Best Mini Backpack Blogpost
18 Best Mini Backpacks For Your Essentials

Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes the situation calls for something more pint-sized. Whether you’re a petite person or only want to carry the essentials, we’ve got the best mini backpacks for you.

In this roundup, we’re covering mini backpacks to fit every style and situation. These small backpacks will get you through the day with ease and with style. While some are more like a backpack purse, others incorporate daypack features in a smaller size.

Are you a fan of characters or luxury brands? Are you more sporty, or do you reach for heritage styles? Do you want adventure in the great outdoors or to explore the urban jungle?

No matter where or when you travel, even if it’s just taking the dog around the block, we’ve found the best mini backpacks you’ll reach for time and time again. Let’s take a look!

1. Fjallraven Kanken Mini

Best for: Relaxed Travelers

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Mekong Delta

Best for: Travel

Why We Like It: It can be used for various functions, from travel to school.

What You Should Know: The top handles look a bit silly when not buttoned together.

The Fjallraven Kanken Mini backpack is one of the cutest we've seen without pounding its adorableness over our heads. Even its backstory is sweet! Swedes wanted to prevent back problems in schoolchildren and designed the Kanken to straighten them up. The Kanken Mini backpack continues that tradition in a 7L size. It's got Fjallraven’s signature Kanken look: a square body with two handles clipped together at the top. And don't forget the red fox emblem. It's like slapping a sticker on a water bottle; you didn't know it was missing, but now you can't live without it.

It's a great mini backpack for travel: we've spotted it around the world, in airports and tourist attractions, and we think its durability has something to do with it. The Vinylon fabric is sturdy (and stiff), allowing it to hold its shape over time. The other feature supporting the bag's structure is a firm foam board that slides in a back sleeve. It's designed as a seat pad but doubles as a back panel, so we don't feel anything protruding. Whether we’re picnicking in the park or just need a break on some museum steps, we appreciate the inclusion in this small backpack.

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2. TOM BIHN Zeitgeist
Tom Bihn Zeitgeist Back

Best for: Nostalgia

Why We Like It: A classic design that utilized modern materials and organization.

What You Should Know: It can get warm on hot weather days.

We can still hear the lyrics: “People of the world (Spice up your life!)” This Tom Bihn Zeitgeist backpack takes us back to the ‘90s with its design, but the features aren’t what we remember from grade school. More robust materials—1000D CORDURA nylon, 400D Halcyon, and 525D Ballistic Nylon, to name a few—and the fact that we can slide an 11-inch tablet in the built-in padded sleeve let us know we are firmly in modern times.

Tom Bihn calls this bag a PLO or Purse-Like Object, but we think it is much more than a backpack purse. The front pocket allows for easy stashing of keys, which clip to a long leash, a wallet, and a phone. However, Tom Bihn’s signature diagonal styling of this pocket means we can stash taller gear like a notebook or a map—if you really want that old-school feel while exploring new places. Instead, you'll likely use the 6.7L capacity for a tech pouch, an e-reader, or a Nintendo Switch when you need a break from exploring. Whatever your needs on any given day, you'll be happy to take the Zeitgeist along.

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3. GORUCK Bullet Ruck

Best for: Full-time Travelers

GORUCK Bullet Ruck 10L In Use

Best for: Rugged adventures

Why We Like It: Material durability is a notch above typical standards.

What You Should Know: The design looks out of place in some environments.

If you're looking for a nearly indestructible small backpack to resist snags from tree limbs, scrapes from rocks, and hitting the ground if you slip on the trail, the GORUCK Bullet Ruck 10L is your bag. The main fabric is 1000D CORDURA nylon. Yes, you read that right—1,000 denier. It's a rugged and tough material, but we don't worry about abrasions, rips, or tears.

It’s meant for exploring the great outdoors, and we like that we can pair this small backpack with just about anything we can clip to a carabiner. A PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) across the front of the backpack and down each shoulder strap ensures you don't have to worry about crushing your hat; just clip it on. GORUCK pares down its signature sturdy shoulder straps on this small backpack, but they are still substantial for this size bag. It also has a pass-through for a hydration bladder so that this bag can serve double-duty as a daypack and a hiking backpack. The padded back panel also complements that use, so we reach for the GORUCK when we want a small backpack to, well, go ruck.

