The backpack has been the primary way people shuttle their items around since the term was first coined in 1910. Unfortunately poorly designed backpacks have been the source of poor posture and even chronic back pain in countless children, students, and adults alike.
An ergonomic backpack should be thickly padded, come with wide “S”shape shoulder straps, and waist or chest straps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack across your upper body.
Considering the frequency (almost daily) that most of us use a backpack to carry our laptops, binders, and everything else under the sun, it’s critical to invest in an ergonomic backpack that doesn’t destroy your posture or lead to back strains over time.
In this reviews guide I look at the 5 most ergonomic backpacks you should get for the sake of your body and the precious items you carry every day. Each of them offer something unique in terms of size, features such as anti theft protection and water proof material while adapting the same essential ergonomic principles that make them easy on your back even after prolonged usage.
Now on to my picks.
Best Ergonomic Backpacks at a Glance
- Kopack Laptop Backpack – Most Comfortable Shoulder Straps
- Rusel Molly Backpack – Best Ergonomic Hiking backpack
- Outjoy 17.3 inch Laptop Backpack – Best 17″ shockproof laptop backpack
- Matien Travel Backpack – Best Ergonomic Business Backpack
- TigerNu Business Backpack – Runner’s Up for Best Business Backpack
1. Kopack Laptop Backpack– Most Comfortable Shoulder Straps
Bottom line: Scratch-, water-, and abrasion-resistant backpack ideal for school or work
The Kopack checks all the important points when it comes to a good ergonomic backpack. The “s” shape shoulder straps curve to the lines of your back, and are thicker and more well padded than most competing backpacks’ straps. Combined with a well padded back that is breathable, and even with a heavy load, wearing the Kopack is extremely comfortable.
The thickly padded and “s” shape of the shoulder straps are a huge hit with many owners. Several people commented that even with a full load (laptop and books), there is little burden on the shoulders. Easily accessible hasps at the front lets you quickly adjust the length of the straps to bring the backup closer to you, further reducing any burden when it’s fully loaded.
Like most modern backpacks, this bag from kopack has a compartment for a laptop (15.6 inches or smaller) and pockets for items like tablets, pens, notebooks, and phones. This backpack has a dual-layered anti-theft metal zipper (which the manufacturer says is knife-resistant) and a back pocket near the lumbar to store valuables (like the Uoobag). One side has a mesh pocket while the other has a zippered pocket.
The nylon outer fabric is scratch-, water-, and abrasion-resistant, which provide more protection of users’ valuables compared to backpacks with cotton fabric.
With dimensions of 11.8 by 18.1 by 6.3 inches (L x H x D), the Kopack backpack is relatively compact, very comfortable to wear, and inexpensive to boot. University students and office workers alike will appreciate the simple aesthetic and affordable price.
- Durable backpack with dual-layered zippers and anti-theft protection
- Fits laptops up to 15.6 inches
- Foam thickened straps are especially comfortable
- 17 compartments to stay completely organized
- USB outlet to house your power bank and charge your devices
- Water resistant all around.
- Slightly small compartment space
- A few users reported quality issues with straps and zippers
2. Russel Molly Hiking Backpack– Best Ergonomic Hiking backpack
Bottom line: Ergonomic, waterproof backpack that is ideal for hiking
While the Kopack backpack is designed with an urban setting in mind, the Russell Molly aims to take you off the beaten path without hurting your shoulders. The backpack comes with a large 50L capacity and useful side straps to attach a yoga mat or camping gear using.
Comfortable thick straps are critical on any so called ergonomic hiking backpack, and the Russel Molly certain certainly has that covered. The wide shoulder straps are better padded than many on the market, with an s-shape design that confirms to the curvature of your shoulders for long term comfort. Furthermore, it comes with chest and waist straps that make all the difference in better distributing the load across your entire body.
The polyester exterior of the Russel Molly is waterproof, which is only appreciated when it actually starts to rain. And rain it will when you’re high up in the mountain.
In terms of storage, that is a deceptively spacious backpack. It measures 48cm tall and 37cm deep when fully extended, with a capacity of 50L.
