August 2nd, 2016 By Matt
This vintage backpack buying guide is very long, but it will give you all the information you need in order to make an informed decision, when buying your next vintage backpack. It took me around a week to create this guide, and I am confident it is the best information around on buying a vintage backpack.
I truly enjoy researching a new niche that I have interest in, that I know nothing about, and becoming an expert on it. On top of that, I also love to create websites where I can share the information I gained with an audience, and really help them out!
The best way you can return the favor if you are going to buy a vintage backpack, is click through one of the affiliate links I have throughout the site, and make a purchase of the backpack that fits you! At no extra cost to yourself, I make a small commission on the purchase. The links that I provide throughout the website are only the most quality vintage backpacks on the market, and you will not be disappointed.
And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me so I can help you out!
My name is Matt. Not only did I create this site to help you out, but I also need a new vintage backpack! I am getting ready to go overseas to teach English, and I know that I will need it for everyday use.
I know that a lot of consumers have a ton of questions when buying a new backpack. What are the best brands for backpacks? What are the best types of backpacks? What are the best backpacks for men and women? However, most do not try and find the answers! This vintage backpack buying guide will answer some of those questions that you might not be sure about.
Most of these issues can be completely avoided if you follow this guide, so you can get a quality vintage backpack that is long lasting.
By the end of this article you will know exactly how to pick out a backpack based on your height. You will know exactly how to analyze the backpack based on the material it’s made out of. You will know which brands you can typically rely on. And you will know what price range you should be looking at for buying a quality vintage backpack.
Vintage Backpack Buying Guide – 9 aspects I will focus on
- Top 10 Vintage Backpacks on Amazon
- Why you should purchase a vintage backpack for everyday use
- Price – Are you getting a good price on your vintage backpack?
- Leading backpack brands for vintage style backpacks
- What type of material should your vintage backpack be made out of?
- Size – Are you buying the correct size?(Very Important)
- What is the best padding?
- My Advice
I’ll start out by listing some vintage backpacks that are EXTREMELY popular on Amazon. I went through all of the reviews, and found the ten highest rated, which I listed below. I included some of the product details and the rating overall. Check them out and read some of the reviews on Amazon thoroughly!
Top 10 Vintage Backpacks on Amazon
Review of: Stylish Retro Canvas Leather School Travel Backpack Company: S-zone
Durability – Very sturdy vintage canvas backpack with quality snaps and leather. Leather might scratch easily, but this will make it look more vintage.
Price – Definitely not the cheapest vintage backpack, but also not the most expensive.
Functionality – Comfortable, and easy to use. Only complaint is little padding for carrying a laptop.
- Colors And Style
- Space for laptop and more
- Real leather ages well
- Leather scratches easily
- Snap buttons sometimes cheap
Made of high density canvas and crazy horse leather trim. Dimensions: 16.5 inch(H)*12.2 inch(L)*4.7 inch(W). Fits laptop of 15.6′. Adjustable shoulder straps and magnetic quick snap buckles.
Although, I personally think the price is a little high, I do love the style of this vintage backpack. Excellent choice for work or school! I especially like the Coral Green.
Review of: Comfortable Women’s Casual Vintage Canvas Backpack Company: StoreofBaby
Durability – Made from high durable canvas, and double strapped. Heavy duty zippers and abrasion resistant. Can be used for years to come.
Price – Excellent price for the quality of product.
Functionality – Adjustable straps and large space allow for great functionality.
- Made very durable
- Low price, great quality
- Not water resistant
- Can’t fit full size laptop
This is arguably one of the cheapest priced vintage backpacks on the market, for the durability and quality you will receive. Dimensions:13.7 * 12.5 * 5.9 inches(H x W x D).
Excellent choice for day trips, school, and work. And it should last you for years!
Review of: Crazy Horse Leather-Like QUALITY Vintage Women’s Backpack Company: Good&God
Durability – The material it is made out of is durable, except the straps. If you carry a lot of weight, they will break.
Price – Solid price. Solid vintage backpack for less than average price.
Functionality – Surprisingly, bigger than you would expect. Unfortunately, not going to be able to carry more with the weak straps.
- Cheap Price
- Weak Straps
- Flimsy pockets
Not my personal favorite vintage backpack available on Amazon. However, it got 4.5/5 stars total from 320 reviews!
If you are looking for a pack that is stylish to carry light weight, this backpack is perfect!
