Klarissa Jeiel: Where Law Meets Design

Best Backpack for Lawyers

Starting your legal profession or just looking for a new backpack? Here are the best backpack for lawyers with the price, and pros and cons to help you decide!

We live in a backpack world! Even lawyers nowadays prefer to bring backpacks over briefcases or other types of bags to the office. If you’re a new lawyer looking for your first professional-looking backpack or you’re a more senior lawyer looking to switch to a backpack from a briefcase or retire an old backpack for a new one, this article on the best backpack for lawyers is for you.

Below, I have compiled a list of the best backpacks for lawyers based on what I think are the most important criteria for everyday lawyering: looks, quality, organization, and comfort.

The Nomatic Backpack

Price Range: $250 – $300 USD

In my research, the Nomatic backpack was a constant top contender and it’s easy to see why. I mean, just look at the backpack. It is stylish. It is sleek. It is professional. It screams high quality and it has pretty much everything you would need or want to have in a work backpack: durable, water resistant, expandable from 14 to 17 L or 20 to 24 L depending on which size backpack you get, lots of organizational compartments including a laptop and tablet sleeve, great padding, removable chest strap, and more.

What’s interesting about this backpack is that it’s a hybrid backpack/briefcase which is perfect for a lawyer! Need to go to court and don’t want to walk in with a bulky thing on your back while wearing your fancy suit? No problemo. Just turn your backpack into a briefcase.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking
  • High Quality
  • Comfortable
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Lots of compartments and pockets for organization
  • Lots of padding
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve
  • Expandable (great for travelling or for days when you simply need to carry more things like shoes, gym clothes, thick binders, etc.)
  • Removable chest strap
  • Transitions from backpack to briefcase
  • Has luggage passthrough (so you can slide it through your luggage handle when travelling)

CONS:

  • Scratches easily (several reviews have reported that the outer material of the backpack is prone to scratches so if you’re big on your things always looking “brand new,” keep this in mind)
  • Tough zippers (the zippers themselves may not be the issue but more so the experience of zipping the backpack – it’s just not as smooth as most people would expect it to be and requires a bit more effort)
  • Top handle is connected to the straps (which is not a huge issue for some people but it just looks awkward to me and makes holding the backpack feel unstable)
  • Water bottle compartment that “pops out” and has no drainage hole (I don’t like the look of this so it’s a con for me but some consider it a great feature instead, just make sure your water bottle doesn’t leak)
  • Horizontal rather than vertical luggage passthrough
  • Transition from backpack to briefcase is not the most seamless experience (from the reviews I’ve read, it can be difficult and time consuming to hide the shoulder straps and go through all the motions needed to turn the backpack into a briefcase, plus briefcase mode isn’t the greatest look-wise or functionality-wise so the vision is there but implementation may be lacking and that’s something to think about)

Knack Series 2 Backpack

Price Range: $250 – $300 USD

The Knack Series 2 is another very popular office backpack that I think would make the best backpack for lawyers. Similar to the Nomatic backpack, it is a backpack that can transition into a briefcase if and when you need it to and, according to reviews, it does an even better job at being a hybrid backpack/briefcase than the Nomatic backpack. It has a thick side handle making briefcase mode look and feel good. It also has a much easier and smoother transition process.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking
  • High Quality
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Lots of compartments and pockets for organization
  • Lots of padding
  • Separate laptop sleeve with side access (makes it easier to access your laptop without having to take off the backpack fully)
  • Expandable from 24 to 35 L (giving you MASSIVE storage capacity)
  • Removable chest strap
  • Stealthy water bottle compartment
  • Transitions from backpack to briefcase
  • Has luggage passthrough
  • Smooth zippers

CONS:

  • Thin shoulder straps
  • Back panel has no ventilation (doesn’t deal with sweat very well)
  • Flimsy chest straps
  • Not the most comfortable (because of shoulder strap, chest strap and back panel issues)
  • Laptop sleeve only fits up to a 15” laptop (sorry 17”ers)
  • No drainage hole in water bottle holder

Aer Day Pack 2 X-Pac

Price Range: $300 – $350 USD

Ah, the first *real* backpack on our list: the Aer Day Pack 2 X-Pac. This backpack gets a lot of rave with people giving it great reviews and recommending it many times over. In fact, most backpacks by Aer are highly recommended by most people who have office jobs and commute on the daily so you can’t go wrong with any backpack from their collection. But the Aer Day Pack 2 X-Pac is my vote for a backpack for lawyers. It’s simple and professional looking. It has a weather resistant front to protect your backpack on gloomy days, smooth zippers, decent organizational compartments including a laptop and tablet sleeve, lots of padding, and my personal favourite, it stands up on its own! This backpack also comes in regular Cordura if you don’t need the extra water resistance.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking
  • High Quality
  • Comfortable
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Decent organizational compartments
  • Padded laptop sleeve with false bottom (giving you that extra protection for your laptop when placing the backpack down)
  • Tablet sleeve
  • Stands up on its own (you can finally stop being frustrated at your backpack for falling on its face every time you set it down)
  • External water bottle holder
  • Padded mesh back panel

CONS:

