10 Best Women’s Backpacks for Work that are Sophisticated and Smart

Editor’s Note: We have updated this list for 2019 with some new bags we think you will love. Some of our initial picks have gone out of stock so we went ahead and updated our top picks, included more budget-friendly options, and even added a bonus section that recommends our favorite office-friendly backpack brands. We hope you enjoy the update!

The best work bags for women are versatile, stylish and super functional. Simple enough, right? Then why is it so hard to find a smart and sophisticated backpack for work? It seems like most of our options are either stuffy business bags or backpacks that look like they belong in a classroom, not a boardroom.

So we have done our research to find you 10 awesome bags that you can wear to work. We focus on sophisticated backpacks that are professional enough to wear at the office yet stylish enough for traveling, weekends or wherever else life takes you.

Table of Contents

Best Work Backpacks for Women

Finding a business backpack that is both fashionable and office appropriate can be a difficult task. Most backpacks are that are functional are too bulky or look out of place at the office. Other backpacks look stylish and chic but leave a lot to be desired when it comes to everyday functionality. Below are our top picks for women’s business backpacks that are the best of both worlds: Stylish and functional.

Knomo Beauchamp women’s work backpack

Knomo Beauchamp Laptop Backpack 

Slim and sophisticated enough for the office yet roomy enough to comfortably carry all of your daily essentials. The Knomo Beauchamp is our top pick for the best work backpack for women. 

What fits inside: The Knomo Beauchamp is a medium sized women’s backpack that is large enough for a 14-inch laptop and a tablet. The main compartment can easily fit items such as water bottles, lunch, and work files. The front pockets are perfect for small items such as keys, charging cables or a wallet. 

Who’s it for: The Knomo Beauchamp is perfect for women who need a versatile backpack that is sophisticated enough for work but stylish enough for casual weekend wear. 

Read More about the Knomo Beauchamp

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16.4” H x 11.5” W x 3.9” D

  • Capacity: 8.8 liters

  • Material: water resistant nylon and leather accents

  • Padded laptop sleeve for laptop up to 14 inches

  • Front pocket features RFID signal blocking lining to protect credit cards and passports

Knomo proves that women’s professional bags don’t have to be boring

One thing we love about the Knomo Beauchamp is its minimalist chic design that is as versatile as you are. It’s sophisticated enough to be worn at the office yet stylish enough to be paired with jeans while running errands on the weekends. Available in multiple colors to match your style, the Knomo Beauchamp is a winner in both style and function.

Its modern design is showcased with its simple round-top silhouette and mature leather detailing. The backpack itself is not too large and bulky making it the perfect women’s business backpack to go with your office attire.

Whether you are a daily work commuter or need a reliable bag to take with you to client meetings, the Knomo Beauchamp is capable of handling even the busiest of days. Unlike other backpacks for women, the Knomo Beauchamp is large enough to carry a 14-inch laptop and file folders that may not fit in smaller bags. 

Some Cons

Although the Knomo Beauchamp is our favorite backpack on this list, it still has a couple of cons we found worth mentioning. First, the Beauchamp is on the smaller side. If you are the kind of person who lugs lots of stuff to work everyday than this backpack may not be large enough for you. 

Another con worth mentioning is that the front RFID pocket can get tight when the main compartment is full making using the pocket a little more difficult than it needs to be. 

Tumi Voyageur Ursula women’s backpack

Targus Newport 15” Laptop Backpack

Targus offers an elegant way to carry your laptop and other work essentials with the Targus Newport laptop backpack. Sleek, slim and sophisticated this backpack will fit right in when worn in professional work environments. 

What fits inside: Separate laptop sleeve and main compartment allow you to carry a laptop up to 15-inches while keeping your personal items separate. The main compartment is large enough to fit one or two business binders and an extra sweater or light jacket. Front zip pockets allow storage of smaller items.

Who’s it for: For anyone who needs a sophisticated work backpack that can carry a safely carry a laptop as well as daily essentials. 

