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The Best Cheap Canvas Backpacks You Can Buy

It’s OK, you’re allowed to have the same backpack you did in the third grade

patrick baslar
September 18, 2018

There’s an important test to determine whether a backpack is a good backpack: does it hold your stuff?

 

You know—your laptop, your charger, your lunch, that book you borrowed from a friend and never read but can’t quite give back yet or it’ll be obvious you never read it. They are the things you can’t live without, and therefore strap to your back and carry them with you everywhere.

 

But here’s the dirty secret about backpacks—the cheap ones hold your stuff just as well the expensive ones.

 

Maybe better.

 

An Eastpak backpack will cost you $45 at Urban Outfitters. But for that price—which pales in comparison to a $900 leather backpack—you’re quite literally getting military-grade technology.

 

The brand started in 1952 as Eastern Canvas Products USA, making backpacks and duffle bags for the U.S. Army. And considering that soldiers are the kings of carrying mass amounts of stuff—the average U.S. soldier carries 60 pounds of weapons, food and supplies—it’s pretty obvious that canvas backpacks pass the “stuff carrying” test.

 

Another worthwhile option is the classic Jansport backpack—yeah, the same one you probably had in elementary school. For one, it’s cheap ($36 on jansport.com) and colorful (the SuperBreak backpack comes in 60 different designs). And of course, it’s damn near indestructible.

There’s a growing idea that men need to take their backpack game beyond the same canvas Jansport pack you had as a kid. Rappers are rocking MCM backpacks on stage (because they probably came straight from high school tbh) and you can’t ride three stops on the subway without a seeing a finance dude rocking a designer leather pack.

 

But, honestly, what makes those so great? Leather backpacks look fine, but only if you’re trying to replace your briefcase with something that matches your $5000 suit—which, let’s face it, most of us aren’t.

 

And on top of that, they’re hot and heavy (a bad thing in this context). Why strap a sweaty 8-plus pounds to your back when there’s a lightweight, durable option that comes in both “Tie Dye Bomb” and “Ice Cream Cones and Scoops.”

 

The hype option isn't much better, either. While a Supreme backpack definitely looks cool and will allow you to pack a large number of snacks the next time you wait six hours in a line outside of Supreme, it's really not so much better that you need to shell out a few hundred dollars on Grailed. Wouldn't you rather spend that money on cool stuff to put in your backpack (*cough cough* Nintendo Switch) or amazing places to take your Jansport (you can literally buy a plane ticket for the same price as a 'preme pack).

 

A cheap canvas backpack is proof that “adulting” doesn’t have to be so serious—you don’t need every aspect of you life to be all “401(k) and heartbreak.”

 

You’re allowed to have fun, and with something as simple as a backpack, let it reflect your personality. If your personality screams handcrafted Italian leather, so be it. But if you’re just a guy who needs to carry some stuff from time to time, that Jansport or Eastpak is gonna be just perfect.

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Jansport SuperBreak, $36

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Eastpak Orbit, $45

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Adidas Originals Classic Backpack, $35

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Herschel Supply Co. Daypack, $39

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Route One Backpack, $23

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