Increasingly I am tempted by these; I use them a lot when I’m traveling, but they’re so good for everyday use as well, and they’re certainly easier on your back when you’ve got a lot to carry than a handbag or tote is. I like this leather one from Madewell because it is so blessedly minimal.
Here’s one that’s good for hiking or going to the gym. I appreciate the exterior pockets big enough to fit a water bottle.
A sweet (and under $50) canvas option.
This one comes in a few more neutral hues, but I like this poppy blue.
I’m sure I’d destroy this in short order, but it sure is nice.
A sophisticated option from Cuyana. You could totally get away with wearing it to an important work lunch, if that’s a thing people do anymore.
A chic quilted choice from MZ Wallace, queen of quilting.
This Fjallraven backpack comes in a zillion colors, but I like this safety orange. Here’s something similar that’s made for carrying your laptop.
I have long loved this splurgy square-ish number, and might have to go for it at some point.
I appreciate that this can be carried as a backpack or a tote.
I always use a backpack on my commute, and am obsessive about form AND function. This is my current favorite, which has so many well-thought-out design details.
You really can’t go wrong with a Knomo backpack — the only problem is choosing which one(s)!
Those are dangerous cause I’m on a buying moratorium, but I love the blue one!!
Ooh, I love a good polished backpack. That Kara one is so excellent. I have an old Aimee Kestenberg bag in bright cobalt blue that I just cannot part with, and my favorite go-to bag is a grey Bao Bao flatpack. It was pricey, but I use it most days so it’s worth every penny for me. It’s versatile, and brilliant for travel (goes completely flat to pack away easily). I love being able to go hands-free, and the backpack style allows me to stop putting pressure on one shoulder or one side of my neck, as crossbody bags and other styles tend to do.
I’m surprised you didn’t include this classic from Longchamp, the Le Pliage Backpack that comes in many colors! https://www.longchamp.com/us/en/products/backpack-L1699089001.html
I want to like a backpack….and I have carried one on occasion. The back and shoulder saving benefits are undeniable. But there’s just something about having my stuff behind me that makes me nervous, and I compulsively check it over and over, and then I end up carrying it slung over my shoulder anyway. I just feel safer with my stuff tucked under my arm. (for the record, I’ve never had anything stolen from a backpack) Am I really weird?
Mary Alice, if you’re weird then so am I, I feel exactly the same! Last time I flew to Europe, I wore my essentials (passport, wallet) in a fanny bag worn crossbody in the front, and everything else in my backpack, and that worked…except I was still weirdly nervous about my stuff in the back. Also, when you need something out of your backpack, it’s always awkward to me to take it off, set it somewhere (??), rummage, then put it back on…now I do think I’m weird.
not weird – I share the concern. Also: sweaty backs!
I go with the crossbody and then a BP only if the amount of stuff warrants…and then I secure the zippers so no one pick open
Exactly. We are going to Paris in May and thinking my backpack used in the Midwest may not work well for all these reasons…
You can always wear it on your front…okay, tbh, I wouldn’t, that’s a look only a man wearing socks with sandals can pull off 😀
Search online for “anti-theft” backpacks.
Not weird at all. My wallet isn’t somewhere I can’t see the opening of, ever.
(I’m of the one-shoulder backpack generation, but I can’t imagine that using two shoulders makes the backpack any more secure.)
i have been using the MZ Wallace backpack for about 5 years. i love it, its perfect for my everyday work life and is excellent for travel, in fact I first got to for a trip overseas because i knew that i would have to change planes with little time and wanted to be able to get thru the airport easily. i also carry a small cross body with my ID, phone, cards etc. I just make sure that i have room in my backpack to stash that bag for the 5 minutes i’m boarding the plane
Karen, how is your backpack holding up? I just bought an MZ Wallace tote bag and I’m wondering if it’s as durable as leather. ( Although I guess if you’ve had it 5 years it must be pretty tough) Also your backpack/crossbody technique sounds really sensible
I always always always use a backpack for airline travel and the one I’ve been most faithful to is a Herschel one you posted about ages ago, Kim. May have even been a pre-Covid posting. Wears like iron and still looks great.
