16 Backpack Style Purses That Are Timelessly Chic

Updated March 29, 2021
woman wearing backpack style purse

A backpack style purse is worn over the shoulders like a backpack, yet features the styling of a purse. Typically, less bulky than a backpack, many stylish options are available to choose from when shopping for this versatile accessory.

Great Backpack Style Purse Options

Sometimes referred to as mini-backpacks, backpack style purses are available in a wide range of styles and colors. Bianca Rossi of eBags.com explains, "Handbag backpacks are great for every type of persona. The versatility of the backpack, combined with the chic styling of a handbag, makes the backpack handbag a truly functional fashion accessory." Whether you like fabric or leather or prefer a slick or quilted look, there are plenty of great options available.

Target Purses Backpack Style

Target is a great place to shop for budget-friendly backpack style purses. You can find several mini backpack designs for a chic addition to your wardrobe.

  • If you're looking for a simple, inexpensive backpack purse, A New Day™ offers a faux leather, mini convertible, top zip closure backpack. The adjustable strap allows you to transform a backpack into a shoulder bag, crossbody bag, or carry by the double top handles. The backpack sells for around $30 and is available in four colors. Reviewers comment that the bag is adorable. They like that the strap is easy to adjust. A couple aren't pleased that strap isn't detachable.
Mini Convertible Zip Closure Backpack - A New Day
Mini Convertible Zip Closure Backpack - A New Day
  • Universal Thread™ offers a backpack handbag that is also a good option if you're looking for an inexpensive mini backpack. Retailing for around $28, this faux leather bag provides a good amount of storage and has adjustable straps. Reviewers say this bag is durable and a convenient size.


If you are looking for an impressive selection of affordable and stylish handbags, eBags is a great choice. Most backpacks offer excellent storage and travel options.

  • The Samsonite Women's Executive Leather Flap Backpack is a chic design available in black, teal blue, and port. The backpack features a SmartSleeve™ making it an easy transition from a work backpack to a weekender that fits over a luggage handle. Reviewers love that this bag is smooth, roomy, and stylish, and they mention they are surprised how lightweight it is even when fully packed with a computer, accessories, and other items. Expect to pay around $270 for this bag.
  • Another Samsonite choice is the Encompass Women's Convertible Tote Backpack. This is a 5-in-1 convertible backpack that can also be worn as a crossbody bag, shoulder bag, tote, or carry. The backpack is water resistant, features a RFID Data Vault pocket, fits a 14" laptop, tablet, and has a luggage sleeve/loop. the cost is around $250 and is available in navy blue.

Dooney & Bourke

Dooney & Bourke is known for designer status and outstanding quality handbags. You have many backpack design choices.

  • The Gretta top two-way zip pod backpack from Dooney & Bourke features a single top handle and trim from Vacchetta leather, including shoulder straps, allowing you to use it either as a traditional purse or backpack. The Dooney & Bourke petite signature canvas print and leather combination make for a durable bag that has a simple style. The backpack is available in brown tmoro or navy. Reviewers say this bag is spacious enough for everyday use, and they like the style.
  • The mid-sized Monogram Backpack is made of the signature coated canvas featuring the logo in oversized print. The canvas print is available in seven colors. The backpack features a single top carry leather handle and sells for around $228. Most reviewers are pleased with their purchase and love the monogram pattern. A few didn't realize the backpack was smaller than normal. It's always a good idea to review the dimensions prior to purchasing so you understand the actual size of the backpack prior to buying.

Dooney & Bourke Monogram Backpack
Dooney & Bourke Monogram Backpack
  • Dooney & Bourke's all-new European Pebble Grain Backpack is another stylish designer option. This backpack has a single top leather handle for easy carrying. The backpack is available in 12 colors and retails for around $248. An exterior front zip pocket is featured just below the prominent Dooney & Bourke leather logo. Several reviewers like the style and use it as a purse. Reviewers love the pebble grain and design of the backpack.
  • The Florentine Leather Zip Pod Backpack presents a structured silhouette. The backpack is designed with top handle carry option. The two-way top zipper allows you easy access to the contents. The backpack has many pockets for you to store everything you need to take with you. You can choose from six colors. The backpack costs around $368. Reviewers love the size of the backpack as well as the colors and the Florentine leather.

Dooney & Bourke Florentine Zip Pod Backpack
Dooney & Bourke Florentine Zip Pod Backpack

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley bags are distinctive and durable. The signature fabric patterns and quilted style are readily recognized.

  • The Commuter Backpack in Performance Twill is available in four colors and sells for around $150. The quilted polyester is water-repellent. You have plenty of interior and exterior storage options, including a hidden cell phone slip pocket behind the exterior zip pocket. You can store your laptop in one compartment and documents in another dedicated slip pocket.

Vera Bradley Commuter Backpack
Vera Bradley Commuter Backpack
  • The full grain leather two-way zipper top Carryall Backpack features one exterior zip pocket and three exterior slip pockets. The interior is lined with iconic Vera Bradley cotton print and features several storage options. The exterior zip pocket is highlighted with a quilted pattern. The backpack is available in four colors and retails around $195.
  • The dual top handle Reactive Cooler Backpack is a great way to take food and drinks with you. The backpack should appeal to any environmentally conscious shopper since it's made of recycle plastic water bottles. The interior features food safe EVA lining, so you can use your backpack as a convenient cooler backpack or tote. The backpack is available in rain forest canopy and paisley wave fish patterns. The exterior gives you a front zip pocket and two slip pockets on the sides. Inside, you'll find two mesh pockets and one hidden zipper pocket that's perfect for storing valuables. The backpack sells for around $85.

