Absurdly picky backpack question! Difficulty points: small-framed female, only wants to look like she's going into the woods when she's actually going into the woods...
My back has decided that I need to not be carrying my giant messenger bag any more. Actually it's not giant, just giant for me - (5'7", fairly narrow build). To give you an idea, that bag is about 17x12 and 7 inches deep, and I look like I'm heading off for a weeklong trip. My 6'2" boyfriend carries the identical bag and looks totally normal. As I've started looking around for backpags, this seems to be universally the case - check out him
So constraint 1 of my hunt is size - I am looking for a small pack that doesn't dwarf me, and can still carry the following:
- A laptop, roughly 13 x 9. Ideally, the "backprint" of the bag should not be too much larger than this, with the laptop carried vertically. I don't care if it's officially a "laptop bag", and would definitely choose something smaller that I can put a laptop + sleeve inside over one that's several inches larger to accomodate a sleeve.
- Sometimes a cord for said laptop
- A paper notebook and a few folders - no more than 1-in thick total
- At least one novel, invariably
- Wallet, phone, ipod, keys
- Space for a water bottle or umbrella would be nice
(Side note, as far as I can tell, you can't search by bag dimensions on Zappos-am I wrong about this?)
Constraint 2 is not looking like a total goof! I'm a grad student, so I can wear whatever the hell I want, and whatever the hell I want mostly winds up being not at all businessy, but more dressy than a lot of the people around me. In the summer, I frequently wear casual dresses or a skirt & top, and in the winter it's more of the same, with more layers and a long wool coat. These fashion bloggers
are a pretty good indication of the type of thing I wear when I'm not having a jeans day.
My ideal bag would not have too many toggles, straps, and exterior pockets (just one external pocket with organizers inside is ideal) and not look like either a camping backpack or an all-black nylon sack. I'm agnostic to material, though leather isn't my first choice, and neutral and muted colors preferred - when I was looking for messenger bags I ended up liking the more classical mens' styles much better, but see constraint 1! I like the "satchel" style bags that have been popping up lately, but would like something sturdy that's not going to look trendy or dated in a year...
Am I missing wonderful sites out there for women's backpacks? Bonus points for liberal shipping/return policies, or physical stores in the Boston area