I’m a major handbag lover. From various handbag review blog posts to YouTube videos, I’ve got handbag content galore. I love bags because they are a little space to call my own. You can learn so much about a person based on what they keep in their bag. I’ve recently gotten hooked on a specific bag silhouette because they’re the ultimate case of fashion meets function: backpacks for women.
Backpacks are so often associated with school – which they are totally great for class – but they’re also so much more versatile. Backpacks can make great everyday bags, travel bags, diaper bags, and more. And yes – they can still be cute.
Today’s blog post is in partnership with Vera Bradley. I’ve been a huge fan of Vera Bradley for, well, decades (ever since I used a VB duffel as a dance bag). Today we’ll be diving into this not so little guide on the best backpacks for women – all from Vera Bradley. Because no one makes fashion forward, functional, and sustainable backpacks like Vera Bradley.
Even though this post is sponsored, opinions are always totally my own. I super appreciate my readers supporting the brands that make my blog possible!
Handbags aren’t always the best choice when it comes to back support. Handbags often place the weight of the bag on one side of the body, leading to imbalance. In the short term, this means discomfort throughout the day. Long term consequences; however, could look as nasty as actual back problems.
Not a cute look.
Opting for a backpack rather than a handbag is often going to be more comfortable to wear and potentially also better for your posture. It’s so critical when shopping for backpacks for women to find backpacks DESIGNED for women. Vera Bradley backpacks are endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association because of their women’s-specific fit, curved straps, and extra padding. A ladies backpack should be designed to work FOR our bodies – not against us.
One of the main reasons to opt for a backpack is the functionality. Backpacks are BIG winners when it comes to space, storage, and organization. Not only are you able to be hands free, but you’re often able to fit far more in a backpack than your average handbag.
I typically assess two things: the number of compartments total and the capacity of the main compartment. I love backpacks that have large main compartments to fit all my larger essential items. For example, I almost always need to cart my laptop around, so laptop sleeves are crucial. I also drink a ton of water (usually upwards of 64oz a day), so prefer backpacks that are water resistant in case of spills and have a large enough main compartment to fit my giant water bottle. Extra points if the backpack has exterior water bottle holders!
When shopping for backpacks for women, think of all the things you may need your backpack for. Women are warriors of productivity and LIFE. We’ve all got a ton to do. It’s important to find a backpack that can keep up with your lifestyle and be suitable for almost every occasion – because sometimes you end up at random errands and get together you didn’t plan for.
I’m a huge advocate of capsule wardrobe dressing and shopping ethical and sustainable clothing whenever possible. It’s so important for us all to do our part at keeping the planet healthy. Vera Bradley recently announced their Cotton ReIMAGINED collection, featuring styles made with 50% recycled cotton – and a big company commitment to increase sustainable fabric usage in future collections. These new sustainable styles result in a 43% improvement in water scarcity and a 13% reduction in global warming impact. Lucky for us, there are so many sustainable Vera Bradley backpacks for women to choose from, meaning we don’t have to sacrifice finding a cute bag at the cost of environmental impact.
I often get asked if I prefer cotton vs leather backpacks. To be honest – I typically do prefer cotton. While few things can beat out the sleek look of a leather fashion backpack, leather backpacks for women are typically not as functional as cotton and are far more fragile and costly. Backpacks are typically the workhorses of my bag collection. I need backpacks to be sturdy, comfortable, and okay to withstand my real life (it’s tough sometimes!). Leather backpacks can be beautiful, but I typically prefer cotton because it’s better for my wallet and often better for the environment. Given that Vera Bradley is moving towards even more sustainable fabrics and has recycled cotton styles already on their shelves – it’s a pretty easy choice for me to opt for cotton.
YES – it’s okay to care very much about how cute your backpack is. When you love the look of a piece, you get excited to wear it and wear it more often. Wearing a piece you love more often is better for both your wallet and the planet.
Vera Bradley has always and will always be my favorite place to shop backpacks for women because each and every bag hits all the above points. Vera Bradley backpacks are ergonomic in their design: designed by women, for women. Vera Bradley bags as a whole are always designed for function – it’s actually the reason I’ve been using VB bags for so long. I typically have to buy separate bag inserts to other bags to add even a fraction of the amount of compartments I get built-in with my Vera bags. My Vera’s are always versatile, carrying me through my work day and beyond. And now Vera Bradley bags are sustainable.
The Campus Backpack and I are old friends. I’m pretty sure I have at least three or four of these backpacks at this point. Why? Because when it comes to the best backpacks for women – the Campus Backpack easily makes the must have list.
The Campus Backpack is your quintessentially perfect everyday backpack for work, travel, and school. The most updated version of the Campus Backpack – made out of recycled cotton, no less – features a whole host of updated features. The back of the bag and the straps now feature extra padding, providing much needed back support. The Campus Backpack is also generously sized. This bag will fit far more than your average shoulder bag, featuring five total zippered pockets. The Campus Backpack also has a built in padded laptop sleeve and not one, but two exterior drink holder pockets. The very front zippered compartment also unzips to reveal a ton of additional pockets and places for various daily essentials. I’m also pretty insistent that all my more functional bags have trolley sleeves now – and this one totally does.
