Best Cheap Backpacks 2020 (Under $10 / $20)

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Some of the best cheap backpacks prove to be the most useful. From carrying notebooks to school to carrying snacks to work, backpacks are still very practical. Their design has evolved over the years and some of the most robust options are used for outdoor sports. However, all categories of backpacks can prove useful.

At the moment, cheap backpacks are still available and they can serve multiple purposes. Even if they are as cheap as a few cups of coffee, they can still come in various designs and colors. This means great looks don’t need to be sacrificed while shopping on a budget. 

Features to Consider in Cheap Backpacks

There are thousands of cheap backpacks to choose from. Most of them can look similar but there are plenty of design specifics as well as materials’ choices that make the difference. The size of the backpack is as important as the way it looks.

Backpack size

The size of the backpack is one of its base characteristics. From 15L to 30L and beyond, there are plenty of good options to consider. In many cases, it is the users who need to decide just how much they need to carry. A large backpack carries more things but it also proves heavier. 

Backpack storage options

There are a few pockets and storage spaces in most cheap backpacks. Not all of them are zipped but they can help keep things organized. They can separate books from notebooks. They can even offer a protective laptop compartment. There are so many of these storage options to look for, especially with specific storage needs, such as a dedicated smartphone compartment. The following cheap backpacks are some of the best options in terms of size and storage options.

Best Cheap Backpacks 2020 (Under $10 / $20)

Finding a backpack under $10 seems impossible. However, the following products prove that a good backpack is still available at a very low price. In fact, there’s nothing about them which would give away just how affordable they really are.

1. Trailmaker 17” Backpack Bookbag

Why we like it: Pink Aztec, Pastel Geo Print or Painted Emojis. These are just a few design and color options the backpack is available in.

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Design features
Ideal for books, the backpack is made with a height of 17” and a width of 12”. The backpack is great for school or general-purpose. Its represents a size which is not specifically made for larger laptops but which can easily transport a smaller alternative below 15”.

There are no separate compartments inside. All personal belongings will be held together. This is why it can be a backpack where electronics and drinks might not mix well. But given its incredibly low price, the backpack is a top solution for daily objects such as books, shirts, snacks, etc.

Convenient features
There’s a front zipped pocket as well. It is visible to different degrees, depending on the preferred color. However, it’s quality zipper usually comes in a different color and it can add a bit of visual change to the simple backpack.

In terms of protecting its belongings, it’s reassuring to know its zippers are actually rainproof. Even carrying a smartphone in the front pocket is safe as a result. However, there is no special padding for electronics. It is why even if the electronics are protected from rain, they are not protected from drops. Users should ensure they’re actually avoiding all shocks.

Verdict 
This simple backpack will do its job at a very low price and it will also match any casual outfit.

Pros
  • Available in 30 colors
  • Includes a rainproof front zipper
  • Cheapest backpack of the moment
  • Made with padded straps
Cons
  • No interior compartments

2. Classic Traditional Solid Backpack

Why we like it: Available in 10 solid colors, the backpack is mainly suited for those who prefer a more classic look.

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Design features
Classic backpacks are great for those who want a more elegant design. Without outrageous patterns and colors, the backpack can still be matched with various outfits. Those seeking a sporty backpack which can be worn with an office outfit can see it as the go-to option. At the same time, this classic look doesn’t limit its usability in school or at university.

Similar to other Trail Maker backpacks, it comes with a simple interior and a front pocket for accessories. From its red to navy color options, it is suited for all types of objects as a result. Double zippers have been added as well. This means there’s no time wasted when rushing late into a class or when being late at work.

The simple design of the backpack also means it proves great for smaller laptops. Because it is not a laptop back, it can also be a safety option not to attract any unwanted attention while traveling on public transport.

Convenient features
Made from polyester, the backpack is as durable as possible in this price range. The material is also used in more expensive backpacks and this goes to show that there are no cut corners when it comes to durability.

The classic throwback backpack can have different uses based on its durable material. It represents one of the simple options for those seeking a fast solution which can be worn on one shoulder or on both shoulders. In some cases, it might even be a good idea to wash the backpack in the washing machine, especially if used on hikes or other outdoor activities.

Verdict 
This classic backpack comes with two zippers on its main compartment and solid colors suitable for a more mature user.

Pros
  • Available in 10 solid colors
  • Features a small front pocket
  • Made with padded shoulder straps
  • Carries most laptops
Cons
  • No inner compartments

3. Outlander Ultra Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack

Why we like it: With a foldable design, the backpack is perfect for travel or for those seeking a lightweight design.

