Why I Started Using a Backpack For Work

When I first graduated from college and entered the post-collegiate workforce many years ago, I had to make a few necessary purchases. Work-appropriate attire. Technology to help me with my work. A car with brakes that worked reliably.

Nestled among those purchases was a means to carry the work that needed to be done. I was a teacher, after all: part of teaching is grading, and part of grading is getting the papers to and from school. I needed something that I could carry everything in.

Now I already had something. A backpack, the one I’d used to finish out my college career. It was a good backpack, still in pretty good shape. It carried everything I needed.

The problem was, it was a backpack. A backpack screamed student, not teacher. In fact, when I did some of my first in-school observations in college, I carried a backpack through the hallways of the local high school and precisely no one realized I wasn’t one of the students.

So what to get? The answer was simple … and it most certainly was not a briefcase. (I wasn’t a corporate executive, after all.) It was a standard messenger bag, slung over the shoulder.

For nearly two decades, I hauled a messenger bag to and from work. Those messenger bags changed over the years, from a leather one, to a fabric one, to another (very well-made) fabric one given to me as a Christmas present. And they did all right. But they were not hassle free.

For one, when full, they pulled on my shoulder. For short distances they weren’t bad, but for longer treks, they got annoying.

They also were supremely awkward. A full bag could shift around, forcing me to readjust, but the real problems came if I was carrying anything else … which was often.

As my career progressed, for example, I was issued a laptop, which I carried to and from work, alongside my messenger bag. The two bags, slung over the same shoulder, would shift and move and, on rare occasions, find inexplicable ways to actually get entangled with each other.

And when I was carrying other things? The irritation was endless. Carrying anything with two hands required wearing the bag across the back and hoping it would shift under the shoulder. Even carrying other things one-handed like a lunch bag (which I carried almost every day) still had me holding the messenger bag (plus the laptop bag) steady using my free hand. When I reached a door, I’d have to open up the door, slide through … and then readjust the bag again.

In my experience, it’s a wonder that any messenger actually survived using these things.

Here’s the thing: I hadn’t gotten a messenger bag because it was my most practical option. I got it because I felt like it looked the part of what I needed. And for a long time I just accepted it, like I accept winter or traffic or long wait times at the DMV.

Slowly, though, something dawned in my awareness. The first was an observation that a small but growing number of colleagues and other professionals were bringing not messenger bags to work, but full-on backpacks. My first thought was, “that seems more … student-like.” These people were using student gear, not teacher gear, I thought, maybe to save on more professional options.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe these people were wearing backpacks because they just flat-out preferred them to other options.

I decided, then, to experiment with one myself, even though my messenger bag was still in good shape. Except I didn’t want something that was just a student backpack appropriated for work use. I wanted a backpack that at least sort of looked like something a professional would wear.

I discovered there were many options out there, including leather backpacks that looked like they belonged to an Oxford professor or maybe Indiana Jones. But I ended up trying out a more basic option: a simple mutifunctional backpack from Aldi. I regularly blog about Aldi products, so the Adventuridge Premier Backpack seemed as good an option as any.

It was a revelation.

It was comfortable. It held snug on my shoulders no matter what else I was carrying. It was larger than I expected, holding as much paperwork as the messenger bag. The one I bought even came with a soft-lined pouch for carrying laptops, so I could ditch the additional laptop bag entirely.

In other words, it was superior to the messenger bag in every way. Best of all, if I felt like it, I could carry it over one shoulder like a messenger bag, and it still stayed put better than a messenger bag.

I’ve returned to the life of a backpack. And I think I might just be here to stay.

Anyone else have a bag story to tell? I’d love to hear about them.

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