My back and I recently got into a conversation about bags. During the two years that I lived in Chicago I would carry a messenger bag to work. I loaded it full of papers, pens, my sack lunch, mp3 player, the occasional laptop, a scarf during the winter, etc. I’m right-handed so I typically placed the bag’s strap across my right shoulder. It felt good and my bag had a pad for enhanced comfort. After walking the mile or so to the L Train, I would attempt to switch the bag to my other shoulder. It never felt very good so I would keep it on my right side. Two years of wearing a heavy messenger bag on my right side made my back ache. I used a backpack during my undergrad. However, a messenger bag seemed more professional. My thoughts were validated by the multitudes of messenger bag wearing Chicagoans. Plus, there seemed to be a culture amongst Student Affairs folks that students use backpacks and administrators used satchels or messenger bags.
When I came out to Oregon for graduate school, I decided that since I was going to be a student that a backpack was in order. After lugging around scores of textbooks, notepads, the occasional laptop, pens, pencils, water bottles, etc. my back and I were thankful that I had purchased a backpack. I even noticed that at least two senior administrators used backpacks!
I recently purchased a new laptop, and while my grad school bag was still in good shape, it didn’t have a padded laptop compartment nor was it large enough for the new lappie. The new bag is a Timbuk2 DataDump DayPack. The laptop compart is padded with corduroy and it is large enough for a 15 inch MacBook Pro. It is very comfortable. My back and I love the fact that the weight is balanced as well as the fact that the waste strap fits my frame.
I realize that a lot of folks would probably label a backpack as unprofessional. I don’t get it. Why is a messenger bag / satchel deemed more professional than a backpack? I love distributing my consulting gear across both shoulders versus victimizing one of my shoulders. Backpacks are the new messenger bag. Backpacks are professional.