The 10 Best Mini Backpacks of 2023

The Herschel Classic Mini Backpack is our top pick.

In This Article

Jump to a Section

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

The 10 Best Mini Backpacks of 2022
The 10 Best Mini Backpacks of 2022.

Amazon / Herschel / State / Milaner

When Clueless first made tiny backpacks a big thing in the ‘90s, it was all about fashion over function. (Was Alicia Silverstone’s Cher known for her practicality? As if.) Now that the style has come back around, mini backpacks offer functional, comfortable, and practical carrying solutions in addition to chic silhouettes and accents for everyday as well as elevated use.

The best mini backpack styles range from casual and sporty to dressed-up and sophisticated — so you’re covered whether you’re traveling through airports, hitting the gym, or hopping between museums and bistros on a day out sightseeing. Our top pick is the Herschel Classic Mini Backpack, a smaller version of an already popular bag, coming in five neutral shades.

In a range of materials from polyester to Italian leather, these are the best mini backpacks to shop:

Best Overall

Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Backpack

Herschel Supply Co. Classic Mini Backpack

Herschel Supply Co.

Why We Love It: This is a mini version of a classic — the style is timeless as well as versatile, functional, and durable.

What to Consider: The price point on the mini backpack is often higher than it is on the next larger size.

Like Herschel’s widely popular classic backpacks? Then you’ll love the mini version of the original. This unfussy everyday backpack has a pared-down 9-liter volume along with the familiar features of the classic size: the brand’s signature striped fabric liner, front storage pocket, and quality zipper closures. It comes in a selection of versatile colors meant for all-around adaptability: port, light gray, ash pink, black, and dark gray. In addition to the slim padded shoulder straps, a top handle rounds out the carrying options.

Price at time of publish: $45

Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 4.25 inches | Materials: Ripstop nylon | Straps: Adjustable shoulder straps, top handle

Best Style

State Kane Mini Metallic Backpack

State Kane Mini Metallic Backpack


Why We Love It: A shiny gold exterior lends notice-me style to a classic silhouette with practical pockets.

What to Consider: This bag is actually designed with little kids in mind (though we think the color and adjustable straps makes it suitable for adults, too).

State backpacks are known for everyday functionality and style — but this splashy metallic take carries the look to the next level. Made of recycled polyester, this gold pack has white lining emblazoned with the brand name — a minimalist interior to balance the flashy exterior. In addition to the main compartment, side pockets and a front pocket keep small essentials organized and accessible. A squared-off shape makes this a practical carrier for books or devices.

Price at time of publish: $75

Dimensions: 12.60 x 9.45 x 3.54 inches | Materials: Recycled polyester | Straps: Shoulder straps, top handle 

Best for the Gym

Gymshark Everyday Mini Backpack

Gymshark Everyday Mini Backpack


Why We Love It: This sporty bag may be designed for the gym but the streamlined form factor makes it a stylish standout for everyday use, too.

What to Consider: For workouts, plan to store your water bottle inside (as the side compartments are small).

Tote your essential gear to the gym, on day hikes, or for any other active use with this durable mini that holds more than it looks (10.5 liters). In addition to the main compartment, side split pockets hold essentials while maintaining a streamlined silhouette. Adjustable patterned straps are webbed to amp up the comfort as well as grip. An internal zip pocket adds an element of security for essentials like keys or cash. It comes in six colors from versatile to standout: black, gray, light blue, chili red, violet purple, and orchid pink.

Price at time of publish: $30 

Dimensions: 12.6 x 9.8 x 3.9 inches | Materials: Polyester, PVC | Straps: Shoulder straps, top handle

Best Everyday

Dakine Mini Backpack

Dakine Mini Backpack


Why We Love It: With a 12-liter volume, this is one of the more spacious backpacks in the mini category. 

What to Consider: Among the 25 colors and prints, some are priced higher and have more limited inventory.

If you tote around a fair amount of gear but still want a streamlined backpack in the mini category, this Dakine backpack is an ideal all-around choice. It has a 12-liter volume, which makes it notably more spacious than other typical 7-, 8-, 9-, or even 10-liter volume bags in the category. 

And it has tons of features for its size: A main compartment has a dedicated tablet sleeve, and a zippered front compartment keeps essentials separated and easier to find on the go. This pack also has a padded bottom panel for increased durability and reflective details on the front and back for safety. Plus, it comes in a whopping 25 colors and prints.

Price at time of publish: $59

Dimensions: 15.83 x 13.93 x 2.76 inches | Materials: Recycled polyester | Straps: Shoulder strap, top handle

Best Water-resistant

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Saks Fifth Avenue

Why We Love It: This water-resistant pack offers everything that distinguishes Dagne Dover — thoughtful and ample pockets, cool and practical neoprene — in a small package.

What to Consider: Even at its size, this backpack weighs close to two pounds.

Fans of Dagne Dover appreciate the brand for its well-considered organizational features and chic 100-percent neoprene construction with minimalist logo. This is the smallest available backpack in the line (with an 8-liter volume), but it still has all the features including interior and exterior zipper and mesh pockets, plus a detachable key leash. There’s even room for a mesh tablet sleeve inside. Choose from six versatile colors, each with matching color-plated zinc alloy hardware. 

Price at time of publish: $155

Dimensions: 9.5 x 5 x 13 inches | Materials: Neoprene, repreve (made from recycled plastic bottles) | Straps: Shoulder straps, top handle

Best Anti-theft

Cheruti Anti-theft Mini Backpack

Cheruti Anti-theft Mini Backpack


Why We Love It: This dressed-up mini backpack has a concealed back zipper closure for safety in a crowd.

What to Consider: The back zipper is ideal as an anti-theft measure, but you may find the access inconvenient for everyday use.