Review of: Stylish SmileDay Vintage Laptop Backpack Company: HotStyle
Durability – Excellent durability for a backpack made out of polyester cloth. Only durability issue is the zippers being somewhat cheap.
Price – Excellent price based on how well together this vintage backpack is made.
Functionality – Straps are surprisingly very strong. Can carry a lot of weight.
- You will receive many compliments on the style
- Big space for laptop
- Low price, overall great quality
- Cheap zippers
- Made out of cheap polyester cloth
The main thing that I like about this backpack geared towards women, is that for the low price you are getting a very stylish backpack. And you can fit your laptop, many books, and other items inside without much problem.
However, the fact that the zipper breaks and gets stuck easily, could really get on your nerves.
Review of: Men’s Large Vintage Canvas Laptop Bag Company: Kenox
Durability – Excellent durability. Well made. Except for flimsy straps.
Price – About average price for what you would expect from a vintage backpack.
Functionality – Smaller than you think. Good functionality, but straps can get out of place.
- Made very durable
- Brand name
- Smaller than what pictures show
- Buckle on straps can get out of place easily
Well made backpack which can carry a lot for how small it is. Just like the other top ten, very stylish.
Can last for a very long time if taken care of correctly. This is the definition of a good deal on a vintage backpack.
Review of: Men’s vintage Canvas Rucksack Company: BluBoon
Durability – Most durable vintage backpack on this list. Heavily padded straps and well constructed.
Price – Considering it is my favorite backpack on this list, the price really isn’t to bad.
Functionality – Tons of room, great comfort, and great durability. Makes for great functionality.
- Love the look of this pack
- Very durable, high quality zippers
- Can use for travel, school, work
- Above average price
- Colors from pictures on Amazon different in real life
My #1 pick on this whole list of top 10. I like the amount of space and the style. Can use this pack for a wide variety of events.
Also like that unlike some of the other vintage backpacks, the zippers are high quality
Review of: Men’s vintage college backpack Company: Kenox
Durability – Above average durablity. Fabric threads stay together well with consistent use.
Price – Solid price for a top 10 vintage backpack. On Amazon got 5 Stars.
Functionality – Lightweight. Vinyl straps can get a little flimsy, and magnetic straps break easily.
- More pockets than you can see in the pictures
- Great protection for laptop, and good amount of space for a small backpack
- Straps can get loose easily, because of the quality of buckles
- Snaps can fall apart with little use
Overall, a good stylish backpack with excellent reviews. Could be a little better quality, but if you carry lightweight items, you should be fine.
The laptop padding inside the bag is one of the biggest pluses about this bag.
Review of: Vintage Colombian Leather Laptop Backpack Company: SOLO
Durability – You won’t find a more durable backpack for the price. Extremely durable.
Price – Price has dropped 20% since it was launched, making it a steal.
Functionality – Very comfortable, and easy to use. Everything works perfectly.
- Real durable leather and reliable zippers
- Very stylish
- Zippers, threading, pockets will hold up for years
- Picture on Amazon shows leather straps, not made with them anymore
- More expensive than your average vintage backpack
The most sturdy backpack on the list. You will be able to use this backpack for years down the line if you treat it well.
I highly recommend because you are getting style, comfort, and functionality
Review of: Specially High Density Thick Canvas Backpack Company: Gootium
Durability – Made out of canvas and should last you for a very long time.
Price – About what you would expect for this quality of vintage rucksack.
Functionality – Comfortable material and straps. Sometimes the snaps don’t hold up the best.
- Rugged vintage look and feel
- Tons of space
- A lot of styles to pick from
- Snaps are not the strongest, would be better with drawstring
- Some colors are different from the pictures shown
If you are looking for a vintage backpack you can be rough with, this is it. Made very well.
This rucksack opens up very well, and you can use it for long-term travel, unlike many vintage backpacks.
Review of: Stylish Canvas Backpack Company: Ibagbar
Durability – %100 cotton canvas, which makes it very thick and durable.
Price – Decent price for the quality.
Functionality – Excellent functionality. No movement in the straps after you set them.
- Large inside
- Zippers tend to stop working after a while
- Just an average looking vintage backpack
I like this backpack, but it’s not one of my favorites. Looks like the average vintage backpack.
Also, not the type of backpack that will last you many years. But will be solid for sometime if you take care of it.
Backpack Buying Guide – Why Should You Purchase A Vintage Style Backpack?
