Best Backpacks for Nursing Students (August 2023)

So, you are starting nursing school soon and looking for best backpacks for nursing students? You may have heard some people recommending rolling backpacks. While others are recommending completely different.

Best Backpacks for Nursing Students

When I was starting the Resident Nurse program, the number of books already had me walking sideways. I was looking to trade my side tote for an actual dual sided backpack but had no idea where to start.

Recommendation 1 – Use regular backpacks

I would use a regular backpack for a week and see what your needs are. Rolling backpacks can be super convenient or super annoying depending on your own situation. My friend and I saw one the other day and we actually commented on how convenient it would be. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter, wear what you’re comfortable with. I have seen people using Trader Joe’s canvas bag in nursing school.

Read: Best backpack for nursing school

It also depends on if you like carrying all of your books. I personally found PDF better because I can search them for terms, but I also had books at home for reading purposes.

You’re going to want to carry as little as possible and keep it very simple because it’s just a pain in the ass to have too much stuff. Bring the note taking gizmos/apparat of your choice (I prefer an iPad and Apple Pencil because it’s harder to lose my notes that way) and a water bottle and a lunch pail if I’ll be in class all day. The weight of nursing school is enough, don’t over pack.

I know some people who keep two different bags, one for clinical and one for class. Just get something big with lots of different pockets. You don’t need to get a branded one and can get from Walmart for $25 and it’s perfect. If you do decide to go the two-bag route, just make sure your class and clinical bags are different colors.

The best backpack for nurses should have a professional, understated design with several compartments to keep medical supplies organized. It needs to be roomy, around 20-30 liters, to carry everything needed for a shift – like a laptop, stethoscope, medications, extra clothes, and other gear. Durability is key, so the backpack should be made of strong nylon or polyester fabric with reinforced stitching to withstand daily use.

— Best backpack for nurses

Recommendation 2 – Buy a North Face backpack

My personal favorite is North Face. They’re pricey, but they have really good quality backpacks, and I don’t know why it took me so long to get one. The padding on the back is excellent for when you have to carry a ton of stuff and it feels nice when the weight of the backpack is dispersed throughout your back, so you don’t feel like you’re being dragged down. As of right now I have the Jester version.

Do go onto their website to check out the other style of backpacks that they have! 🙂

I am a big fan of North Face backpacks! This one has gotten me through some huge textbooks with binders and a laptop, plus lots of snacks, water, etc. Good number of pockets, too!

The top load aspect is great for getting in wide books and also helps it sit up on the floor against your table/chair. I walk everywhere so also appreciate that it’s waterproof.

It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s done me well for school as well as traveling! And it carries a seriously heavy load. I think on some other websites there are additional colors as well 🙂

Obviously, you will need to take care of your backpack so it can last longer. Here’s a guide I have made to show you how to wash a North Face backpack.

Recommendation 3 – Buy a JanSport backpack

I have had the JanSport SuperBreak (T501, one of their cheapest) for about 5 years and I would say that I’d be happy using this bag indefinitely. Wouldn’t even recommend buying a more expensive JanSport as this one is already perfect.

Why I recommend it:

The size is literally perfect for any nursing students. It looks slim but is actually super deep and holds a huge amount of stuff. Will fit any laptop and the lack of partitions is a plus. It’s perfect for under seats, overhead lockers etc. The front pouch is also big and is separate to the main bag, so you can stuff it while not using up the main bag.

The material is polyester and it’s very hard wearing and waterproof. Mine looks brand new apart from 2-3 tiny surface scratches from something sharp/concrete. The zips don’t break and the cover for the zips is super deep and so you never get water leaking in (this sometimes means it gets caught in the zip which is the only downside, and mine has frayed in one place sightly, but it’s definitely a good feature). If you arrange your bag properly you won’t get things poking through into your back.

It looks stylish, untouristy and simple (after seeing some of the dorky, goofy bags people here seem to like. I feel justified in saying it’s an attractive design, even though haters will say it looks like high school). It’s basically a Kanken but better in every way and without the stupid hipster credentials. It’s the best value product from a company with the sole goal of making a simple, focused product for nursing students.

And the price which is affordable – it has a lifetime warranty, and they are practically giving it away! I find it baffling how much people overthink and overhype their backpack choices here – it’s like people are unaware of the idea of value per $. Yes, the more you pay the better bags will get, but paying hundreds of dollars more for a slightly improved experience isn’t intelligent buying to me, and I get the feeling people tie their personal worth to how fancy (overpriced) their stuff is. Also with travelling: I’ll take a $30 bag and spend that extra $200 visiting a new country any day of the week, with zero worry about losing or damaging it.

The best backpacks for nursing medical students are roomy, durable, and professionally-styled bags with compartments to organize medical supplies and quick-access pockets for commonly used items.

And like everything else, you will need to maintain your backpack. Here’s how you can wash a JanSport backpack.

Best rolling backpacks for nursing students

Recommendation 4 – Buy a SwissGear backpack

SwissGear makes some of the best backpacks in the world. “Tom Bihn is better!” you say, but you are wrong and also wealthy. “It’s for college kids” says someone else, but I say it’s timeless. It’s durable as hell and will fit everything. It will get your stuff from A to B. You can stuff it full, and it won’t care. It works. It stays on your back. The pain of the shoulder straps digging into your armpit is a mark of strength. It builds character and it costs like five bucks and a McDonalds coupon. It will never let you down.

I think SwissGear is one of those things that once you have one, you have them all. It is the perfect blend of mediocre yet it’s a classic, like vans sneakers.

SwissGear backpacks are so ubiquitous and long-lived that we take them for granted. They’re a classic style, inexpensive, have a great warranty and they get the job done.

If they ceased to exist tomorrow, there would be a giant hole in the industry. And they certainly belong to the category of “best backpack for nursing students”

But the image of SwissGear being the every day’s nursing student go to bag, in which everyone has one, and you can literally ask your friend to touch and feel the thing makes it enough of a strong “marketing strategy” that you don’t need to talk about them, you can just feel it cause it’s THAT ACCESSABLE is probably enough for someone to buy them.

Take good care of your SwissGear backpack and it will take good care of you. Here are tips on how to wash a SwissGear backpack.

I hope the above article has answered the following questions.

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