I resisted buying a backpack for many years. Toting one around just felt so…junior high. And I grew up during the 90s, where the ascendency of the messenger bag made backpacks seem retrograde and uncool. However, after one particularly long trip made my shoulders feel permanently “scrunched up,” I bit the bullet and started looking for a backpack to take on vacations.
After a lot of searching, I ended up with the Fjallraven Kanken 17″ Backpack from Moosejaw. I chose it for it’s ruggedly Scandi good-looks, and padded laptop compartment. I also like the square shape (it makes it easier to cram more stuff into the top), the side pocket for my water bottle and the snap tab at the top which is an extra safeguard against losing (or having things taken) from the main part of the backpack. The luggage-like handles at the top are convient for carrying the bag when you don’t want to haul things around on your back like a turtle. It’s small enough that you can’t get away with over packing, and it’s size is also great for using on a day-hike. The construction is rugged and the cloth is water repellent.
I’ve taken this bag on several trips now, and I (and my shoulders) are extremely happy with it. Plus, if you order one from Moosejaw, they’ll send you awesome stickers.