- Perfect Size – As long as you follow the section in this backpack buying guide based on picking the right size of backpack based on your torso length, a vintage backpack is the perfect size for everyday use. Normally, you will be able to fit your laptop within the backpack with room to spare. So if you need a backpack for working or for going to school, then a vintage backpack is where it is at.
- Weight – Overall, even when carrying a laptop within your vintage backpack, it’s still not going to be that heavy. I think of when I traveled throughout Europe for 3 months with an Osprey backpack, and how much of a hassle it was. Of course, I was traveling for 3 months straight, so I had everything. But with a vintage backpack, you are not going to have to worry about back issues, or uncomfortable weight distribution. If for some reason you do have uneven weight distribution, it’s not going to be heavy enough to make you really uncomfortable.
- Style – Simply put, vintage backpacks are the most stylish backpacks on the market! This is because style is a major reason that customers even purchase vintage backpacks. These are the types of backpacks that are used for going to formal jobs and school, where you want to look your best. Adding in a good looking backpack, only adds to your pzazz.
- Cheap – You can get a vintage backpack for a very low price, for the quality of product you receive. Of course, if you do want to buy a more expensive vintage backpack, there are other options as well. I will go over price more specifically in one of the later sections.
- Functional – Vintage Style Backpacks are the only backpacks that are functional for every day use. Never try taking a travel backpack to work or school. It is to large. With a vintage backpack you can get on a bus easily without worrying about whacking people in the face, easily ride your bike, and still have enough room for everything you need to bring.
- Pockets – Generally, most vintage backpacks have a ton of pockets on the inside and outside. Obviously, it depends on which backpack you choose. But this is convenient, so you can bring everything you need. I would make sure when you are researching the specific backpack, to look at exactly how the pockets are made. This goes back to specific brands. One of the biggest complaints about some of the lesser known brands were that the pockets were to flimsy, and didn’t hold on to anything.
- The only real disadvantage of a vintage backpack is that they should only be used for simple tasks such as work, school, or walking around. They tend to be less durable than travel backpacks for good reason. They are also WAY less money. You can try to take them on a trip short term, but they will get worn out a lot easier if you take them on a 3 month long trip to Europe. Or anything similar to that. You might be thinking, that is the only disadvantage? Yes, because vintage backpacks do everything that they are intended to do. If you want a travel backpack, then get a travel backpack!
Price – What Should You Be Paying For A Quality Vintage Backpack?
Real funny, huh? Well, I don’t think getting a good price on a vintage backpack is our top need on Maslow’s Hierarchy. However, getting a quality product for a good price is always nice. Here are some factors you need to take into consideration.
- Brand – If you are considering buying a North Face backpack vs a Brand such as Forever Lover, which one do you think is going to cost more? Right. North Face. Expect to pay more for well known brands.
- Material – Is it made out of a cotton canvas or pure leather? Huge difference. Take the material into consideration. How about the zippers? What are they made out of? Unfortunately, most brands are not going to let you know what there zippers are made out of. Unless you actually contact them directly. But it might be worth it. You wouldn’t believe the amount of reviews I saw on Amazon complaining about the zipper breaking.
I did an experiment to figure out what the average price of a vintage backpack is on Amazon. I typed in “vintage backpacks” into the search and got 7 pages of results. The results gave me 286 backpacks with a total price of $10,457.59. The average cost of a vintage backpack on Amazon is $36.57(based off of July 2016. I will try and update every month). I used the low end of every product though (Amazon products sometimes don’t have one price but rather a range).
But this gives us a good starting point for what you should be paying for a vintage backpack. The reason I decided to use Amazon to determine the prices, is because they are the largest online marketplace in the world. And they generally have pretty fair prices. You might be able to find some better deals on some backpacks, but for most of them, Amazon has the best price.
Based off this average price, I will separate prices into three different categories.
Low price vintage backpacks – Anywhere from $9 to $25 is the price for the low end vintage backpacks on Amazon. However, you might be able to find some steals in this price range, based on some of the backpacks being a couple years old. I encourage you to research through their vintage backpacks section, and you’ll definitely find high quality backpacks with good ratings, such as this One.
What you should expect to pay for a good quality vintage backpack – Anywhere from $25- $50 is a reasonable price for a stylish vintage backpack that will last you a long time. And to be honest, right around the average of all the vintage rucksacks at $37, is going to be where most in this range fall. There are a few a little over $40, but for the most part they are between $25-$40. A good example of a vintage canvas backpack that is going to be good quality with very high reviews is the BLUBOON(TM) Vintage Men Casual Canvas Leather Backpack Rucksack Bookbag Satchel Hiking Bag.