- Generously padded shoulder straps AND chest and waist straps
- Waterproof design for optimal protection for your stuff against the elements
- Large 50L capacity with side straps for bundling additional items
- Choice of 6 colors
- Side mesh pockets are not sturdy and cannot hold heavy items
- Backpack is a little narrow at 22cm
3. Outjoy 17.3 inch Laptop Backpack– Best shockproof laptop backpack
Bottom line: Sturdy waterproof and ergonomic bag with shock protection for laptops
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People with expensive laptops or gadgets will want to take note of the Outjoy Backpack. The hallmark of this large 17.3″ laptop backpack is the velcro-closed airbag in the main compartment that is shock proof. This protects your laptop and gadgets not only from failure when dropped, but scratches and bumps that could devalue your investments.
The Outjoy backpack is made of a waterproof outer fabric, and has a pocket with a rain cover for extra water protection. With both layers combined, even pouring rain can’t penetrate the laptop to spoil your valuables inside.
The ergonomically shaped back is covered by a breathable mesh that helps with ventilation. Due to the large size of the backpack, a breathable back is very important in a large backpack.
Like the Kopack, the Outjoy backpack has a sturdy design with several compartments to store phones, pens, and other small items – it even has a keychain and earphone outlet. The backpack measures 12 by 9.8 by 19 inches (L x W x H) and holds up to 32 liters.
The Outjoy backpack is your best bet for shuttling expensive laptops and gadgets around thanks to to well designed shock proof compartment. A six-month warranty that includes replacement and quality support doesn’t hurt either.
- Shock Proof main compartment and waterproof design
- Many compartments and sturdy ergonomic design enables users to carry many items
- Thickly padded back with mesh material for breathability
- Some reported issues with weak strap buckles, especially with a fully loaded bag
- On the heavy side at 2.14 lbs
4. Matien Travel Backpack– Best Business Backpack with Anti-Theft Pocket
Bottom line: Fashionable business backpack with anti-theft pocket and luggage strap.
Let’s face it, most backpacks look kind of out of place when worn over a nice business suit – not so with the Matien travel backpack. This is a fashionable business backpack that will actually elevate your look with its polyester fabric and choice of 10 colors.
Let’s talk comfort and ergonomics first. To start, the Matien comes with luggage straps that let you hang it over a sliding suitcase or dolly. This is the most ergonomic way to transport a backback actually. If that’s not an option, the shoulder straps are relatively wide and comfortable, and there is a handle bar at the top as well.
Inside the backpack are plenty of business friendly features. There’s a USB cable that’s connected to a charging port to let you easily charge your electronics on the go. There’s a dedicated phone pocket, pen holders and even a key fob hook.
For carrying important documents or valuables, there is also a clever anti-theft pocket for that. Built into the back of the backpack that touches your back, it makes it hard for would-be thieves to access any items while you walk around.
Being a gadgets friendly laptop, logically the bag is water resistant. Note that this is different from being waterproof, though it can still resist light rain while you look for cover.
The fashionable Matien backpack comes in two sizes- one to fit a 15″ laptop, and a much bigger version for 17″ laptops.
- Upscale design that’s suitable for business use
- Ergonomic luggage strap
- Built in USB cable with external USB port to connect your devices on the go.
- Anti theft pocket for important items
- only water resistant, not full waterproof
- No waist strap
5. Tigernu Business Backpack– Runner Up for Best Business Backpack
Bottom line: Well-built ergonomic backpack with the most compartments we’ve seen.
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The Tigernu is another ergonomic backpack you won’t feel self conscious carrying to the office or a business meeting. It comes in at a a close second for the best ergonomic backpack for business use.
What makes this backpack shine are the security features and sheer number of well thought out compartments to organize everything you can imagine neatly, so everything is easily accessible.
The dual-zippered main compartment is where you can put your laptop, and can be locked with a buckle ring as an anti-theft measure, with another anti-theft waist pocket for storing valuables.
The backpack also has a pocket for an iPad or tablet, two zippered side pockets to hold water bottles or small items, and several small compartments for pens, notebooks, and keys. It even has a sunglasses buckle to store your sunglasses when not in use. In total the backpack carries up to 22 liters in volume.
The water-resistant tear-proof nylon fabric offers protection against water, though it isn’t effective in heavy rain. The back panel is ergonomically contoured (the anti-theft pocket pads the lumbar) and is padded with a pressure-reducing and breathable foam.
