Best Backpacks and Bags for Artists in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 05, 2022 •  Guides

When people ask me what the best part of being an artist is, I immediately and without hesitation answer: “why, the cool bag I get to carry, of course!” 😊

A good bag or a backpack is absolutely essential gear for any artist, and getting the right one can make your creative and professional life so much easier. So let’s look at which artist bag and/or art backpack you should get!

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Top 4 Artist Backpacks and Bags Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite bags and backpacks for artists. There are more picks in the overview below, such as statement pick from Hex, digital artist, and value picks.

My Pick
Plein Air Pick
Canvas Pick
Budget Pick
Description:

Best art bag and artist backpack for artists and designers

Designed by artists for artists :: Multi-functional weatherproof travel art bag and artist backpack for art supplies and drawing tablets :: Adjustable modular organizer with intuitive compartments to organize your tools :: Tripod mountable with built-in surface for drawing and painting

Description:

Best artist backpack for plein air painting

Designed to carry a pochade box, an easel and large canvases or drawing boards, as well as all your other art supplies

Description:

Best artist backpack for canvas painting

Tall, wide and overall really big, with plenty of pockets and internal room for a tripod or folding easel, pochade box and art portfolio case or sketchpad up to 4K size

Description:

Best budget artist bag and backpack for art supplies

Heavy-duty art portfolio / Plein air bag (26″ x 19.5″) - made of durable canvas with multi-function storage pockets for stretched canvas, canvas panels, paint brushes, drawing pad, pens, pencils, sketching papers, and other art supplies

My Pick
Description:

Best art bag and artist backpack for artists and designers

Designed by artists for artists :: Multi-functional weatherproof travel art bag and artist backpack for art supplies and drawing tablets :: Adjustable modular organizer with intuitive compartments to organize your tools :: Tripod mountable with built-in surface for drawing and painting

Plein Air Pick
Description:

Best artist backpack for plein air painting

Designed to carry a pochade box, an easel and large canvases or drawing boards, as well as all your other art supplies

Canvas Pick
Description:

Best artist backpack for canvas painting

Tall, wide and overall really big, with plenty of pockets and internal room for a tripod or folding easel, pochade box and art portfolio case or sketchpad up to 4K size

Budget Pick
Description:

Best budget artist bag and backpack for art supplies

Heavy-duty art portfolio / Plein air bag (26″ x 19.5″) - made of durable canvas with multi-function storage pockets for stretched canvas, canvas panels, paint brushes, drawing pad, pens, pencils, sketching papers, and other art supplies

Table of Contents

Best Plein Air Bags and Backpacks in 2022

Plein Air Pick: Sienna Plein Air Backpack

Plein Air
Sienna Plein Air Ultimate Backpack

Designed to carry a pochade box, an easel and large canvases or drawing boards, as well as all your other art supplies

Get it on Amazon

This is a Plein Air backpack designed to carry a pochade box, an easel, large canvases or drawing boards, and all your other art supplies.

But it is quite compact and suitable for use as an everyday backpack as well.

The Sienna Plein Air Ultimate is also an exceptionally well-made backpack, strong, durable and secure. It was designed by artists and for artists, and everybody seems to find it extremely functional and useful, as well as easy to wear and easy to carry even when fully loaded.

The Sienna Plein Air Ultimate is more expensive than similar bags in my guide. Its compact size, stylish design, superior quality, and supreme utility make it well worth the money.

Canvas Pick: Walfront 4K Canvas Portfolio Backpack

Plein Air / Canvas
Walfront 4K Canvas Portfolio Plein Air Backpack

Tall, wide, and overall big, with plenty of pockets and internal room for a tripod or folding easel, pochade box, and art portfolio case or sketchpad up to 4K size

Get it on Amazon

Tall, wide, and overall big, with plenty of pockets and internal room for a tripod or folding easel, pochade box, and art portfolio case or sketchpad up to 4K size, the Walfront 4K canvas portfolio backpack looks more like a proper Plein Air pack than the Sienna above.

But the Walfront 4K does share with the Sienna a very high level of material quality and superb craftsmanship and should last for many years – even with heavy use.

If you want the best overall Plein Air backpack for artists on the market today, this very well may be the one. It is more practical and useable in this respect than even the more expensive Sienna, even if not as attractive.

But they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if there is something beautiful about a truly top-quality piece of equipment, then the Walfront 4K Canvas Portfolio Backpack is drop-dead gorgeous!

Value Pick: US Art Supply Art Portfolio Backpack

Plein Air / Canvas
US Art Supply Art Portfolio Backpack

26″ x 19″ Student Artist Portfolio for Drawing Board, Folding Easel, Palette, Sketch Paper, Brushes, Pencils

Get it on Amazon

The next Plein Air pack in my guide of the best artist backpacks on the market today represents a remarkable value. The US Art Supply art portfolio backpack is one of the most durable and well-made bags I’ve seen.

And it is perfectly designed both for utility – with all the compartments you need to carry an easel, art portfolio, canvases or drawing boards, paints, and art supplies – and for comfort – with a thickly padded backpack and shoulder straps and a cushy side handle.

Anyway, with a name like US Art Supply, it’s got to be good, and the US Art Supply Art Portfolio Artist Backpack is the best I’ve found for the price.

Budget Pick: Transon Plein Air Artists Backpack

Plein Air / Canvas
Transon Art Portfolio Case and Artist Backpack

Heavy-duty Art Portfolio / Plein Air Bag 26″ x 19.5″ - made of durable canvas with multi-function storage pockets for stretched canvas, canvas panels, paint brushes, drawing pad, pens, pencils, sketching papers, and other art supplies

Get it on Amazon

The lowest-priced Plein Air backpack on my list of best backpacks for artists, the Transon Plein Air artist backpack gives up very little to the more expensive packs in terms of size, storage, usefulness, material quality, or durability.

This roomy artist portfolio bag has plenty of space for an easel, canvases and boards, a pochade box, and whatever other art supplies or materials you might want or need to carry. Its rigid frame and water-resistant fabric will protect it all.

If you are on a tight budget, an art student, or just starting out on your artistic journey, the Transon Plein Air Artist Backpack Canvas Bag may well be the perfect choice

Best Artist Backpacks in 2022

My Pick: Etchr Hybrid Art Bag and Backpack

My Pick
Etchr Hybrid Art Bag and Artist Backpack

Best art bag and artist backpack for artists and designers

Designed by artists for artists :: Multi-functional weatherproof travel art bag and artist backpack for art supplies and drawing tablets :: Adjustable modular organizer with intuitive compartments to organize your tools :: Tripod mountable with built-in surface for drawing and painting

Get it on Amazon

Designed by artists, for artists, Etchr Art Bag is a hybrid between an art satchel (= bag) and an artist backpack.

Etchr art bag was brought to life with a successful Kickstarter project back in 2019 and since then has made life easier for thousands of artists.

Similar to the statement piece by Hex below, it’s not cheap. But it’s so worth it because it was created solely for artists.

The best feature is the modular organizer with intuitive compartments to organize your art tools and accessories.

Moreover, the built-in surface for drawing and painting makes it possible to sketch and paint wherever you are – hiking in the mountains, attending life drawing sessions or even when you are waiting for your next connection at the airport or a train station.

And if you draw on location for a longer time, it has a mount and grip for a tripod! How cool is that!?

Waterproof materials and the possibility to convert it from a bag/satchel to a backpack carrying mode make it so versatile that you are really buying a 2-in-1 artist bag and not just a bag.

Etchr Hybrid Art Bag and Backpack is top of my guide for the best backpack/bag for artists!

Statement Pick: Hex X Jim Lee Artist Backpack

Statement Pick
HEX X JIM LEE ARTIST BACKPACK

Designed with Jim Lee of DC Comics :: For working professional artists, serious fine artists, and hobbyists :: Holds up to 11″x17″ sketchbooks, tablets, and laptops :: Intuitive front organize for art supplies and digital tools :: Scratch and water resistant to keep looking new

Get it on Amazon

Hex makes some of the finest backpacks in the world today.

I know that’s a strong statement, and there are certainly some very specialized manufacturers and packs out there that are even more expensive, tougher, and better at what they are intended for.

But I have never seen such quality or intelligent design in any other pack, especially when coupled with such an undeniably cool vibe – hey, we’re artists here, aren’t we?

Designed for working professional artists, serious fine artists, and amateurs (including, of course, comic book artists!), the Hex X Jim Lee has all of the waterproof pockets you need, room for even large laptops, space for sketchbooks up to 11×17 and a lot, lot more.

It also has a removable 11×17 art portfolio case that can be used separately.

Besides, come on! Jim Lee? Batman? Not just that, but when you see the Hex X Jim Lee Artist Backpack, you’ll swear it’s the coolest pack in the world.

Hex’s motto is “Equip The Creators,” and the Jim Lee artist backpack is some of the finest gear made today and my easy choice for one of the best artist backpacks today.

Digital Artist Pick: SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Laptop Backpack

Digital Artist Pick
SwissGear 1900 Scansmart 17″ Laptop Backpack

Tough and durable pack with a huge laptop sleeve – for notebooks and drawing tablets up to 17 inches

Get it on Amazon

Here’s the first backpack in my guide for the best artist backpacks that wasn’t specifically designed with artists in mind – but when you use it you will swear it was.

The SwissGear 1900 Scansmart backpack is an incredibly tough and durable pack. It has a huge laptop sleeve – for notebooks and drawing tablets up to 17 inches – and even a separate sleeve for a smaller drawing tablet.

The front organizer pocket keeps your most used tools – pens, pencils, and brushes – easily accessible, and there are many other pockets and compartments for everything else.

There are lots of other neat little features and gadgets included, and the overall design is thoughtful and intelligent. Plus, this SwissGear backpack is remarkably comfortable, even when fully packed.

With plenty of room for big sketchbooks or artist portfolios and great organization, the tough and comfortable SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Laptop Backpack is an ideal backpack for artists.

Value Pick: Jansport Backpacks

Value Pick
JanSport Driver 8 Rolling Backpack

Wheeled backpack/bag hybrid with 15″ laptop sleeve

Different sizes and models available

Get it on Amazon

I’m giving some special love to Jansport here and include not only the Big Student Backpack but five of their remarkable backpacks.

Artists love them because they are strong, waterproof, and roomy, with the trademark front organizer pocket seemingly designed with artists’ supplies in mind. Because – let’s be honest here – they are a bit of a fashion statement for all of their plain looks.

After all, over the years, Jansport has remained one of the best, most loved backpack manufacturers in the world, with packs of timeless and highly functional design and superb craftsmanship. 

So I am starting with the classic – the Jansport Big Student Backpack.

Water-resistant, big enough for larger sketch pads and lots of supplies, and nicely set up to organize your stuff, this pack also has a laptop sleeve for an up to 15-inch laptop or tablet. Plus, it is available in 14 different colors, including a light blue with pineapples – what more could you possibly want? 🙂

The next Jansport in my guide for the best backpacks for artists can be a real spine-saver. We artists do tend to carry around a lot of stuff, and the Jansport Driver 8 Rolling Backpack not only has plenty of room for all of it – including a large sketchbook, 15-inch laptop, and tons more – but wheels and a retractable handle, so we don’t have to carry that weight.

But if you have a lot of stuff to carry, and even the two big Jansports may not be enough, the oversized Far Out series might be just right for you.

I certainly wouldn’t trust anything less well-made than a Jansport to carry that much gear. There are three sizes: the Jansport Far Out 40 Liter Oversized Backpack, the Jansport Far Out 55 Liter Oversized Backpack, and the Jansport Far Out 65 Liter Oversized Backpack. If you need more room, you might consider getting a Volkswagen Microbus.

Probably the most popular backpack in the world today, the Jansport is also one of the finest and offers a lifetime warranty, making these three models among great choices for any artist.

What Makes a Good Artist Bag and Art Backpack?

Artists often want to easily carry art supplies, sketch pads, computers, tablets and phones, and even easels and cameras, so we need a backpack with the following features:

Are there Different Kinds of Artist Bags and Backpacks?

Generally, I know of two basic types of artist backpacks:

Plein Air, a.k.a En Plein Air Backpacks and Bags

The Plein Air backpacks are on the huge side and are designed to easily carry a large artist portfolio, canvas, easel, and pretty much half of your studio.

Everything you need to paint in “the open air.” I saw one that was so big I swear it had a special compartment for the kitchen sink! 😅

The huge Plein Air backpacks are never stylish, and they can look a bit ridiculous on somebody with a smaller frame. They are absolutely essential if you are doing outdoor art or simply like to go and paint anywhere and anytime you feel like it.

Plein Air backpacks can also be necessary for art students who always bring an easel, pochade box, and large art portfolio between home and school.

Art Backpacks and Bags

The art backpacks and artist bags also need to be quite big and are designed to carry plenty of art supplies, a large sketchpad, a big laptop, and/or tablet, and, of course, a coffee flask.

These aren’t designed for, or usually big enough for, an easel, pochade box, or large canvases.

They are also oversized but in a much nicer looking and more manageable way.

They are good for almost any artist and still have plenty of room for large artist portfolios, sketch pads, or even some smaller or foldable easels, and they can easily handle a large laptop or tablet.

Does a Good Artist Bag and Backpack have to be Expensive?

The short answer: no, absolutely not! But, of course, they can be.

So many companies are making artist backpacks, which look suspiciously like normal, everyday packs but sometimes cost quite a bit more. And so many guides for the best artist backpacks feature just those packs, without considering any alternatives.

But for the same money, you can often find a much better-made backpack that suits an artist perfectly but is made for everybody – and sometimes they are substantially less money!

So the focus of my guide is different. I included the four best En Plein Air backpacks / bags designed especially for artists.

But for artist backpacks, I included only two designed for artists, with the others being brilliant artist packs in everything but name.

How Can I Choose the Best Artists Bag and Backpack for Me?

If you are going to emulate the French Impressionists and set up your easel and paints in the great outdoors whenever inspiration hits you, or if you, for whatever reason, need to carry around a working studio easily, you will need a huge backpack. In that case, you might want to concentrate on the Plein Air section of my guide.

But otherwise, you should probably just get a large backpack, and you should be able to bring all of your artistic accouterments wherever you go. Really? Accouterments? I’m still thinking about Monet and Cezanne…

I included more than eight different artist backpacks and bags I know to be of top quality materials and construction, all designed with artists and their needs in mind. You will find them above, divided into two sections:

Find one that fits your needs, your budget, and your own sense of style, and you can rest assured that it will be a great pack – functional and durable.

Each backpack in my guide for the best backpacks and bags for artists today will be a great value, asset, and companion on your artistic journey.

Who Makes the Best Artists Bags and Backpacks for Artists and Designers?

Hey, didn’t I answer this already? Hex makes the coolest artist backpack! And Etchr makes the most useful art bag!

But be that as it may, we all may not want to spend nearly three hundred bucks on a great artist backpack.

And, as I’ve also already mentioned, we also may not want to spend a premium for one of the many other backpacks out there which are “made for artists” and have an inexplicably high price, even though they (unlike the Hex) seem about the same as one “made for everybody else.”

Plein Air backpacks are another matter – in that case, it is, obviously, necessary to get one designed for artists – but whatever your needs are, I think you will find that all of the backpacks I’ve selected are just ideal for an artist. And I‘m sure that any backpack or bag you choose from my recommendations will serve you well for a long time.

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and many other resources.

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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