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Here are our top picks to stay organized no matter how you carry them.
You don’t have to be a well-worn traveler to know that owning a convertible backpack tote or two is a certain kind of life hack. The best convertible backpack totes are stylish and functional and make your life a little bit easier whether you’re heading across town or around the globe.
For this list, we prioritized bags that are comfortable, easily convertible, and thoughtfully designed in terms of style, function, and practicality. The Cyureay Convertible Daypack Laptop Backpack came in on top as our best overall pick because it checks all the boxes when it comes to looks, organization, and portability, especially when used in travel situations. If you’re looking for something a little more—or a little less—something, we’ve also scoured the market for the best convertible backpack totes for business, commuting, last-minute needs, and more.
Cyureay Convertible Daypack Laptop Backpack
Why We Love It: It has tons of organization, a trolley sleeve, and an included USB charging port.
What to Consider: The battery bank for the USB charger is not included.
This take-it-all backpack tote is great for travel because of its large capacity and multiple pockets for good organization. The bag has padded, adjustable backpack straps that tuck away when being carried using the sewn-in tote handles. While this works as a great day bag, we like it specifically for travel because of the trolley sleeve that slips over your suitcase handle, the waterproof nylon material that protects your things against weather and spills, and the built-in USB charging port (battery pack not included). You can also fit a full-sized laptop in the padded interior sleeve, and there is plenty of room to pack for an overnight trip or to load up on magazines and snacks for the plane. You’ll also get a zippered pocket on the trolley sleeve (although it's a bit useless, to be honest, if using the sleeve) and a large Velcro front pocket.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Nylon | Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.7 x 12.2 inches | Weight: 1 pound
Carhartt Legacy Hybrid Convertible Backpack Tote
Why We Love It: It can easily be worn three different ways without strap adjustment.
What to Consider: The outer material will repel water, but the bag is not waterproof.
Carhartt’s Legacy Hybrid Convertible Backpack Tote is a durable bag that covers all your basic toting needs from the padded laptop holder to the dual-sided stash pockets and outer zippered pocket. We love that this bag can be worn three ways — as a crossbody, backpack, or over-the-shoulder tote — with zero fiddling thanks to the design. Interior storage is split between a large central compartment with a padded sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch laptop on one side and two stash pockets on the other. Outside, the two side stash pockets are big enough to hold water bottles and the front zippered pocket is great for storing smaller items like keys, wallets, and your phone. This bag isn’t completely weatherproof, but the water-repellant Rain Defender material will stand up against drizzles long enough for you to get somewhere dry.
Price at time of publish: $70
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 17 x 14.5 x 3.5 inches | Weight: Not listed
Senreve Maestra Bag
Why We Love It: This patent-pending bag is as functional as it is stylish.
What to Consider: There’s also a vegan option available.
The Senreve Maestra Bag costs a pretty penny, but those willing to make the investment will likely realize she’s worth it. Made from 100 percent genuine Italian leather, this bag is not only beautiful in design, it’s also beautifully functional. The leather exterior is scratch- and water-resistant, while the micro-suede interior gives the bag an even more luxurious feel. Five studs keep the bottom of the bag safe from scuffs. Inside, you’ll find eight organization pockets, including a padded slot that can hold up to a 13-inch laptop (you can fit a 15-inch laptop in the main compartment, it just won’t be padded) and six stash pockets, as well as one zippered pocket. There’s also a keyring for your keys. Slight adjustments to the strap allow this bag to be worn as a backpack, tote, satchel, or crossbody (though crossbody mode can feel a bit bulky unless you get a smaller size).
Price at time of publish: $1,045
Material: Leather | Dimensions: 10.25 x 12.25 inches | Weight: 3.28 pounds
Cole Haan Grand Ambition Convertible Backpack
Best for Business Trips
Why We Love It: It’s got a simple and sleek professional look that can be worn three ways.
What to Consider: The backpack straps are not cushioned.
Finding a backpack tote that can pass the test in a professional setting can be difficult, but the Cole Haan Grand Ambition Convertible Backpack gets the job done. The pebbled leather exterior is soft and smooth, and the bag design tapers at the top for a sleek and slim look. The bag has a zippered main compartment and magnetic side pocket. You’ll also get a lined pocket for your laptop (up to 15 inches) and four stash pockets all within the water-resistant interior. There are two additional zippered pockets, one on the inside and one outside. We like that there’s no need to tuck or hide straps with this bag, thanks to the convertible slide-strap design that uses the same straps to make the bag a tote, backpack, or crossbody. Note that the backpack straps don’t have padding like other bags, but there is an extra layer of leather on the shoulder strap/tote handle area.
Price at time of publish: $247
Material: Leather | Dimensions: 13.5 x 5.25 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 2.72 pound
North End NE901 Reflective Convertible Backpack Tote
Best for Commuters
Why We Love It: The laptop compartment can fit larger-size computers and tablets.
What to Consider: Strap stowage is visible when used as a tote.
This straightforward backpack tote is ideal for commuters who are just looking for a way to get their laptop and a few other items from home to work and back. The durable 100 percent polyester material uses Hydropel technology to combat wet weather — and the bag is machine-washable in case it gets dirty or drenched. We specifically like this bag for commuters for its larger-than-average laptop pocket, which fits laptops and tablets up to 17 inches (most backpack totes are only built to hold up to 15-inch laptops). The exterior material also has reflective capabilities which is helpful for pedestrians walking home after work. The main compartment is zippered and there is a mesh side pocket for holding water bottles. Backpack straps can easily be stashed away in the back pocket for when you want to carry it as a tote, though the straps do not completely stow away from view.
Price at time of publish: $38
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 14 x 5 x 16.38 inches | Weight: 0.78 pounds
Fjällräven High Coast Totepack
Why We Love It: It’s durable and made from recycled materials.
