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Shopping for the perfect backpack: Which brand is best for you?

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Thu Sep 21 2017


Backpacks are an essential part of school life but they can be more than just necessary luggage for your laptop and books. A good backpack is not only functional but fashionable and can help differentiate people’s personalities too.

To assist students find the backpack that’s right for them, we look at some of the most popular bag brands that students are sporting on campus. We review them based on their price, comfort, waterproofing and fashion versatility. Ratings are out of five stars; the higher the number of stars the more we approve!

Large Backpacks


These days, it can feel like as though everyone is in possession of a Herschel backpack. The popular bag can be seen in campuses everywhere and isn’t just worn by international students.

The bag has two compartments inside and its secondary internal pocket is more than enough for you to place smaller items inside. The bag also has a little red hook inside designed for holding keys. Furthermore, the backpack is also designed and structured with a supporting air cushion for the wearer’s back, making the bag more firm and comfortable to carry around.

Last but not least, the Herschel backpack is also fairly waterproof, and the material is quick drying in case of any major spillage.

It is not hard then to see just why these bags are so popular. Moreover, as a fashion item, Herschel bags are very versatile in that there are so many different colours and patterns you can buy for Herschel bags that it then shouldn’t become a problem to find something suited to your style and taste.

Fashion factor: ★★★★
Comfort factor: ★★★★
Waterproof qualities: ★★★
Price: ★★

Nike Max Air

Compared to the Herschel backpack, the appearance of this Nike Max Air backpack may come across as being plain.

But like any good sports backpack, there’s a lot more going on than what’s presented with its basic appearance. With water bottle pockets at the side of the backpack, inner compartments to organise your books and small pockets designed to store pens, this backpack is plenty functional. Furthermore, the air cushion in the straps are also great for reducing the pressure on the wearer’s back, providing more comfort.

We also evaluated the waterproof function for the Nike backpack by pouring water onto the surface of the backpack and found that the inside of the backpack stayed completely dry. This makes it easier to clean the backpack and does make sense given that it is a sports backpack.

Fashion factor: ★
Comfort factor: ★★
Waterproof qualities: ★★★★
Price: ★

Medium Backpacks

Photo by Jenny Dong

Also popular with students is the Rains backpack, a medium-sized backpack which can easily fit a 13-inch MacBook Air.

Inside the bag, however, there isn’t much space or many compartments to speak of, which limits its ability to hold more. Compared to the large sized backpacks, shoulder straps here are very narrow, which means the owner will bear more pressure on their shoulders if they are carrying similar loads.

We tested out the waterproof qualities of the backpack and the material of this backpack also and found it was completely waterproof. However, the material also has its disadvantages as it can be easily scratched. Therefore if you choose this backpack, you will need to take good care of it. As a whole though, it is a functional and very fashionable backpack.

Fashion factor: ★★★★
Comfort factor: ★
Waterproof qualities: ★★★★★
Price: ★★

Small Backpacks


Photo by Jenny Dong

One of the most recognisable bags in the world is Fjällräven’s Kanken backpack. That it comes in a wide array of colours instantly makes it fun to choose one that’s right for your style and taste.The logo on the backpack is also reflective, which makes it that much more attractive.

But what the backpack makes up for in style, it lacks in functionality and comfort. As a smaller backpack, it means you won’t be able to hold as much in here (although laptops and notebooks should do fine). The shoulder strap is also quite thin and may agitate those who are overloading their bag.

However, it does have an alternative handle strap which makes it more unique than most other backpacks.

Photo by Jenny Dong

Fashion factor: ★★★
Comfort factor: ★
Waterproof qualities: ★
Price: ★★


Photo by Jenny Dong

Another small but stylish backpack is this sleek black one from Mimco. But only buy this at your own discrection, as this backpack costs even more than the Fjällräven branded backpack above.

What’s really impressive about the Mimco backpack is its stylish and sophisticated appearance. The metal finishings on the backpack are all done in rose gold, which is very trendy and fashionable right now.

Fashion factor: ★★★★
Comfort factor: ★★
Waterproof qualities: ★
Price: ★★★

Novelty Backpacks

Photo: Jenny Dong

Of course, not everyone has to have a ‘branded’ piece of bagging. Most people will want something to just carry their stuff and won’t worry about how it looks as a fashion accessory. Others however might want to use it to make them stand out a bit more; bags that tell the world what they like and who they are.

Novelty backpacks like those found at Zing and EB Games are specific to those who might like to show off their fandom. A fan of Pokemon? Show it off and sport a Pokemon backpack (one that is reasonably sized and capable of fitting a 13-inch Mac, might we add).

Or if you’re a comic book geek, there’s also plenty of backpacks for those that want to show off either their Marvel or DC colours.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via