Are you tired of elaborate and flashy backpacks, with neon logos and pineapple prints? Then a minimalist backpack is exactly what you need. And luckily for you, I found the ten best ones you can buy right now!
Most of the backpacks that I’m about to show you are only minimalist on the outside. When you open them up, they are just as functional as any other “normal” backpack.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Picks for Best Minimalist Backpack
And I will show you backpacks in nearly every price range, from $15 to over $200. So, what are you waiting for? Scroll down to find out what the best minimalist backpacks in 2020 are!
Roncato Venice Backpack
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Hynes Eagle Minimalist City Backpack
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Osprey Farpoint/Fairview 40
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Pacsafe Instasafe Anti-Theft
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Black Ember Citadel Minimal Backpack
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Targus CitySmart Advanced Backpack
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Incase City Backpack
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Kensington Triple Trek Slim Backpack
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HIKPRO 20L Hiking Backpack
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Osprey Stratos/Sirrus 36 Hiking Backpack
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Roncato is an Italian brand that manufactures high quality luggage. They are very well known for their sturdy suitcases and for their high price tags – but luckily, that’s not the case with this backpack.
Venice is one of their luggage collections, so this particular backpack is designed with travellers in mind. In particular, this is an amazing backpack for travellers who value functionality over everything else, and don’t want any flashy colors or redundant features that no one ever uses.
The pack is made from nylon and it is very lightweight. It has a TSA friendly laptop compartment, which is a must for frequent flyers. That’s the very back compartment of this backpack – it lies flat when unzipped, and the laptop is stored in a secure mesh pocket. Additionally, this compartment can easily fit 17” laptops.
On the other side of this compartment you get another mesh pocket, and a few smaller slip ones. The main compartment of the Venice pack features a tablet sleeve, an organizer panel and a few smaller pockets.
In addition to that, there are also external pockets on the Venice backpack. But no side pockets.
One thing I really like is that the backpanel features mesh and padding on your upper and lower back. Plus, the lower mesh panel lies on a luggage strap, so that you can easily secure it on top of your suitcase.
This is a great versatile minimalist backpack. It is small and lightweight enough that you can use it as an everyday backpack, but also large and functional enough that you can travel with it. It is made from nylon, so it’s a very durable, water resistant backpack.
One of the main things that make this great for travel is the shape of the backpack. The dimensions are just right for a carry on because you can easily fit this under your seat in an airplane. In addition to that, the shoulder straps of this backpack are stowable.
You can just hide them in their compartment, which transforms this bag from a backpack to a mini-duffel. The only issue is that you don’t get a shoulder strap, and there are no attachment points for it. But you do get a luggage strap, which allows you to mount this backpack on top of your suitcase.
There is some padding and ventilation on the backpanel, so this should be comfortable enough for your everyday activities.
One downside of the City backpack is that the laptop sleeve is not TSA friendly. It is located in the main compartment, and it can fit laptops up to 15.6”. This pack also features a hidden tablet sleeve, which will fit any 9.7” tablet.
The main compartment of this bag is quite spacious, with multiple pockets inside. There is also one external pocket on the front panel of the backpack, as well as a side pocket that perfectly fits your water bottles.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention – this backpack is insanely affordable, and it’s the perfect option if your budget is $30!
Osprey Farpoint is one of those backpacks that fits into nearly every category. It’s great for travel, it’s good for hikes, the larger options are a great choice for backpacking and it has a very minimalistic design. It’s one of older Osprey packs, so it doesn’t have any flashy neon logos or a very colourful exterior.
The Farpoint comes in three colors – blue, red and grey. It is made from ripstop nylon, so it is very durable and sturdy. The exterior of the pack is also water repellent, and very low-key.
This 40-liter minimalist backpack is a great option for travellers. It is a carry-on size, so you should have no issues bringing it inside an airplane. And it has a very large main compartment, with panel zip easy access. This makes packing very easy and allows you to fit more items than you could fit in a standard backpack.
In addition to that, with this type of opening, all of your stuff is easily accessible. The main compartment of this pack also features a padded laptop sleeve. But it’s not TSA friendly and that’s the only flaw.