  • Campus Backpack in Signature Cotton features redesigned better padding for the back and strap comfort. According to the website, the design has been reconfigured to better fit a woman's shape. Inside, you'll find a dedicated padded laptop compartment and various pockets. The backpack is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association. You can choose from 11 patterns. The backpack sells for around $115.

Vera Bradley Campus Backpack
Vera Bradley Campus Backpack


Nordstrom is a great place to find luxurious designer handbags, including backpack purses. You can find a good price range and variety of design styles for backpacks.

  • The Tory Burch black Piper Flap Nylon Backpack is trimmed in black faux leather and features a drawstring open compartment with a quilted lining. The backpack flap is secured with a snap magnetic closure. The top leather handle offers you a carry purse-style option. There are two exterior pockets with strap and buckle magnetic closures and a back zip pocket. Each side of the backpack features a water bottle ready, slip pocket trimmed in leather. The price is around $278.
  • The top handle MCM Mini Stark Stud Coated Canvas Backpack features the MCM signature print in powder pink. This chic mini backpack can also be worn as a crossbody mini bag or as a carry mini purse. This adorable backpack purse is decorated with cone studs that are polished and an etched logo plate. There are lots of storage options, making this a must have mini-backpack for your collection. The mini backpack sells for around $750.
  • The 100% nylon Sweaty Betty Mini All Sport Backpack comes in citron green. The fold over top features a zip around two-way closure and adjustable straps to wear as a backpack. The backpack has a top carry handle and a flat bottom. There are several pockets inside. The backpack sells for around $85. Reviewers like the size of this sport backpack and can store everything they need without needing a bulky larger backpack.
Sweaty Betty Mini All Sport Backpack
Sweaty Betty Mini All Sport Backpack
  • The two-way zip closure Herschel Supply Co Mini Nova Backpack features dual top handles for easy use. There's an interior pocket and an exterior zip pocket for great storage choices. The backpack has a flat base that allows you to set the bag down without it toppling over. You can choose from eight polyester fabric colors/patterns. The backpack costs around $55. Reviewers like the size and amount of storage for a small bag. Reviewers like the cuteness of the backpack size and color/pattern options. There is a discussion on the zippers with some finding the zippers stiff, while others like the heavy zippers.
Herschel Supply Co Mini Nova Backpack
Herschel Supply Co Mini Nova Backpack

Choosing Your Backpack Style Purse

The basic style of a backpack or sling purse is to have a narrower top with a drawstring opening or flap, widening to a larger base. The actual dimensions, strap widths, and features vary depending on the manufacturer or designer. These casual handbags are made for quick, easy access and convenient carrying, freeing your hands for other tasks. Sling purses are made to be worn over just one or both shoulders. Many include a top handle for traditional carrying if desired. Look for a backpack purse that not only suits your style but also provides all the functions you're looking for.


Materials vary widely for backpack purses. The most common designs use canvas, leather, cotton, or denim. However, other materials such as nylon, suede, and satin are also available.

Important Features

Backpack purses have a variety of different features that allow them to adapt to different personalities and situations. "Buyers should look for secure zippers and a hidden pocket on the back side of the backpack to securely store keys, phone, etc.," advises Melissa Haynes of eBags.com. "Buyers should also look for the size to fit proportionately to their body size. I think it's also convenient to find a backpack handbag with a small top handle - this makes it easy to pick up quickly when it's sitting on the ground or table."

When shopping different designs, check for the following:

  • Strap design: Some sling purses have very narrow straps that may be uncomfortable if the bag is heavy, while others offer a zippered option where two small straps zip together to become one thicker strap. Padding, adjustability, and durability are other strap features to note.
  • Pocket arrangement: Many bags offer both interior and exterior pockets. All exterior pockets should be secured with buttons, clips, buckles, or zippers for security. A small interior pocket for ID cards, cash, or miscellaneous small items is a nice feature, and divided compartments help keep the purse organized.
  • Specialty compartments: Different bags may offer specialized compartments or hooks along the side, handle, or interior to accommodate cell phones, iPods, keys, or other equipment. This is a handy way to keep these items safe and easy to find.
  • Durability and maintenance: A stronger bag will last longer, and one that is either machine washable or can be easily wiped will stay looking its best longer than less durable models.

When to Wear and How to Wear a Backpack Purse

A backpack is convenience and can store more than most standard purses. This makes a backpack handbag and ideal choice for shopping, sightseeing, and travel. A backpack is a good choice for day trips, particularly if extra items such as a small guidebook or a camera are required. You can choose a stylish bag for activity dates or even semi-formal events.

Occasions Not Suitable for a Backpack

On the other hand, just as every purse does not work for every situation, backpack purses are not appropriate for very formal events such as weddings, nor are they suitable for professional use. Because they are worn out of sight, they may not be the best choice for crowded situations where pickpockets are a possibility. They are not typically large enough to serve as diaper bags or to carry multiple school books.

Backpack Style Purse for Convenience and Stylish Alternative

Backpack purses are a stylish alternative to bulky, awkward backpacks or too-small handheld bags. With a virtually unlimited range of styles and colors coupled with multiple useful amenities, these convenient bags are great for many situations.

16 Backpack Style Purses That Are Timelessly Chic