I’m so glad you included the MZ Wallace backpack on your list. I’m a huge fan of many of their bags, but my most recent purchase is my absolute favorite. It’s a backpack that can be carried 4 different ways…(1) as a backpack, obviously, (2) as a tote, using the handles on top, (3) over the shoulder or as a crossbody, using the included strap, or (4) attached to your wheeled luggage, using the handy luggage sleeve. It has a number of interior and exterior pockets, and I can’t say enough about how awesome this bag is! Here’s the link: https://www.mzwallace.com/products/black-metro-utility-backpack
I love my backpack from Topo Designs. I feel it fits my short torso very well:
Coming from an adult learner perspective (finally finishing my degree, at nearly 40!, as an early ‘Great Resignation’ participant), the Fjallraven backpack is *not* the best option, per my experience. Seduced by the colors, I ordered a bright yellow bag last semester, only to find that the proportions for this particular bag are probably best for a child, and I’m only 5’1″! The straps are slender enough to dig into the skin, though padded strap attachments are sold separately. HOWEVER, it might work well as more of a tote/daily bag?
I’ve been using my trusty Ogio backpack, similar to this model: https://www.ogio.com/backpacks/axle-laptop-backpack/spr4704861.html. It has a ton of pockets, space for water bottle/coffee thermos, comfy straps, and a padded laptop pocket. True, it’s embroidered with the logo from my (corporate) past life, but it’s about indestructible thus far. 🙂
Anja – congrats on finishing your degree!
I have been thinking about replacing my starting-to-look-worn-out Lo & Sons laptop backpack with that Everlane one, but that Tokyo Totepack is also pretty appealing. As nice as a leather tote bag looks for the office, I’ve needed a backpack for work to avoid neck problems for years, and now there are so many good options. I like that the suitcase pass through straps are also becoming more standard (Lo & Sons was an early adopter of that, and one reason I got theirs). I also use a lightweight Patagonia one for travel when I don’t need to bring my laptop with me (https://www.patagonia.com/product/ultralight-black-hole-tote-pack-27-liters/48809.html?cgid=luggage-backpacks ) and I love it. For just a random Saturday outing I think the Baggu is super cute. They all serve different purposes so I don’t see how anyone can get by with just one 😉
During the pandemic I started biking to work and carried a backpack my kid had rejected. Im back on the subway and this fall I FINNALLY upgraded the backpack I was still carrying. I got a bag at REI made by a woman owned company in called Sherpani and it’s great. Easy to travel with, holds a lot and nice to look at.
Yes, timely post! My Jansport finally gave up the ghost (after 20 years!!) and I was feeling like a kid with it so I just bought the larger version of the tote pack in green!
Another major plus: Backpacks allow you to carry weight more evenly. I’ve spent some time in physical therapy for neck issues and the therapist suggested a backpack over a tote. It has been a game changer.
PSA: That Kara backpack…I have long loved their styles, how minimalist and downtown cool they are. I finally bought a small one pre-panny, and while I loved the style, it did not function well for me. It was hard getting my phone in and out of the back pocket and the zipper required 2 hands to open (one to hold the bag, one to zip/unzip, because the zipper is not a smooth pulling one), which sort of defeats the purpose of a hands-free bag. I sadly retired it because it wasn’t hands free enough. I’m now more of a fanny pack as cross body person — but still looking for a replacement to a discontinued STATE bags style (Lenox) that is big enough for my stuff. Just ordered a few brands that didn’t work. The search continues!
If you’re saying you’re looking for a large enough fanny pack, I’m obsessed with Baboon to the Moon fannies. They have two small and one large zipper compartments, and the large one has mesh dividers. They hold a ton, highly recommend! BttM also make a backpack, but I haven’t tried it.