The Tigernu Business Backpack with its large collection of compartments is perfect for students and business people who carry everything from their laptop, ipad, phones, to sunglasses and other small items in the backpack and want everything to be easily accessible. It’s only edged out by the Matien backpack above in the area of style and abundant choice of colors.
- Classy and sophisticated look for business use
- Large number of well thought out compartments
- Fits up to 15.6″ laptop
- Waterproof fabric and hidden anti-theft pocket provide protection for your belongings
- Only one color (in black) available
- No larger version to fit 17″ laptops
What to Look for in an Ergonomic Backpack
The backpack is the traditional multi-item storage system, but proper posture must be maintained especially as the backpacks concentrates the weight distribution to the back. Ergonomically designed backpacks can prevent chronic health issues like scoliosis or compressed discs.
Many people need to bring multiple items as they go, whether it be to university or to work. As we become more reliant on technology, the need to bring our electronics opens up additional requirements in a backpack as well.
We provide several considerations for new buyers to ponder when selecting an ergonomic backpack.
Like office chairs, backpacks with S-shaped backs will uphold the natural curvature of the back when carrying loads. Padded backs and shoulders can improve ergonomic comfort. Chest, shoulder, and waist straps can mold the backpack to conform to your body shape, which is useful for backpacks that don’t have sturdy builds.
Sturdily built backpacks help your posture because they don’t bend out of shape when carrying oddly shaped objects. However, no amount of ergonomic features can outweigh (literally and figuratively) the weight of your loaded backpack – carrying heavy items over the long term can cause back pain.
Electronics aren’t cheap, and as users store their valuables in portable backpacks, anti-theft features are a must. Knife-resistant zippers, and slash-resistant pockets lined with stainless steel cables are effective measures to counter those the greedy.
Pockets near your lumbar are great for storing your precious iPhone or the One Ring because they are inaccessible to others when you wear the backpack. Keep a close eye on that backpack though – anti-theft measures can be circumvented by the resourceful. Thieves may target the zipper teeth to get around a zipper lock, or slash the backpack to bypass the durable zippers. The above benefits are great for those who want a little more security, whether they are travelling abroad or taking public transportation to work or school.
Like the Wicked Witch of the West, electronics can be ruined by water. A backpack that prevents water damage is a necessary purchase when transporting electronics or important documents.
Note that there is a difference between water-resistant and waterproof materials. Water-resistant materials can resist water to a certain extent – such materials can usually safeguard your valuables in light rain or snow, but protection is not guaranteed in heavy rain; water-resistant materials are tested to withstand a water pressure within a certain range. On the other hand, waterproof materials can resist much harsher conditions like heavy downpours or snowstorms; waterproof materials are tested to withstand a water pressure greater than that of water-resistant materials. Due to the extra protection afforded by waterproof backpacks compared to water-resistant backpacks, the former is more expensive than the latter.
In life, the worst thing to happen to us (other than using unwarranted hyperbole) is to drop our electronic gadgets on the floor. Therefore, getting an ergonomic backpack with shock protection is advantageous for those who want to carry their laptops, tablets, or phones around. Built-in airbags or padded pockets are examples of shock-proof measures.
Compartment number and size: Since most backpacks nowadays come with a compartment for a laptop, the size of your desired backpack depends on the size of your laptop. Backpack size may also be an important consideration for those who need to fit their bags in school lockers or overhead compartments on planes. The number of compartments or pockets in the backpack can increase functionality, which is ideal for people who are carrying different items like pens, tablets, and textbooks. On the other hand, fewer compartments can allow for more versatility, which is useful when packing for overseas travel, outdoor activities, or exercise.
10 Rules of Good Backpack Ergonomics (Infographic)
Regardless of how ergonomic a backpack is, there are some basic rules of good ergonomics when handling a backpack you should always follow:
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Ergonomics shouldn’t just be limited to chairs or computer peripherals, but everything our bodies come in contact with, such as your backpack. Whether you are going on a hike in the mountains or a business trip in the city, a well-designed backpack or even slingbag will do wonders to ensure that poor posturing won’t impede your efforts. Moreover, specialized features such as extra padding to protect your valuable laptop for shock, water proof material to safeguard your contents from getting wet, and anti theft features to ensure you don’t become the victim of a skilled pick pocket make investing in a good ergonomic backpack a no brainer.