When you're ready to move beyond a basic backpack, you'll find a number of practical, durable and fashionable bags that can go to class, head to the library and let you pack up to play. A good quality bag will stand up to stacks of books and keep your gym clothes under wraps. Others are designed to survive bike rides in the rain, trips on the bus and that long-awaited field trip. Find the style -- structured or casual -- that works for you.
A sturdy tote bag can take the place of a backpack or other bag for school, but look for one that can bear a lot of weight and protects your gear. Look for reinforced seams, a sturdy bottom and heavy-duty, wide handles. A snap or zip closure will keep your books and supplies in place. Totes work best if you drive to school, rather than walk, bus or bike, because they're not ideal for carrying long distances and may not be waterproof or water-resistant.
Messenger bags have a long, cross-body strap, a full coverage flap and typically several pockets. These are highly structured, and typically large enough to contain a laptop, notebooks or a sketchpad. The messenger bag was originally used by bike messengers, and it's a comfortable choice for heavy loads, as well as for those walking or taking the bus to school. If you bike, choose a bag with an angled strap design for comfort.
Dressed and Done
When you need a bag with more professional polish, investigate materials and styling over shape. Choose leather when possible, but a solid-color canvas in good condition may be acceptable. Women should opt for a structured leather tote or briefcase-style messenger bag in leather or a polished fabric. Men can shop for a leather briefcase-style messenger bag.
While you may associate backpacks with elementary school, they remain a practical choice for all ages. They keep your hands free and your load comfortably balanced when you have a long walk to school or between classes. Choose a classically styled one with a reinforced leather bottom and well-padded straps to last through more than one school year.