make it harder to access contents at the bottom of the bag. That can be frustrating at times.

Having said that, the zippers extend far down the sides. Open them up and it almost becomes a front panel! You should be able to reach the bottom with ease.

I have to take a moment to mention the price as well.

For such a high-quality, popular, top-rated 50L pack, you’re paying practically nothing! You’ll struggle to find another 50L pack of this quality at that price.

On to the disadvantages from a minimalist standpoint.

At 50L you have the means to take more stuff.

That’s handy if you want to hike. But you may end up over-packing in general. Likewise, it’s probably too large to take as hand-luggage when full. That means more money on flight costs.

It also isn’t the trendiest of backpacks! If that’s important to you, then I’d look elsewhere!

Finally, the straps seem pretty good- they’ve got a bit of padding and are fully adjustable.

However, you can guarantee lower quality compared to ‘proper’ higher-end packs. For longer hikes they may get uncomfortable.

All told though, for this price you really can’t complain!

Pros

  • Super cheap option

  • Comes with rain cover

  • More space to hold hiking gear

  • Padded shoulder straps

  • Mesh ventilation system

  • Can attach hiking poles

Cons

  • Not the most stylish

  • Unsuitable for extended hikes

  • Unsure if carry on size

We’re halfway through! Keep reading for 4 more of my picks for the best minimalist backpack.

We’re halfway through! Keep reading for 4 more of my picks for the best minimalist backpack.

5. Inateck 40L Travel Backpack (Best Minimalist Backpack Mens or Womens)

Key Features

  • Front loading

  • 40L capacity

  • Meets hand luggage dimensions for flights

  • Hideaway Adjustable straps

  • Carry options: top, side and back

  • Laptop & tablet sleeve pockets

  • Numerous hidden pockets

  • Water bottle holder on side

Description

The Inateck is what I imagine when I think of minimalist backpacks.

It’s simple, sleek, and full of cool, quirky features.

I’ve moved away from the hiking angle for a moment. And I’m now firmly back in the realm of small, simple, functional minimalistic travel packs!

Everything good about the Osprey, Hynes and KAKA is present here again.

Think carry-on size, multiple suit-case style compartments, multiple ways to carry it, and stowaway straps.

My favourite bits (other than its general ‘coolness’) include the hidden zippered pockets.

There’s one on the rear of the backpack (sitting behind your back when worn this way) and two more on the shoulder straps. These would provide great extra bits of security when travelling.

It’s also pretty cheap too. The Inateck is about one-third of the cost of the Osprey!

Pros

  • Can be used as a carry on

  • Multiple handy pockets and compartments

  • Holds laptop

  • Can pack rear straps away

  • Alternate between duffel bag and backpack

  • Inexpensive

  • Hidden zippered shoulder strap pocket

  • Hidden back pocket

Cons

  • No compression straps on the interior main pocket.


6. Earth Pak 35/55L Waterproof Minimalist Backpack

Key Features

  • Top Loading

  • 35 or 55L

  • Waterproof

  • Dry bag style

  • Outer easy access pocket

  • Shoulder straps

Description

The Earth Pak backpack screams cool.

I want one!

It just seems ideal for minimalistic travel and outdoor pursuits. Totally waterproof, the design is like that of a dry bag: roll down the top to squeeze out the air, and buckle to secure.

The heavy duty, durable materials ensure everything is kept safe and secure (and dry).

It doesn’t get much more minimal than the Earth Pak. There’s literally nothing but a stash pocket (and the shoulder straps, of course) on the outside. The inside does have internal pockets as well.

This might make it somewhat too minimal for some.

There’s no laptop compartment, or waterbottle holder, for example.

Equally, it’s very much a top loading design! With a relatively narrow entry point, I imagine accessing items at the bottom of the pack would be a challenge.

Overall, if you’re into minimal adventures and want a pack that’ll protect your stuff, the Earth Pak seems an epic choice.

Pros

  • Carry on at 35L

  • Exceptionally cool

  • Good value for money

  • Waterproof

  • Great for outdoors & adventure

  • Keeps valuables and electronics dry

  • Heavy duty and durable

  • Ergonomic back panel design

  • Padded shoulder straps

Cons

  • Awkward loading and unloading

  • No laptop pocket

  • Potentially too minimal!

  • No stowaway capabilities


7. Timbuk2 Wingman 40L Duffel (Best Minimalist Laptop Backpack)

Key Features

  • Front loading

  • 40L capacity

  • Meets hand luggage dimensions for flights

  • Hideaway straps (primarily duffel function)

  • Carry options: top, side and back

  • Secure padded laptop & tablet pockets

Description

This Timbuk2 Wingman backpack is another top minimalist bag for travelling.

It’s got a novel design versus others on this list.

I actually view the Timbuk2 as duffel bag first, and backpack second.

Why? Well, you do have the useful option of shoulder straps at the rear. However, they seem secondary to carrying by hand (from the top or side).

I say that because the shoulder straps appear quite flimsy.

Likewise, there’s no waist or sternum straps for support. If the bag got heavy, you’d definitely start to feel it! Planning on hiking on your travels? I wouldn’t recommend this option.

However, for exploring the towns and tourist attractions it should be fine.

I see this as a perfect minimalist backpack for shorter trips and city breaks. I think digital nomads and business travellers would love it. The design is simple and professional-looking; it boasts a business-like feel to it.

The Timbuk2 is front loading (suitcase-style) which equates to easy access.

And, like the Farpoint, there are internal compression straps that make it easier to pack (and keep contents together in transit). Furthermore, carryon dimensions mean no check in luggage is needed.

It’s low to middle-range in terms of price.

I’d say that makes it well worth the expense for what you’re getting!

