For the college student, finding the right backpack involves a lot more than just figuring which pack is large enough for their organic chemistry book, but also compact enough to not render them with a hunchback come spring. So, rather than risking money and the health of your lower back, Consumer Reports did all of the work for you by testing hundreds of different backpacks and rating them according to five specific criterion: Durability, construction quality, safety and convenience, comfort and resistance to rain.
Here is what the experts at Consumer Reports’ National Testing and Research Center came up for their top backpack picks:
Best Overall: The North Face, Jester. With an overall score of 80 out of 100, the Jester came in as one of the best packs for its all-around durability for those students 5’9″ and taller. The Jester costs approximately $55 and can be found online or at retail stores specializing in outdoor equipment.
Best Buy: Lands’ End, FeatherLight. Consumer Reports ranked this pack as the best buy, for its high scores in all categories. This pack works best for those who are 5’9″ and taller.
Best for Petite Students: JanSport Big Student TDN7. Anyone under 5’4″ who has tried carrying an adult pack made for those less vertically challenged knows first-hand how difficult and almost near impossible it is to get the shoulder straps fastened properly and the weight equally distributed on the back. The reason for this difficulty is that many adult packs were made for those who are taller than 5’9″. So, Consumer Reports rated the JanSport Big Student as the top backpack for those who are 4’10” – 5’8″. Coming in second is LL Bean’s, The Original Book Pack followed by Bakugan’s, The Battle Brawlers.
Best for the Basketball Player: The North Face Jester. Well, maybe you don’t have to be a basketball player to sport this backpack, but Consumer Reports rated the Jester as the best backpack for those who are 5’9″ or taller. Second place went to the JanSport Boost followed by the Lands’ End Featherlight.
Consumer Reports’ tests are based not only on government and industry standards, but also on the standards that the Consumer Reports specialists think should apply