The Campus Backpack accommodates up to a 15” laptop and has a capacity of 25L. This backpack measures at 12.0″ w x 16.5″ h x 7.5″ d with a 32.0″ adjustable strap and 2.75″ handle drop.
While the classic Campus Backpack is your everyday staple, it’s time to break out the XL Campus Backpack when you’ve got a big day (or trip!) ahead of you. The XL version of the fan favorite Campus Backpack features all the same must haves in the original: the padded back and sleeves, multiple zip compartments, laptop sleeve, interior pockets, exterior slip pockets, etc. What makes the XL Campus Backpack really stand out is its increased size, so you’re able to fit everything you could possibly need.
While the classic Campus Backpack rings in at 25L capacity, the XL is 30L capacity. The XL Campus Backpack measures in at 12.0″ w x 16.5″ h x 8.5″ d with a 32.0″ adjustable strap and 2.75″ handle drop. This essentially means you’re getting an extra inch in depth (and +5L in capacity!) from the standard size. If you’re looking for travel backpacks for women – the XL Campus Backpack is a great pick because it’s extra roomy and super comfortable.
Vera Bradley isn’t new to sustainable backpacks for women – their ReActive line has been setting the standard for a while now. The ReActive Grand Backpack is made out of recycled plastic water bottles (24 per pack, as a matter of fact). Like many of its sister backpack styles, this bag is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association thanks to its ergonomic design. This backpack features a water resistant fabric, padded shoulder straps, a padded back panel, a trolley sleeve, and a whole host of both interior and exterior pockets. Once again, Vera Bradley includes a laptop sleeve built right in – able to accommodate up to a 15” laptop.
The ReActive Grand Backpack is pretty generously sized overall. This bag has a 25L capacity and measures at 12.5″ w x 16.0″ h x 8.0″ d with a 32.0″ adjustable strap and a 2.75″ handle drop.
If you’re on the hunt for hiking backpacks for women – the ReActive Grand Backpack may be your fit. Given the extra durability of the fabric on this style, along with the ergonomic design, it’s an ideal style for a trek.
Uhhh…guys. VERA BRADLEY PARTNERED WITH LANA CONDOR. Like the queen of the small-screen THE Lana Condor. And wow – does she have like, very chic taste. The Lana Utility Backpack has unique design features like a soft blush trim and clasps, a colorful lining (so you can always spot your stuff), and a super cool stripe detail along the back of the bag. I’m such a fan of capsule wardrobe style dressing so I super appreciate the all black color – but the pop of pink gives this backpack a little extra touch of detail and femininity.
Yep – I’m a girl who loves black AND pink.
The Utility Backpack itself is honestly probably my most worn backpack out of all the Vera Bradley backpacks for women I own. While few bags can beat out the sizing and functionality of the Campus Backpack for work or as a travel backpack, sometimes I just don’t need to carry that much stuff. But sometimes I also need to carry more than a little mini backpack. Fashion backpacks may be all the rage right now – but most of them lack any kind of function. And this is where the Utility Backpack is perfect.
The Utility Backpack has a 15L capacity, making it a good amount smaller than your workhorse backpacks, but a fair deal larger than a purse. The Utility Backpack has exterior features like a front zip compartment (with a pen slip, two slip pockets, and a zip pocket) as well as two side zip pockets. There’s also an interior slip pocket for essential items. The bag is secured with both a drawstring and buckle closures – meaning the only person getting into your bag is YOU.
To me, the Lana Utility Backpack feels really elevated. This bag falls under the stylish backpacks for women category. This bag feels less like your function over fashion backpack and more like an actual fashion style – but with more function than your average handbag. It’s sort of the best of both worlds. I often reach for the Lana Utility Backpack when I’m off to events with friends where I’d like to be hands free, but not bulky.
The smallest backpack out of my favorite backpacks for women is the Vera Bradley Small Backpack. The Small Backpack by VB is one of my favorites from the brand specifically because it’s the ideal hands free option that is more comfortable and secure than your average crossbody bag. Sometimes I just want the functionality of a backpack – and not necessarily the big size. The Small Backpack has a 9L capacity, so still fits a ton even though it’s only sized at 9.0″ w x 12.0″ h x 4.75″ d with a 32.5″ adjustable strap and a 2.75″ handle drop. This bag is pretty tiny – but it packs a punch!
Small backpacks for women don’t mean they have to lack storage. The exterior of this bag features a front zip pocket (with one slip and two pen pockets) as well as three slip pockets. On the interior you’ll find one zip and two slip pockets.
Love a traditional toile? This one’s for you. Rainforest Canopy gives you that traditional toile vibe, but adds a tropical vacation spin that feels really fresh. I’m personally obsessed with the color palette on this one. The soft blush tones beautifully compliment the greens and teals. I also love that there’s a hit of neutrals like olive and khaki to keep this pattern feeling really versatile.
