Professional Laptop Backpacks: Why Choose a Professional Backpack For The Office?

 A professional backpack not only makes a good impression, but it can also improve your productivity and comfort. In this blog, we'll share why a professional backpack is the "right bag" for you and provide tips on what to look for when choosing one.

Reading Time: 18 minutes
Subscribers: 21,543

Whether you work in an office, have a hybrid work situation, or work primarily from home, appearances still matter. It is important to make a good impression in the office, at meetings, or in any other professional setting. One aspect of your professional appearance that many people often overlook is the bag that you carry. The “right bag” can not only make a good impression but also improve your productivity and comfort. Given its unique combination of function and convenience, there is no question that a professional backpack is the “right bag” regardless of where you work.

Over the years, we’ve heard from hundreds of Knackpackers, as well as numerous professional style experts, so we wanted to share our insights and give you the lowdown on why a professional backpack is right for you as well as provide you with tips on the specific things to look for in a professional backpack.

We’ll cover:

professional backpack for the office


Is It Ok to Bring a Backpack to the Office?

First, it's important to understand that professional backpacks are widely accepted in most offices today. In the past, briefcases, messenger bags, and tote bags were the go-to options for professionals. However, with the changing nature of work, backpacks have become a more popular choice. The modern office requires us to carry more items than ever before, including laptops, chargers, notebooks, pens, and even gym clothes. A great backpack for work offers the perfect solution to carry all these items while still looking professional.

As Kim - a blogger and Knackpacker - told us “ many work both at home and in the office now, backpacks make carrying your laptop to and from work safe and easy. Backpacks are also convenient for business travel since they allow you to keep your hands free.” 

While backpacks make a great work option, too many backpacks today make you look like a college student or a hiker and not a professional, because most backpacks lack professional styling and design. They have dangling straps, bulky pockets, water bottles hanging off the sides, and loud colors and patterns. Steer clear of these attributes and your office backpack will ensure that you don’t look like you just came from Econ 101.


Why is a Professional Backpack Better Than Traditional Options?

Compared to traditional options like briefcases and messenger bags, professional backpacks have several advantages. One of the biggest advantages is the weight distribution. Traditional bags tend to put all the weight on one side of the body, which can lead to back pain, shoulder pain, and even headaches. Professional backpacks, on the other hand, distribute the weight evenly across both shoulders, reducing the strain on any one part of the body. This can lead to greater comfort and productivity throughout the day.

Another advantage of a professional laptop backpack is the ease of use. Unlike tote bags, briefcases, and messenger bags, a backpack keeps both of your hands free, and it’s comfortable to carry when holding a lot of stuff.


What to Look For in a Professional Backpack

best backpack for the office

When looking for a professional laptop backpack for the office, there are several features to consider:

  • Office-Appropriate Style
  • The Right Size for What You Carry
  • Comfortable Carry
  • Quality
  • Does it Work Beyond the Office?

Style That Works in the Office

When choosing the right style professional backpack, you need to consider your office culture. Different offices have different levels of what they consider professional - ranging from business casual to suit-and-tie professional. That said, in general, your professional backpack should not look like the backpack you used in college or the backpack you use to go backwoods camping.

As we mentioned, avoid a professional backpack that has lots of dangling straps, a bunch of external buckles, and external water bottle pockets hanging off the bag. It’s safer to stick with more muted colors (like black, gray, and dark blue) and less is more when it comes to logos.    

Size: What is the best size Professional Backpack for me?

Sizing is the first criteria that you need to figure out. And, unfortunately, there is not one best size for everyone. Professional backpacks are typically measured by either their capacity (in liters) and/or by their dimensions (in inches). In general, professional backpacks range between 20 and 40 liters.

To get at the best size for you, you primarily need to answer one simple question: how large is the tech device that you normally carry?

You need to ensure that your tech fits in your professional backpack. Look for dedicated laptop compartments or sleeves/pockets that are padded and protected. Unless you want your tech rattling around in the main compartment, you’ll need to ensure that the dimensions of the dedicated tech compartments and pockets fit the device you carry every day.

The chart below is a simple summary of typical professional backpack sizes, capacity, dimensions, and laptop fit to help you determine what is best for you. 

Professional backpack size guide 

Backpack Size Capacity (Liters) Typical Dimensions
Small 15 - 24 Liters

H: 16-18” 

W: 11-12”

D: 5-7”

Minimalists who carry a tablet or laptop 13” or smaller.
Medium 24 - 35 Liters

H: 18-20”

W: 12”

D: 7-9”

The most popular size. Perfect for carrying a 16” laptop or smaller with plenty of room for work materials and personal items.
Large 35 - 45 Liters

H: 19-22”

W: 14”

D: 7-9”

Ideal if you carry a lot. Required for 16” or larger laptops. Also provides room things like a monitor, projector, as well as lots of work materials.