Read more about the Targus Newport backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 18” H x 11.13” W x 5.25” D

  • Material: Weather resistant nylon and faux-leather

  • 15 liter carrying capacity

  • Separate 15” laptop compartment

  • Hidden back pocket is perfect for city commuters or business travelers

Where elegance meets simplicity

One of the first thing you might notice about the Targus Newport is its sleek profile. This is achieved by cutting back on some common backpack features such as side water bottle pockets that usually give backpacks their bulky appearance. Instead, the Newport backpack opts-in for flat front pockets, a sophisticated slim shoulder strap design and a simple silhouette to give its refined look. With the Targus Newport women’s laptop backpack, Wegener proves that elegance can be found in simplicity. 

Cons worth mentioning:

The Targus Newport offers a beautiful design and construction that leaves little to be desired. Our only worry is how the imitation leather (leatherette) panels will age over time. Our experience with some faux-leather bottoms has been less than perfect - peeling and scratching may be an issue with long-term heavy use.

Victorinox Harmony Convertible Laptop Backpack for women

Victorinox Harmony Convertible Laptop Backpack

Can’t decide between a work backpack or a shoulder bag? Why not both? The Victorinox Harmony laptop backpack converts to a shoulder bag when you need it. We love its sleek and slim style that is professional yet feminine. 

What fits inside: The Victorinox Harmony is a medium sized backpack that has plenty of room inside its 14 liter main compartment for an extra pair of shoes for work to gym days, a packed lunch or a light jacket. The bag also includes a pocket for 15” laptop as well as a tablet.

Who’s it for: The Victorinox Harmony is for those who don’t want to have to choose between a backpack and a tote bag. Compact yet large enough for the your daily carry, the Harmony is perfect for office commuters and business travelers alike. 

Read more about the Victorinox Harmony

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16.1” H x 11” W x 5.1” D

  • Capacity: 14 liters

  • Material: Nylon

  • Holds a 15.6” laptop and a tablet

  • Convertible carry: Use it as a backpack or shoulder bag

A sophisticated backpack for work or travel

Victorinox has successfully crafted a mature business travel backpack for women with their Harmony laptop bag. This backpack is designed to be convertible and can be carried in three ways:

  • As a backpack (shoulder straps can be tucked away when not in use)

  • As handbag using the top handle

  • As a shoulder bag (by elongating the top handle into straps)

A convertible backpack is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to choose between handsfree carry during busy commutes and a stylish handbag to carry into business meetings. The Victorinox Harmony can do both. 

The Victoria Harmony backpack also makes a great backpack to take with you during business travel. The backside of the backpack features a slip compartment that can be paired with luggage for easy carry when traveling. This slip compartment also hides the backpack straps when the backpack is ready to be used as a shoulder bag. Size-wise, the Victoria Harmony backpack makes a great personal item to take with you on flights. 

Cons worth mentioning

No bag is perfect and the Victorinox Harmony does have a couple of drawbacks worth mentioning. A common complaint is that the front pockets are too narrow to be functional, especially when the main compartment is full. 

It’s also worth mentioning that at 14 liters, some might still find this backpack to be too small. We don’t recommend it for anyone who needs to lug around lots of items to and from work everyday. In terms of size, we would put the Victorinox Harmony between a large tote and a medium sized purse. Keep in mind that its size isn’t a con as much as it is a personal preference but worth mentioning nonetheless.

Pacsafe Citysafe CX women’s backpack

Pacsafe Citysafe CX Backpack

The Pacsafe Citysafe CX is a women’s backpack packed with anti-theft features that is perfect for work commuters and busy business travelers alike.

What fits inside: At 17 liter capacity, the Citysafe CX is large enough to hold a 13-inch laptop as well as books, notebooks and business documents. Travelers will love how the roomy main compartment can comfortably fit a full sized DSLR camera, toiletry bags as well as their electronics (laptop, tablet, cables, chargers).