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Design features
Folded and compressed, the backpack saves a lot of space while traveling. But it also has plenty of other uses, especially in the areas of protecting goods from the rain. The water-repellent material is perfect for those who live or travel in rainy areas. Due to the thin nature of the material, the backpack is also quick to dry after being washed.

There are about 17 colors to choose from. As with most backpacks in this range, the colors are solid but they range from classic greys to vivid colors. In terms of functionality, the backpack comes with a main interior compartment and an added front pocket. Lateral open mesh pockets are added as well. They can be helpful in carrying water bottles, sunglasses or any quick access objects.

Convenient features
Available in 20L and 35L options, the backpack is one of the most versatile options to consider. Apart from its compact size when folded, the backpack also comes with two zips on the main access compartment. Made from metal, the zips last longer than most plastic alternatives.

At only 0.46 pounds, the backpack is perfect for travel. Those packing light for air travel knows the importance of the extra weight when they add up all the things needed when away from home.

The manufacturer also includes a carabiner. This is one of the simplest accessories to hang various objects on the backpack, such as water bottles or hiking sticks. Made with breathable mesh padded straps, the backpack is suitable for longer use during the summer as well. 

Verdict 
Available in various sizes, the versatile backpack is mainly recommended for its lightweight profile and water-resistant materials.

Pros
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Made with water-resistant materials
  • Only weighs 0.46 pounds
  • Carries 20L or 33L
Cons
  • Short front pocket zipper

4. Amazonbasics Classic School Backpack

Why we like it: Featuring a padded back panel, the backpack is suitable for laptops as well as any other objects such as books.

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Design features
As one of the padded cheap backpacks, there are not many things to expect from the Amazonbasics design. But just as its name suggests, the backpack ticks the basic boxes. For example, it features a padded back panel which means it adds comfort. Carrying laptops or hard book covers can increase pressure on the back and this is why it’s worth choosing it when carrying such objects.

The design of the backpack features a double zipper closure. Easy access is ensured by this design. At the same time, the backpack offers one of the best front pockets in its class. It’s not that the pocket is padded but it’s the length of the zipper which allows it to carry longer objects such as pen holders and rulers. Many other backpacks don’t have a long zipper and good access, even if the pocket is wider.

Convenient features
With padded shoulder straps, the backpack is as comfortable as possible. It even features two lateral mesh pockets, recommended for accessories. While the backpack is padded, this also means that it’s not actually a solution to consider when folded size matters. It will not be as compact as unpadded alternatives.

There are a few great colors to choose from as well. From a deep red to a light Aqua, the backpack is mainly suitable for casual outfits and the occasional dress-up situation. Its colors might not recommend it for any outdoor adventures, but then its role is to carry goods with an elegant design. With the help of a semi-compartment design on the inside, it can even separate goods to an extent.

Verdict 
The elegant backpack features extra cushioning where it matters and it is an option to consider for laptops, notebooks and everything else in-between.

Pros
  • Made with a cushioned back
  • Features a large front pocket
  • Includes lateral pockets for accessories
  • Made with a dual zip closure
Cons
  • Needs to be washed at low temperatures

5. Zomake Packable Backpack

Why we like it: This multi-purpose backpack is one of the options to consider when carrying things for long hours.

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Design features
The last thing most expect when having to carry objects for hours is to have to deal with the pain and discomfort of the extra weight. This is why the backpack is specifically made for these types of situations. Suitable for travel, day hikes, school or even shopping, the backpack is mainly chosen for its folding capacity and its low weight. At just above 0.7lbs, it is among the lightweight players of the market.

Representing the versatility category, the backpack is indeed one of the strongest in its class. Even if it doesn’t look like it, the backpack offers good protection for all the gear inside. With waterproof construction, it can even protect gadgets and other objects such as flashlights. At the same time, it can keep extra clothes dry, which is great when traveling or hiking.

Convenient features
With a 30L capacity, the backpack is particularly roomy as it is comparable to other options in this price range. This is why it is suitable for day hikes. Those planning to hike for multiple days should be looking at roomier alternatives.

When it comes to carrying backpacks for long hours, breathability is an issue as well. The good news here is that the backpack’s design features soft padded shoulder straps which are covered with breathable mesh materials.

Made from resistant nylon, the backpack is easily a solution for any other outdoor activities, such as fishing or canoeing. Since it folds and packs, the backpack can also save space. For example, it can carry food to the fishing destination and they return packed and folded at home.

Verdict 
This colorful backpack is one of the worthy all-nylon products, especially for those who need it for outdoor activities.

