Spy Finds is a series that unveils the coolest, under-the-radar products that you haven’t heard of until now. Each product is curated by our editors who want to help you discover cool finds you didn’t know you needed.
Whether posing for photographs on the first day of kindergarten or draping our backs during senior year of college, the best backpacks have had our backs for as long as we can remember. Now that we’re heading to work, we’re ditching the classic briefcases our dads took to work and replacing them with more stylish work bags.
We’re simply going to say it — backpacks are the new briefcases.
But, in a world where backpacks all pretty much look the same, how do we know which pack makes the most sense for our modern-day life? Well, for us, that’s an easy question to answer. Lately, we’ve become obsessed with The Backpack, the signature product from Day Owl.
This year, our readers bought hundreds of these bags, and our product reviewers were deeply impressed as well. After putting it to the test, we named it the Best Backpack of 2021 in our recent product awards.
What exactly places the Day Owl Backpack on such a high level? We’ll share our full review of this backpack below, so keep reading for all the details.
The Backpack by Day Owl: SPY’s Review
As far as were concerned, style is one of the most important criteria when choosing a backpack. No one wants to wear an ugly, out-of-pocket backpack that brings their look down a notch or two. Luckily, the Day Owl Backpack is effortlessly stylish without being flashy. It’s got a super low-key minimalist aesthetic and comes in an array of muted color choices, all of which we love.
Fortunately, a good look isn’t the Day Owl Backpack’s only feature. The straps are very comfortable and the body of the pack distributes weight incredibly well.
In fact, the straps are so comfortable and the bag distributes weight so well that it makes it feel much lighter than it should be. So much so that our product reviewer kept thinking he’d forgotten to fill up the bag.
“For the first week that I wore it, I kept thinking I had left my laptop at home and had to double-check the laptop pocket to make sure it was actually in the backpack. That’s how light it feels on your shoulders.”
Functionality-wise, this backpack has pockets on pockets on pockets to ensure everything you might possibly need to bring along somewhere can be brought along. It includes a spill-resistant bottle pocket that can hold heights as tall as a bottle of wine and as wet as a dripping umbrella, a padded 16″ laptop pocket, a flat front pocket and a floating top pocket for everyday essentials. This is all in addition to a large “shove it all in” type of pocket, of course.
Seriously, there are tons and tons of pockets, and while some might find that excessive, we’ve found that these extra pockets come in handy when looking for items you want closer on hand than others. For example, a smaller exterior pocket that holds smaller items like your keys, wallet and charger might seem like a random addition, but it’s quite the time-saver. You don’t have to go digging into the large portion of your backpack to find smaller knickknacks you grab more frequently throughout your day.
To keep things sustainable, Day Owl uses a waxed canvas that’s made entirely from 100% recycled plastic bottles with a 100% recycled polyester lining and trim. Not only that, but Day Owl also uses algae-based foam, water-repellent neoprene and conflict-free metal YKK zippers. Day Owl also prides itself on being 100% circular, meaning if you find no more use in this backpack and plan on getting a new one, simply send it back to them so they can find a way to give the bag a new life.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, these bags are completely water and stain repellent. We also tested the Day Owl backpack in the rain, and it kept all of the contents 100% dry. Afterward, the canvas exterior dried off quickly.
Is There Anything We Didn’t Like?
The Day Owl Backpack absolutely holds up to our high standards. It checks all of our boxes. Good-looking, lightweight, comfortable and useful. There’s really no better route you can go.
We will say that the straps can be a bit tricky to adjust on the fly. You can also find cheaper backpacks for sale in 2021, but we don’t think the $150 price tag is at all unreasonable.
This backpack is perfect for commuting, as a backpack for college or for going to the office. If you want to use it as a weekender bag for travel, you might wish you had a bit of extra room, but you could definitely make the essentials fit without any problems. We were very happy with the extra space in the laptop sleeve, which has room for an extra-large laptop and a couple of notebooks.
Overall, these are extremely minor drawbacks compared to everything we loved about this backpack, which is frequently back-ordered due to its popularity.
The Verdict: We Have a New Favorite Backpack
This is the kind of backpack that would bully your middle school backpack if it had the chance. It’s bigger, it’s stronger, it’s better-looking and it can put up a hell of a fight. And for just $150, it’s very reasonably priced.
Here’s the bottom line: we have extremely high standards for backpacks, and our product testers say this is the new backpack to beat.
For what you’re paying, this backpack is well worth its price for the many years you’re going to have it for. It will make for one of the best Christmas gifts of the year by far and we’re sure it will put a smile on anyone’s face. We love it so much, we even named it an award winner in The 2021 Man, our end-of-the-year product awards.
If you’re ready to upgrade your backpack, then you can’t go wrong with The Backpack from Day Owl.