If you’re traveling for leisure you need a light bag to use while you’re out and about. Something to hold a water bottle, map or guidebook, snacks and a few odds and ends. A really useful one should be light and compact enough to pack in your luggage until you get to your destination. Get the best drawstring backpack for travel that you can and it will last for years and through several trips. These bags are also called sackpacks or cinch bags.
If you find the shoulder strings too uncomfortable, you could also consider a light daypack, some of which can be folded.
If you do decide to use a drawstring bag, make sure you don’t overload it or carry anything sharp or pointy in it, as that could tear into the seams. If you need to carry a few small items as well, then pick one with zippered pockets. A few bags also come with a water bottle pocket on the outside. Also, note that many of our picks for best drawstring backpacks are made of polyester or nylon – the most common materials used for lightweight bags and it is water resistant but not waterproof.
These bags also make great gifts for travelers or people who regularly visit a gym or play sports.
Best Drawstring Backpack for Travel
Drawstring Backpack with Pockets on the Outside
Nike Brasilia Training Gymsack
For a simple travel drawstring backpack with zipper pocket, the Nike Brasilia Training Gymsack is just right. It measures 20 x 14 x 2 inches and has thick cord dual cinch shoulder straps.
The main compartment features a horizontal divider to create separation in storage space, so large gym items like a football won’t fit in here, but you can pack your shoes in one section and a change of clothes in the other. The exterior front features a single large zippered pocket.
The bottom of this Nike drawstring backpack is reinforced for protection against bumps and scrapes. Although it is specifically designed to be a gym bag, it will work well as a travel daypack too. You can get this in a few different colors as well.
Drawstring Backpack with Water Bottle Holder
Adidas Alliance II Sackpack
The Adidas Alliance II Sackpack is a drawstring bag with water bottle holders in the form of exterior drop mesh pockets on each side. You can fit narrow and tall 32 oz bottles in them.
There is also a nicely sized front zippered pocket that’s felt lined to store your phone or sunglasses.
The thick draw cords are durable but not adjustable for height, so it will sit a bit low on the back for short people.
There are no pockets inside but this bestselling Adidas string bag has rave reviews for its robust construction and durability. Its water resistant and lightweight construction makes it a good bag for a day at the beach or a light hike. Its dimensions are 18″ by 14″ – not enough to fit a full sized basketball but perfect for carrying essentials needed for a sightseeing day out.
Be aware that the side pockets don’t expand outwards but instead go inwards, so if you want to maximize the main compartment space, don’t stuff the outside pockets too much.
Best Drawstring Bag with Inside Pocket
BeeGreen Drawstring Backpack
The BeeGreen Drawstring Backpack just might be the best cinch bag with pockets and a water bottle holder just on the basis of design.
Made of tough and durable high density oxford nylon, this bag will last even if you load it to the brim. It also means you can machine wash it with mild detergent. Its capacity is large as it measures 16″ x 20″.
Instead of the standard horizontal zippers found on most drawstring bags, this one features an external vertical zippered pocket on the front which measures a full length 20″ and 10″ in width. It’s a good way to segregate belongings like an iPad. There is also an elastic top mesh pocket on one side for a water bottle and small umbrella. There’s also small zippered internal pocket near the top for a wallet, cell phone and other small things. You can secure your keys to the lanyard that’s attached to the inside.
If you store your cell phone or iPod in the inner pocket, you can string your earphones through the headphone hole for listening on the go.
You may be forgiven if you think that this would be one of the more expensive drawstring bags, but it actually costs less than $10!
Johnny Urban Canvas Gymsack Sackpack
If you’re looking for a simple drawstring bag with inside pocket and stylish good looks, the Johnny Urban Canvas Sackpack fits the bill. For those times in European cities when a sporty bag isn’t appropriate to carry around, this unisex drawstring bag won’t scream “tourist” and works well as a purse or for heavier items without causing a rip in the seams.
This German designed two tone small drawstring backpack is made of durable and robust cotton canvas and vegan leather and its size is 16.5 x 11.8 inches.
Despite its simple exterior design with no pockets, there is one inner Velcro pocket to store keys, chapstick and sunglasses.
Athlio Legendary Drawstring Gym Bag
If you’re looking for a drawstring bag with pockets on the outside as well as inside, then the Athlio Legendary Drawstring Gym Bag should fit the bill.