Pros
  • Available in vivid colors
  • Made from tear-resistant nylon
  • Folds easily
  • Holds smartphones and tablets
Cons
  • Not best for laptops

6. OutdoorMaster Sling Bag

Why we like it: The single strap Sling Bag is a perfect travel companion and a great solution for many accessories or small objects.

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Design features
With a 12L capacity, the backpack is compact and easy to carry. This also means it is among the best-in-class when it comes to everyday practicality. For many users, it can make the difference when it comes to carrying small objects such as smartphones, tablets or notebooks.

Unlike double strap designs, it is also suitable for better heat management. Those out with backpacks on hot summer days know how a classic backpack can easily lead to overheating. Its simple one-strap design is perfect for the average users looking to change the weight of the backpack from one side to another.

With a breathable back, it is among the products specifically made to deal with extra heat. Unlike its alternatives, it doesn’t use the breathable ribbon on the strap alone, but on the back as well. It is also deep in the back where it has a special anti-theft pocket which is impossible to access without removing the backpack.

There are a few elegant colors to choose from. This makes the backpack unisex as both men and women can match it with everyday outfits. Since it is not the roomiest design, it is great within the city or when traveling by public transport and not as recommended on hikes.

Convenient features
With sufficient room for a camera, this backpack can easily be the compact option street photographers use. It can hold a few extra lenses which are helpful in any situation. But it can also work with small laptops as it has good cushioning.

A distinct characteristic comes with its strap-based front pocket. It is here users can keep cash or documents for easy access. For example, when traveling by plane, the pocket can be used to keep the documents within easy reach and always in sight.

A hook and loop system can also be used with the backpack. Such a system is particularly interesting when it comes to securing the backpack when riding a bike. Those who plan to take it to short outdoor trips can also benefit from its lateral pocket with laces. Perfect for water or juice bottles, it is the pocket mainly used for good hydration through the day.

Verdict 
With its compact appeal and great heat management, the backpack can be used by those who want to enjoy better breathability.

Pros
  • Can be stored horizontally
  • Available in multiple lengths
  • Comes with various sound presets
  • Suits old and smart TVs
Cons
  • Delayed audio needs to be corrected

7. Vaschy Lightweight Backpack

Why we like it: With a classic design, the Vaschy backpack is perfect for school and fits the $20 budget.

Editor’s Rating:

Design features
With a 12L capacity, the backpack is compact and easy to carry. This also means it is among the best-in-class when it comes to everyday practicality. For many users, it can make the difference when it comes to carrying small objects such as smartphones, tablets or notebooks.

Unlike double strap designs, it is also suitable for better heat management. Those out with backpacks on hot summer days know how a classic backpack can easily lead to overheating. Its simple one-strap design is perfect for the average users looking to change the weight of the backpack from one side to another.

With a breathable back, it is among the products specifically made to deal with extra heat. Unlike its alternatives, it doesn’t use the breathable ribbon on the strap alone, but on the back as well. It is also deep in the back where it has a special anti-theft pocket which is impossible to access without removing the backpack.

There are a few elegant colors to choose from. This makes the backpack unisex as both men and women can match it with everyday outfits. Since it is not the roomiest design, it is great within the city or when traveling by public transport and not as recommended on hikes.

Convenient features
With sufficient room for a camera, this backpack can easily be the compact option street photographers use. It can hold a few extra lenses which are helpful in any situation. But it can also work with small laptops as it has good cushioning.

A distinct characteristic comes with its strap-based front pocket. It is here users can keep cash or documents for easy access. For example, when traveling by plane, the pocket can be used to keep the documents within easy reach and always in sight.

A hook and loop system can also be used with the backpack. Such a system is particularly interesting when it comes to securing the backpack when riding a bike. Those who plan to take it to short outdoor trips can also benefit from its lateral pocket with laces. Perfect for water or juice bottles, it is the pocket mainly used for good hydration through the day.

Verdict 
With its compact appeal and great heat management, the backpack can be used by those who want to enjoy better breathability.

Pros
  • Suitable for cameras
  • Made with cushioning
  • Includes anti-theft pockets
  • Holds up to 12L
Cons
  • Not suitable for 15” laptops

8. OlarHike Packable Travel Hiking Backpack

Why we like it: At 0.65lbs, the backpack is one of the few cheap options featuring interior zipped pockets.

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Design features
Made to be as versatile as possible, the backpack is suitable for all types of uses. From the outdoor adventure lasting up to a day to any other inner-city uses such as going to school, it is ready to deal with all types of objects with its multiple pockets.

Made to suit loads of up to 35L, it is a general-purpose backpack which is used by both men and women. Its load capacity is slightly higher than many users actually need and this is why it can easily be a great solution for outdoor activities such as trekking since it can carry more.

