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ClassTracker’s Top 5 Backpacks for 2017, Plus Tips for Backpack Buying!

One of the most fun (and surprisingly important) decisions you’ll make in your school supply purchasing journey this year will be what kind of book bag to purchase. I’m sure you’ve been nagged by your mom, doctor, or teachers to make sure your backpack isn’t hurting your back-- and for good reason! The wrong bookbag can actually cause your spine to curve and can hurt your muscles! When purchasing your fall backpack, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Pick a smaller bag, when possible. A big bag can encourage you to pack more than you need, which can put a strain on your back.
  2. Focus on carrying weight in a symmetrical way. If you have to wear a single strap bag, don’t wear a large purse. Instead, wear a messenger bag, which will have a larger strap and will prevent our shoulders from being strained. Truly, though, you should wear a backpack. The dual straps distribute weight across your body safely and thicker straps are better for your muscles in general! (Thin straps can actually dig into your muscles… yikes.) Backpacks are safer for your back, and luckily, there are a lot of really cute bags out there!
  3. Try to be a minimalist. Carry less than ten percent of your body weight and only bring the essentials!

With all of these things in mind, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favorite backpacks for the 2017 school year. We took into consideration function, fashion, safety, carrying capacity, and even sustainability! Good luck in your shopping journey this Fall, ClassTrackers!

Class Tracker’s Top 5 Bags of 2017

Best Fashion Bag

The Matt & Nat Greco backpack is sleek, classy, and durable. It’s fashionable, goes with everything, and clocking in at less than $200, it isn’t the most exorbitant fashion backpack out there. It comes in four beautiful neutral shades that are sure to make a good impression and to match all of your Fall semester outfits-- from your chicest to your slouchiest. The bag itself can carry a 13” laptop, features a smartphone pocket, and strong shoulder straps. Made of 100% vegan materials and featuring a 100% recycled nylon lining, this bag is also sustainable! For the fashion plate, this is our favorite pick.

Matt & Nat, Greco $180

Best Utility Bag

When you think of a utility bag, fashion may not come to mind. No, a “utility” backpack is considered strong, functional, and frequently, ugly. Luckily, Patagonia has the Refugio to offer. The Refugio backpack comes in five bright color combos (and of course black, for the more traditional student) *and* is incredibly useful. The backpack can carry 28L, features a secondary compartment for organization, a key lanyard, a padded laptop pocket that can hold a 15” laptop, and compression straps that can will keep your back from straining. It also features a chest strap, for added support. The lightweight body and base of the backpack are both made of 100% recycled polyester with a water repellent finish. The Patagonia Refugio is strong, useful, utilitarian, cute, and a great buy.

Patagonia Refugio Backpack 28L, $89.00

Best Budget Bag

With 29L of carrying capacity, the Granite Gear Eagle backpack is one of the most cost effective bags on the market. The pack is made with water-repellent Taurpalite and Repelaweave fabrics. The Eagle also features a Gear-Tec laptop sleeve and an external swivel clip for attaching portable water bottles, sweaters, or umbrellas! Throw in a strong shoulder harness made from high density EVA foam and a padded back panel, and the Eagle is easily one of the most comfortable, durable, and functional bags on the market,  especially for its price!

Granite Gear Eagle, $39.95

Best Sustainable Bag

For this category we considered the products and resources used to make the backpack, style, and carrying capacity. Sustainability is becoming more and more important to students and their parents, and backpack manufacturers are taking notice! So, for this category we actually have a tie.

For sheer utility, we prefer the Looptworks backpack which is made entirely from upcycled materials. The entire backpack is made from fabrics that were destined to clog up landfills. By recycling pre-existing materials, Looptworks is saving resources and every backpack conserves around 25 gallons of water in the process! The backpack itself is water resistant, offers a separate laptop compartment that can hold a laptop up to 15”, and offers plenty of additional storage space. On the downside, there is only one color option, making this a bit limited for the more fashion-focused student.

Kasum TSA-Friendly Laptop Backpack, US $69  

For a student that desires a bit more color and doesn’t need a ton of compartment space, the Kånken ($80) backpack by Fjällräven is a wonderful choice. It comes in twelve different colors and it’s sustainably made. Each Kånken is made of 11 recycled water bottles that have been turned into polyester thread. Using SpinDye technology, Fjällräven has radically reduced the amount of water, energy, and chemicals used to produce backpacks. This backpack comes with one large main compartment capable of holding 16L, a seat pad that is stored in the in the inside back pocket, ensuring the wearer’s comfort by preventing the contents of the backpack from pressing into their back, and small compartments in the front that are perfect for holding keys and pens.

Kånken Backpack, $80

Best Overall

The North Face Borealis comes in 31 colors and is approved of by the American Chiropractic Association, so you know it’s going to serve your shoulders well. It’s capable of holding 25L, offers a padded fleece-lined 15" laptop sleeve in the main compartment that protects laptops from bumps and falls. The bag features a sternum strap to help protect your back even further and side compression straps offer the ability to adjust the weight of your load. With plenty of storage, a padded mesh spine panel, and tons of color options, it’s a sure fire hit. It wins our best overall category and we’re sure you’ll love it, too!

North Face Borealis Backpack, $89

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