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Best Smart Backpacks for 2020

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Finding a good smart backpack can be tricky. This market segment is still relatively new and comprised mainly of products from little-known brands.

Lucky for you, we sorted through these products to pick out the best smart backpacks on the market for 2020. Read on to learn about our criteria, the products we’ve chosen, and more.

Smart Backpack Overview

What Is a Smart Backpack, Anyway?

Before we dive into individual products, let’s discuss what smart backpacks are in the first place — and why you should care.

Much like smartwatches are more advanced and feature-rich versions of conventional timepieces, smart backpacks go above and beyond their traditional counterparts. Common features of a smart back include:

  • Wireless charging for electronic devices
  • USB charging
  • Anti-theft measures
  • Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity
  • Missing item alerts
  • Solar-powered batteries
  • Customizable compartments

Why Should You Switch to a Smart Backpack in 2020?

You’ve probably used normal backpacks for years without complaint. So why do you need something fancier now?

A similar debate often pops up whenever a smart version of a classic item hits the market. That was certainly the case with smartwatches, as documented in a 2016 paper titled “Quit playing with your watch: Perceptions of smartwatch use.

Of course, the Apple Watch (which is just one of many smartwatches) now outsells the entire Swiss watch industry annually. People find it immensely useful for tracking everything from their Uber to their cardiovascular health.

The point?

It may be difficult to see the usefulness of smart technology before you try it. With time, however, you’ll find yourself wondering how you ever survived with the more basic versions of those products.

That was my experience (and, indeed, the experience of many) with smart backpacks. The anti-theft features they offer have really provided me peace of mind while traveling through crowded and unfamiliar territory. I’d have a very hard time reverting to a backpack that didn’t offer those features.

The key is to find a product that makes your life more convenient as opposed to adding an unnecessary level of complication. Luckily, we’ve been able to identify several such smart backpacks with our strict criteria.

What to Look for in a Quality Smart Backpack

Smart backpacks tend to cost more than traditional ones. As such, you want to be doubly sure you make a good purchasing decision. Here are the factors we considered when sorting through the current range of options.

Useful and Well-implemented Features

A good tech product isn’t necessarily defined by how many features it has on paper. The best smart backpacks offer a focused suite of well-implemented features you can actually use (USB charging and anti-theft measures being two good examples).

Specifically, these features need to be reliable and make your life easier. Anything else (such as fancy dancing exterior LEDs) is, at best, a bonus and, at worst, poor use of your money.

Functionality (Even Without the Tech)

A smart backpack should still be functional even if you ignore all the features that make it “smart.”

Think about it.

At some point, you’re bound to forget to charge your backpack before you leave the house. Whether it becomes a glorified paperweight or remains a useful product all depends on things like storage space, durability, and comfort. Y’know, the things you’d want in any backpack, smart or not.

Reliable Warranty

Things can go wrong with any product. That’s why good manufacturers offer warranties that ensure these issues get taken care of promptly and without hassle.

This is an especially important consideration when buying a smart backpack. Unlike with traditional backpacks, where you can replace a broken zipper or sew a loose seam yourself, electronic issues tend to be a bit more complicated. You should be confident in your ability to get in touch with the company and have this issue resolved.

Reputable Manufacturer

Related to that last note, extra points go to smart backpacks from reputable companies.

Because this niche is fairly new, there’s a bit more flexibility with this condition than some of the others. Still, there should be some track record to speak of in the form of good reviews from longtime customers.

Good Design

With any wearable product, aesthetics are important. A smart backpack doesn’t have to look like a prop from Ghostbusters to be useful.

Now, most smart laptop backpacks with charging capabilities are bulkier than normal. Those batteries have to fit somewhere, after all. However, as you’ll see, many companies have managed to work creatively around this issue, offering versatile products that fly under the radar.

Five Best Smart Backpacks for 2020

Now that we’ve given you a good overview of smart backpacks as a whole, let’s dive into our roundup of the top five options.

Matein Smart Laptop Backpack

Pros

Cost: This bag is priced very fairly, representing good value for those looking to test a smart backpack before committing to something pricier.
Stellar Ratings: More than 13,600 buyers have reviewed this bag on Amazon, where it has a 4.7-star rating. That makes it well worth considering, given that many smart backpacks are obscure products will no track record.
Great for Students and Travelers: This backpack easily fits a 15.6-inch laptop with plenty of room to spare for textbooks or a few articles of clothing. Other nice features for travelers include an anti-theft compartment and a sleeve for fitting the backpack over your wheeled luggage’s handle.
Focused Design: Matein didn’t cram a whole bunch of features into this backpack. Rather, they focused on doing a few things well.

Cons

Limited Features: The only real smart feature you get with this backpack is USB charging. While you shouldn’t expect a whole lot at this price point, those looking for something more should consider one of the other options in this roundup.
Could Use More Padding: The laptop compartment doesn’t offer as much protection as one would hope. If you drop your bag on a hard surface, you may hear the laptop making contact.
The 17-Inch Version Costs 2x as Much: If you need more space, Matein does offer a 17-inch version of this backpack. However, it costs twice as much. It still represents a good bargain compared to other options but that’s a big jump.

Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

Pros

Bold Yet Tasteful Design: The Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Backpack looks futuristic but not in an outlandish way. Its unique design would work well in both casual and semi-formal settings.
Good for Night Owls: The inclusion of reflective strips makes this backpack worth considering you frequently walk in high-traffic areas at night.
Reasonable Amount of Storage: Even though the backpack is one the smaller side, Oscaurt managed to include a good number of compartments. If you carry a lot of miscellaneous items, you should have no problem fitting them into this product.
Easy to Use: Oscaurt placed the charging point in a very convenient position. Many manufacturers place it higher up for some reason, which makes it more difficult to access while you’re wearing the bag.

Cons

Not Ideal for Extensive Travel: If you’re looking for a travel backpack that can hold more than a weekend’s worth of clothes, this product isn’t for you. While there are many compartments for holding smaller items, the main compartment isn’t big enough to hold more than a 15-inch laptop and one or two textbooks.
Inconsistent Waterproofness: Oscaurt describes this backpack as waterproof but that really only applies to the front portion. The top and sides will soak. This wouldn’t be a big issue if Oscaurt didn’t advertise waterproofness.

XD Design Bobby Tech Anti-Theft Backpack

Pros

Good “Premium” Smart Backpack: This isn’t just a smart backpack with a charger. XD Design went all out here, offering features like solar panels, wireless charging, and USB Type-C connectivity that make this a good option if you’re ready to buy a serious smart backpack.
Neat Freak-Approved: If you like keeping things very organized, you’ll appreciate this backpack’s internal dividers.
Great for Travel, Study, or Recreation: This XD Design backpack’s adjustable dividers allow you to easily reconfigure the main compartment depending on your activities.
Good for Your Conscience: If you’re concerned about sustainability (which is often an issue with smart backpacks), you’ll be pleased to note that XD Design manufactured this bag from recycled plastic bottles.

Cons

Not for Those with Back Problems: The solar cells make this bag a bit heavier than usual. It weighs in at roughly four pounds — twice as much as the Oscaurt.
Pricey: While you definitely get what you pay for, there’s no denying that this bag is pricey. As such, it may not appeal to budget shoppers or those who only use a backpack once in a while.
Not Super Discrete: This backpack doesn’t really fly under the radar. People will definitely notice the solar panels and ask questions, which you may not want.

Korin ClickPack Pro

Pros

Solid Mid-Range Option: If the XD Design Bobby Tech backpack is priced out of your budget but you still want something premium, the Korin ClickPack pro is a great choice.
Great for Business: The Korin ClickPack Pro looks like an ordinary business-casual backpack; there are no head-turning solar panels.
Convenient for Travelers: With this backpack, you get three small pouches for storing your electronics. Anyone who hates having to fish for their devices while clearing security at the airport will appreciate this feature. The TSA lock is another travel-friendly addition to this bag.
Truly Water-Resistant: While you shouldn’t go swimming with this backpack, wearing it in even a heavy downpour shouldn’t be an issue. This makes it a safe option for those living in wet climates, which can’t be said for many smart backpacks.

Cons

Not Super Feature-Rich: In order to keep this bag more moderately-priced, Korin left out features like solar panels and wireless charging. If those are important to you, the XD Design backpack is your best bet.
Unsuitable for Long Trips: While the Korin ClickPack Pro has some nice travel features, its capacity is too low if you plan on using it as your only luggage for more than a weekend-long trip.

G-raphy Laptop Backpack with USB Charging Port

Pros

Perfect for Rugged Use: The G-raphy Laptop Backpack is built from crush-proof polyester. As a result, this is one of the few smart backpacks worth considering if you need something capable of protecting your electronics through especially rough conditions.
Safe for Traveling Through Large Crowds: With no front-facing zippers at all, this bag is perfect for backpacking through crowded cities where pickpockets might be a concern. The zippers are hidden in a way that makes it highly improbable a thief would be able to access your items without you knowing.
Good Value: Considering its rugged design and modest technical features, the G-raphy Laptop Backpack is priced fairly.

Cons

Requires Additional Components: G-raphy does not include a power bank with this backpack. You’ll need to buy one separately if you plan on making use of the USB charging port.
Slightly Awkward to Use in Some Situations: This backpack opens 180 degrees. Photographers and travelers may find this useful but it can be an inconvenience in day-to-day use as opening the bag anywhere that lacks space (i.e. on the subway) can be tricky.
Somewhat Plain Design: While some of the previously-mentioned options make a statement, this product from G-raphy is fairly unassuming. People focused on style might prefer one of the other choices.

The Verdict

Now that you’ve seen our full roundup, you may be wondering what the best smart backpack is. That distinction would have to go to the Korin ClickPack Pro. Why is that? Well, it all goes back to the attributes we consider essential in a smart backpack. Let’s recap.

When it comes to functionality, the Korin ClickPack Pro delivers in spades. Even if you ignore the USB charging port, it’s a solid backpack for commuting or traveling, thanks to features like a built-in TSA lock and solid waterproofing.

In terms of well-implemented features, Korin did not stuff anything gimmicky or unnecessary into this backpack’s design. It fulfills a need, which is efficient storage and connectivity.

Korin offers a 12-month warranty period covering defects and industrial flaws, which is pretty standard with backpacks in this price range.

As far as reputation, Korin is a fairly new company but tens of thousands of positive reviews should instill some confidence in consumers.

Lastly, this backpack’s design definitely doesn’t display the bulkiness that is common with competing products. It’s so discrete you may forget how high-tech it is.

In many ways, that’s the point of buying a smart backpack. You want something that simplifies your life. Its features should be there when you need them and unobtrusive when you don’t.

All of our top picks demonstrate this quality but the Korin does it especially well.