The best functional but also cool travel bag

Remember in high school when everyone made fun of the kid with the rolling backpack? Nor do we – that kid knew what he was doing. Not to say roller coasters are… in vogue, but we understand the allure of pure, unadulterated functionality. However, not all situations require a backpack on wheels, and not every backpack on wheels is something you’d like to see in public. Enter: functional and smart travel packages.

We want laptop pockets, but we also want our trusted companion to look good in a coach seat on our way to, I don’t know… Iceland? We want a chic and simple style, but we also want to be able to pull all of our long tie-dyed sleeves through customs without the backpack looking too bulky. Unfortunately, that could mean giving up on your trusty college bookbag — you know, the one with holes and pockets you never open — and upgrading your tools. It can be hard to find that sweet spot on the Venn chart between practical and trendy, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to help you look your best on your next day trip, overnight trip, or continental couch surfing tour.

We’re not talking about actual luggage (although we definitely did talk about that) or summer travel bags (again, for the folks in the back). No, we’re talking about cool handbags, hiking packages, shift bags, and everything in between.

This will complete your linen button

You collect copies of kenfolk, You will likely have a drip setting from a single ceramic cup. Oh God we feel love here. Wrapped in heavy-duty shell fabric.

$99.95 at REI

You are an organized king

This backpack is nicer (and bigger) than most flats we can afford. A breathable mesh back panel eliminates summer rear sweat, and it even has a fully wrapped zip opening for easy access to the spacious main compartment—if you notice a drift.

$195 at Away

This is what kids wear these days

You, too, can be rejuvenated with this durable bag from Acne Studios. It has a clear vinyl ID pocket (or vaccine card holder) and two “widespread side pockets”. Are they buying the next round?

$320 at Mr. Porter

You want people to know you’re out of the house

These are functional distractions, but we can totally imagine the wearer standing at the airport or train station, shoes barely dry from their morning walk, sun-kissed skin and shiny salt-and-pepper hair in the glow of Auntie Anne’s booth. mmm.

$320 at REI

Can you tie it in a knot, can you tie it in a bow

Can you throw it over your shoulder like continental soldier Smart traveler? If so, this bag is a great alternative to a backpack.

$125 at Away

This is a hybrid bag

This backpack does a great job of blending generous pocket space and volume with understated bulk. It’s also not overkill in design, which is great if you’re used to tying rubber ties stuck to doorknobs.

$55 at the north face

You can eat crayons

A slight nod to the ’90s with its weightless fabric and electric color scheme, this bag is for the heads of Memphis Design, and should also be considered for starring in their own Nickelodeon show. As with most Hollywood-ready backpacks, it has a proportionate amount of bells, whistles, and pockets to keep our serotonin levels in check. Who needs friends?

$59.99$50.99 at Society 6


Didn’t they find this in the Utah desert? (See: monolith-gate.) If you’re a fan of simple Japandi design, put your sheets in your bed every morning, and get the middle part: this is the backpack for you.

$165 at Away

Going out with the brothers

And by trippin, we mean bombing Lagunitas Tallboys until they fade to black on an indoor ride. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to pack everything you need into this massively branded monster backpack by YETI camping brand.

$300 at Yeti

This is how to hang backpacks

Who are we, highchair kids? Roller coaster chases? You don’t always need to pack it into a backpack this dense. Choosing a single lever look is a bold move, but you’re a bold gaberon. How many scenes have you seen, where the cool resident student walks to his mates in the hall, oh, accidentally, with one rope slung over his slinger? every scene.

$59 at REI

Cartographers bag

This Longitude Tote by Away tool is the last vestige of our childhood love for maps. It has storage for your phone, passport, and water bottle, as well as a removable strap that clips seamlessly into any travel out bag and a magnetic top closure that ensures all your items are within easy reach.

$195 at Away

Our must have luxury package

If you are fond of practical fashion, a good backpack is a worthy investment. The description reads, “The neighborhood’s blend of technical expertise, luxurious building standards, classic utilitarian aesthetics, and subcultures have made the brand a cornerstone of modern streetwear.” It’s the Neighborhood – Do you really need to know more?

$446 at bodega

Fill them with books, clothes, or your own contraband (which we hope will be X-ray proof).

The Rec Room staff has independently selected all of the items in this story.

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