Pros

  • Inner compression straps

  • Can be used as a carry on

  • Holds laptops and tablet

  • Can pack rear straps away

  • Alternate between duffel bag and backpack

  • Quality materials

Cons

  • Flimsy shoulder straps

  • No waist or sternum straps

  • No water bottle holder


8. Yorepek Laptop Computer Backpack (Best Urban Daypack)

Key Features

  • Top Loading (Panel Design)

  • 45L capacity

  • 20+ pockets

  • Fits all sizes of laptop & tablet

  • USB port and headphone hole

  • 2 x side water bottle pockets

Description

The Yorepak is the highest rated and most popular backpack on this list.

I can see why that’s the case too.

It’s top loading for the most part. However, the rear compartment does open to 180 degrees, enabling easy access to books, laptops and files.

The 45L capacity provides more room than other backpacks here.

That’s good news in general (if you don’t over-pack!). However, access to anything at the bottom of the central compartment may be harder (because it’s top-loading).

The Yorepak seems an epic minimalist bag. It’s got all the compartments and functionality you could ask for, and it’s fairly good looking too. The price is super cheap as well. Especially considering the quality you get.

It’s worth noting the absence of certain features though.

The shoulder straps don’t stowaway. The yorepak is always a backpack, and never a duffel bag. Likewise there’s no sternum or waist straps.

At 45L, and carrying a laptop, it might get heavy! An absence of these supporting straps may render it uncomfortable over time.

That aside, the USB port is a cool little addition. It’d be ideal for digital nomads working on the road.

Pros

  • Larger size for more room inside

  • Padded & breathable mesh back

  • High quality materials

  • USB port enables electrics charging on the move (need separate power bank)

  • Exceptionally good value for money

  • Holds laptop and tablets of all sizes

Cons

  • Masses of organizational pockets

  • No waist or sternum straps

  • No shoulder strap stowaway capability


9. The North Face Vault

Key Features

  • Top Loading

  • 26L capacity

  • Two primary compartments

  • Ventilated design

  • Flexible yoke/modern suspension system

  • Padded tablet sleeve

  • 2x side water bottle mesh pockets

Description

The North Face is world-renowned for its outdoorsy gear, but it’s outdone itself here with this compact, modern minimalist backpack designed for commuting.

The Vault is hard to fault- with the quality you’d expect from a leading brand. The materials, build quality, aesthetics, and overall design are all top-notch.

It seems to have simplicity, organization, and comfort at its core. For instance, a flexible yoke and padded back panel make up a ‘FlexVent’ suspension system that’s intended to offer comfort and ventilation against your back

It also has two primary pockets for your things: a main, central compartment (complete with a laptop/tablet sleeve) and a front one with inner organizational pockets.

Extra features of note include a top handle to help you carry it by your side, a sternum strap (complete with whistle in case of emergency) for extra support, and adjustable shoulder straps.

I think it looks pretty good too. The design is stripped back and modern (as you’d expect from a minimalist backpack), and comes in a whole array of different colour combinations.

Overall, it’s easy to see why the Vault has been awarded so many 5* reviews. It’s a well-made, practical backpack that’d be ideal for anybody with a busy lifestyle.

Pros

Water-resistant materials (polyester)

Reputable brand

Well-organized design

Has multiple internal organization pockets

Padded back panel

Padded inner sleeve protects a tablet/laptop

Designed for urban life/commuting

Lightweight

Cons

General-purpose pack rather than catered to electronics

Laptop pocket might not be big enough for larger models


10. Bopai Super Slim (Awesome Minimal Laptop Backpack)

Key Features

  • Top Loading

  • 34L capacity

  • Slim design & quality materials

  • Highly rated, hugely popular

  • Anti-theft design

Description

Minimal laptop backpacks don’t get much better (or higher-rated online) than the Bopai 15” laptop bag.

Sleek, thin (it’s only 3” deep!), and well-designed, it’s got all the design features a minimalist urban traveller could want.

First off, the materials are perfect for protecting your tech. It’s made from “waterproof microfiber leather and durable ballistic nylon”. In other words, it’s fully waterproof and should resist shocks/drops as well.

Like all good minimalist gear, the overall design’s nice and simple. You’ve got a central, double-zippered compartment in which to store your laptop and a few pockets for pens/wallets/phones. No bells and whistles here!

One noteworthy feature is the anti-theft pocket/hidden compartment in the back. This would be handy for keeping tablets/valuables out of sight of any bad actors.

All told, this backpack’s hard to fault- a fact that its hundreds of 5* reviews back up.

Be aware of two things, though:

  1. Its slimness means this minimalist backpack isn’t designed to fit gaming laptops, and

  2. This backpack is purpose-built for carrying a laptop, so it’ll lack the space you’d need to carry luggage on longer trips!

Pros

  • High-quality materials

  • Anti-theft compartment at the back

  • A rear sleeve allows you to slip this pack over a suitcase handle when travelling

  • Protective materials hold up to a 15” laptop

  • Useful inner pockets

  • High aesthetic appeal

  • Adjustable shoulder straps

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit gaming laptops

There you have it! The end. I hope you found what you were looking for. Want more posts like this? Subscribe to the blog! :)

There you have it! The end. I hope you found what you were looking for. Want more posts like this? Subscribe to the blog! :)

Find the Best Minimal Backpack Possible!

That brings to an end this guide to the best minimalist backpack.

Travelling and living simply on the road, with minimal belongings, provides a whole host of benefits! Increasing numbers of people are choosing to do things in a minimal way as a result.

Finding the perfect minimalistic backpack isn’t a bad place to start!

I hope these reviews have helped you find the perfect pack for your needs.

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