Butterflies are such a fun motif for spring and summer. Few symbols are as, well, symbolic as a butterfly. Signaling change and free spirited nature, this print channels the essence of the butterfly painted against a soft, soothing lavender backdrop.
Why yes, I am a major Harry Potter fan. I’m a pretty die hard Ravenclaw. Vera Bradley launched their first Harry Potter collection in mid-2020 and their second drop launched just recently! Herbology is the latest print in this limited edition collaborative collection – and it’s stunning. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this one is a must. You’ll find so many little Wizarding World gems hidden in this print from the earmuffs to the mandrakes. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the series, you can still be a huge fan of this print, because it’s just so classically Vera Bradley.
I own this style in the Herbology print and am kind of obsessed with it. Transparently, sling styles aren’t usually my go to. I’ve never really thought sling bags for women were a silhouette I could pull off, but the Mini Sling Backpack is so universally flattering that it’s been such a fun addition to my collection. I’m actually really excited I have this one in the Herbology print because I have a pipe dream of visiting the actual Wizarding World theme park – and wearing this bag as my theme park bag.
Another one of the sling bags for girls I was never sure I could pull off, but in this fun pop of yellow it’s SO cool yet approachable. I love to wear this style on my front vs my back, giving it that sort of cool girl styling edge to it. Because this bag is a utility style, it comes with extra durable buckle clasps and extra compartments.
I don’t (yet) own this bag – I’ve really been eyeing it. The Lay Flat Convertible Backpack is probably the most unique backpack design I’ve seen to boot. This style visually looks similar to say a Campus Backpack or even a Grand Backpack…but it’s convertible. This backpack can actually transform into a crossbody or shoulder strap style bag that would be perfect for work or travel. This style also unzips on all three sides, laying perfectly flat for easy packing. I’ve honestly never seen another backpack style quite like this one – a potential must have if you’re an avid traveler.
This is another bag I have on my wishlist, primarily because it’s so specific. My husband and I have really enjoyed going to concerts and various sports games…but packing a purse for these events is SUCH a pain. I’m honestly really thankful at all the recently implemented security measures across the globe at large event venues – I truly am. But we can all admit that it’s sometimes frustrating trying to pack when you don’t have a transparent bag to use.
Transparent bags at big arena events makes getting through security a literal breeze. I’ve always considered adding a transparent bag to my collection to break out for events – and this set is the PERFECT design.
Vera Bradley co-founders Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller started raising funds for breast cancer research back in 1993, driven by the loss of a close friend and colleague. Vera Bradley customers over the years have helped raise more than $36 million in funds to support research advancements and the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research at Indiana University is a driving force in developing future therapies and treatments.
Vera Bradley is a company that actually cares about and commits to sustainability – I really respect that. I’ve actually done an entire podcast episode on how to spot a sustainable and ethical clothing company. One of my biggest complaints with fashion companies today is performative sustainable or ethical capsule collections, with no larger commitment by the brand to implement real change. While a little sustainable capsule collection may seem nice, it’s rather hollow and doesn’t really impact the planet.
Vera Bradley has been producing sustainable styles for years now and is ramping up their commitment to sustainability with the latest launch of the Cotton ReIMAGINED collection. ReActive actually saved more than 6.1 million plastic bottles from going into oceans and landfills – which is MAJOR.
Vera Bradley has a whole host of initiatives for their local Fort Wayne community – but also considers the global community at large. I love that Vera Bradley has transparency across their supply chain and a very crystal clear corporate responsibility website page. VB is honestly setting the standard for what an ethical and sustainable company should and could look like.
Vera Bradley is one of those brands I feel an actual emotional connection to. I have a lot of really fond memories that are so deeply rooted in Vera Bradley styles. My grandma (affectionally called “Nana”) on my mom’s side of the family LOVES Vera Bradley. And when I say loves – I mean LOVES. Nana lives in Illinois, so she’s just a hop, skip, and a jump (or more like a reasonable drive) from the Vera Bradley headquarters in Indiana. Whenever I come to visit, Nana and Papa love to drive me across the border to Indiana over to the outlets to shop VB. We typically stop at a Bass Pro Shop along the way for lunch. Everything about this ritual is so NOT my everyday Bay Area kind of life – and it’s so beautiful and fun.
Nana’s love of Vera Bradley also rubbed off on my mom, who seemed to know that all the cool kids in dance class at Vera Bradley duffel bags. So of course, mama made sure I had Vera Bradley galore to stuff my jazz shoes and sweaty tights into. Glorious, right?
But in all seriousness – Vera Bradley as a brand was around for a lot of my childhood. Vera Bradley bags remind me of my mom and my Nana. VB reminds me of my hectic (but filled with food and love) trips out to the Midwest to see my eccentric Italian family. And what I love the most is that the Vera Bradley brand continues to evolve and change and continue to be a brand worthy of people to love. VB cares about people and the planet. VB actively changes to do “better” when it comes to their fabrics and products. Vera Bradley is a company that cares – and that’s something to celebrate.
Do you have any favorite backpacks for women that you love from Vera Bradley? Share in the comments down below!
*Blondes & Bagels uses affiliate links. Please read the disclaimer for more info.