Beyond the backpack: book bag options for stylish students

This H&M imitation leather messenger bag ($24.95) in Orange provides a pop of color and a douse of usefulness (Image courtesy of H&M.com).

This H&M imitation leather messenger bag ($24.95) in Orange provides a pop of color and a douse of usefulness (Image courtesy of H&M.com).

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In grade school it was pretty simple: an adventurous cartoon character backpack, a fun floral print, or a simple solid color. Choosing a book bag has since become a little more complex.

When you’re young, bags are all about communicating your interests to your peers. You are not really responsible for keeping track of anything important like keys, credit cards or a cell phone. Homework isn’t really an issue either, as it usually consists of a word-cross puzzle on a single sheet of paper. As a college student, not only does your bag provide an indication to your personality, but it must also be highly functional. With such busy, demanding schedules, bags must serve as a traveling apartment.

On more than one occasion I have looked into my bag to find a snack, a change of clothes, a textbook (or three), several abandoned bobby pins, deodorant, or a toothbrush. Busy days don’t allow you to rest, and your bag shouldn’t either.

Choosing a bag should be a decision based on your lifestyle. There are many bags that may work tremendously for one person, but be completely wrong for another. Some bags are better suited to heavy loads, some are better for the fashion concerned, and even some work best for those free-spirited souls out there. Below are several options that should be considered in the plight to choose a functional and stylish bag.

There is always an over-the-shoulder bag; these bags are fashionable and easy to maneuver. Once you throw it on you are able to move about freely and use both hands to carry whatever has top priority at any given moment. For me this usually consists of some sort of food and a mug of tea.

This H&M imitation leather messenger bag ($24.95) in Orange provides a pop of color and a douse of usefulness (Image courtesy of H&M.com).

Doubling as an accessory, this bag is great for an effortlessly stylish look. Conversely, this bag isn’t ideal if you plan to be carrying anything that is heavy. Since all the weight is carried on one shoulder, a very heavy load can cause sore, tense shoulders and some slightly lopsided walking.

For a mix of style and support there is always the canvas rucksack. These bags are the traditional backpack turned adventurous. Made with a looser structure than other double-shoulder bags, the canvas rucksacks provides a perfectly laid-back, outdoorsy look. These bags come in a variety of styles and colors, so it is easy to perfectly match the bag to your personality.

A rucksack provides a good combination of function and style, like the Ecote Solid Canvas Backpack ($69.00) in Yellow (Image courtesy of UrbanOutfitters.com).

Additionally, many of these bags have interesting leather straps and a variety of pockets that are great for quickly finding items. These bags are great for people who love organization. Taking advantage of the loose structure is easy when you have a lot that needs to be transported. Since the bag is not rigid, it is easier to maneuver items.

While these bags provide double shoulder straps so as to evenly distribute the weight, they are still not suited for carrying heavy loads.

Over-sized purses are great for carrying books without hindering your outfit. There are endless options available when choosing a purse. However, purses generally were not made to carry weighty textbooks. Depending on the straps of your bag, it may not be made to handle heavy loads and may wear down quickly.

For a more stylish book-carrying experience, try the Forever 21 Buckled Shoulder Bag ($24.50) in Brown (Image courtesy of Forever21.com).

Another disappointing factor in using a purse as a book-bag is the black hole effect in reference to small items. It often takes stopping, squatting in the middle of the sidewalk and unloading half your purse before you’re able to find something as simple as your keys. This isn’t ideal if it is dark outside, raining, or a combination of the two.

Purses fall under the mantra, “pain is beauty.” It looks beautiful and fashionable, but isn’t the most practical of bags for students.

The traditional backpack is highly functional and straight-forward. With the ability to carry immense loads at any given time, this option is best for the die-hard studiers out there.

A classic backpack, such as the Jansport Spring Break backpack ($29.95) in Verdant Green, is practical and durable (Image courtesy of Jansport.com).

However, just because a traditional backpack is the most functional option doesn’t mean that your bag has to be boring and unimaginative. Backpacks have gotten a boost in recent years with colorful patterns and interesting prints.

Bags are such a fun accessory to purchase. Unfortunately, it is really easy to get caught up in its aesthetic appearance and completely forget that it must serve a very crucial function in your life. If you really find it too difficult to choose one bag style, it’s always possible to have more than one love in your life. Let the style change in response to daily duties. Besides, bag monogamy is overrated.