Wednesday, February 23, 2011

carrying my crap: a post on backpacks

So! As is often the case shortly before I head off onto an internship (if two can be considered a pattern, :P), I have been trying to replace and repair my most important goods in preparation. New jeans, new tennis shoes, new t-shirts, mend my coat, back up my files, etc. This time around, as I believe I've mentioned before, I had an extra thing to find: That is, a new backpack. My old one is still plugging away, and I will doubtless continue to use it in certain situations, but I've had it for 2-3 years, and it unfortunately exudes a certain "collegiate sport hiking" vibe that I don't find entirely compatible with carrying a laptop to work every day (as well as a certain. . . odeur de Sharon, so to speak. ahem.) It's reasonably easy to find an attractive and professional-looking messenger bag, and I used a heavy leather one, borrowed from my uncle, while in Madrid. However, my Dell is freaking heavy, and undue pressure on either one of my collarbones by itself is unpleasant bordering on painful. I went on a quest for a work-friendly, simple backpack that didn't scream "MIDDLE SCHOOLER" or "HIKING IN THE ANDES," while still sturdy enough to carry my Dell, papers, etc. Pluses were given for general weather-proofness.

I quickly ran up against three issues: cost, practicability, and. . . stodginess. Most bags tend to fail in one of these areas. For instance, this bag, from the Whitney Museum store, strikes me as lovely but ridiculously un-useful. I'd rip that strap off in a week. Book bag my ass.

This bag from Tom Bihn was reasonably sturdy and reasonably priced, but one thing I hated about my old bag was the lacing on the outside. Seriously, WHAT IS IT FOR? You can't hang crap off it. It just looks dumb. Also, the stodginess factor is rather high.

This lovely slim bag is from Built NY. I was a little wary of getting a bag that could pretty much hold my laptop and nothing else -- probably not even all the laptop accoutrement. :P

This bag, from Haerfest, was leather, simple, gorgeous, and sadly, way out of my price range.

This bag from bbp bags was simple, relatively cheap, and distressingly boring.

The Jansport Heritage Series bags looked kind of fun. . . except that they're not available online or in a store anywhere near me. Damn you, Jansport, and your hipster stupid airs.

This bag and this bag, by Tumi were lovely but very expensive (for me anyway.)

Looked at some Patagonia bags; this was the best I found, but it still has a slight air of seventh-grader about it.

This Johnston bag is attractive, but something about "faux leather" screams "going to fall apart in a year" to me.

I'm not sure what especially I didn't like about the Chrome computer backpack, but something about it struck me as clunky. . . it seems to get wider at the top.

Oh laws. I really, really wanted the Nhil Heist bag from Crumpler, but it was $200 and shipped from Australia, so it just didn't make sense. Le sigh.

So what did I finally go with? None of these; I got a customizable Swig bag from Timbuk2. I liked the simplicity, and the fact that I could make the top flap waterproof. I would change a couple things -- I wish the side zipper went all the way to the top, for instance. (You may notice that the side zipper has already been pinned shut for now.) Overall, I think it will do well for me.

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