Who’s it for: The Pacsafe Citysafe CX is perfect for busy work commuters or business travelers who spend a lot of time on subways, airports and crowds where pickpocketing or theft may be an issue. Its professional design and smart anti-theft features make this the perfect commuter and travel backpack. 

Read more about the Pacsafe Citysafe CX

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 14.6” H x 10.6” W x 6.3” D

  • Capacity: 17 liters

  • Material: 100D Nylon Twill with polyester lining

  • 13” laptop pocket

  • Special design that prevents pickpockets and bag theft

  • Can be carried as a backpack or handbag

Anti-theft features in a women’s business backpack 

Packed subways. Bustling airports. Lunch with clients in a busy part of the city. If you work a job that requires lots of commuting or traveling then having a backpack with anti-theft features that can secure your personal and business belongings is a big deal.

The Pacsafe Citysafe CX was designed with safe travel in mind. Some of its anti-theft features include:

  • RFID blocking pockets for credit cards, passports and wallets

  • Made of eXomesh slashguard material that prevents bag slashing theft

  • Anti pickpocket designed pockets and zippers

A lot of the best work bags for women do not have these safety features which gives the Pacsafe Citysafe CX a serious edge over the competition.

Stylish enough to wear at the office

Although we love its state of the art anti-theft features, where the PacSafe really shines is in its stylish and feminine design. Its gold zipper pulls and hardware accents really give the backpack a mature and refined look that plays well with business attire. 

While having enough space inside for all of your daily essentials, the Citysafe CX is still slim and sleek enough to not look out of place when worn at the office. As far as women’s work bags go, the PacSafe Citysafe CX is a home run in terms of both style and function. 

Cons worth mentioning:

One con worth mentioning is that the shoulder straps on the PacSafe Citysafe CX backpack are a bit thin and can start to dig into your shoulders after prolonged wear. Although not a deal breaker, the shoulder straps could use more padding for more comfortable all day wear. 

Kroser laptop backpack

Kroser Laptop Backpack

A merger of fashion and function, the Kroser laptop backpack proves that sophisticated backpacks don’t have to come with a high price tag.

What fits inside: Large main compartment is roomy enough for a 15-inch laptop plus books, business files and everyday items. All of your smaller items can be tucked away in the internal organizer pockets that fit everything from tech accessories to sunglasses.

Who’s it for: The Kroser laptop backpack is great for those who need a roomy women’s work bag on a budget. At under $50 this backpack is a steal.

Read more about the Kroser laptop backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16.1” H x 11” W x 5.1” D

  • Material: Water repellent nylon with PU leather accents (faux leather)

  • 15” laptop sleeve and seperate tablet sleeve

  • Large main compartment for all of your daily work carry

  • Side pockets can fit water bottles or an umbrella

Best budget women’s business backpack

Very rarely do you come across a cute women’s work bag with plenty of storage at a budget price. The Kroser laptop backpack features a roomy main compartment that is large enough to store a laptop, business files and binders. It’s the perfect backpack for women who haul a lot of “stuff”.

The outside of the backpack is made of out a water resistant black nylon and its PU leather accents and gold zippers gives it a polished look that won’t look out of place at the office. The inside is lined with a teal lining that makes it easy to quickly find what you are looking for inside the bag. 

We love all of the small details that make the Kroser laptop backpack so special. One cool feature is the external USB port that allows you to charge your phone while on the move (portable battery pack not included). The bag also features a padded back that makes all day carry easy and comfortable. Large side pockets are perfect for water bottles, workout shaker bottles and umbrellas. You sometimes don’t even get these kinds of practical features in more expensive bags so it’s amazing to see them included in such an affordable backpack.

Some cons: 

There are two main complaints with this backpack. The first; this bag isn’t made with the best quality materials. One of the drawbacks of purchasing a backpack so cheap is that you run the risk of not having it hold up over heavy use. A common complaint was that the zippers can sometimes stick. 

