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Ten Back To School/Work Bags

by Tim Yu
on 26 August 2008

In the spirit of the back-to-school season, this week we highlight a few products to help keep you organized and productive as you resume your routine.

A well-designed bag can protect your valuables, keep you organized and even relieve muscle pain. We are a bit obsessive over which bags we use, so it's only fitting to kick off the back-to-school season with our selection of backpacks and over-the-shoulder bags to transport all those books, clothes, pens, laptops and whatever else you carry around with you.

Patagonia Lightwire 25
Made of environmentally friendly recycled fabric, the Patagonia Lightwire 25 (pictured above) is versatile and lightweight. A fully padded computer sleeve, mp3 pocket and rear zippered flat storage section for files makes it a great fit for school or the office, but a roomy main compartment, sternum strap, water-bottle pocket and built-in safety whistle lends itself to daypack or weekend use. Having plenty of pockets is key, but the placement of them is most important—the Lightwire wins again here as each pocket is exactly where you want it. For those last days of summer, mesh shoulder straps wick moisture and dry quicky preventing unsightly sweat stains. Available for $120 from Patagonia.


Marimekko: Kuru and Reppu
These pint-sized bags are perfect for the first day of elementary school or those trying to relive it. The Kuro (above right) and Reppu (above left) are created by the Finnish textile company Marimekko, who recently released their Autumn/Winter line of bags and clothing. It's 100-percent cotton with two storage pockets. The playful polar bear design and cheetah print are the work of Finnish-born illustrators Klaus Haapaniemi and Teresa Moorhouse, respectively.


Crumpler Salary Sacrifice
Perhaps the best backpack of the group for laptop transport, the Crumpler Salary Sacrifice features a suspended laptop case within the main compartment to protect it from the worst of drops. Padded and removable, you can even take the laptop case out for use. Constructed of a water resistant shell and ripstop lining and little rain never hurt. Available for AU$230 from Crumpler.


Arcteryx Blade 13
The best aspect of the Arcteryx Blade series is its slim profile which is greatly beneficial when squeezing into crowded situations. Its also very comfortable to wear since extra weight in the bag is held close to the body. The downside is that it doesn't offer much room outside of your laptop and a few other essentials however this makes one more organized and selective. The side loading design makes it easily accessible when slung over one shoulder and a molded grab handle allows conversion to a briefcase style when in more formal settings. Available for $90, visit Arcteryx to find online retailers.


Movie Billboard Messenger Bag
A fresh approach to recycling, these bags reuse the mammoth posters from blockbuster movie billboards that get tossed almost daily when new films require promotion. The Chilean company ModuLab takes the posters and cuts them into one-of-a-kind vinyl messenger bags. They include a padded laptop sleeve and five interior pockets of various size. They cost $118 and can be purchased based on the particular film or dominant color.


Nikon x Porter Original Shoulder Bag
This camera bag joins a classic canvas and leather exterior with the modern conveniences of most contemporary photo cases. Handsome accents include leather buttonhole fasteners and brass snaps on the shoulder pad. The cushioned interior can be customized using five padded dividers (included). The Original Shoulder Bag is currently only available in Japan for the equivalent of $275.


VisVim Ballistic 20
Perhaps one of our favorites of all-time, the VisVim Ballsitic 20 Backpack is the perfect size without lending itself to over-loading. Made of Cordura Ballistic Nylon and rubber coated hardware it's durable, but the details are what set it apart. Super soft elk leather cover the bottom of the bag adding a luxurious touch. Waterproof RIRI zippers keep contents inside dry while zipper garages keep them from freezing shut. A convenient side zipper allows for easy access to the main compartment when slung over one shoulder and your computer is safe in a separate compartment with a laptop pocket. A fleece MP3 pocket keeps your device scratch free and also provides a cable exit. Two velcro pockets with rubberized pull tabs on either side of the pack are great for miscellaneous goods and a removable waist strap offers added stability when needed. A bit hard to find the VisVim Ballstic 20 is currently available from Bridge Footwear for $350. A bit steep but it's plenty worth it.


American Apparel Canvas School Bag
A simple no frills backpack, we like the American Apparel Canvas School Bag for the rainbow spectrum of colors to choose from. We especially like this Hunter Orange variety. A traditional design, the bag features one large space and a smaller compartment for your accessories. Available from American Apparel for $42.

Muji 3-way PC Bag
Like the name describes this Muji bag can be held three ways—as a briefcase, over your shoulder or like a backpack. In typical Muji fashion the bag features no branding, is minimally designed and is affordably priced at £25. Pick it up online at Muji.


Caribee College 40 Laptop Backpack
The College 40 is one of the more comprehensive laptop bags on the market. It features a padded laptop sleeve the fits up to a 17-inch screen with lockable zip housings and plenty of extra storage space for computer components. It also boats the X-Tend harness system with completely adjustable strap heights. The hip belt and sternum strap help distribute weight evenly and internal contoured aluminum stays provide full back support. The College 40 costs $80 through Rushfaster.

With contributions by Josh Rubin and Doug Black.

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