Higher priced vintage backpacks
Anywhere from $50 and up you can consider a higher priced vintage backpack. Which is definitely in the realm of possibility depending on your budget. If you want to spend some money on an EXTREMELY nice backpack, check out this vintage backpack.
A more realistic higher priced vintage backpack that the average person can afford is going to be something closer to the Nixon Men’s Landlock Backpack II.
Hopefully, this gives you a good conclusion on how much you really need to spend on a vintage backpack. It’s nice that stylish vintage backpacks are not very expensive at all, and they still will fit your everyday needs.
What are the leading backpack brands for vintage backpacks?
Stick to these leading backpack brands if you want guaranteed quality.
- The North Face – You can consider North Face to not be your traditional vintage backpack, but they still do have many backpacks that fall into this category. It’s such a high quality brand, that I had to add it to the list. The brand was established way back in 1965, which puts it up there with some of the other backpack brands established around that time. They have stores all over the U.S and this just adds to the trust in the brand. Usually, they are going to fit into the higher price category, but you can find cheap ones that are very high quality like The North Face Unisex Recon Backpack.
- EcoCity- It’s kind of strange that EcoCity doesn’t have a website, but they do have backpacks! Some of the best vintage style backpacks are made by this company. What I like about them is they are usually a good price and made really well. You can find these backpacks made out of nylon, cotton canvas, polyester, and other materials that I will get into later in the guide. But I highly recommend their products. Check out the EcoCity Unisex Classic , which currently has 961 reviews! And it still got 4 out of 5 stars!
- BluBoon – Another brand that makes high quality backpacks within a good price range. You will notice that on Amazon, most of their products have a high number of reviews, and a high rating. What separates them from the competition is not only the quality, but they have a lot of variety. Take a look at any of their products, and you will notice that for the most part they have at least 5 different colors to pick from. Above, I already have a Bluboon backpack on this guide, but here is another one that I highly recommend.
- Herschel – Founded in 2009 by two brothers, Herschel makes some of the most quality vintage backpacks on the market. It’s pretty remarkable, if you search “Herschel backpacks” on Amazon the first page are nothing but 4 stars and higher. I personally love the different designs they have. I’ll post a few examples below. But they hit the top criteria in every category for a vintage backpack.
- Kenox – The pull for buying a Kenox vintage backpack is the low price and solid quality. Most of their products go between $20-$35 and and have the style of a much more expensive backpack. And they have some creative ideas incorporated into their backpacks such as this one.
Types of Material
One of the most important aspects to take into consideration is what type of fabric is the backpack made out of. There are 4 main types of fabric that backpacks are made out.
- Cotton Canvas – This type of fabric is going to be heavy weight, rough weave cotton. It really hasn’t been changed in over 100 years. And it is usually not waterproof. Typically, this type of backpack will be the least expensive compared to any other types of fabrics. However, from looking at many products, I would say that usually you’ll have a mix of fabrics when cotton canvas is involved. Such as 90% and 10% something else. There is actually a European company that uses many different materials, but also has specialized cotton canvas backpacks. Check out this Haglofs Lions Gold Backpack.
- Pack Cloth Nylon – This material is going to be nylon threads that are in equal diameter running horizontal and vertical. Usually, this material is going to be very shiny and slick. The advantages are it is urethane water resistant, abrasion resistant, and puncture resistant. However, it is usually heavier than other nylons. It will definitely be more expensive than the cotton canvas.
- Cordura Nylon – This type of material was originally designed by DuPont. It has a rough fuzzy texture on the outside, and also rough on the inside. It is by far the most popular material used for any type of backpack today. The main advantages are, it is lightweight and abrasion resistant. It is not quite as waterproof as the pack cloth nylon. A good example is this Durable Small Lightweight Backpack.
- Rip Stop Nylon – This type of material you can tell by the grid like pattern of heavy threads or warp (vert) and fill (Hor) every 1/4 inch. Say you are going on a hiking path, and your backpack gets stuck on a tree and rips. The idea is that it will only rip for that thread, and then stop. So the whole backpack can’t unravel. The downside to this type of material is it isn’t very waterproof. And you wont find to many vintage backpacks with this type of material.
- Dynema – An extra material that isn’t usually equated with backpacks, is Dynema. This material is usually used in fishing nets, ropes, cables, and bulletproof vests. But yes, you can get a backpack made out of it too!