The second con is how the top of main compartment is designed. The top of the bag is reinforced with a steel frame to keep the bag’s shape even when empty. Unfortunately this means that you can’t “stuff” the bag without running the risk of not being able to zipper it shut. Although this steel frame is a nice touch when it comes to the bag’s looks, it can become really annoying when trying to pack extra items in the main compartment.

Hedgren Kayla convertible backpack for women

eBags Professional Slim Junior

A feature-packed design makes the eBags Professional Slim Junior a near-perfect women’s business backpack. The dedicated laptop and tablet compartments make this backpack great for keeping business and personal items separate during work meetings and business travel.

What fits inside: A smaller version of the original eBags Professional Slim, the Slim Junior is small enough to fit most women while still providing enough room for a 15.75-inch laptop, tablet, and tech accessories. A roomy main compartment has enough space to fit business files and binders, an extra pair of shoes and even a light jacket or sweater. The bag even features a large front organizer compartment for small items such as pens, business cards, wallets and keys. 

Who’s it for: Women who want a functional work and travel backpack who are serious about keeping things organized. Special pockets and compartments make it easy to carry tech like a laptop, tablet, cables and headphones. 

Read more about the eBags Professional Slim Junior

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16.5” H x 12.75” W x 6.5” D

  • Material: 840D & 900D Twisted Dobby Fabric

  • 15.75” padded laptop compartment and separate fleece lined tablet sleeve

  • Hidden water bottle pocket on side of the bag

  • Pass through luggage trolley sleeve for traveling

A bag made for professional women on the move

The eBags Professional Slim Jr is a sophisticated women’s backpack that was built for business carry from the ground up. The main compartment on the eBags Professional Slim Jr is large enough for most daily essentials including business files and binders, a lunch or even a spare pair of shoes. But it’s the small attention to details that sets this backpack above the rest. We are talking about special organizers for business cards, pens and keys and a hidden side pocket for a water bottle.

Versatile enough to be used at the office or at the airport, the eBags Professional Slim Junior features smart features that make traveling for business a breeze. The backpack features stowable shoulder straps that can be tucked away and a trolley sleeve on the back panel to attach to luggage. While the large organizer compartment on the front of the bag gives you quick-access to a cell phone, boarding passes or a passport. With all of these features and more, it’s no secret that eBags makes some of the best work bags for women.

Cons worth mentioning

When it comes to quality and craftsmanship there are little complaints about the eBags Professional Slim Junior. The only con worth mentioning is that this bag lacks the sleekness and style of many other modern women’s work backpacks.

Baggallini Essential Laptop Backpack for women

Baggallini Essential Laptop Backpack

Ultra lightweight and rain resistant, the Baggallini Essential Laptop Backpack makes carrying your work essentials easier than ever thanks to its smart organizational features and office-friendly design. 

What fits inside: The main compartment comfortably fits a backpack, some business files and folders and even an extra sweater. Front compartment has plenty of organizers that are great for smaller items such as pens, phones, business cards or purse items. 

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs a simple backpack without the bulk. With plenty of organizers and pockets there is more than enough room for daily work essentials. 

Read more about the Baggallini Essential Laptop Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16” H x 11.5” W x 5.75” D

  • Material: Lightweight water-resistant nylon

  • Fits laptops up to 15” (see cons below)

  • Lots of interior organizer pockets and external pockets for small items

  • Includes removable RFID wristlet for your credit cards and money

A women’s work backpack for those who want to keep it simple

One of the reasons we love the Baggallini Essential laptop backpack is because it keeps things simple. There are no loud patterns on the backpack and its profile is classic in design. But while it’s simple, the Essential backpack is no ordinary work bag.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the Essential backpack is smaller in size to better fit people with small frames.. As many women know, it’s already hard enough finding a functional backpack without the ugly bulk. Baggallini does a great job at finding the right proportions so that people with smaller frames can comfortably wear this backpack without feeling like they are going on a 3-day mountaineering trip.