The backpanel and harness of the Farpoint are ventilated and padded, for maximum comfort. They come with a sternum strap and a very comfy hipbelt, which ensure that you never really feel the entire weight of the pack.
You can easily hide the entire harness in the back compartment, and transform this backpack into a small duffel. Overall, this backpack has been a favorite of frequent travellers for years, and for very good reasons. The fact that it is also quite minimalistic in its design is just cherry on top of the cake!
Keep in mind that the Farpoint is the men’s version; the ladies’ version of this backpack is the Fairview, and I will link that below as well.
Pacsafe is another great option for those looking for a laptop backback. Most of their backpacks are very minimalistic in design, but they’re also insanely secure. That’s the case with the Instasafe Anti-Theft backpack – simple on the outside, but means business on the inside.
This minimalist backpack is made from 600D Poly Canvas, which has multiple anti-theft properties. The eXomesh slashguard makes the body of the backpack cut-proof. And the Carrysafe slashguard shoulder straps are also cut-proof.
The pack features a Roobar deluxe locking system on the main compartment and TurnNLock security hooks on other pockets. In addition to all that, the entire backpack is RFID safe.
Because of all these features, I think this is the perfect minimalist backpack for the person on the go. Especially for someone who spends a lot of their time on the metro or train.
The main compartment is not too spacious, so I don’t think this is a great backpack for travel. It does have a laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve, as well as several smaller slip and zippered pockets. There is also the external zippered pocket on the front panel of the pack and the side water bottle pocket, but that’s it. And it does not get more minimalistic than that.
Pacsafe does have several other anti-theft backpacks, some of which are suitable for travel. If you like the idea of an anti-theft backpack but want something minimalistic, be sure to check those out as well.
Black Ember has an entire line of minimalist backpacks, so pretty much anything you pick up from them will be fine. The Citadel in particular is a really popular option, because it is carry on sized. But, I think it will perform best as an everyday backpack. It is made with laser-cut Hypalon, and from 800D 3-layer micro-hex performance textile which is waterproof.
Those are some remarkably durable materials. Even the hardware on this backpack is insanely sturdy – the zippers are YKK, and all other hardware on the backpack is made from anodized and laser-etched aluminium. If you want a truly premium backpack, then the Citadel is the way to go.
The downside to all that craftsmanship is the price. This is not cheap for a minimalist backpack by any means, but it’s still not way too expensive or anything.
This pack features a very thick and comfortable harness with a sternum strap. The shoulder straps are stowable, so you can easily transform this into a mini duffle. In addition to that, there is a hidden pocket on the backpanel of the Citadel, which you can access even the shoulder straps are hidden away.
The main compartment of the pack features a suspended laptop sleeve and a compression divider with a tablet sleeve. There are a few more pockets on the panel on the other side, which allow you to organize all of your belongings. When you lower down the compression divider, you get easy access to even more pockets and organizing panels.
In addition to that, you can access the tablet sleeve from a zipper in the back. The Citadel also features a couple of external pockets, compression straps and an internal magnetic key holder.
There are a few different CitySmart backpacks by Targus; the one I am talking about here is the Advanced backpack with a 23-liter capacity. All the features and specifications you see are of that backpack only.
I chose the CitySmart Advanced because it is the most versatile option. It has adjustable shoulder straps and a padded and ventilated backpanel, so it’s pretty comfortable to carry around town even on really hot days. It is also carry on sized, with a TSA friendly laptop compartment (fits 15.6” laptops), which makes it a great option for air travel.
The pack also has a luggage strap on the back that allows you to mount it on top of a suitcase.
The main compartment of this backpack is quite spacious and it has several pockets. There is also a tablet sleeve inside, which is large enough to fit a 13” iPad Pro. So, you could technically fit a smaller laptop in there, and that’s pretty great.
Other than the tablet sleeve, the main compartment features zippered and slip pockets for all your other must-haves. In case you want to use this pack for travel, you can easily fit a couple days’ worth of clothes inside it.
You also get two external pockets, which are perfect for the items you want to have handy at all times. In addition to that, this backpack features a side pocket that’s just the right size for a water bottle.
If minimalism is truly all you care about, then this is the perfect backpack for you. Just look at it – I don’t think exterior design gets more minimalistic than this!