>>MORE: The best size backpack for travel

Comfort: What Makes a Professional Backpack Comfortable?

best backpack for the office

You won’t use the greatest looking professional backpack in the world if you wear it every day and your back goes out, your shoulders ache, and your neck hurts. The following factors all play a role in a professional backpack’s comfort and are ones you should carefully consider before purchasing:

  • Weight when empty
  • Design configuration
  • Straps, handles and back panel construction

The first factor that drives comfort is the weight of the backpack. When loading up your backpack in the morning with your work laptop (4-5 pounds), a paperback (1 pound), your lunch (1.5 pounds), a filled quart water bottle (2 pounds) and your gym clothes (1-1.5 pounds), you really don’t want your backpack’s weight to add to the burden. Luckily, many professional backpacks are made from strong, yet lightweight, polyester and nylon fabrics with weight-saving polyoxymethylene (POM) plastic parts. So, you should look for professional backpacks that are in the range of 1.5-2 pounds (20 liters) up to 3-4 pounds (40 liters) when empty.

Another key factor in comfort is backpack design configuration. Compartments meant to hold the heaviest items you carry, like your work laptop, should be in the back of the bag (closest to your back). This ensures that your professional backpack doesn’t pull away from your shoulders and create strain while you’re carrying it. Likewise, pockets designed to carry heavier items should be at the bottom of your bag so their weight can rest more comfortably around your hips. 

It goes without saying that the shoulder straps, back panel and handles of the ideal professional backpack should be comfortable. But since it is so hard to find a good selection of backpacks to check out in brick-and-mortar stores, you should look for the following specs when you search online:

  • The type of foam used in shoulder straps, back panels and handles. Look for closed cell foam padding (like EPE, EVA, and PE foams) which, while a bit firmer than open cell foams (like PU), has greater “bounce-back” memory and should last longer.
  • Thoughtful design. Shoulder straps should be ergonomic and designed to fit the curve of your shoulders and body. They should also be easily adjustable and some people may prefer that they have a sternum strap to go across your chest to keep the straps from spreading out uncomfortably under heavy loads. Back panels should be molded with air channels and be covered with materials to keep you cooler during warm days. Handles should have enough room for you to fit a gloved hand comfortable underneath them.

A final bonus tip: comfort isn’t only physical. Look for features that will also give you peace-of-mind when using your professional laptop backpack. Things like:

  • Lockable zippers on the main compartments to keep your belongings secure
  • RFID-blocking pockets to foil credit card skimming
  • Hidden pockets for valuables

Quality: How Do I Know My Professional Backpack Will Last?

The old saying about getting what you pay for is particularly true in professional backpacks. There is simply no getting around the fact that better quality materials and components cost more than cheaper materials. However, professional backpacks that cost 2-3 times as much as cheaper alternatives are not only lighter and more comfortable, but they should give you more than 2-3 times the wear and use over their lifetime.

Start by looking at the backpack’s outer fabric. Is it abrasion-resistant (clues include being woven from high twist yarns or does it use bigger, higher denier yarns)? Is it water-resistant? Is it coated or treated to resist stains? If a professional backpack is high quality, the answers should be yes, yes, and yes.

>>MORE Learn more about Knack Pack fabric 

Open the bag and look at the lining and pockets. High quality linings should be both water-resistant and treated to avoid growth of mold and mildew in case they do get damp. Are the pockets thoughtfully laid out and do at least some of them have zip closures (which last longer than Velcro® closures) so that their contents don’t fall out?

Finally check out the backpack’s hardware. Look for branded zippers (like YKK®) and plastic parts (like Duraflex®). While more expensive, these components are extensively tested and consistent from batch to batch so they won’t let you down.

Flexibility Beyond the Office

Can your professional backpack do more than just go to the office? When you have plans to meet friends after work, or when you have a laundry list of errands to run, having a backpack that you’re comfortable with and fits your lifestyle ensures that you won’t have to stop at home and change bags between activities. 

Most professional backpacks only do one thing really well. For example, you can find tons of great laptop backpacks but unless you like sweaty shorts next to your computer, they don’t do a good job at carrying your gym clothes. Or how about those really stylish work backpacks that can carry some work papers and your tablet but look like the Goodyear Blimp when you pack them with an extra sweater or jacket? So, unless you like to have a warehouse full of bags in your closet, or you actually prefer carrying a couple bags at the same time, look for a professional backpack that can do a couple of different things equally well. 

Some features to look for in flexible professional backpacks include multiple separate compartments, expandability, and different carrying options (i.e., handle and straps). The bottom line is that you want your work backpack to adapt to you and not the other way around.


best backpack for the office

Which Professional Backpack Do We Recommend?

Now that you have an idea of what makes a great work backpack, what’s the best one out there? We think that a Knack Pack checks all the boxes for a fantastic professional backpack and one that also lets you live a One Bag Life to boot. 