Knowing what type of material the backpack you want is made out of is extremely important before you make the purchase. Depending on what you are going to be doing on a day to day basis, you can pick the material that will hold up the best. If you are going to be outside a lot, then obviously I would go with a cordura nylon type of backpack. Like I said though, most of the backpacks are going to be a mixture of materials. So use this information to make a smarter decision.
Size – Are You Buying The Correct Size of Backpack
One of the biggest complaints out of all the comments was the size of the backpack! You would think that people would take a little bit more time to really evaluate the size instead of ordering blindly. However, even if you do look at the size, and determine it is right for you, how do you really know? Here is the correct way to figure out if a backpack will fit you well.
- Figure out your torso length – Start at your 7th vertebrae, which you can easily find by bending at your neck and it will stick out. Take a soft tape measure and go all the way down to your iliac crests, which is the top of your hip bones on each side.
- Determine which size of backpack will fit you best – Extra small fits up to 15 1/2 inches. Small fits between 16-17 1/2 inches. Medium fits between 18-19 1/2 inches. Large fits 20′ and up.
Generally, this scale will fit any type of backpack. So next time you are getting ready to order a backpack, check beforehand. Because it could save you when you receive your vintage backpack in the mail. Here is a more in depth guide to finding your torso length, along with a video.
What type of padding do you want in a backpack
Another looked over detail before buying a vintage backpack, is the amount of padding it is going to give you. Also, what kind of padding. Unfortunately, sites like Amazon usually don’t give you this information in the description. So you might have to dig a little deeper. But it is still good to know. If you really want to find out, you can always contact the company directly, to get the inside scoop. For the description of the types of padding, check this gear guide.
Backpack Buying Guide Resources
Where are the best places to get a vintage backpack?
Obviously, since I have a ton of links to Amazon, it is a great place to look.
But how about some other websites that you can find a variety of products, and good prices.
- Nordstrom Rack – I recommend Nordstrom Rack because SOMETIMES they have better deals than Amazon. This is because a lot of those items are the ones that go unsold in the stores. So you probably will not find as much variety, but can find some great deals.
- Urban Outfitters – I love this site, because of the clean look and the ease of use. And they have that “vintage style”. Definitely check out this site, if you want to see some stylish new backpacks.
- UltraOlive – A cool little site that I came across while researching vintage backpacks. I love the style of these bags. I have never personally tried one out, but just from looks alone, I would buy one.
- Jansport – You can never go wrong with Jansport, as they were the beginning of backpacks in general. If you go directly to their site, they have a lot of new backpacks, that you can’t always find on Amazon.
- FarFetch – These are top of the line designer vintage backpacks based out of the UK. I know expensive isn’t always better, but give it a look and decide for yourself.
- SerBags – Another great place where you can find laptop vintage backpacks and leather vintage backpacks.
- Ebags – This might be the largest place online to find vintage backpacks besides Amazon!
Other Websites Providing Information on Vintage Backpacks
- BackpacksReviewed – Another great resource for a wide variety of backpack reviews, including vintage backpack reviews.
- Refinery29 – Cool website dedicated to fashion. But they have a killer backpack guide that includes some information on vintage backpacks!
- Thorncrestoutfitters – Where I learned a lot of the information I know on backpacks. Mainly geared towards travel and hunting backpacks, but that is where you get the most in depth information!
- GearControl – I am digging the style of this website. Beautiful layout, and the link is to the “top 23 backpacks for every style and budget”.
- Complex – Website dedicated to style, and with that they have the “top 10 backpacks out right now”.
- HisPosition – A good website dedicated to men’s style, but they have the “top 10 coolest backpacks for men”.
Building Your Own Vintage Backpack
Now normally, you would make your own backpack to go hiking or traveling. But instead, I challenge you to create your own backpack from scratch! Who knows, maybe I will do it down the line! Anyways, if you are interested, I’ll give you some links to some good information.
- Backpacker.com – Great article that gives you information on how you are going to make your own backpack, and what skills you will need.
- MountainUltraLight – Another in depth- article on the step by step process of creating your own backpack. Take a look!
Use the resources presented in this vintage backpack buying guide to look at the vintage backpack you are going to purchase, and technically break it down. If you have any questions about anything I have presented in this guide, feel free to reach out to me here. Thank you for reading, and check out my blog to read more articles and reviews geared towards vintage backpacks!