7.22.2006

The Backpack Debacle

I realize I'm going to be carrying loads of books to and fro once college classes start. And I realize I'll never want my beloved MacBook to leave my side. But the thought of carrying a backpack pains me. I was into backpacks in kindergarden. I was still a fan in first, even second, grade. But once I grew up and grew sense, I knew backpacks weren't for me. I was more of a chic tote kind of girl. The thing is, as a fourth grader, you don't exactly carry 5-lb books around. At that age, my only concern was carrying around my Bonnebell Lipsmacker collection and a little tote was sufficient for that... even though it was quite an impressive collection.

So for the moment, I talked myself into a college backpack, something practical (read: boring) and comfortable (read: dowdy). I went to check out Jansport and North Face varieties and was thisclose to buying one, but then a news flash hit me like a pile of bricks: why buy something I don't like?

And then another news flash hit me: would I rather carry an ugly "pack" for four years or have hunched, sore shoulders for the rest of my life? Does it even have to come to this, though?

Are there any college girls that could offer me some wisdom? Should I take the plunge and invest in a backpack? Should I opt for a chic tote? Or is there an alternative, a stylin' backpack? I'm anxiously awaiting some direction.

-tf

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, calm DOWN. Personally, what I do is get some boring backpack, get some colourful markers, and get all my friens to sign it.

divashop said...

Find a chic rolling tote.

Miss China Paws said...

I haven't a clue. I am after all, a cat. Maybe a kitty backpack?

Anonymous said...

I have a few great tote bags I use for school. My favorite is a Kate Spade. It got me through the last 2 years of high school beautifully.

Anonymous said...

gucci backpack!!! they're fabulouss. I have one and love it. Its a little pricey but way worth it

Anonymous said...

well, i would go for the tote, because you won't be carrying around all your books to every class...

Anonymous said...

buy a tote. when i got to college i didn't even contemplate giving up my totes since i hate backapacks. the great thing about college is you're rarely going to be carrying every single book for every class. sometimes i only carried a notebook. just buy a cute stylish one that has the potential to carry a lot without being too bulky and you won't go wrong. mine is the jcrew montauk tote medium sized and it was just a tad too big. this year i have that one and several cheap ones to go with any outfit.

The Money Guru said...

Your site is sooo cool! If you're not going to be carrying a whole lotta stuff, get a messenger bag. If you ARE...get a icky backpack.
Plz check out my site, I just did a tiny post on shopping!

Anonymous said...

Messenger bags are cooler looking than backpacks, but be careful that they don't get too heavy or bulky. If they get too heavy, then there is the hunched shoulder issue again. And bulky messanger bags just look Bad. However, there's a website (www.timbuk2.com) that allows you to customize a messanger/laptop bag in color combos, or even patterns. They ballpark about $100, but they look cool and they get the job done. Plus messenger bags are just asking for pins/buttons to be put on, which is another way to make them look good.

Nisha said...

Personally, I'm going the tote route-I already bought one from Gap and will probably get a few other cheap, stylish totes. Backpakcs are definitely a NO for a true fashionista!!

*arymlapgal said...

yeah there are some CUTE totes at the gap....different sizes, colors and patterns...

Anonymous said...

It depends on your learning style. Some people like to carry around all their books, while others just use a notebook and only carry what they need.

Buy a really big tote with shoulder padding. Or maybe one of those lululemon/vintage adidas gym bags?

Peacelover said...

Definitely a tote. I had a backpack all through high school, but no girl at my college wears them. And I don't think you'll have to carry a lot of heavy books like in college, especially since you're studying journalism. Most of my books are paperback.

Anonymous said...

i actually use a medium sized tote i found at urban outfitters this winter. it's cute and while it's large enough to carry my books, it looks like a purse. =)

Hilary said...

There are a couple of companies that have come up with some really stylish laptop bags for women:
http://www.mobileedge.com/products.asp?cid=6&scid=6
http://www.moonsus.com/

Most are totes but there are a couple of backpacks. The trick I think is going to be actually finding something for both the laptop AND those thick books.

For my business I chose a Kensignton laptop bag that can either be a messenger bag or it has shoulder straps that are tucked away in a zippered area that you can pull out if you really need to hike and not throw a shoulder out:
http://us.kensington.com/html/2517.html

It's not gorgeous but it's also not ugly or too expensive and it is pretty versitile and durable. You should be able to squeeze a book or two and a binder in there if you don't carry all of the laptop extras that I keep crammed in mine.

Moonsus has an upscale leather version of what I have basically - with the should strap or the backpack straps but a more classic tote look (it doesn't scream school bag):
http://www.moonsus.com/index.cfm?action=c_marsus.displayProduct&id_products=21&style=modern%20laptop%20backpack

Hilary said...

PS - if you get a bag not intended for a laptop make sure you get a padded laptop sleeve so you don't end up smashing or denting your laptop quite so easily.

Anonymous said...

i'm starting college too and i've found several roomy totes/shoulder bags! one was from guess and can contain an incredible amount of stuff. if you find any gorgeous ones that can hold all the junk you need, please post it here! especially if you can find a great leather one.

in any case, you probably wont need to carry that much to classes. just a few books, a journal and so on.

Anonymous said...

I carry huge purses that normally work for me, but depending on your classes you might need a backpack.

Either way you should check out lesportsac.com. They have super cute purses/totes/backpacks. I'm in love.

