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Like some of Kelsky's other advice, this one has always made me laugh. I use a nice black daypack (Eagle Creek, I think) for every day work stuff. Many of my colleagues carry and use backpacks for the

They're all pretty much the same.

Timbuk2 has hands down the best messenger bag

Thank you Fuzzylogician! Those are all good threads. Some of it is a little convoluted with the messenger vs. backpack talk. I wanted to strictly talk about brands and specific bags regardless of the type. The closest one is the "best backpack on the market", which I had not seen so my apologies for posting a "duplicate" topic. 

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People have different preferences, considerations, price ranges... there is no such thing as "the best" when it comes to things like backpacks in my opinion. That's why we can have 6 different threads and still need a 7th :). Just wanted to make sure those older threads don't get forgotten--I'm sure at least parts of them are still relevant.

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I'm not going to look through those other threads to check if someone has mentioned it, but... I've always been VERY happy with the Mobile Edge messenger bag. I used to have to stack five classes per day, meaning that I would have my laptop plus several textbooks and other books (often weighing at least 20lbs), and the bag managed to hold it all without any damage to the bag OR its contents. I did eventually have to get a second one, but it was due to "user error," and not a design flaw. Its replacement has been holding steady for a year now.

 

That's my endorsement, anyhow.

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Thanks Wyatt's torch! That looks like a very sturdy bag. I personally can't carry messenger bags over long period of times but if someone out there is looking for one now they have your endorsement. I am now looking at their backpacks to see if they have something as study but in backpack form. 

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I have something like this and it has lasted me many years now: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/targus-tanc-laptop-backpack-black/8848527.p?id=1219371611317&skuId=8848527

 

The exact model I have is no longer available though. 

 

The factors that I care about for these bags are:

1. Padded laptop compartment

2. Padded shoulder straps

3. Extra clasp that goes around your waist (like a hiking backpack) that you can use when it's really heavy

4. Side pockets for water bottles that are zippered (ideally, like my current bag, you can use them both as a zippered pocket or not

 

Extra bonus for my current bag is that there is one pocket for your lunch--it's lined with the lunchbag material to help maintain temperature. But also nice that it's waterproof so I don't have to worry about my lunch spilling into my books or laptop!

 

Ultimately though, I rarely use my backpack since I don't take my computer to work and all of my books are stored in my office. I mostly use it to carry lunch, a few papers, etc.

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TakeruK- those are the exact things I am looking for! padded laptop compartment, shoulders, and back with a strap that goes across the chest and waist. Hopefully made of "breathable" material so I don't end up with back sweat. Waterproof and water bottle side pockets are a very nice plus. I will definitely consider this one!

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For those who are looking at messanger bags, Mission Workshop bags are really nice. They are a little more expensive than Timbuk2 depending on the model you get, but they are a lot more comfortable and more robust. They can also haul a lot more stuff in a pinch since they are rolltop. 

 

I also find they are a bit more professional looking, not that that really matters. The biggest difference is in the strap, which is lightyears better than the Timbuk2 strap. 

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I liked DaKine backpacks. They're designed for skateboarders and snowboarders. Lots of compartments, padded straps, etc.

 

I also like Vera Bradley's backpacks - there's one specifically designed for tech that has a padded laptop compartment and a tablet slot.

 

I would recommend having a backpack (for every day) and a nice messenger bag (for times when you carry less, or conferences and other times you want to look more polished). I have a really nice Kate Spade laptop bag that I bought on sale and use at conferences; I've gotten lots of compliments on it. It also encourages me not to pack too much.

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I've had a Dakine 25L pack w/ hydration reservoir for 4 years now as my every day work backpack (I currently instruct in outdoor adventure recreation) and my cross country mountain bike pack. If it wasn't so beat up from daily abuse, dirt, and the occasional fall onto it, I'd love to use it for school. It has an expandable front pouch (great for stuffing a layer), an external water bottle pouch (perfect size for my 32oz nalgene), a small external zipper pocket, a few internal compartment pouches, and 2 big compartments. I love it and am sad to be moving it into retirement but agree that many of Dakine's packs would be great for school.

 

I'm looking at the Patagonia Black Hole series of backpacks. Last year's 25 has the side compression straps and small waist strap (both plusses) but no external water bottle pouch. This year's 25 has the water bottle pouch but no side straps or waist straps. Sigh. The 32 is tempting as well, with it's fold down closure that seems a little more water resistant than the others in the line and has a waist strap, but again - no water bottle pouch. I always have a 32oz Nalgene with me. Maybe the stealth zipper pouch behind the daisy chain would hold a bottle. http://www.patagonia.com/us/shop/luggage-black-hole-bags?k=1G-arWhile the blue color is attractive, I'd probably get a black bag for the professional look. Big plus to these is they're pretty water resistant and rugged, as I've had friends and co-workers use them every day biking, hiking, camping, etc. and they look good as new almost a year later. 

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Juilletmercredi- that's a great idea about having two bags. One for looking sharp at conferences and one for everyday toting books.

 

CBclone- I've seen a few Patagonias I really like. The Yerba and the Refugio both seems good. I've also found a few North Face backpacks I like a lot for those who were not previously considering those brands for backpacks. 

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Any suggestions for someone with a bad back? I used to use messenger bags and such, as I much prefer the look, but they kill my back and shoulders. So I'd like to get a nice, supportive backpack for fall. Adjustable straps would be a plus.  The main issue I run into with backpacks is that I'm tiny, so they often sit too low unless the straps can be adjusted. 

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I'm tiny too! I'm 5 foot even and flat footed, so I get a lot of back pain. I used to use totes which were terrible for my hips and back, so I bought this backpack and couldn't be happier with it: http://www.timbuk2.com/parkside-laptop-backpack/384.html?dwvar_384_color=2094&dwvar_384_size=7

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I'm tiny too! I'm 5 foot even and flat footed, so I get a lot of back pain. I used to use totes which were terrible for my hips and back, so I bought this backpack and couldn't be happier with it: http://www.timbuk2.com/parkside-laptop-backpack/384.html?dwvar_384_color=2094&dwvar_384_size=7

 

Thanks for the recommendation!

 

It's nice to know there's a backpack that works well for someone my size! (I'm 5 foot as well--if I round up :) )  I can usually just get kid sizes for stuff, but that obviously wouldn't work so well in this case.  Plus, it's hard to look professional when your accessories have Disney princesses on them. ;)

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ashso -- Just about any brand that typically specializes in hiking/backpacking packs will make great packs with semi-rigid back support and waist & sternum straps to help distribute the load. I had a really bad back injury a year ago and am super wary of what packs I wear now. They make packs anywhere from 15 to 60+ Liters, and a good size for school is around 25 - 32/35L. 25L is about your typical run of the mill backpack size. There are so many brands out there. I might have more specific info this afternoon when I get back from work and have more time. Happy shopping :)

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I just got my first Timbuk2 bag, and it's been perfect. It's a great mix of ruggedness for biking with it every day, but is also nice enough that I actually bring it to conferences as my laptop briefcase. Here's the bag I got:

http://www.timbuk2.com/alchemist-laptop-briefcase/164.html?dwvar_164_size=8&dwvar_164_color=2001

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I have a canvas Fossil bag that was around $60. It's a cheaper version of this, and you can sometimes find it in department stores. It's worked pretty well for the last three years, although I had a Samsung laptop with plastic corners for a while--when those started to crack, they cut holes into the corners of the laptop compartment, so that's something to watch out with this bag and any other canvas bags without reinforced corners. In general, though, my MO is to spend a little more and hope it lasts a long time.

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