GearApparel
Q:

What’s the best multi-purpose backpack?

I’m searching for a great multi-purpose backpack for graduate school. I'd like to use it while biking to carry my laptop, books, and some dog accessories. In addition, I'd love to be able to throw a bladder in there along with some hiking gear. Any suggestions for me as to what route to go for a super sweet new pack?
—Liz
Denver, CO

A:

I dunno, Liz. I guess they haven’t yet taught you the art of compromise in grad school. You know, where you give up one thing to gain another.

Novara Commuter Backpack

Same for packs. You want a book pack. And a hiking pack. And a hydration pack. But a book pack is kind of a casual fashion thing. A daypack for hiking is something else. And a hydration pack is a third thing. And kind of a useless thing, really. I mean, I occasionally use a hydration bladder on a bike. But otherwise: really? A water bottle doesn’t work?? I can’t get my head around that.

Anyway. Your first pick ought to be REI’s Novara Commuter Backpack ($70). It’s ideally suited for your biking world, and an easily hold a laptop, books, and doggie things. It’s designed to carry well on a bike. And it will be OK on a trail. Not a ton of room inside it—only 1,500 cubic inches—but it’ll hold clothes, a snack, and water. And it will adapt for a water bladder if that is what you really want.

On the more backpack-y side of things, there is the Osprey Stratos 24 ($99). Same size as the REI pack, but a little less streamlined as it’s mean to be carried while walking. But you can use it on a bike. It’ll take a hydration bladder, it carries great, and its design gives you easy access to the stuff you need.

Lastly, Gregory’s Z35 ($139) goes all the way in the backpack direction. Bigger than either the REI or Osprey packs (2,500 cubic inches), it is a bit of a lump to carry as a bike pack. But it will do on a bike, and otherwise it’s an excellent all-around daypack.

So there you go. One of these ought to see you through grad school—and years beyond.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: BikingDay Packs
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI
More Gear