Simple design choices such as two side water bottle pockets and an internal phone pocket make the Baggallini Essential laptop backpack a home run for anyone who values functional storage. Although the main compartment is smaller than most other full sized backpacks, its numerous pockets and organizers make up for it. 

Cons worth mentioning

Although Baggallini advertises this backpack as fitting 15-inch laptops, many users have said this is not the case. Unfortunately, the laptop compartment may actually only fit 13-inch laptops comfortably. This is an oversight that hopefully Baggallini fixes in the future versions of this bag.

Estarer women’s work backpack

Estarer Faux-Leather Laptop Backpack

Estarer offers a sophisticated backpack for work, weekends or travel at a budget price. With roomy compartments, an elegant design and a slim feminine profile this backpack is destined to become your new everyday bag. 

What fits inside: The main compartment is wide enough to store a 15-inch laptop in its padded compartment and A4 files and binders in the main area with enough space for books, an umbrella and other work essentials. Pockets and organizers are perfect for smaller items.

Who’s it for: This Estarer backpack is perfect for anyone who needs an elegant laptop backpack for work, weekends and travel without the high price tag. 

Read more about the Estarer Faux-Leather Laptop Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16” H x 13” W x 4” D

  • Material: PU Leather (faux leather)

  • Padded compartment can hold laptop up to 15.6”

  • Separate tablet pocket

  • Removable fashion tassel on the front

  • Expandable front pocket

  • Hidden security pocket for wallets or phones on the back of the backpack

Estarer proves that a good work backpack doesn’t have to be expensive

Estarer offers a great women’s work backpack that is sophisticated as it is functional. The best part? You can buy one of your own for under $50.

One thing we really love about this backpack is it’s versatility. Not only will it make a great women’s work bag, but it can also double as your go-to weekend or travel bag. This is thanks to its large laptop compartment, wide main compartment and all of its smaller pockets and organizers that make stashing away smaller things such as wallets, glasses and purse items a breeze. 

The bag itself is made from PU leather, which is a type of fake leather that is made to look like the real thing. This is good news for anyone looking for a vegan work bag for women or for those who like their products to be cruelty free.

Cons worth mentioning:

Since this backpack is made from PU leather we can’t expect it to age as well as a real leather bag. Higher end leather bags who use real good quality leather tend to age the best as the leather forms patina and character the more you use it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for PU leather and it will show after prolonged use as the PU leather gets scratched or scuffed. Simply put - this might not be a “forever bag” and will need replacement after a while.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Sophie women’s Business Backpack

Kenneth Cole Reaction Sophie Business Backpack

Kenneth Cole designs a true women’s professional work backpack from the ground up with their Sophie business backpack. This backpack is stylish, functional and a great alternative to more expensive work bag brands.

What fits inside: Separate padded pockets for both a laptop up to 15.6-inches and a tablet. Roomy main compartment for business files, binders and books as well as personal items such as a sweater or lunch. Side pockets are perfect for water bottles or an umbrella while the front storage pocket is great for small things such as wallets, pens or purse items. 

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs a large and roomy business backpack that is still stylish and professional.

Read more about the Kenneth Cole Reaction Sophie Business Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16.5” H x 13” W x 6” D

  • Material: Silky nylon

  • Capacity: 24.5L

  • Padded computer pocket fits laptops up to 15.6” and separate tablet pocket

  • RFID protected front organizer pocket

  • Zippered side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas

Kenneth Cole proves that sophisticated backpacks don’t have to be glorified purses

Kenneth Cole is known for their work backpacks for men so it’s a real breathe of fresh air to see them focus on work backpacks for women and people with smaller frames. Unlike bags from other brands, the Sophie backpack was designed from the bottom up to be a work backpack for women. It’s roomy main compartment is large enough for your daily work essentials plus extras. And all of its pockets and organizers makes it a breeze to easily find what you need. 

The styling is great, especially if you are looking for a Tumi alternative but at a much cheaper price. In fact, we think the Kenneth Cole Reaction Sophie backpack rivals Tumi’s Voyageur series of bags in terms of style and functionality. 