With its inner zipped pockets, it is great for carrying cash and documents while out in nature. The zippers will ensure these documents will not get lost by any chance. Since it can be used for any purpose, it’s reassuring to know that it can also be used during a surprise weather change as it can handle rain with its waterproof materials.

Convenient features
Side pockets for water bottles are also included. But these can also be used for accessories such as sunglasses, which might not be needed on cloudy days. However, its most convenient feature remains its foldable design. It works wonders for those who want to save space as much as possible.

In fact, foldable designs are particularly useful when going traveling. Since there are multiple bags taken on travel destinations, it is a smaller backpack such as the OlarHike which are used for day trips while on vacation. This is why it has a high value in terms of actual practicality. 

One of its potential drawbacks comes with the fully-zipped front pocket. While this is not an issue when packing clothes, it can be an issue when packing small objects. Many of these smaller items can simply fall when the pocket is fully open. 

Verdict 
Suitable for outdoor adventures as well as for avid travelers, the backpack is among the best-in-class for carrying capacity.

Pros
  • Holds up to 35L
  • Includes 2 inner zipped pockets
  • Covered by warranty
  • Suitable for outdoor use
Cons
  • Not best for students

9. Uniwalk Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack

Why we like it: Based on a foldable design, the backpack can be used for shopping, lectures, and everything in-between.

Editor’s Rating:

Design features
The main design attraction of the backpack is its folding capacity. Since there’s no inner cushioning, it can actually fold into a bag which can sit in the hand of the user. This also means it is great for those who go out shopping and who might already be tired of carrying heavy shopping bags.

But the backpack has its main appeal with students. Since it is lightweight, even lighter than a smartphone, it is great for grabbing a few books and pencils before heading to class. Since there is no cushioning at all, it might not be wisest to use the backpack to carry laptops or other expensive gear such as DSLR cameras.

Convenient features
There are 5 pockets which can be used to keep everything organized. From water bottles to pencils, it is among the best for those who do not want to look for their things for too long.  Of course, only one of these pockets is actually zipped. The main exterior pocket is where users can find a zipper, which makes it suitable for gadgets.

Another interesting feature comes with the SBS metal zippers. They are known for their higher durability, which is great for those who use the backpack on a daily basis, not only on rare occasions. It is the zipper which can break first with many other cheap backpacks.

Color options are limited, but both men and women can find something to suit their needs. From a deep blue to a vivid pink, there are a few colors to consider. Unfortunately, an all-black version is not available for those who prefer a more low profile alternative.

Verdict 
This foldable backpack is made with 5 pockets to keep all accessories organized, perfect for students and professionals.

Pros
  • Made with a foldable design
  • Based on waterproof materials
  • Includes a high-visibility strip
  • Only weighs 0.36 lbs
Cons
  • Not actually teardrop-shaped

10. Travelambo Business Laptop Backpack

Why we like it: The business backpack is a top solution for young professionals looking to comfortably carry a few basic objects.

Editor’s Rating:

Design features
The design of the backpack is specifically made for the young professional. From the superior materials to the included charging port, it represents a solution which can easily be used on a daily commute. Unlike outdoor backpacks, it also comes with a refined look. This is why it will even suit those who prefer a dressier outfit.

Since it is made for professionals, the backpack can suit laptops of 17” and below. Those who are really into gadgets and who need extra battery life until they get home from work can also consider it for its included USB charging port. Practically, it holds the external battery inside while coming with a cable which connects from the outside of the backpack.

Convenient features
The high-quality materials of the backpack recommend it among the best solutions for a special feel. All zippers are also made from durable materials. There are a few pockets which also help keep things organized. From multiple interior semi-pockets to separate pockets for smartphone, the backpack has them all.

Another distinct feature comes with the depth-adjustable straps. They can help keep all documents safe inside the backpack, without any back and forth wobble.

Verdict 
This premium-feel business backpack is actually very affordable and it can be a solution for those dealing with laptops and documents.

Pros
  • Made with slots for gadgets
  • Features a USB charging port
  • span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Designed with top materials
  • Includes an anti-theft lock
Cons
  • Available in gray only

FAQ

How much is 20L?

A 20L backpack equates to a carrying capacity of 20kg. By most standards, a 20L backpack is considered small. A 40L backpack can be the higher mark when it comes to daily carrying capacity while 30L is a happy intermediary carrying capacity.

What materials are best?

Various nylon materials are seen in this class. They are not as bad as they can last for years. But the way a backpack is used impacts its durability more with a cheap backpack than with an expensive backpack.

Can a cheap backpack be adjusted to my height?

