Backpacks have come a long way since the Jansport you carried over one shoulder in middle school (the only ‘cool’ way to wear it, obviously). Stylish gym bags and backpacks are in and so is saving your shoulders and neck from lopsided wear and tear on your body. (You’re already doing enough damage with your tech neck.)
When I was on the hunt for one last year I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. There’s the Sweaty Betty All-Sport Backpack and the quickly emerging cult-classic Dagne Dover Dakota backpack, but I was in the market for something that, frankly, didn’t make a statement. I was looking for something that was functional in all the ways I needed it to be (which, was a lot), but also chic enough so as to not make it glaringly obvious that I was, well, wearing a backpack. I needed the cliché copywriting claim: I needed a bag that could take me from day to night, from gym to dinner…and even on a flight.
Aesthetically, it’s nylon (wipeable!), black (NYC-approved!), and streamlined (no large bottle pockets on the outside nor clanging buckles). Functionally, it has a bottom shoe compartment (something that, IMO, is infinitely better and less gross than the shoe bag tactic) so your dirty shoes stay separate from your change of clothes and also lay flat at the bottom of your bag. It has a large flat sleeve pocket in the back for your laptop, papers, and wallet. Inside the main compartment, there’s a mesh water bottle holder and a smaller “items of importance” zippered area. The best feature, though, is the tiny pocket on the interior right side of the bag, which is big enough for a phone (and keys and headphones, if we’re being honest), for easy access to your necessities without having to take the whole bag off.
I cart this bag with me to the gym in the mornings stuffed with everything I need post-shower to get ready for work and often shove breakfast into it as well.
I’ll be honest, my own City Adventurer Backpack has seen better days, but considering I’ve been wearing it (plopping it down on the subway and putting it in studio lockers) five days a week for more than a year, the fact that it still looks as good as it does (thank you, again, nylon) is a testament to the investment.
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