Since we are a company made up of hybrid workers, we built our Knack Packs to satisfy our real-world demands:

  • Flexibility to use our work backpack as a travel backpack so we can live a One Bag Life
  • Sleek design that is always appropriate
  • Intelligently laid out organization so what we need is always at our fingertips
  • Lots of protection for our tech gear
  • Loads of function that allows us to carry comfortably for days
  • High quality, and lightweight materials that won’t let us down

>>MORE: Independent Knack backpack reviews

Knack Packs Are Flexible

The most important feature that makes a Knack Pack the perfect professional backpack is its versatility. Every Knack backpack has a separate, patent-pending, suitcase compartment that is hidden away when you don’t need it and expanded when you do need it. It’s the only professional backpack designed to allow you to pack a few days’ worth of clothes in the same bag you take to work every day. You can now take your Knack Pack on a business trip, look professional, and still keep your mobile office separate from your clothes and toiletries (avoiding the very unprofessional “underwear next to your laptop” syndrome).

>>MORE One bag business travel with a Knack Pack.

Knack Packs Define Professional Style

best backpack for the office

With materials inspired from suiting fabrics, Knack Packs’ streamlined, professional aesthetic looks awesome at the office and gives no indication of the many pockets and compartments on the inside that keep your stuff safe and organized. 

We also kept external straps to a minimum as we think they not only look unprofessional, but they can get caught in subway doors, transit turnstiles, or even your bicycle. We designed the shoulder straps to tuck away in a back pocket so that when you’re flying for a business trip, they don’t dangle into the aisle, flop into your neighbor’s seat, or, if you have to check your backpack, get caught in the baggage claim conveyor belt. 

“The lines are sleek and professional. The color pops enough to get noticed without being out of place in a work setting. And the clean lines project a sophisticated design that doesn't make you look like a hiker or a high school student. There's not a lot of "stuff" dangling and hanging which helps maintain that polished look and feel.” -  Michael D.

Knack Packs Help Organize Your Work Life

best backpack for the office

Too many exterior pockets and other exterior features make a backpack look clunky (or like you just finished summiting El Capitan). If poorly designed, pockets will make your backpack bulge in all the wrong places. But we’re pocket-lovers, so we designed our classic Series 1 Knack Pack with lots of streamlined exterior pockets, and our Series 2 with a super-sleek exterior and tons of internal pockets. 

There are pockets for your tablet, sunglasses, pens, chargers and cords, passport, business cards, and much more. Also, all Knack Packs also have an awesome hidden zip water bottle pocket so you don’t look like a hiker. Check it out

Knack Packs Protect Your Tech

Knack Packs have an independent, side-access, padded laptop pocket that keeps your laptop secure while still being easy to access. In contrast to a laptop pocket that’s located in the main compartment of a backpack, a side-access laptop pocket makes it much easier to grab your laptop at a moment’s notice (or to pull out in the TSA line) without having to dig through your entire backpack.

Other tech storage includes a fleece-lined pocket for your tablet, mesh pockets for storing smaller electronic items like batteries and headphones, and a cable garage (in the Series 1) where you can keep your cables and chargers tangle-free and easy to access. Speaking from experience, it’s awesome to not have to frantically untangle your computer charger when it’s on 3% battery.

MORE >> The Best Backpack for Traveling With Tech

Knack Packs are Comfortable

Knack Packs have ergonomic, padded shoulder straps and a Comfort-Cool back panel with built-in air vents that helps you comfortably shoulder whatever you’re carrying, even when you’ve packed the suitcase compartment with 4 days’ worth of clothes. The organization features of a Knack Pack are designed to not only keep all your stuff in place, but also to ensure that the heaviest items (your laptop and travel items) are closest to your back for maximum carrying comfort.

Knack Packs Are Built to Last

Knack Packs are made with lightweight, high quality 1200 denier polyester or 420 denier, high-twist nylon body fabrics. These fabrics are treated to be water-resistant, and together with our YKK® reverse-coil zippers, they will keep your things dry, even in heavy downpours. 

To ensure that Knack Packs perform in real world situations, we load them with 40 pounds and test them for comfort as well as durability. The testing doesn’t end there though. Knack Packs go through over a dozen certified quality tests, including things like wear-resistance, puncture-resistance, tear resistance, to ensure that they won’t let you down.

The excellent build quality of the backpack also makes it extremely durable and great for travel, while the sleek design makes it equally well suited for the office” - Evatte S.

Not only does a well-designed, professional backpack leave a great impression with your coworkers and clients, but it will make your life easier. With lots of features that keep you comfortable and your work items safe and organized, Knack Packs make carrying all of your things around with you a joy, rather than a burden. 

Check out our full selection of expandable professional backpacks and start experiencing the convenience of One Bag Life.

Share Article

Learn More About Knack

Laptop & Travel Backpack In One Bag