College students and adults often walk or bike a lot to get around, not to mention having their own specific needs when it comes to organization. Space and ergonomics are usually key to making a decision.
The North Face Jester (*Est. $55) stands out for its 1,830-cubic-inch capacity, waist belt and ergonomic shoulder straps, and it has lots of dividers for organizing the smaller of its two storage compartments. The frame fits most adults well, from 6-foot-tall men to petite women, and some call it the most comfortable pack they've ever put on. It receives the highest rankings for construction and durability in a series of independent tests.
The North Face Recon (*Est. $80) has the same carrying capacity and an endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association for its ergonomic features, including hip belt and contoured shoulder straps. On the downside, reviewers say stuffing too much into the pack's outer pockets can impinge on the main compartment. Like the Jester, the Recon does very well in tests of durability.
The Ortlieb Velocity (*Est. $110) is purpose-built for bike commuting, but walkers like it too. Although it only measures 1,221 cubic inches, the Velocity's single-compartment construction and roll-top design make it versatile for carrying a variety of objects of different sizes. It's also waterproof and takes years to start showing wear. Dangling webbing from the straps is a turnoff for some, and others miss having external pockets.