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Which mini backpack is best? 

The mini backpack takes the practicality of a backpack or messenger bag and turns it into a purse-sized accessory. It still has all the functions of a backpack but on a smaller scale, making it ideal for outings when you want to carry a few small things without packing too much. A mini backpack is functional for everyday use, travel, the gym, hikes and more. For a fashionable bag that’s great for day-to-day use, look at the Michael Kors Rhea Zip Small Pebble Leather Backpack. This option is comfortable and stylish. 

What to know before you buy a mini backpack

Types of mini backpacks

Mini backpacks are made from many of the same materials as full-size backpacks but with more variety. Canvas, polyester, leather and faux leather are popular materials. The mini backpack you want depends on where you’ll be bringing it and how you’ll be using it.

  • Fashion: This is a bag designed to look stylish and carry everyday items the same way a purse does. It’s meant to be attractive and can feature fun stitching or details that make it stand out. Polyester, leather and faux leather tend to be popular for fashion backpack exteriors. 
  • Sport: This tough mini bag is made for hiking or trips to the gym. It’s durable, waterproof or fast-drying and often features mesh pockets. It’s usually made from polyester.
  • Travel: This bag is designed to accommodate tech gear and work or school supplies. It’s durable and lightweight for places like airports and often features padded compartments for tablets, headphones and the like.   

Closure methods

A mini backpack has one of three primary closure methods for the main compartment. It has a zipper, a snap-button or a pull-string. A zipper closure is the most secure option as it’s the only one that seals the compartment entirely. Snap-buttons and pull-strings do provide some coverage but leave room for gaps. A zippered backpack can feature side pockets with snap buttons or elastic to secure items.   

One strap vs. two straps

While most mini backpacks have two shoulder straps, some feature convertible straps that can be zipped together to form one strap. This single-strap modification lets you carry the backpack on one shoulder or slung across the body like a purse. Alternatively, some convertible backpacks allow you to unhook straps to switch up how the bag is worn.

What to look for in a quality mini backpack

Plenty of pockets

A great mini backpack has plenty of pockets and compartments for easy storage and even easier access to your phone, keys and other accessories. Different types of pockets are also important as some items need to be secured more than others. There should be at least two zippered pockets. Look for at least several slip pockets on the inside and maybe one or two on the outside.

Padded straps

While padded straps aren’t a requirement for fashion backpacks, they are a major asset for sports and travel backpacks. If you’re active or carrying heavy items for long periods, padded straps are easier on your back and can prevent the straps from digging into your skin or causing discomfort. 

Weatherproof materials

A reliable mini backpack has a weatherproof exterior. This means that the material can hold up in the rain as well, dries quickly and can handle extreme sun exposure. If the material isn’t naturally weatherproof, it is coated for added protection. Water-resistant and waterproof materials are especially important for hiking backpacks since these go into more unpredictable environments.   

How much you can expect to spend on a mini backpack

A fashion mini backpack costs $15-$300. A sports mini backpack costs $20-$70 and a travel mini backpack costs $30-$80. 

Mini backpack FAQ

What are the dimensions of a backpack this size?

A. These small backpacks are usually around 10 to 13 inches in height, 8 to 12 inches in length and about 4 to 5 inches deep.  

Is the backpack washable?

A. This depends on the material. Some polyester mini backpacks can go in the washing machine but can get damaged this way, so always check the label. Leather and faux leather bags should be spot cleaned only.   

What’s the best mini backpack to buy?

Top mini backpack

Michael Kors Rhea Zip Small Pebble Leather Backpack

Michael Kors Rhea Zip Small Pebble Leather Backpack

What you need to know: It’s made from real leather and measures 11.75 by 10 inches by 4.5 inches with a zipper closure and two 26-inch adjustable straps.

What you’ll love: It comes in three colors with gold or silver hardware. There’s a front pocket with double compartments. It’s stylish, comfortable and can fit an 8-10-inch tablet in addition to your essentials. 

What you should consider: It’s not as durable as it should be given the price.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

Top mini backpack for the money

Hot Style Bestie Mini Backpack

Hot Style Bestie Mini Backpack

What you need to know: It measures 11.4 inches by 8.3 inches by 4.9 inches with two straps, zipper closure and a polyester lining.

What you’ll love: It comes in 22 colors. There are six pockets on the inside and four on the outside. It’s durable and water-resistant. It can hold tablets or laptops up to 11 inches.

What you should consider: The straps are functional but not as high quality as the rest of the backpack. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

The North Face Borealis Mini Backpack

The North Face Borealis Mini Backpack

What you need to know: It measures 13.5 inches by 8.65 inches by 4.15 inches with two straps, zipper closure and a front bungee cord.

What you’ll love: It’s compact and comes in four colors. It’s durable and water-resistant. There are two zippered pockets and an internal sleeve for a tablet. It has padded, adjustable straps and two external water bottle holders.

What you should consider: The water bottle pockets are a little too small for most bottles. 

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry


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Emily Verona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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