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4. Osprey Arcane Small Day

Best for: Sustainable Travelers


Best for: Everyday

Why We Like It: It has all the amenities you’d expect from a daypack.

What You Should Know: No water bottle pocket option is a bummer for hydration addicts.

Carry everything you'd want in a daypack on a smaller scale with the Osprey Arcane Small Day pack. This 10L backpack has room to haul a 13-inch laptop, plus the accompanying wireless keyboard, mouse, and other tiny tech. It includes organizational features you won't find on other mini backpacks, like padded sleeves for computers and tablets, a pen slot, and mesh pockets for accessories—and that's all in the main compartment.

The concealed front pocket is soft for sliding in a phone, wallet, lip balm, and more. If that sounds like a lot to stuff in a small backpack, consider that the Osprey Arcane Small Day has a footprint of about 15-inches high by just over 10-inches wide. The narrow profile enhances the look of this petite bag. It's made with water-repelling recycled polyester packcloth and even includes padded mesh shoulder straps for a more comfortable carry. And—bonus—one shoulder strap has a G-clip at the bottom for securely fastening it to a chair back or table leg to deter theft. The features combine to create one of the best mini backpacks for work we’ve found.

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5. Topo Designs Rover Pack Mini
Topo Designs Rover Pack Mini

Best for: Standing out

Why We Like It: Loads of colorway options, from dark and sleek to bright and saturated.

What You Should Know: Side pockets aren’t large enough for a water bottle.

Feel like a kid again with the Topo Designs Rover Pack Mini. The chunky hardware and eye-catching designs give this small backpack a youthful look. Personalize it by choosing from a wide variety of colors and color combinations that run the gamut from muted forest green to the brightest yellow.

Where many mini backpacks are just (small) buckets, this has the features and storage you need to make it through the day with only one bag. Straps and buckles help compress this small backpack to fit in the tightest spaces. Slot a 13-inch laptop in the dedicated sleeve, or use it as a divider for gear in the main compartment. The top flap buckles over the drawstring top and features a zipper pocket with a key clip. We think this is a great small backpack for travel so you can still carry the essentials—like snacks. What’s more essential than snacks?

Toss a wallet and phone in the top pocket for easy access, and pop gum in the front pocket to be ready for the plane’s descent. There are also a few side pockets, although they're so slim that water bottles can't slide in. Luckily, they're an excellent spot for a smartphone tripod or a selfie stick to show everyone back home the sights.

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6. Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Mini Backpack
Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Mini Backpack

Best for: Security

Why We Like It: Added security features keep your gear safe.

What You Should Know: The zippers are loud when not locked up.

While the best mini backpacks are perfect for exploring, sometimes the places we're checking out require a little more security. Protect your gear with the Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Mini Backpack, the brand's best-selling secure backpack in a smaller package—they minimized the size, not the features.

It has eXomesh slashguard fabric and Carrysafe slashguard straps to keep thieves from cutting through, unique Pacsafe locking mechanisms for the zippers to keep your belongings from belonging to someone else, and RFID blockers to prevent digital theft. They require a little practice to use, which means they're harder for thieves to get past, too. We also love the ability to lock the strap to a chair or table leg. It's a great way to relax while enjoying a drink or a meal without worrying your bag will grow legs and walk away.

We know it's on the larger side for a small backpack with an 11L capacity, but we like that you can use it to carry your 13-inch MacBook Pro without a problem. The shoulder straps on this small backpack are up to the task, and it's stylish, too, with metallic accents and contrasting liners.

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7. Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Backpack

Best for: Frugal Travelers

Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Backpack

Best for: Classic backpack look

Why We Like It: The styling combines a heritage look with modern pack amenities.

What You Should Know: It’s a bit larger than some would consider a mini backpack.

For a traditional look in a pint-sized package, check out the Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Backpack. At 9L, it's a mini backpack version of the Herschel Classic, a popular bag that has stood the test of time.