The Sophie backpack is available in black and navy blue. Both color versions feature gold zippers and hardware with black leather zipper pulls and handles. These small details are what really elevate the backpack from casual to work appropriate. Along with the small details, the bag itself is made from a silky nylon that fits right in at the office.

Cons worth mentioning:

The biggest complaint with the Kenneth Cole Reaction Sophie business backpack are with the shoulder straps. The shoulder strap material feels on the cheaper side which is disappointing for a bag at this price point. The strap buckles adjust too easily and may need readjusting more often than it should. 

Wenger Alexa women’s business backpack

Inateck Ultralight Backpack

The Inateck Ultralight is an affordable woman’s laptop backpack with tons of extra features such as a built-in USB port for phone charging, large main compartment, and padded laptop and tablet sleeves. Its lightweight and roomy interior makes it a great choice for those who need a reliable backpack for work without the high price tag.

What fits inside: The main compartment is large enough to fit binders and business papers while still having room to spare for personal items such as a change of clothes or a lunch. Along with a generous main compartment Inateck includes plenty pockets that line the outside of the bag for smaller items.

Who’s it for: Someone who needs an affordable backpack that can be used for work, travel or on the weekends. Tech lovers will love the integrated USB charging cable and padded laptop and tablet sleeves.

Features at a glance:. 

Read more about the Inateck Ultralight Backpack

Features at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 16” H x 11” W x 6.3” D

  • Material: 600D Polyester

  • Laptop sleeve fits 15” laptop. Also includes a separate smaller tablet sleeve.

  • Anti-theft features make it great for city commuting or traveling

  • External USB port allows you to charge devices on the go

Anti-theft meets tech backpack

The Inateck Ultralight is perfect for anyone who can’t choose between a feature-rich tech backpack and anti-theft backpack for commuting and travel. Inateck Ultralight allows you to have the best of both worlds in one stylish bag by included a USB port for phone charging on the go and a padded laptop and tablet sleeves right inside the main compartment.

As for anti-theft features, Inateck includes small design details to dissuade pickpockets. A hidden back pocket allows for safe storage of wallets, cash or a phone. The main compartment is kept safe by a zipper and velcro lid that makes it harder for pickpockets to access the items inside. The zippers pulls for the main compartment can also be tucked into the side pockets for safer carry.

Cons worth mentioning

As one of the cheapest backpacks on our list, the Inateck Ultralight backpack does bring some concerns on the longitivtiy of its construction. Although we haven’t had any issue in the few months of our personal use so far, we are curious to see how this backpack holds up to serious long-term wear and tear.

Our favorite brands for sophisticated backpacks

If you are trying to find a sophisticated backpack for work, it can be challenging to find one that ticks all the boxes. This is especially true for women’s work backpacks that need extra features such as laptop compartments and enough room for daily essentials. Luckily for all of us, some of our favorite brands have plenty of sophisticated backpack options for both work and play. 

Matt & Nat Brave backpack

Matt & Nat Brave backpack

Matt & Nat

Long time readers might be familiar with Matt & Nat as we have featured their backpacks in the past. The brand name Matt & Nat is short for MAT(T)erial and NATure. The brand focuses on using the two to bring about beautiful bags made out of vegan materials. 

The problem with most backpacks is that they can look incredibly casual, especially when worn in more formal work environments. While some brands may offer one or two work-friendly options, Matt & Nat offers an entire line of sophisticated backpacks to choose from. The brand does a great job at offering structured backpacks in a modern minimalist style that is not only polished but fun and stylish. We recommend Matt & Nat if you are look for small to medium sized women’s backpacks for work.

Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat

Everlane

Everlane is a brand known for their stylish basics and ethical business practices. Their line of backpacks and bags is proof that simple classic styles can be all it takes to make a dependable work bag you’ll love using. 