All cheap backpacks come with adjustable shoulder straps. Others might even have other adjustable straps to keep the objects inside as organized as possible.

Should I choose a bright color or a dark color backpack?

Apart from matching backpacks with outfits, certain colors can match certain needs. Light colors are great for commuters, going to school or shopping. Darker colors are more elegant but they can also be used for hiking trips, where getting the backpack dirty is not uncommon.

Can I wash my backpack?

Most backpacks can be washed with a sponge and detergent. Some may even be washed in the washing machine. However, most cheap backpacks only need to be washed in cold and warm water as hot water can damage certain nylon materials in the long term.

What’s a business backpack?

A business backpack refers to the user who is most likely a professional. It may look more elegant but the backpack also borrows a few characteristics from a briefcase.

Are all backpacks good for the outdoors?

Most backpacks can be used outdoors. However, many of the cheap alternatives have limited usability. For example, going trekking with a backpack with no moist protection on the bottom is a sure method of getting the backpack wet. 

How to choose the best cheap backpack under $10 / 20

Choosing the best cheap backpack is not something which most expects to be complicated. However, cheap backpacks might not be too numerous, especially when already looking for specifics such as multiple pockets. When making a purchase, it is still advisable to understand how the backpack is going to be used most of the time and how the following characteristics influence durability and even the way it looks over a longer period of time.

Carry capacity

The carrying capacity of a cheap backpack has its important role, above everything else. It is where users have to choose which size backpack is best for what they need. Students might be looking for a backpack to carry notebooks, books and possibly a laptop. Professionals might need to carry documents. Active people might be looking for a breathable backpack to take on outdoor adventures. Shoppers might consider foldable backpacks to carry in the pocket to the supermarket, etc. 

Most cheap backpacks are not smaller than 20L. Some 30L options can be found as well. However, the difference between these two can mean that a laptop may fit in one and not fit in the other. The size of the backpack is what dictates if a laptop fits inside. The carrying capacity of the backpack also means users should not put heavy loads inside as it is one of the quick methods to tear the materials sooner. 

Materials

The materials of a backpack are all synthetic in the cheap segment. But these materials have their benefit, such as repelling water or being quick to dry. With most backpacks, it’s important to understand why there’s a need for materials which are durable. A backpack will be placed on the floor at school or at the mall. It can be placed on the ground when hiking or when traveling. In time, dirt builds up and all backpacks need some type of washing up in order to look good and smell good. 

Poor quality materials are seen only after 2-3 washes. As noted by many users, it is after washing the backpack that the first signs of wear start to appear. They might not be the signs most expect. But certain areas such as zippers are not really meant to deal with hot water and long washing programs such as those of a modern washing machine. This is why manual washing is still best, even for some of the expensive backpacks of the moment.

Colors and designs

The colorful options and various designs of the moment are easy to match personalities and outfits. The day of solid colors are now long gone and various color combinations and patterns are available. As a general rule, it depends on the type of use the backpack is expected to have when choosing a color. Even if matching it with any outfit sounds fun, there are other aspects to consider. For example, those using a backpack to free their hands while riding a bike to school or to work should only consider bright and vivid colors for on-the-road safety reasons. 

Pockets for accessories

The number of pockets and spaces for accessories is limited to cheap backpacks. In most cases, there are up to 3 pockets to use for gadgets, water bottles or other accessories. It is also less likely that these pockets are zipped, compared to more expensive backpack alternatives. 

As a general rule, it is advisable to use separators, such as those inside the backpack to carry different goods safely. Laptops should have their own compartment while water bottles should mainly be stored upright in lateral pockets if possible. 

Final words

Some of the best cheap backpacks under $10 / $20 are now better than ever before. Foldable designs are increasing in popularity. They can be used to save space while traveling or even to limit the maximum weight being carried around.

Even these cheap backpacks are further categorized according to how they are actually used. Some of them are only made for school or university. Others are made for the young professional. But many cheap backpacks are also made for the outdoors. From hiking to canoeing or fishing, these backpacks can serve multiple purposes. However, all of these outdoor activities are mainly one-day activities, based on the low carrying capacity of cheap backpacks.

Further differentiation can be made between one-strap and two-strap backpacks. One-shoulder strap backpacks are smaller, but they can be used for various reasons, such as having a lower general weight. At the same time, the classic backpack with 2 shoulder straps is much easier to carry for heavier loads, as the weight is evenly distributed. 

Before choosing a single backpack, it can also be a good idea to make multiple purchases for various reasons. Since these backpacks are cheap, they can be used for various purposes, some carrying books and laptops and others being available for all quick outdoor adventures.