Billed as a bag for all sports, the design works really well for travel too. The exterior front features a single large zippered pocket with a sturdy zipper pull. There are two elastic top mesh pockets on the sides that are big enough for a full sized water bottle or shoe each. There are two very useful pockets inside as well – one mesh zippered and one slip pocket.
The material used is dual sheath ripstop polyester and is water resistant and machine washable. While most sport brands use rivets for the construction, Athlio uses a more long lasting heat fused stitch method. The draw cords can be adjusted for your height and are thick and cotton padded for extra comfort.
It measures 19″ x 16″ with a capacity of 12.5L and is well suited for tall and broad shouldered people. Its strong construction makes it a good choice for people who like to carry a lot in their sackpacks.
Single String Drawstring Bag
Under Armour Undeniable 2.0 Sackpack
One of the biggest complaints that people have with drawstring backpacks is that most feature dual cinch cords that double as shoulder straps and that these straps tend to become imbalanced over time instead of staying at equal lengths on each shoulder and on both sides. Readjusting them each time is a nuisance but until you do, the bag will feel awkward to carry and at least one longer strap will continuously fall off the shoulder. That’s one of the reasons why the Under Armour Undeniable 2.0 Sackpack is so popular.
This Under Armour string bag features a thick single cord strap that cinches the top and forms the shoulder straps. There’s an adjustable sternum clip to wear the bag comfortably without letting the straps slide off. The length is not adjustable so the bag will hang a bit low on short people.
It is available in several colors and the logo is tastefully small on the top front. It is made of 84% Polyester and 16% Elastane.
This 25L pack measures 19″ x 15″ x 2″ and comes with a soft-lined U-shaped zipped pocket in the front for keys, change, a wallet or phone, and one larger one just behind that. There’s a D-ring just under the pockets that you can use to attach a carabiner clip to secure other items, like a pair of shoes, water bottle or bundled up wind jacket.
There is no inner pocket, which would be nice since this is a fairly large bag and small items would fall to the bottom and need to be rummaged for.
Drawstring Backpack with Thick Straps
Kaukko Drawstring Sports Backpack
One drawback of a drawstring pack is the nature of the shoulder straps. Since they’re just cinch cords they tend to cut into the shoulders if the bag is heavy, making them difficult to wear for a long period of time. They’re also not usually adjustable so they’re sometimes either too long for short people or too short for tall or broad shouldered people.
Not so with the Kaukko Drawstring Sports Backpacks. You have a choice of several colors but not all the bags are of the same dimensions or material or have the same features, so be careful when you select. The two things they all have in common are the wide and adjustable shoulder straps and the inner pockets. There are 2 small slip pockets and one zippered pocket inside the bag.
In the first model of the Kaukko gym yoga bag, the material used is high quality Oxford fabric and polyester lining, making the bag slightly water repellent. The cinch straps are not made of cords but are wide and soft and have buckles at the bottom for the adjustability so it’s a very comfortable drawstring backpack to wear. They also keep the top tightly shut so it’s not easy for anyone to stealthily put their hand in. Because they’re flat and wide, the straps tend to twist a bit as you cinch and uncinch the top, but this is a minor inconvenience. There’s a large zippered pocket on the exterior front with the zipper hidden under a flap. This bag measures 12.6″ x 5.9″ x 17.7″.
A slightly larger 15.7″ x 6.2″ x 17.7″ and a slightly smaller 17.3″ x 5.5″ x 11.8 polyester bag with polyester lining has all the same features except that there’s an additional external pocket on the back of the bag that opens via a vertical zipper. This bag is also water resistant.
A third model measuring 15.7″ x 6.2″ x 17.7″ offers even more organization on the outside. There’s a front exterior pocket with hidden zipper, two slip pockets on the sides for water bottles or a small umbrella, and a rear vertical zippered pocket. This bag is made of a waterproof polyester material.
A fourth model measuring 12.2″ x 5.5″ x 17.3″ and made of water resistant polyester, comes with an additional padded tablet sleeve inside. Also, instead of the horizontal front exterior pocket, there’s a vertical zippered one. Instead of the wide shoulder straps also serving as the cinch cord, there’s a separate cinch cord with push cinch lock to keep the top from opening by itself. The shoulder straps are separate and set at the back and there’s also a pair of grab handles at the top.