Anonymous said...

I made it through four years of college without carrying a backpack, although a lot of people did use them. (I went to an Ivy League school, so there were many nerds among us, but a lot of my very cool sorority sisters carried backpacks as well... cute ones). But now that I'm in law school, I caved and got one and it's really not that ugly. I got a cute baby blue North Face one and I really like it. There is no shame in carrying a backpack, as long as you don't bring it with you to the frat parties!

Anonymous said...

As everyone above me has said, totes.

I have a longchamp that works beautifully. I rarely carry all of my books around and when I do, they all fit in it.

Many girls at my University carry Herve Chaplier, Longchamp, or L.L. Bean totes. I also have a Gucci tote that works as well.

And there's nothing more collegiate then walking around with a book in your hand!

Piper said...

I agree with Nisha. No true fashionista carries a backpack! Although North Face backpacks were a cute at first, they have become so overdone. Personally, I carry an L.L. Bean Boat Tote to school. I find it very comfortable, and the perfect size (I got the medium with long handles). The canvas is also very durable, and you have a choice of sizes, zip top or open top, and a wide range of colors to choose from. What more could a fashionista ask for?! However, if you are going for chic above all things, I absolutely adore the new totes at Gap this season. Keep an eye out, tf!

Anonymous said...

You'll never carry books to class so its not necessary to get a backpack. I use a small Puma gymbag when I have to carry my laptop.

Phoebe said...

I got a laptop sleeve & I'm planning on using a tote. I was this close to buying a NorthFace backpack, though.

I'm probably going to use my Jon Hart tote the most, but I also have a L.L. Bean one, a Laura Ashley one, and two messenger bags.

FYI though, if you're going to carry your laptop around campus without setting it down for very long, your shoulder will hurt like a bitch (I know from personal experience during orientation).

Anonymous said...

Hey I sooo think you should go with the backpack even though it is ugly because comfort is the key its only 4 years babe!!! BTW lurve the site hun mwah xoxox kristy

Anonymous said...

As a disclaimer, I should mention that I go to college in the north east at a very preppy institution. Vineyard Vines and Longchamp totes are very popular for carrying around books (so are Vera Bradley bags). I have never carried enough books to cause shoulder or back injuries so I suggest aiming for a stylish tote over a backpack that will fit a few notebooks/a book and whatever else you'll need for the day. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

All throughout college, my Herve Chapelier helped me tote books and other misc. items in style. Ebay sells them for a good price too, and you can choose from any color combo that exists. I choose black and pink!

Fee said...

hmmm.... you could always get a roxy backpack - which although not my style, and I fear isn't yours - does the job will being girly and pretty. That or I use huge, and I mean HUGE! - bags I bought for cheap in Primark.... about 3 euro. I believe you can get them online.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people on here are suggesting totes, which are very cute, but there are a few things you should definitely keep in mind. I'm a junior at a university with a very large campus, meaning a lot of walking. If you buy a tote, make sure that the straps are reinforced enough to be sturdy and comfortable. Also, some of the totes out there are lacking in extra pockets, which gets to be irritating. The best bet is to find something that has backpack-esque features (sturdy design, lots of pockets, and roomy interior) because most likely, you'll find them useful. I bought the most gorgeous camel-colored Nine West tote when I started college, which I still carry today, and get compliments on nearly weekly.

olya said...

Say no to backpacks!

I hate carrying backpacks, but textbooks sometimes are very useful to have in class.
Since you mention you will be carrying your laptop with you, invest a 30 minutes per course on finding that course's materials online. You will be surprised how many textbooks are available in digital form through your university's (that's Canadian for college) library website, and how many publishers provide chapters online for free.

I'm in my last year, and the only textbook I religiously carried around was my first year (death-to-all-who-take-it) Calculus, which I studied round the clock. The other 3 years of courses I did fine reading the textbooks *BEFORE* the class at home.

A backpack *will* be useful if you are taking a lot of writing courses, which possibly will require you going to the library (again, explore online options first), and sitting there with all your materials/taking out books. But, postpone that purchase until you figure out what your study habits will be like.

Have fun! This time of your life *kicks ass*. And you will be able to get away and still be functional with a far greater range of bags than you expect!

Anonymous said...

I personally like the look of a tote bag. I had a backpack from 7th grade through high school and got tired of the hunch-back look (i personally look really funny running around with a giant growth sized bag on my back haha). I bought a large Vera Bradley tote and matching mini case, but being an engineer major, I didn't anticipate carrying my computer as often as I do now (especially this semester). Canvas bags on Vandy's campus are extremely popular. They're also bought simply to handle a lot of weight without looking drab. So, I just bought a large LL Bean canvas tote with long handles and a zip top. It's cute and simple with only my initials - and all my friends say they are extremely durable. With the way I take care of some things, durable is key! :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! Had the same problem. Fred Flare for life!

Anonymous said...

I found VERY cute monogrammed backpacks on PBTeen.com and I got SO many compliments and it was so easy on my shoulders. I have to carry 7 lbs of books and papers and then had to walk a mile to my dance studio after school, never did it once hurt my back. They are both stylish and practical. I strongly suggest them.

jackie B. said...

I advise to shop around. I'm having the same dilemma. My strategy is going for a cuter leather messenger bag or an oversize shoulder bag in a modern color. Good luck!! Thanks for the post!!