This is a pretty standard everyday laptop backpack. It’s a great option if you need something for school or work, and I would even recommend it for overnight trips. There’s a laptop sleeve in the main compartment, which can easily fit 15.6” MacBooks and anything smaller.
The backpack actually has three compartments – there’s the main compartment, the front compartment with an organizer panel and plenty of pockets and a very large zippered pocket on the front panel. That last one is perfect for all the smaller items you want to have handy at all times.
This is not a great backpack for air travel, since it doesn’t have a TSA friendly laptop compartment, and it’s really not the best choice for organization. Since it is so minimalistic, you don’t get a lot in terms of external pockets. Meaning that you don’t get side water bottle pockets, but you do get hidden zippered pockets on the backpanel.
And that backpanel is very comfortable. It has spaced out foam ridges that are soft against your back, and which are covered with breathable mesh for excellent ventilation. The shoulder straps are also padded, ventilated and adjustable, for maximum carrying comfort.
This is a great backpack for school and work. Basically, it’s a really good option if you’re looking for something that can hold your laptop, tablet and maybe a couple of notebooks and pens.
If your main goal is to keep your laptop protected in every possible scenario other than maybe a truck running it over, then this is the pack for you. But it’s not a good choice for travel, since it has really small capacity.
The main compartment of this backpack has two padded and fleece lined sleeves. One is for your laptop and the other one is for your tablet. However, the laptop sleeve is designed for small and thin laptops – anything larger than 14” will not fit inside it. Well, you could technically fit a 15.6” laptop in there, but you won’t be able to secure it with the Velcro strap.
There is very little space between those two sleeves, but you could fit a couple of books and maybe a notebook in there.
The good news is that there are several external pockets on this backpack, as well as a headphone port. The lower front pocket is spacious enough to fit even the bulkiest power supplies, and it also has a key clip and a slip pocket inside.
The water bottle pocket exists, but it is hidden in the zippered side pocket. You can easily pull it out, and it’s quite stretchy so it will fit pretty much any bottle.
In addition to that, the top front pocket is lined with fleece and it is spacious enough to fit your phone, sunglasses and maybe a wallet. This is the pocket that features a headphone port, so you can listen to music on the go without taking out your phone.
If you’re looking for something minimalistic for day hikes, I think this backpack is a really good option. It is small, lightweight and it has just enough capacity for all the things you need to get you through a few hours of hiking.
It is also insanely affordable – let me just say that its capacity is higher than its price tag.
This backpack is very portable – it folds into one of its pockets, so you can easily carry it everywhere. Just throw it in your suitcase when you’re going away, and you’ll have a spacious bag for everyday exploring.
But there are some downsides to a backpack this minimalistic. There is no padding or ventilation on the backpanel, so it’s not going to be too comfortable to wear. The shoulder straps are covered with mesh though, so at least that part of your body will be able to breathe.
And it’s not really great for organization. It has a main compartment that can fit quite a lot, and which features a zippered pocket inside it. The backpack folds into that pocket.
There is one other zippered pocket on this laptop backpack, and that is the lower front pocket. And that is all – yeah there are two side stretch pockets, but you don’t get much else when it comes to organization.
But it is minimalistic, I can’t deny that. So, if you want a cheap, minimalistic backpack that you can take everywhere, this is a great option.
Want a minimalistic hiking backpack, but something that’s still functional, supportive and high quality? I recommend the Osprey Stratos or Sirrus – the Stratos is the men’s version, and the Sirrus is the women’s version. I will link both of them below.
Both packs have a completely adjustable harness, so it will be effortless to get them to fit you perfectly. They feature an Airspeed suspension backpanel and spacermesh harness, for premium carrying comfort.
The suspension on these backpacks is such that you will barely feel their weight, even when they are at full capacity. The padded, spacermesh hipbelt also helps with that, as it transfers the load away from your shoulders and onto your hips.
There is an external hydration sleeve on these packs, which is located just behind the backpanel for easy access.
These backpacks have a large capacity – about 36 liters. This is enough not only for day hikes, but also for some camping trips and weekend hikes. They feature a large top loading main compartment, and a bunch of smaller ones. There’s the sleeping bag compartment, and multiple external and internal pockets, including one on each side of the hipbelt.
