that's not my bag, baby
September 19, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a daily commute kind of backpack that is stylish in a sort of rucksack-y military boho kind of way, that will also be functional?

I have read all the previous questions on backpacks, but still haven't found one that fits the bill. Hoping the hive mind will send me the link to the perfect one.

I am a woman. After giving myself a case of costochondritis, I have been instructed to give up the messenger bag I usually carry. On a typical day, it holds my 13" MacBook Pro (in neoprene sleeve), a weighty hardcover book, lunch in some sort of glass container, and a wallet the size of many small purses. Plus lotion, keys, phone, headphones, pad of paper, etc. Basically I lug a lot of stuff. The messenger bag strap was pressing right between my breasts, right on the sternum, and this is where the pain was radiating from. My doctor would prefer that I get a backpack with wheels, but that is SO. DORKY.

My commute is a mile walk to a BART station, then a train ride. I'm considering getting a bike to cut out the walking part, but I'm not there yet. I work in a creative/design-y field, so the bag doesn't need to look traditionally 'professional' at all.

Which brings me to the most important part! Style. My look is sort of seventies/anthropologie boho. Think clogs, floral patterns & stripes, bell bottoms, skirts, boots. The bags I gravitate to are leather & way too expensive. I LOVE the Saddleback Leather bags, but they are way out of my price range. $500 is more like how much I would spend on the aforementioned bike. I also like the way this one looks, but again it's a bit pricey.

My budget is about $100--maybe up to $150 if it was AWESOME. And maybe I don't need leather anyway--won't that make it too heavy?

I definitely won't want anything that is: sleek, techy, futuristic, sporty, cutesy. So no timbuk2 or the like. But I do want to be sure it can actually hold my laptop, so I'm leery of going the full-on military surplus route. I want the perfect hybrid of low-tech style but modern carrying function.

Can you help?
posted by apostrophe to Shopping (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have this and love it. It's a satchel that converts from backpack to messenger (and also has a top handle if you want to carry it in hand like a briefcase) as needed. Mine is in grey and black and has a slightly more sci/fi techie look than you probably want. However the red one is a little more retro/crafty in my opinion, and they used to offer it in navy and green though I don't see those on the site anymore.

The same site has this, which I am now sort of lusting after even though I just bought the above-mentioned bag.
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wait, that second link may not have worked. Try this.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2010

Brothers Bray & Co. rucksack, $98, Urban Outfitters
posted by neroli at 10:52 AM on September 19, 2010

You could also look into military surplus: something like this.
posted by neroli at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2010

Want. Expensive, alas, but also want. Argh, again, but also cute. (Check eBay?)

Thanks to this post, I have totally outed myself as a rucksack tart.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:30 AM on September 19, 2010

I kinda like the look of the Kanken and the Mini from Fjallraven. There's something about the simplicity of them that appeals to me.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:07 PM on September 19, 2010

You might look at Duluth Pack.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:18 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bree's Punch line has a lot of fantastic business backpacks. They're more sleek than boho, but they're so lovely that I thought it worth a mention.
posted by judith at 3:08 PM on September 19, 2010

You might look at Duluth Pack.
Just what I was coming in to say! When I saw the fourth comment in this thread earlier today, I remembered how much I really, really want a canoe pack. (You may also want to check out Duluth Trading Co, which is unaffiliated, but sells similar, hard-wearing canvas stuff. They were also mentioned in the earlier thread.)

The huge canoe packs are outside your price range (and, literally, so huge it's hard to imagine anyone wearing one without looking comically small under it), but check out the Front Portage Pack, Utility Pack (in three sizes), Daypack, Scout Pack, Standard Book Bag, or Wool Book Bag. (It's totally obvious that I've spent way too long on that site today, eh?)
posted by brozek at 5:56 PM on September 19, 2010

I don't have bag suggestions, but I'll point out this: Buckles look great, but are a MASSIVE pain in the ass when it comes time to open the pack. Stick to zippers, or this style clasp. (You can also buy clasps like that at craft stores and backpacking stores, if you want to add them to an existing bag.)
posted by coolguymichael at 6:42 PM on September 19, 2010

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