Available in ten colorways, all with Herschel's signature striped fabric liner, we get school-day vibes from this backpack without it weighing us down; after all, a huge textbook couldn't fit inside even if we wanted it to. Instead, we tuck in the essentials we want to carry. Grab a phone and wallet, and you'll still have room for a few snacks, your Nintendo Switch, a Sudoku puzzle, or a small paperback. A front pocket is a great spot for lip balm and hand sanitizer.

The slim shoulder straps are easily adjustable so that you can carry this small backpack in the traditional style, and a carry handle is great for hanging it when you're home. If you like the style, expand your collection with the mid-volume, classic, or the XL, which includes a laptop sleeve and water bottle pockets. Of course, some of the best mini backpacks are more about form than function, and we like the look we're sporting with the Herschel Classic Mini Backpack.

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8. Vera Bradley Utility Mini Backpack
Vera Bradley Utility Mini Backpack

Best for: Eco-friendly travelers

Why We Like It: The recycled materials look sleek and colorful.

What You Should Know: The shoulder straps can dig in with heavier loads.

You can feel good about helping the environment with the Utility Mini Backpack from Vera Bradley. The bag company packages various colorways and patterns into a recycled cotton tiny backpack for eco-conscious shoppers.

Unlike most Vera Bradley products, this bag isn't quilted, and the smooth fabric cinches shut at the top with a drawstring held in place with a cord lock and covered by a flap that buckles shut. Tighten things up further with two buckled compression straps on the sides, and keep whatever you carry in this 3L bag safe.

Vera Bradley doesn't neglect the features on this backpack purse, though—there are internal and external zip pockets to stash the things you can't afford to lose. Inside, coordinating fabric adds fun paisleys and flowers to the mix, even if you choose black. Whether you tote it by one shoulder strap or two—or pick it up by the carry handle—this small backpack will be one you reach for again and again if you like good things in petite packages.

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9. Loungefly Mini Backpack
Loungefly Mini Backpack

Best for: Showing your fandom

Why We Like It: You can customize your carry with a pack that features some of your favorite movies, teams, or bands.

What You Should Know: The design won’t work for every occasion.

Do you love Disney, Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants, or The Beatles? More importantly, do you want the world to know what you love? Loungefly has the best mini backpacks in a plethora of patterns for every fandom and holiday.

Support your favorite sports team when heading into the stadium, or swap out your pack depending on the season—snow globe backpack, anyone? Loungefly uses vegan leather (a fancy name for polyurethane) for most of its mini backpacks, although some are cuddly plush. They've got adjustable straps and front pockets, so they're a fun way to tote your travel accessories. They’re more like a backpack purse than a traditional pack, but with the small size, you won’t miss the sternum strap. The available themes span decades, from "Friends" to "Stranger Things," "Muppets" to "Gremlins," and include anime and comic book characters, too.

The love continues with coordinating lining fabric and character zipper charms. Opt for a backpack with ears or one shaped like a cupcake, or collect them all if your style changes daily. These are some of the best mini backpacks for travel if you’re heading to a theme park or tourist destination. Add them to your packing list to look the part when wandering or pick up one as a fun souvenir to bring home.

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10. adidas Air-Mesh Mini Backpack
adidas Air-Mesh Mini Backpack

Best for: Athleisure

Why We Like It: Its mesh material is breathable for all kinds of adventures.

What You Should Know: It can be uncomfortable with some thin or cropped shirts.

Whether you identify more with Sporty Spice or Posh, the adidas Air-Mesh Mini Backpack will complete your look. It comes in black, green, or beige, and you'll—of course—find a 3-D version of the brand's iconic three stripes and name logo embossed in the same colorway across the front. Since it's only 5.5 by 4.25 by 8.5 inches, it's not like we're getting sweaty from this bag, but their air mesh keeps things breathable.