And then you also get loads of attachment points. There are sleeping pad straps, stow-on-the-go trakking pole attachment points, ice-axe loops, as well as side compression straps that allow you to secure any rods into the side pockets.
In addition to all of that, these backpacks also come with a raincover, which has its own compartment.
Most of the backpacks you see in this review are unisex. They usually feature adjustable harnesses, so it’s pretty easy to get them to fit you just right.
However, in some cases there will be men and women specific versions. In those cases, the dimensions and weights you see in the product info boxes are of the men’s version of the pack – the women’s is generally a couple inches smaller and several ounces lighter.
There are no differences in the features of the men’s and women’s packs – everything I tell you about in the mini reviews is exactly the same on both backpacks.
Finally, I will link both versions below the review, so be sure to check out your gender specific version.
If there is only one link, that means that the backpack is unisex, and that there are no gender specific versions.
Yeah, I get it – you want a minimalist backpack. And that’s fine – but what do you need it for? Is it a minimalist backpack for hiking or for travel?
There are loads of different types of backpacks, and I’m only showing you three in this review – everyday, travel and outdoor. I won’t really divide the review into categories, because most backpacks are versatile and can be used for multiple purposes.
But, I will indicate in the reviews what every backpack is best for, so be sure to check those.
This is in direct correlation to my previous point – an everyday backpack will be smaller, a travel backpack will be carry on sized and an outdoor backpack will usually be quite big.
So, how big a backpack do you need? If you’re looking to get something for travel, just make sure that it is carry on sized. In addition to that, if you want to get a versatile backpack, check that its dimensions are okay for your everyday life. You don’t want to get something that’s too big and that’s a drag to carry around on a daily basis.
Weight is also important in this matter. A backpack that’s quite heavy on its own is going to be a nightmare when you fill it up. However, I can’t really know which backpack will be too heavy for you – if you’re an 180lb adult male, you’ll probably be okay with a 3lb backpack. But if you’re a 100lb teenage female, that’s going to weigh you down quite bit.
Anyway, you can see the dimensions and weights of each backpack in the product info boxes below the reviews.
How much money are you willing to spend on a minimalist backpack? Actually, that doesn’t really matter – I’ve found 10 amazing backpacks in lots of different price ranges. You will see packs here that cost $15 and $215 – so there should definitely be something here for your budget.
Bear in mind that even the cheaper backpacks you see here are generally quite durable and well made. They might not be made from premium materials, but you will be able to use them for quite some time.
After all, I am determined to show you only the best minimalist backpacks money can buy.
Not sure which of these is the best minimalist backpack choice for you? No problem! Check out our three favorite backpacks – any one of them is an amazing option that won’t disappoint you!
If you want a great everyday backpack, I have to recommend the Hynes Eagle Minimalist City. It is very affordable, so it’s a great choice regardless of your budget. The backpack has multiple compartments, several internal pockets and a few external pockets as well. There are both laptop and tablet sleeves inside, and also an organizer panel in one of the compartments. Plus, this is a pretty versatile pack – it is carry on sized, and it has a luggage strap, so it’s also a decent option for travel.
But definitely the best minimalist backpack is the Targus CitySmart Advanced laptop backpack. It has a TSA friendly laptop compartment that easily fits 15.6” laptops, and it is carry on sized. The pack has a spacious main compartment with several internal pockets, which make organization a piece of cake. That includes a 13” tablet sleeve, which can even hold a smaller laptop. And the luggage strap on the back panel allows you to easily mount in top of your suitcase.
*Side note: If you want a minimalist backpack for travel that can fit a 17" laptop, your best option is the Roncato Venice backpack.
The best minimalist hiking backpack is probably the Osprey Stratos/Sirrus. It’s very simple on the outside, but quite the opposite on the inside. This backpack is really comfortable to wear, because of the Airspeed suspension and spacermesh harness and hipbelt. You will stay cool even during really hot days, and you won’t even feel its weight on your back. It has a spacious main compartment, and loads of pockets and attachment points for all your necessary gear!
You can check out the prices and color variety of all of these backpacks on Amazon.
If you’re not impressed by any one of these backpacks, be sure to take a look at our related posts. Maybe your perfect minimalist backpack is hiding in one of them!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!