Everlane’s attention to small details are what elevates an otherwise casual bag to a sophisticated backpack that won’t look out of place at the office. Details like high quality zippers, leather accents and mature silhouettes are what separates Everlane from other brands in its price range. If you are a fan of Everlane’s modern unisex style, we also recommend you check out our list of backpacks like Everlane.

Knomo London

Knomo London is a brand that specializes in urban bags and accessories. Their products blend fashion-forward designs with real life functionality which make them perfect for work or travel. 

We have found that Knomo makes some of the best work backpacks for women. Their use of premium materials such a splash-resistant nylon and full-grain leather give their bags a sophisticated look that few brands compete with. Their backpack colors are mature and neutral and their designs are minimalist cool. You really can’t go wrong with colors like fig, dark navy and deep pine when choosing a backpack that goes perfectly with your office wardrobe. 

Knomo Luggage
Knomo USA INC,

Tumi

If you spend any amount of time looking for a sophisticated backpack for work then you’ll notice that many brands are too focused on how a bag looks without much consideration on how it will be used. Backpacks with tiny main compartments, not enough pockets and cheaply made materials are all too common. Luckily, Tumi isn’t one of those brands. 

What we love about Tumi is that they make stylish bags that can actually be used in the real world. Tumi backpacks are designed for business and travel and because of this you’ll find sophisticated backpacks for women that can actually hold up to a busy lifestyle. Although on the pricer side, Tumi’s quality makes it all worth it.

Tumi Luggage
Tumi Luggage

Types of Women’s Professional Bags

Are you looking for the perfect way to carry your work essentials? The best work bags for women can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It all comes down to what you need in a work bag and which style you are comfortable with. Each type of bag varies in style, formality and carry capacity so it’s important to know the difference before you purchase your next work bag. 

Types of Women’s Professional Bags - womens work tote bag

Tote Bags

Totes are best described as large unstructured bags that are square or rectangular in shape. These bags usually have two handles for easy hand or shoulder carry. Tote bags are also known to have open tops for easy access to the contents inside. Although open tops are usual in tote bags you can also find some with a snap enclosure or even a zipper enclosure. 

Totes have grown in popularity in recent years as the go-to business bag for many professional women. Their large capacity and wide range of styles and materials allow totes to be dressed up or down making them a popular choice for everything from work to weekend trips. Work tote bags that have a focus on business carry will include laptop sleeves, and organizational pockets on the inside.

Pros: Large capacity and easy to carry

Cons: Can look more casual than formal if you don’t stick to premium materials such as leather

Types of Women’s Professional Bags - womens work satchel

Work Satchel

Larger than a purse yet smaller than a tote bag, work satchels are a happy medium in terms of size and carrying capacity. Unlike tote bags, satchels are structured and have zipper and buckle enclosures instead of an open top. Satchels usually have short handles on top in addition to a long strap that allows the bag to be worn over the shoulder or crossbody.

Satchels are usually made of fine leathers and hardware that can give them a much more refined and professional appearance. Since work satchels are on the smaller side, they usually aren’t large enough to carry laptops or work files and folders. This is important to note if you need to carry more than just some personal items and smaller work items. 

Pros: Most refined of all the work bags

Cons: Usually not large enough for laptops, work folders and other large work items

Types of Women’s Professional Bags - womens work backpack

Business Backpacks

In the past wearing a backpack to work was a faux pas. Backpacks were for college students, not the office. And it’s easy to see why that was the case. Most backpacks were loud, unstructured and made of materials better suited for a hiking trip. But today we can confidently say that this is no longer the case thanks to the introduction of women’s business backpacks.

Sophisticated backpacks are a relatively new thing with brands who traditionally made luggage finally also designing work-appropriate backpacks. Brands like Tumi, Knomo London and Samsonite are all great examples of brands who began to incorporate professional looking backpacks into their product mix. 

But work backpacks are more than just refined style. The best work backpack for women has a laptop compartment, a main compartment large enough to fit business files and folders and plenty of compartments for small work essentials such as pens, business cards, water bottles, charging cables, etc. The perfect work backpack is both stylish and functional. 