What sets this bag apart from other best mini backpacks is the fact that it doesn't have to stay in backpack mode all the time. You can also adjust the straps to carry it as a crossbody by hooking them to the sides of the so you can switch seamlessly from spin class to shopping. Adidas aims this small backpack at athletes who want to travel light, so they ensure the carry handle is large enough to hang the bag in a locker. A front zip product and a key clip round things out, keeping the essentials close at hand.

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11. lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Micro 3L
lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Micro Carry Handle

Best for: Rainy days

Why We Like It: Materials are extraordinarily water resistant.

What You Should Know: Not enough space for more than just the daily essentials.

For adventurers on the move, turn to the lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Micro. Wear it low on your back, or pull the carry handle straight up to create one long strap for wearing as a crossbody bag. This polyester small backpack is water repellent, so you don't need to worry about getting caught in the rain.

With a 3L capacity, it's big enough for daily essentials, although it’s hard to fit tech bigger than a phone. A front exterior pocket has a zipper that wraps around the front of the bag, and internal mesh storage pockets are excellent for keeping lip balm, gum, and lotion from getting lost in the bottom of the pack. Subtle lululemon branding shows off your style without being brash, so you can take it everywhere, whether wandering through a museum, hitting the mall, or heading to yoga in the park. Of course, the option to take this small backpack “singing in the rain” is always open, too.

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12. The North Face Women’s Never Stop Mini Backpack
The North Face Women’s Never Stop Mini Backpack

Best for: Women-specific fit

Why We Like It: Can stow two water bottles

What You Should Know: No padding or aeration on the shoulder straps.

The North Face Women's Never Stop Mini Backpack may be a small bag, but it still has two water bottle pockets, a padded internal sleeve for a tablet, and dedicated mesh pockets for pens and other small accessories. The North Face packs all of that into 7L, then tops it off with two carry handles that can snap together to get out of the way.

It's a backpack, so there are shoulder straps, of course. The North Face says they're "women-specific," but we think the thin webbing straps should fit anyone's body type. We are digging the strap keepers that allow us to wear this loose and low or tight to our back. When we do, the quilted back panel adds comfort, and the bottom is coated for abrasion resistance when we toss it to the ground.

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13. Osprey Katari 1.5
Osprey Katari 1.5

Best for: Hiking

Why We Like It: It can hold a 1.5-liter hydration pouch.

What You Should Know: It can’t carry much apart from what you’d typically stow in your pockets.

We make sure to reach for lighter mini backpacks when we're hiking, and the Osprey Katari 1.5L Backpack is the best small backpack for adventurous types. It's designed to hold—and includes—a 1.5L hydration pouch to quench your thirst for hours on the trail. It's one of Osprey's lowest-profile packs and has an AirScape back panel for ventilation. After all, you wouldn't want your water warming from your sweaty back.

The magnetic sternum strap keeps your bite valve within easy reach, and it's got a loop on the front for a tail light, too. It'll help you stay safe when the sun sets. The stretch harness conforms to your shoulders, so you won't need to take a rest; from this small backpack, at least.

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14. Prada Re-Nylon mini backpack
Prada Re-Nylon mini backpack

Best for: Luxury look

Why We Like It: The stylish design utilizes recycled materials.

What You Should Know: The price is prohibitive for some users.

A lot of the fun of carrying mini backpacks is showing off your style, and if fashion from luxury designers is your passion, then Prada has a backpack purse for you. The Re-Nylon mini backpack looks great everywhere, from city streets to parks to the runway, and its design meshes as well with yoga pants as it does with jeans, shorts, or a dress.

The luxurious touches include a leather handle and a removable chain shoulder strap if you'd prefer to change it from a backpack purse to a handbag. The Prada logo on the front flap conceals the drawstring closure that opens to the main compartment. It buckles shut, as do the two small front pockets. Prada crafted this backpack purse with recycled, purified plastic material collected in the ocean. It's kinder for Mother Earth, so you can feel as good about supporting the environment as you do about your fashion sense.

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15. Carhartt Classic Mini Backpack
Carhartt Classic Mini Backpack

Best for: Everyday workwear

Why We Like It: Its 600D primary pack material is durable.

What You Should Know: Feels and looks like a work pack, which might differ from your style.

A Carhartt Classic Mini Backpack is the way to show your strong, yet sensitive side. Crafted with Carhartt's signature 600D polyester, it's durable enough to toss in your truck and take along to the work site—or at least to look the part—but soft enough that it’s not abrasive. Carhartt is a brand beloved by workers, farmers, and hipsters alike, and we dig the sturdy, flexible fabric on these best mini backpacks.

Don't worry about getting caught in a summer storm. Carhartt's Rain Defender protects your gear in light rain—the water beads up and rolls right off to keep your stuff dry. A simple interior mesh pocket provides some organization. Tuck sunglasses and your phone in the fleece-lined front pocket to prevent scratches. Inside the bag, there's enough room for books, snacks, and an extra layer for when the chill creeps in. And while you could opt for black, orange, or even "Duck Camo," we bet you'll love the classic "Carhartt Brown."

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16. Forever 21 Transparent Mini Backpack
Forever 21 Transparent Mini Backpack

Best for: Concerts

Why We Like It: The transparent exterior makes it perfect for concerts or public events.

What You Should Know: Everyone can see what you have stowed inside, which isn’t ideal for other uses.

We love mini backpacks for what we can take along with us, but sometimes security needs to see what's inside. Students, festival- and concert-goers alike will appreciate the Transparent Mini Backpack from Forever 21.

Whether you opt for clear, lime, or pink, officers will have no problem seeing what you're bringing into the stadium. It's big enough for a phone, wallet, and even a hairbrush, so you won't have to leave the essentials behind—or cram them into your pockets—when opaque bags are prohibited.

Plus, it's easy to clean! Swing it on for a night out, and then use the top handle to hang it up to be ready for the next time Taylor Swift swings into town. Just be sure to check the dimensions, as some venues will restrict larger bags altogether.

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17. Trakke Wee Yin Micro Backpack

Best for: Professional Travelers

Trakke Wee Yin Micro Backpack

Best for: Heritage look

Why We Like It: Heritage styling with durable, handmade materials.

What You Should Know: It can get warm on hot days.

Trakke is based in Scotland, but fans worldwide admire its unique look. Trakke bags are handmade, and the Wee Yin Micro Backpack translates the qualities of the brand's larger bags into a 3L package. It’s a small backpack that can take you from childhood to adulthood, functioning as a daypack for petite users and evolving into a backpack purse as they grow. If you appreciate the waxed canvas look, you’ll like that the trademark Trakke dry canvas will develop a patina as it ages over time.

Regardless, it starts protecting your gear from the moment of unboxing. A front pocket can hold a phone, wallet, and keys, while the main section is big enough for a water bottle and your small market purchases. Adjustable shoulder straps are great for swinging it onto your back, or opt to use the top carry handles. No matter which way or what size user, you'll find a reason to appreciate the Wee Yin Micro Backpack.

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18. lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Nano
lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Nano

Best for: Ultra-tiny gear

Why We Like It: Fun colorways and niche use cases.

What You Should Know: You can’t fit much in here.

How small is too small for the best mini backpacks? “The tinier, the better!” you say? Then check out the Nano, the most miniature of lululemon’s City Adventure Backpacks. Like the Micro, the Mini, and the classic City Adventure Backpack, the Nano is designed for users on the move with water-repellent fabric, a front zipper (although this one’s just for show), and a horseshoe main compartment opening.

Unlike its companions, the Nano is only 4.7 inches tall, so it is for things that are true “items of importance”—it says so right inside the bag. It’ll keep your lip balm, credit cards, and cash within easy reach, and you can use the sturdy carabiner clip to attach it to another bag. The “shoulder straps” at the rear act as a belt loop so you can slide the pouch onto your jeans or fill it with small plastic bags and slide it on your dog’s collar. However you choose, you can show your mini backpack style without having anything touch your shoulders.

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So there you have it, the best small backpack for every situation. Check out our website to find detailed reviews on some of these backpacks and how to choose the best travel backpack for you. How do you sport your mini backpack? Join the conversation in the Pack Hacker Pro Community and let us know.

July 27, 2022

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