First, the key safety feature: This backpack’s large main compartment has a unusual back zipper closure design as an anti-theft measure to protect your belongings, a boon for travel, public transportation, and navigating other crowded situations. Beyond that functionality, this backpack offers big style and a small price point. Silver-tone metallic hardware complements the water-resistant nylon body. A wool ball pendant adds a whimsical accessory. Wear this pack on your back, or over one shoulder by way of an adjustable and removable shoulder strap. 

Price at time of publish: $26 

Dimensions: 15.75 x 6.3 x 18.9 inches | Materials: Nylon | Straps: Adjustable shoulder straps, removable single-shoulder strap, top handle

Best Leather

Cuyana Mini Leather Backpack

Cuyana Mini Leather Backpack


Why We Love It: Celeb- and fan-favorite brand Cuyana is known for its sustainable construction, and this leather bag is a polished looker, too.

What to Consider: With a snap fastening and a magnetic closure, it may not be secure enough for crowded areas with high theft risk.

Cuyana is newly offering a mini backpack version of its popular leather backpack. It features a chic leather-covered magnetic closure, a front slip pocket, and an interior pocket to keep valuables secure. In addition to its sophisticated look, the Italian leather in this bag is also tanned responsibly and constructed in a woman-owned factory in Turkey (a country that has been known for its leather goods for centuries). A seven-way buckle adjusts the shoulder straps. Choose from black or cappuccino hues, both finished with rich-looking gold-tone hardware. 

 Price at time of publish: $298

Dimensions: 10.5 x 7.6 x 7.2 inches | Materials: Leather | Straps: Shoulder straps only

Best Nylon

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Classic Backpack

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Classic Backpack


Why We Love It: This iconic backpack offers secure zippered compartments and weighs just a half pound, so it’s great for packing.

What to Consider: Small open side pockets aren’t large enough for typical water bottles.

If you're searching for a mini backpack with all the best attributes of nylon, you'll love Fjallraven’s proprietary vinylon F, a dirt-resistant, water-resistant synthetic fabric that wipes clean. (The well-loved brand has been around since 1960.) A two-way zipper with rain flap keeps your stuff protected in the elements. 

This bag has 7 liters of storage space in all and weighs in at just a half pound. Keep your stuff well organized and secure within the main zippered compartment as well as front zippered pockets. Two additional open side pockets allow easy access on the go. Two top snap handles alongside the shoulder straps make it easy to grab on the run.

Price at time of publish: $78 

Dimensions: 11.4 x 7.9 x 5.1 inches | Materials: Vinylon F | Straps: Shoulder straps, dual strap top handle

Best Splurge

Milaner The Haley Mini Woven Backpack

Milaner The Haley Mini Woven Backpack


Why We Love It: This luxe and ultra-chic backpack is made of sumptuous, handwoven leather with a suede interior.

What to Consider: The cinch closure is designed more for everyday style than buttoned-up security.

This mini version of the brand’s original Haley backpack is handwoven in Italy using top-quality soft Nappa leather — and the craftsmanship shows. It has a breezy, European vibe — like you just tossed both straps casually over one shoulder as you jauntily hopped off your Vespa. Premium suede lines the interior, which also features a zip pocket for small essentials. The pack cinches closed with a leather drawcord, and stays secure with a top flap and magnetic closure.

Price at time of publish: $330 

Dimensions: 6.7 x 8.66 x 3.14 inches | Materials: Leather | Straps: Shoulder straps, top handle

Best Budget

JanSport Half Pint Mini Backpack Half Pint Mini Backpack

JanSport Half Pint Mini Backpack


Why We Love It: This versatile, budget-priced pick has a classic look and a made-to-last construction.

What to Consider: This sporty pick is durable but casual; there’s not much day-to-night adaptability here.

With more than 50 years of history, JanSport backpacks go as naturally with a high school locker as they do with a day of civilized city sightseeing for travelers of any age. This mini version feels spacious, with a roomy main compartment as well as a zippered front pocket for keeping small essentials at the ready. It’s a sturdy and durable pick made from 600-denier polyester, with hefty adjustable shoulder straps and a top handle.

Price at time of publish: $25 

Dimensions: ‎12.76 x 11.1 x 2.28 inches | Materials: Recycled polyester | Straps: Shoulder straps, top handle

Tips for Buying a Mini Backpack

Look for pockets and other functional features

Along with the overall carrying capacity (typically about 7 to 12 liters in volume for a mini backpack), look for additional interior and exterior pockets that help organize and separate items. Other functional features — such as hidden security openings, tech sleeves, or additional straps — can be game changers depending on your usage.

Choose materials for your intended use

The best material for a mini backpack is the one that suits your specific needs: If you’ll be in the rain or other elements, look for water-resistant materials such as nylon or neoprene. If you’re looking for an elevated, professional style, look for leather or vegan leather.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is a small backpack useful?

    For a day out sightseeing or even doing simple errands, a full-size backpack can be an encumbrance — a load of unnecessary weight and bulk. But a small backpack can be an ideal, hands-free solution that’s just the right size for carrying essentials and cargo for a day out.

  • Does a mini backpack count as a carry-on?

    While it's always advisable to check the carry-on restrictions for your particular airline and fare class, mini backpacks typically qualify as personal items, like briefcases and purses. (Even regular-sized backpacks may count as personal items, and most count at least as carry-ons.)

  • What essentials should you pack in a travel backpack?

    When packing your travel backpack, start with the essentials: your passport, cash, keys, and phone, all stowed securely in a discrete spot. Flesh out the main compartment with bulkier must-haves including charging cables, headphones, backup batteries, lip balm, water, snacks, and an extra layer of clothing and socks.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Freelance commerce writer Alesandra Dubin used her extensive travel and shopping knowledge to research the best mini backpacks for trips and everyday use, too.

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles