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Backpack vs. Bookbag : What's the Difference?

The conversation about a backpack vs bookbag is continuous as some people need to learn there are differences between these items. A backpack and a bookbag have many similarities more than differences, as they perform the same functions. There are differences between them.

These products carry books, bags, lunch and anything we need to carry with us for the day. They always come with straps and are perfect for school and work. This is why people often mistake one for the other and get their names mixed up.

The major difference between a backpack and a book bag is how they are carried. Backpacks are slung over our shoulders, and they rest on our backpacks. Bookbags have handles, so they are carried in front of us like a handbag.

This article covers all you need to know about the difference between a backpack and a book bag. At the end of this article, you will know which item is best for your needs – a book bag or a backpack.


Here are Some Differences Between Backpacks and Bookbags

What is a book bag? A bookbag is a bag that usually comes with straps or handles and is used for holding books and other things. It is specifically designed for students to carry notebooks, books and other items. Bookbags have one or two straps and are spacious enough to hold many items (without intentional organization). 

On the other hand, backpacks are bags designed to hold several items while being carried on the back. Hence, the name. Backpacks come in different sizes and designs, with two straps for carrying heavy items on the shoulders. 

You will find compartments and many pockets in a backpack for storing various things. The compartment (s) is designed for organization, unlike a bookbag with weak internal organization. 

Bookbags are used mainly by primary school students, while backpacks by school college students. The former can be carried on the back or like a handbag using straps. On the other hand, a backpack is carried on the back. The two terms are used synonymously but are different. 


Comparison Table





Backpacks come in different designs, sizes, shapes and colours. You can choose to purchase a very big backpack or a small one depending on your needs. 

Bookbags have a simple design and a classy style. They mostly come in the same size but with different colours and designs. 


As stated above, backpacks have compartments and pockets for intentional organization. You will be able to store items easily and find them conveniently. 

On the other hand, bookbags have no compartments or pockets but are spacious enough to fit many items in them. It is easy to find the books and other items stored but not as convenient as backpacks.


Backpacks come with two straps which you hang on your shoulders and let the bag rest on your back. This way, there is even weight distribution on both shoulders, so you can easily carry heavy items. 

Bookbags have limited space, so they are lightweight and easy to carry. Although, if you put in too many heavy items, it will be difficult to carry around. 


Backpacks come with zippers, so you are always guaranteed maximum protection when you keep your items in them. Also, your books will be protected, as most backpack materials are waterproof. 

Bookbags are made from fragile fabric, and they also have a small capacity, so maximum protection is not guaranteed. 

When to Use a Bookbag

  • Features
  1. Bookbags are designed for holding books, notebooks, documents and other study items. 
  2. Bookbags are made using fragile fabrics, so they have a small capacity and can only carry light objects. 
  3. Bookbags do not have too wide straps, so you can carry them like a handbag if you want to avoid carrying them on your back. 
  4. Bookbags are spacious enough to carry many items but do not have compartments or pockets for organization. 
  • Popular materials
  1. When choosing a Bookpack, you need to consider the material as it will determine how long your bookbags will last. Bookbags are made from different materials like nylon, cotton or canvas. Some bookbags are made from extremely durable materials, and you can find water-resistant products. 
  2. Some bookbags are made from weak fabrics and may not be able to carry numerous items. This is okay, as bookbags are simplified versions of backpacks designed to hold smaller items. The ones made from durable fabrics are much more expensive than the ones made from weak fabrics. 
  • Benefits of a Bookbag
  1. Bookbags are perfect for anyone who needs a spacious bag without the extra pockets and compartments. 
  2. Bookbags are lightweight due to the limited space inside, making them comfortable when worn. 
  3. You can use a bookbag to carry different school supplies like files and books. 
  4. Bookbags can be carried on the back or held like a convenient handbag. 
  • When to Use
  1. If you are a student that wants a minimalist design, you should get a bookbag. They are primarily designed to bring school supplies like books and files and could be more versatile. Since bookbags are simplified versions of backpacks, you should use them when you have a limited load. 
  2. Bookbags are best for people who do not want a complicated interior as they have a simple design. Lastly, you can use a bookbag on a tight budget as they are very affordable. 


When to Use a Backpack

  • Features
  1. Backpacks are similar to rucksacks, only that the latter has more compartments and pockets. 
  2. Backpacks have wide straps and they are worn on the back. 
  3. Backpacks have pockets and compartments for organization and storing many items. 
  4. Backpacks are designed for various things – you can put different study items and school supplies and keep your laptop in your backpack. 
  5. Backpacks come in different sizes, shapes and colors; each one is guaranteed to suit your needs. 
  • Popular materials
  1. Backpacks are made from a wide variety of materials, especially cotton, waxed canvas and nylon. These three materials are very durable and can withstand regular wear and tear. 
  2. Some backpacks are also made from leather – these leather bags tend to last a very long time as leather is a highly durable material. On the olpr. website, you will find numerous affordable vintage leather backpacks of high quality and perfect for both men and women. 
  3. Other materials used to make backpacks include denim, polyester, PVC, Cordura, and polypropylene. 
  • Benefits of a Backpack
  1. Backpacks are very versatile as they can be used to carry a number of things and not only school supplies. 
  2. Backpacks offer maximum protection for the items inside them. Your belongings will be close to your body always. 
  3. Backpacks offer secure storage for your very important items. 
  4. Backpacks are hands-free, so you can do things with your hands while the bag is on your bag. 
  5. A Backpack is incredibly convenient as you can access your items easily. Wear is also very comfortable as the weight is evenly distributed across your shoulders and back. 
  • When to Use
  1. Backpacks are the perfect option when you want to carry heavy loads or any equipment, as it makes them more convenient. Carrying heavy items with your hands for a long time can be extremely stressful, and this is where backpacks come in. They are used mainly by students or hikers. 
  2. Backpacks can help you to carry numerous items, from your clothes to your books and every other important item. So you can use a backpack when you want to take a lot of things simultaneously. They are the perfect bags for everyone. 


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Bookbag VS. Backpack – What is the Best Option?

Now you know that backpacks and bookbags are not the same but are similar in some ways. So, how do you know which one is perfect for you? It all depends on your needs – although, bookbags are simplified versions of backpacks, so you might want to get the latter option. 

If you want a bag with enough space and zero compartments and pockets, you should go for a bookbag. If you are going to be walking long distances and need a bag to store all your essentials and carry them conveniently, you should go for a backpack. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)


Yes, bookbag is a real word, and it refers to a bag with a strap mostly used by students for carrying books and other items. 


A Bookbag is a bag with a strap or handles that is spacious enough to carry books and other items. 


There are many different terms for a backpack, but the most popular one is a rucksack. 


The word backpack originated in the United States in the 1910s. 


Americans call school bags backpacks. They barely use the word rucksack. 


Backpacks and bookbags are similar in terms of purpose. But they have quite many differences explained above. If you are stuck between which to choose, make a list and find out which one out of the two satisfies them. 

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