Ask the Editor: Backpacks for Work

Jan 29, 2024

The end of the month is always a crazy time for me. Posts fall by the wayside, time on social media is non-existent. So this week, I thought I might try something new: answering reader e-mail. Let’s get started.

Hello!

When my workplace went back to the office last year, we moved to a hot desk model.  It’s awful.  I have to haul everything I need for the day because I don’t know where I’ll be sitting.  They gave us lockers, but stopping work to go to my locker is inconvenient and I’d rather just keep my belongings with me.  Can you recommend a…I can’t believe I’m saying this…backpack that doesn’t look like my 13 yr old son could carry it on the bus?

Sincerely, Sonya

Over the past few years, many readers have switched from voluminous totes to backpacks.  In the beginning, it felt like a fad, but post-COVID, utility has become more important than ever.  So while this may be a big switch, the market is filled with great options.

Briggs & Riley’s Medium Cargo Backpack is a sleek, minimalist choice.  It’s sporty, but in a professional way.  No one will mistake it for hiking attire.  Fits 15.6″ laptop, has great internal storage, and a hidden pocket in the back for passports or your wallet.  If you’ve been looking at a Tumi backpack but are struggling with the price, try this one.

Looking for something more fashion-forward?  This Cole Haan Grand Ambition backpack caught my eye.  It also comes in a smaller size.  I like the clean lines and the styling.  They also make a neoprene option in charcoal or camo.

If you need something under-$150, I asked my Instagram follows for suggestions and got repeat recommendations on two options: 1) the CalPak Luca and 2) the Everlane Transit backpack.  If you have your own suggestion to add, leave it in the comments.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

Ask the Edit, Posts

share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Jamie says:

    I want to shout out my Dagne Dover backpack. I love it, it has a bunch of pockets and storage but still looks sleek. I’ve had it for 6 or 7 years and it still looks great. My only mistake was I got a medium – get the large.

    • meaghan says:

      Another vote for the Dagne Dover backpack. I have the large – it’s great. It has tons of pockets to organize anything I might need, it’s stretches nicely when I’m trying to pack the bag full, and it looks nice, as least as nice as a backpack can look.

    • Belle says:

      We use this as a diaper bag. It’s a nice bag.

    • Erin says:

      +1 on this I got this bad for a train commute internship during law school five years ago, has held up quite well and it gets a lot of compliments

  2. Amanda says:

    The Open Story travel backpacks from Target might be worth a look. They seem pretty similar to the Calpak for a fraction of the cost. I believe there’s also a compression feature.

  3. S says:

    +1 for Dagne Dover. Assuming you’re not in a very formal industry/office, Lululemon also has some nice backpacks. I own the Everyday Backpack 2.0 but there are a few others also consistently recommended.

  4. Sarah says:

    I have a Lo & Sons Rowledge and I love it! I am short and I know I look like a kid even with a nice looking backpack like that. But & also don’t care. My happy back thanks me.

    • Amanda says:

      +1! I just switched to the Hanover Supreme because my new laptop is massive. It’s a little less stylish than the Rowledge but so comfortable and roomy without looking like a Dude Bag.

    • Meredith says:

      Love the Lo and Sons one! It’s sitting next to me at my work desk right now.

  5. Emily says:

    The Tumi Voyageur Carson Backpack Bag is my ride or die. I’ve had mine 5 years and it still looks new. I never get on a plane without it. Absolutely love it.

  6. Sarah says:

    The Troubadour Apex backpack is AMAZING! It’s lightweight, water resistant, holds a ton, and I frequently get compliments on it! https://www.troubadourgoods.com/collections/backpacks

    • Julie says:

      +1 to the Troubadour Apex backpack. I found it after a beverage spill in my previous laptop bag made me go hunting for a bag with external cup/bottle holders.

      Makes a good plane “personal item”, too.

  7. Chelsea says:

    This may be an absolute pipe dream, but would love to hear if anyone has seen/has a backpack that: is more fashion-focused, nice material, has a tote like strap in addition to backpack straps, and is waterproof. Ideally under $150. I bike commute to work and would love something that can handle the ride but looks professional enough if I need to use it to go into leadership-type meetings.

    • Laura says:

      Have you looked into timbuk2? I used to use their bags when I lived in Seattle and commuted by bus – a friend lost her laptop to rain so we all bought timbuk2 bags for commuting. I think they are meant for bikers

      https://www.timbuk2.com/search?q=backpack

      • Kayla says:

        Plus one for Timbuk2 bags. I carry a black backpack from them for work that looks professional, is water proof, and is absolutely bike commute friendly. I’ve also traveled with it a ton and it fits great under a seat.

  8. Lexi says:

    H&M has a great waterproof nylon one right now in black, cream and taupe. $40. At my age, I look for nylon since I want the bag to be as light as possible. My back doesn’t care about fancy, haha.