  • Not expandable (14.8 L is what you get)
  • Water bottle holder is not that elastic (will only fit water bottles on the thinner end)
  • Chest strap is not removable
  • No drainage hole in water bottle holder
  • Laptop sleeve only fits up to 16” laptop
  • Cannot be turned into a briefcase
  • Horizontal luggage passthrough

Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe

Price Range: $150 – $200 USD

This backpack is highly rated and highly recommended. Like all the others on this list, it’s an aesthetic looking backpack, albeit a little beefier or more bulky. It is 28 L (not expandable) and has many great functionalities including an extra water resistant bottom with compression straps that open up to store more items, a thick top handle, padded shoulder straps, lots of organization compartments, removable chest straps, and more.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking
  • High Quality
  • Comfortable
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Extra Water Resistant Bottom
  • Lots of compartments and pockets for organization
  • Separate padded laptop sleeve
  • Laptop sleeve holds up to 17” laptop
  • External water bottle holder
  • Padded mesh back panel
  • Lanyard key holder (for easy access)
  • Vertical luggage passthrough (finally! I like my backpacks upright so a vertical rather than horizontal luggage passthrough is preferred, some people may not feel the same way but to each their own)

CONS:

  • Water bottle holder is not that elastic
  • Not as roomy as other backpacks of similar size because it compromises storage capacity to include more organizational compartments
  • Laptop sleeve is pretty tight (bulkier laptops may not fit well)
  • Bulky (may not look great on someone shorter/smaller)
  • Cannot be turned into a briefcase

Alternative: Timbuk2 Division (if you’re looking for something more minimalistic, but with essentially the same features as the Timbuk 2 Authority, consider this backpack instead)

Black Ember Shadow 22

No Amazon Link Available (Get it on the Black Ember Website)

Price Range: $200 – $250 USD

There is a lot to love about this particular backpack. It is another one of those hybrid backpack/briefcase options making it the best backpack for lawyers who go to court. And like the Knack Series 2, this backpack does the whole briefcase thing really well. It has a smooth transition and looks great as a briefcase. It has a minimalist style, it’s durable and water resistant, and has smooth anti-theft zippers, a magnetic key holder, a built-in tech compartment, etc. etc. It’s modern, professional and just perfect. I couldn’t find a link to this backpack on Amazon but I’ve linked to it on Black Ember’s site for your convenience.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking
  • Minimalist
  • High Quality
  • Comfortable
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Decent organizational compartments
  • Transitions from backpack to briefcase
  • Has smooth anti-theft zippers
  • Has a magnetic key holder (so you can easily take out your keys without needing to put the backpack down and mess around with unhooking your keys)
  • Padded laptop sleeve with a false bottom
  • Removable chest straps

CONS:

  • Easily picks up dirt/dust
  • No external water bottle holder (although it does have one on the inside)
  • Smaller than other backpacks of similar size
  • Laptop dimensions in inches are: 14 x 10.75 x 1.25 (might not fit laptops that are 14”+)
  • Stiff shoulder straps
  • Horizontal luggage passthrough

Bellroy Tokyo Totepack

Price Range: $200 – $250 USD

Looking for something a little more…aesthetic?? Well, here’s a great lawyer backpack for you: the Bellroy Tokyo Totepack. Yet another one of those hybrid backpacks! Except instead of a briefcase, it turns into a tote bag (you can hide the shoulder straps). Nothing revolutionary, but it’s very well made. It comes in so. many. different. colours!!! The backpack isn’t perfect, of course (nothing is). But it does have some great features like quick access side pockets, a lanyard key holder, smooth zippers, decent organizational compartments, comfortable shoulder straps and durability.

PROS:

  • Professional-looking AND aesthetic
  • High quality
  • Comfortable
  • Water Resistant Outer Shell
  • Decent organizational compartments
  • Smooth zippers
  • Lanyard key holder
  • Transitions from backpack to tote

CONS:

  • Not expandable (but comes in 14 or 20 L size)
  • No external water bottle
  • Top access to backpack makes it difficult to grab things
  • No dedicated pen compartments
  • Not the best padded laptop sleeve (could use more protection)

Well, there you have it: a list of solid backpack options for lawyers going to and from the office or to and from court. If you’re looking for the best backpack for lawyers, I hope you find this article a good place to start. Not a backpack fan? You might want to check out this list of bags for lawyers instead:

  1. Aer Travel Sling 2 (a sling pack that’s perfect for everyday use)
  2. Tory Burch Perry Tote (for the ladies…if you’re not into the whole hybrid backpack/tote thing and want to fully commit to a tote work bag, this is a great option)
  3. Samsonite Bonded Leather Attache (for if you’re one of those lawyers who just stubbornly loves traditional briefcases)
  4. Peak Design Everyday Messenger (a messenger bag that’s got everything you’ll need)
  5. Alpine Swiss Rolling Briefcase or Rolling Crate (are you a trial lawyer needing to haul stacks of papers and huge binders? Consider one of these instead as a backpack may not suffice your needs!)

Backpack shopping is one of my favourite things to do. It’s always exciting to pick out a new backpack that you know you will be using everyday for many years to come. Most of the backpacks on this list are pricey but well worth the investment. And that’s what a backpack is. It’s an investment. So think about what you really need from a backpack (or bag) and make sure to choose your everyday companion wisely!