What to Consider: The outer bag material is waterproof, but the entire bag is not.
Fjällräven is known for its durable, eco-friendly products and the High Coast Totepack follows suit thanks to its waterproof, rip-resistant recycled nylon material. The zippered main compartment includes a padded laptop sleeve that can hold laptops up to 15 inches. We love that this backpack tote is collapsible and zips up into itself in a convenient carry pouch. We’re also fans of the reinforced, waterproof bottom which makes it so you can set it down without worrying about damaging any fragile contents. Through rain, sleet, or snow, this backpack will protect its contents — just don’t submerge it underwater; the outer material is waterproof and weatherproof, but the seams and zippers are not and will cause leakage.
Price at time of publish: $85
Material: Recycled nylon | Dimensions: 15.7 x 12.2 x 5.5 inches | Weight: 0.8 pounds
Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Tote
Why We Love It: It’s got several features that aren’t available with other backpack totes.
What to Consider: The ultralight nylon fabric is extremely thin (though durable).
This super lightweight backpack tote lives up to its name: It weighs just over 13 ounces and can be overpacked to a 27-liter capacity. We love it because it gives us features not often found in other backpack totes, such as an optional chest strap when worn as a backpack, compression straps and a handy drawstring closure that allows you to stuff it to the brim and then some, and light padding that can double as a seat cushion in a pinch. The thoughtful design makes it a wise choice for excursions that involve lots of walking. It’s also fair trade certified and made from 100 percent recycled ripstop material that is water-resistant. This bag also features a small interior zippered pocket, large exterior zippered pocket, and (tight) water bottle pockets on the sides. Plus, it folds into itself, making it an ideal just-in-case bag to pack for trips full of unexpected souvenirs, though it’s best used for soft items since the ultra lightweight material is extremely thin.
Price at time of publish: $99
Material: Recycled nylon and polyurethane | Dimensions: 15.5 x 10.25 x 8 inches | Weight: 0.82 pounds
Notabag 2-in-1 Convertible Backpack
Why We Love It: It comes in a variety of fun prints as well as versatile basics.
What to Consider: The material is very thin, giving the bag no support.
This lightweight tote backpack weighs 5.3 ounces and easily stashes into large pockets and most bags, making it an ideal go-to bag at the ready. The bag neatly folds up into itself in a convenient carrying pouch, but we really like that it can be stuffed almost anywhere. The cotton and nylon material is strong, water-resistant, and machine-washable. There’s a small interior pocket that is good for holding things like keys or credit cards. The slide-strap design is a cinch to toss over your shoulders or carry as a regular tote. We found that the one major downside to having a bag this stashable is that the ultra-thin material doesn’t provide any support to the bag, so it’s not the best for bulky or heavy items. Still, if you want to have an extra bag on hand for shopping days, this is perfect.
Price at time of publish: $28
Material: Cotton and ripstop nylon | Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 0.33 pounds
Fossil Camilla Convertible Backpack
Why We Love It: It easily passes as a large purse.
What to Consider: There is no laptop sleeve or interior pockets.
The Fossil Camilla Convertible Backpack is about as minimalist as it gets, with just one main compartment (no organizational pockets or laptop sleeve) and one hidden zipper pocket on the front. It's more purse-like than other backpack totes, which makes it a versatile buy that can be used everywhere from the office to social outings. This bag is made from eco-leather, which means it was manufactured by a responsible tannery that is certified by Leather Working Group. It can be worn as a backpack or as a carry tote. The main compartment has a zipper so you don’t have to stress about pickpockets or accidental spillage, though we do wish they would have included at least a stash pocket or two.
Price at time of publish: $138
Material: Eco-leather | Dimensions: 13.75 x 4 x 13.36 inches | Weight: 1.1 pounds
Ikea Världens Backpack
Why We Love It: Pockets! Pockets! Pockets! And a bag within a bag.
What to Consider: It only comes in one color.
Leave it to Ikea to lead the pack when it comes to efficiency and function. The Världens Backpack is a lightweight backpack tote made from recycled materials. The genius is in the bag’s multiple pockets, zips, and thoughtful details such as stowable padded backpack straps, a yellow-lined interior so your things don’t get lost in a black hole, and a detachable, small interior bag. The padded laptop sleeve can hold a 15-inch laptop, and the bag’s interior storage includes three stash pockets (one with a keyring) and two slots for pens. Outside, the bag features three zippered pockets and two side pockets to store a water bottle or umbrella. We do wish this bag came in more colors.
Price at time of publish: $46
Material: Recycled polyester | Dimensions: 16.5 X 19.25 X 12.25 inches | Weight: Not listed
Tips for Buying a Convertible Backpack Tote
Prioritize your ideal features
Backpack totes can be as minimal as one main compartment or come with all sorts of zippers, pockets, and hooks. Think about what you’ll want to tote around and pick features that serve your purpose. Daily commuters may want to prioritize bags with padding for a laptop while frequent flyers may prefer totes that come with a luggage sleeve.
Consider the material carefully
Different materials can make or break your backpack tote. Think about what material best suits your needs: Does it need to be waterproof? Do you need to look professional? How durable does the bag need to be? You'll want your backpack tote to both be well-made and fit your style.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I bring a convertible backpack tote on a plane?
Most convertible backpack totes can be considered personal items and almost all are within carry-on bag limits simply because they need to be small enough to carry on your back. To be absolutely sure, you should check your specific airline's size requirements before boarding.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
For this list, Katherine Alex Beaven drew on her years of experience as a travel writer and researched dozens of convertible backpack totes to find the best and most worthy to take on your next trip.
Related: The 11 Best Travel Totes of 2023
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