Two friends standing with their arms around each other. One of them wearing a light blue JanSport fanny pack.

The Best Backpack Purses & How To Style Them

Mandy Carr Aug 29, 2023

Backpack purses can be the perfect accessory for the person who wants the functionality of a backpack, with the style of a purse. They may be worn on your back but don’t look like a traditional book bag. They can have a drawstring or fancy zippers, and can still be used for books but also for a night out. And, mini backpack purses are great for when you don’t have much to carry but want a cute accessory. Here’s everything you need to know about backpack purses.


Why choose a backpack purse?

Backpack purses will be your go-to for when you need your hands free for other things. Think shopping with your friends or for times when you want to carry your to-go coffee mug and phone. It just makes life easier to throw on your backpack purse to conquer the day. They’re also more practical than a purse because they fit more belongings and help things stay more organized thanks to their many compartments or pockets.


What to look for in a backpack purse

The first thing to look for in a backpack purse is the size—and this will depend on what you need it for. Is it for school books, basic essentials, or traveling? If you’re traveling, you’ll want to have it fit the airlines' requirements for either a carry-on or personal bag, depending on how you use it. If you’re looking for something to take to work or school, you’ll need one that’s big enough to fit your laptop. 

Adjustable straps are another thing to look for in your backpack purse as this will allow for comfort and a more personalized fit. 

Think about the style of your backpack purse too. For example, you may prefer the drawstring opening to regular zippers. Some backpack purses come with only one compartment, and others have multiple inside and out. It all depends on if you want to organize your stuff or just throw in the essentials. 

The fabric is also an important thing to take note of. Think about if you might need a tougher more durable fabric or if you’re good with something more lightweight. From leather and polyester, to recycled materials—your fabric choice will really come down to personal preference and usage.


The best backpack purses

From mini backpack purses that are perfect for a concert to ones that can fit your laptop, all the way through to cross-body backpack purses, there’s a style and shape to suit all. Here are some of our favorites. 


Best mini backpack purses

Mini backpack purses are perfect when you just need to bring your essentials. Concert venues are implementing stricter rules for bag sizes, but of course, you’ll still want a cute bag. That’s where a mini backpack purse comes in handy. There are a lot of cute options, from boho style to more minimalist. 

The Super Stash comes in different colors and designs including Black, Loden Frost, Space Dust, and Screen Waves. It’s super cute and is even made from recycled polyester fabric. It looks like a tiny book bag with two compartments, and it can fit right onto your jeans. So you can be hands-free for dancing or running errands. 


Best backpack purses for laptops

Whether you’re looking for a backpack purse for school or work, it’s essential that it fits your laptop and other essentials. The Pro Mod System has a zippered compartment just for your laptop. It fits up to a 15-inch laptop. There’s also an organization panel so you can find all of your supplies easier. And that’s not all, the front organization compartment can be detached and turned into a crossbody bag, so you’re getting two purses in one. It also makes a great travel pack too as your carry-on or personal item. 


Best travel backpack purses

Choosing the best backpack purses for travel is a balancing act. You want it to be stylish but also practical so it holds what you need for the flight, plus is accessible so you can grab items easily without having to rummage. 

Maybe you’ll want to bring a book or your tablet, or perhaps you’ll want a neat compact bag for sightseeing when you travel. The Half Pinti is a great option because even though it’s small, it also has a lot of room. It has one large compartment and two small ones on the outside. It also comes in an array of ever updating colors and designs so you’ll be sure to find something to match your outfits. The Moire Ripples has a 60s vibe. There are two floral designs, Dark Floral and Batik Sunflowers Navy. There are even four corduroy options: Curry, Deep Juniper, Hydrangea and Loden Frost.

The Ski N Hike is also a great option for travel. It also has a large compartment and one small one on the outside, ideal for stashing a variety of things. And, if you’re eco-conscious, it’s made with surplus fabric. 


Best cross-body backpack purses

Cross-body purses are also a great option for going hands-free and can be the perfect backpack style purse. The Restore Waistpack is a great option for carrying your headphones, keys, and phone. To top that off, for the eco-conscious, it’s made with surplus webbing and cording, recycled polyester labels, and recycled waste fabric. It comes in a variety of colors and an undyed option. 

Another great smaller backpack purse—especially if you want to bring snacks or lunch, is the Carryout Lunchbox. It has an insulated main compartment to keep food warm or cold. There’s also a zipper front pocket perfect for snacks. Easy to carry and handy to slot into other bags if needed, it’s a fun choice to mix up your look a little.


Best black backpack purses

For a more universal go-with-every look take on this trend, you can’t go wrong with a black backpack purse. Try any of our favorite backpack purses like the Half Pint, Pro Mod system, Restore Waistpack, Super Stash and The Carry Out—all in black options. Black has so many advantages beyond just styling. It doesn’t show the dirt, it’s easy to clean, and it really will last a long time, so it’s hard to go wrong with a black backpack purse in your accessories team.

Backpack purse styling tips

Just like any other bag or accessory, backpack purses can be styled for different occasions and needs. For more professional moments such as work or internships, try a dark-colored backpack purse or something a little more muted and subtle. For classes or downtime you’ll want to show off your personality so go for bright colors or prints that really showcase your style. 

For date night try a floral cottagecore backpack. Floral will go with a floral dress or solid color dress. Or if florals aren’t your thing try a fun solid color backpack purse and pair it with a chic pair of pants and a collared shirt. For this, you can’t go wrong with the Half Pint. Perfect for dates, weekends away, festivals, and everything else, just pick the style that speaks to you and style your outfits accordingly. 


Backpack purse accessories

If you want to style up your backpack purse, you’ve got options. Find some cute pins that you can pin to your bag, or add patches and backpack charms. If you want a starry bag, you can get a black backpack purse and then pin or iron patch stars on. 

You can also add more practical accessories that may be needed. For example, if you love to keep things organized, add a pouch that you can grab easily, so everything can be right where you want it. These are great for make-up, pens, video games, for your portable console, tablet, sunglasses, and whatever else you need in your bag. Card holders and wallets are also great for keeping all your cards organized. 


Share with us your favorite backpack purses and how you style them on social media with #LifeUnzipped.