Having a reliable backpack is just as important as the gear we stow in them. And now that the school year is back in full swing for many, you may have realized that last year’s bag just isn’t cutting it anymore. If you haven’t been sure which bag is worthy of being your daily driver, Speck’s new Ruck backpack is absolutely worth a look. Head below for our hands-on review to see why.

For the past several years I’ve been rocking a messenger bag as my daily driver which made trying out one of Speck’s latest bags an interesting change of pace. But after putting the Ruck backpack to the test, there’s not much I’ll be missing about my formerly beloved bag of choice.

A far as backpacks go, the Ruck isn’t the average bag you’d find on Amazon and is all-in-all very well-made for its price point. The backpack is comprised of a lightweight and somewhat meshy canvas that offers durability without the need to employ a heavy or rough material.

The seams and stitching on the Ruck are high-quality as well, with Speck even opting to embroider its logo across the bag rather than just a stamped on insignia. Its grey or tan exterior isn’t the flashiest or most exciting color but the design is pretty stylish for a backpack, at least in my book.

Opening up the bag you’ll find two main compartments supplemented by a smaller third section. The material adorning the inside differs from the canvas exterior and is replaced by a slick polyester fabric. With the backpack being geared towards both students and commuters it sports a sleeve with room for up to a 15-inch laptop. I found the added velcro strap held my MacBook Pro in place much more securely than I’m used to, which was a plus.

Alongside the laptop sleeve there are plenty of extra compartments for pretty much any piece of gear in your every-day-carry. So if you worry about not having enough space to store all your belongings the Ruck should put that fear to rest with room to spare.

With all the gear the Ruck can pack within its many compartments it still offers plenty of comfort during extended wear. This is mainly thanks to padded shoulder straps and a large foam insert adorning the bottom of the bag.

The Ruck also stacks up to be a relevantly thin and low-profile bag compared to what I’m used to. While there’s room for it to expand as it is filled with gear, it was never obtrusively thick or too large. And thanks to its lightweight material the Ruck isn’t a heavy bag by any means, further adding to its comfort during use.

Sporting solid build quality and ample storage space Speck’s Ruck backpack comes in at under $50. Sure it isn’t the least expensive bag on the market but for what you’re getting, it certainly is worth the price. If that old bag of yours has been giving you trouble and it’s time for a fresh change of pace, the Ruck may be the perfect replacement; I know it was for me.

Buy The Ruck Backpack by Speck for $49.95

With two compartments, several pockets, and dedicated sleeves for a laptop and tablet, The Ruck gives you enough storage space for everything you need to carry.

The Ruck’s rear padded laptop sleeve holds up to a 15-inch laptop, and there’s extra space in the rear compartment for notebooks, books, and more.

A second zippered compartment features a soft-lined tablet sleeve to secure and protect an iPad or e-reader. It also has pockets to store pens, charging cables, and a clip to keep your keys from getting lost.

A zippered pocket on the bag’s front flap provides storage for headphones, sunglasses, your phone and more. Two water bottle pockets on the sides hold beverages and other smaller items.

Padding on the straps and back of The Ruck cushion your shoulders and back when you load up the backpack with all of your gear. The straps’ Air Mesh material allows air to flow through the straps for added comfort.

The durable polyester fabric holds up to everyday wear and tear. Plus, The Ruck is backed by a three-year warranty.

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Blair Altland's favorite gear