Pros: Easy hands-free carry makes backpacks perfect for commuters. Larger carrying capacity.

Cons: Can easily look out of place at the office unless you stick to high quality backpacks with sophisticated designs.

Convertibles

Convertibles are bags that can switch between a backpack and a satchel or a tote and a backpack. These bags usually have backpack shoulder straps that can be tucked away and longer handles so that the bag can be used as a handbag or crossbody.  A good example of a convertible is the Victorinox Harmony Convertible Laptop Backpack.

Convertibles are ideal for women who don’t want to choose between a backpack and a handbag/tote and like the idea of having multiple carry options in just one bag. 

Photo: Knomo

Photo: Knomo

Rolling Business Brief (or Mobile Office)

Another type of women’s professional bag is the rolling business brief. Also sometimes called a mobile office, a rolling business brief is a large briefcase that is supported by two wheels much like luggage. 

A rolling business brief has the most carrying capacity out of any of the women’s work bag options. It can store large laptops, tons of business paperwork, files and binders while still having room for personal items such as a change of clothes and a packed lunch. 

This type of work bag is best for women with jobs that require a lot of travel where they must take their work with them. Although used sometimes by commuters, rolling business briefs are commonly seen with business travelers at airports. Today it’s easy to find a stylish rolling business brief from most brands who make luggage and business bags.

Pros: Largest carrying capacity of any women’s work bag

Cons: Large, bulky and heavy carry can be impractical for everyday commuters

Why choose a work backpack?

Backpacks are a great blend of convenience, carrying capacity and style. This is and more is why backpacks are our favorite professional bags for women. But why choose a work backpack over a satchel or brief? Let’s find out. 

Great for commuters - Unlike other types of women’s professional bags, backpacks allow for true handsfree carry. Juggling a phone, subway pass and coffee during a busy morning commute is stressful enough, why add a work bag to the mix? Backpacks are ideal for city commuters and other busy professionals alike.

Backpacks can be the best balance of functionality and style - Larger storage capacity and plenty of pockets and compartments make women’s business backpacks perfect for those who need a work bag that can do a little of everything. And now with the latest styles, women’s business backpacks are as office-friendly as ever without being too boring.

With convertibles you don’t have to compromise - Not ready to let go of your trusted tote bag? Consider picking up a backpack/handbag convertible. The Hedgren Kayla and Victorinox Harmony are great examples of backpacks that give you the versatility of handbag or tote when you want it with the convenience of a backpack when you need it most. 

Choosing the best womens work backpack

How to choose the best women’s work backpack

Not too long ago we wrote a guide on how How To Choose a Backpack for Work that is Sophisticated and Stylish. We encourage you to give that guide a read if you are looking to purchase a new backpack for work. But if you just want the basics, below we go over some tips on how to pick out a work appropriate backpack. 

Find the right size - Shopping for a women’s backpack is a little different than shopping for other types of bags. With backpacks, proper fit is very important and this is especially true for people with smaller frames. Although backpacks aren’t inherently gendered products, some business backpacks may be too large for some women to comfortably wear.

Wearing a backpack that is too big for your frame is more than just funny looking, it can also be uncomfortable to wear and cause back problems over time. This is why the first rule when shopping for a new work backpack is to makes sure it’s the proper size.

Find the right color and material - Avoid backpacks with “sporty” colors that are better suited high school sports than a client meeting. Instead opt-in for mature colors such as black, tan, navy and burgundy. Backpack materials should also be kept high grade. Leather is always a good choice. But nylon and canvas are also great if the colors are kept mature and sophisticated. 

Function is important - It goes without saying that function is just as important as style when it comes to a business backpack. Make sure your new backpack has all of the features you find important to get you through your work days and busy commutes. Do you like to carry drinking water wherever you go? Then make sure your backpack has a water bottle pocket. Do you have a large laptop? Then make sure your work backpack has a laptop compartment large enough to fit yours. The best women’s backpack for work is determined by how well it meets your needs.