Vorspack Drawstring Backpack
The Vorspack Drawstring Bag is very similar to the Kaukko but to make it easy for you, there’s just one model.
This heavy duty drawstring backpack measures a roomy 18″ x 15″ x 5″ and is made of a high quality nylon. There are just two pockets on this bag and both are on the exterior – one front zippered pocket and one side zippered pocket that is almost hidden.
The thick shoulder straps also act as the cincher for the top opening but the adjustable buckles on each also serve to keep the dual straps even no matter how many times you open and close the bag.
Best Cheap Drawstring Backpacks
G4Free Drawstring Backpack
Even if you pay very little for it, the G4Free Drawstring Backpack is surprisingly strong and made of durable water resistant nylon. Users have loaded it up with water bottles, cameras, and more when they visit amusement parks or go hiking.
This foldable cinch bag comes with a large wet pocket inside, so you can separate damp belongings from the rest. The exterior features a handy zipped pocket on the front for your phone or anything else that you need quick access to. Depending on which bag you choose, there is either a large full-width open top mesh pocket behind that or two separate side mesh pockets. Both these style pockets are meant for water bottles, sun screen, etc., however, the one with the single large pocket will need to be fully packed or a water bottle would not be able to stay upright but fall to its side.
The draw cord closure straps are thick and can be held together by the sturdy sternum clip when you’re wearing the bag for long periods. Very broad shouldered or tall men may find the straps too short to be comfortable.
This bag measures 15.4 x 19.3 inches and if you only need to use it after you reach your destination, it folds up into a small zipped package so that you can toss it into your luggage.
HOLYLUCK Drawstring Backpack
The HOLYLUCK Drawstring Backpack is very simple in design and unobtrusive as well, although available in 15 colors.
It is durable and water resistant and features a single large zippered pocket on the exterior front. Although there is no separate water bottle pocket, this pocket can be used to store several small water bottles along with other things.
The drawstring closure shoulder straps are thick and sturdy. This bag measures 13.4″ by 18″.
How to Restring a Drawstring Backpack
If you have a favorite drawstring bag whose cord straps have frayed or come off while the actual bag is still in perfectly good condition, you might be able to restring the bag with some new cord. However, you should make sure that the old straps attached to the bottom of the bag via webbing loops or rivets and not heat sewn into the seams of the bag.
What you will need
- Two lengths of strong cord, preferably in nylon and each about a yard long. It’s best to measure the old cord and add a couple of extra inches to make sure that you don’t end up with the straps being too short.
- A safety pin. It should be small enough to fit into the bag’s cinch seam on top but large enough that it’s easy to handle. If you don’t have a safety pin, a paper clip will do but make sure that neither of the free pointy ends are sticking out, as they’ll snag in the fabric.
- Some Scotch tape.
- A pair of scissors.
- To get started, tape the two ends of both cords with the Scotch tape so that they look like the ends of shoelaces. This is to prevent them from unravelling over time.
- Poke the safety pin through one of the taped ends and close the pin.
- Insert the pin along with the end of one of the cords through one open end of the drawstring bag’s top seam and push it through with one hand while you scrunch the fabric of the seam towards the pin. When you can’t scrunch anymore, pull the pin end of the fabric tight while keeping the pin in place. Keep pushing the pin through like this until you can pull it out from the other end of the seam.
- Pull the cord through until about half is free. Now flip the bag around and thread the pin and cord through the end of the opposite seam until it comes out through the other end.
- Now you have both ends of one cord dangling free out of the same end of the bag. Remove the safety pin.
- Do the same with the other length of cord so that the ends of that one are dangling from the other end.
- Adjust the cords so that they’re all of equal length. Now you can pull the two pairs of ends and the top of the bag should cinch closed nicely.
- To finish restringing the bag, take one end of the cord on one side and loop it through the webbing loop or rivet at the bottom end of that side. Tie both ends together with a good knot.
- Do the same with the cord on the other side and that’s it. You now have a brand new cord string in your backpack!
All these bags are meant for light packing and for use as daypacks. They don’t have much in the way of interior organization. If you want to create compartments inside, consider Gobi Gear stuff sacks, some of which you can insert into these drawstring bags.
Featured image: “DSC_0208_Turnzakje.jpg” by miss!iris is licensed under CC BY 2.0