  9. Claire says:

    The Cole Haan is SO beautiful. It is also heavy and smaller. While I love mine, I couldn’t use it to bring anything other than my computer and a paper notebook.

  10. Caitlyn says:

    I spent forever searching for a backpack that looked professional, had a few interior pockets, and wasn’t too large but could fit a 15” laptop. I ended up with a Troubadour Apex Compact and totally love it. They have a lot of different styles that are pretty streamlined.
    https://www.troubadourgoods.com/

  11. Mary G. says:

    I just got a Monos backpack, after four different colleagues started carrying it and I liked the way it looked. Very well made, if a bit big. The vegan leather looks really good as well.

  12. H. says:

    I bought the Everlane ReNew Transit that you linked about a month ago, and it’s been great. Lightweight, sleek enough to feel professional, inexpensive, lots of space–and I love that it’s made from recycled polyester. Before landing on this one, I wanted a convertible (i.e., could be carried as a tote or worn as a backpack), and ordered both the Lo & Sons Rowledge and Edgemont. The Edgemont looked like a generic tote strapped to my back, which looked weird to me. (It is also made from recycled materials, but the feel isn’t as nice as the Transit.) The Rowledge was nicer (new materials), but the straps were still quite visible on one side even when tucked into their pocket and carrying it by a short top handle didn’t really give me the tote convenience I wanted. I didn’t like it nearly enough to justify the price point, so back it went.

  13. M says:

    +1 for the Lo & Sons backpack. In the same “hot desk” situation and it’s the only bag that doesn’t kill my back on my walking/public transit commute! It looks professional enough imo.

  14. Ann says:

    I’m shocked nobody has recommended the Kroser bag from Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081C84TDJ/?coliid=I3EUHVD4MMNY2&colid=3F7LXOHNLP6AA&psc=0&ref_=list_c_wl_lv_ov_lig_dp_it A friend recommended it in 2019 when I left a PR firm to work on a political campaign. I hauled my life in it every day for about 2 years, and it’s still in excellent shape, despite being beyond overloaded many times. The hard hinge across the top helps hold it open to stuff full, and it has the strap across the back to slide over luggage. Can’t recommend it enough!

  15. Lara says:

    I got an ISM backpack back in 2018 and I love it. The design is classic and it still looks new.
    https://ismbags.com/products/backpack

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!

sUBSCRIBE

How I Combat Stink (and Stress Sweat)

It’s happened to all of us: You’re walking into a meeting and you catch a whiff of something. A slight odor. A bad smell. And you wonder, “Is that me?” You want to surreptitiously check that that unsavory aroma isn’t you, but you can’t do that here. So you just keep your arms at your […]

3

READ MORE 

Recent Posts

The Range: Lounge/Travel Sets

If the pandemic did one thing for women, it brought back sweatpants as acceptable attire. But then, fashion decided that we couldn’t wear regular sweat pants, we needed to wear fancy sweat pants. And while it would be easy to disparage the ideal of luxury sweatpants made for chic, casual wear…have you felt how soft […]

4

READ MORE 

WFH Outfit: Denim and Black

Does anyone really know how to dress for a rainy February? It’s not winter. It’s not spring. Sweaters seem heavy. Just a shirt feels like you’ll be cold. It’s a puzzle.

3

READ MORE 

VIEW ALL POSTS

Beauty, Skincare, Top Posts | February 27, 2024

How I Combat Stink (and Stress Sweat)

It’s happened to all of us: You’re walking into a meeting and you catch a whiff of something. A slight odor. A bad smell. And you wonder, “Is that me?” You want to surreptitiously check that that unsavory aroma isn’t you, but you can’t do that here. So you just keep your arms at your […]

3

READ MORE 

Features, Posts, The Range | February 27, 2024

The Range: Lounge/Travel Sets

If the pandemic did one thing for women, it brought back sweatpants as acceptable attire. But then, fashion decided that we couldn’t wear regular sweat pants, we needed to wear fancy sweat pants. And while it would be easy to disparage the ideal of luxury sweatpants made for chic, casual wear…have you felt how soft […]

4

READ MORE 

Style, Top Posts, Work, Work From Home | February 21, 2024

WFH Outfit: Denim and Black

Does anyone really know how to dress for a rainy February? It’s not winter. It’s not spring. Sweaters seem heavy. Just a shirt feels like you’ll be cold. It’s a puzzle.

3

READ MORE 

Fantastic Finds, Posts, Style | February 21, 2024

The Range: Best Picks from Ann Taylor

One of the questions that is often asked about D.C. fashion is: Why is there so much Ann Taylor? The answer is simple enough — the hemlines are long enough, the styles are easy to wear, almost everything is machine washable, and it’s easy to find pieces for professional offices or casual ones. Plus, there’s […]

2

READ MORE 

RECENT POSTS

©2023 CAPITOL HILL STYLE | SITE BY LEIGH THE STUDIO