Hump: Backpacks are Back

If you’ve had your head in the sand and/or don’t live in an urban setting, perhaps you don’t know that backpacks have officially replaced messenger bags (and are giving dressier attaches a run for their money) as the grown-up bag-of-choice. Lest you think this twee, (PUT A BIRD ON IT!) let me reassure you that the backpack has grown up, too.

I’m pleased. I love my leather attache and will not part with it, but I’d love an alternative and I’m not, in fact, a bike messenger. Sometimes a guy needs to carry a laptop. Backpacks of the JanSport variety just seemed too…junior high. I mean, even in high school I thought backpacks were dumb, so this like a whole new world. A REVOLUTIONARY OUTFIT, even!

Recently I was in Concepts, a very excellent Harvard Square skate shop/boutique that stocks haute menswear alongside boards with Tupac on them (if you’re local, you should check them out–they have a nice selection of Norse Project, Moncler, and more–plus their collaboration with Clarks produced a beautiful, dressy sneaker that I highlighted in my summer shoe roundup post). Anyway, they had a bunch of beautiful bags by Herschel that I salivated over while Michael bought a sweet pair of summer loafers.

I’ve had the same rugged Chrome backpack for years, and I can’t complain about Chrome’s sturdy workmanship and element-proof, clean design but I wouldn’t mind not looking like I’m wearing a jet pack when I’m doing something cocktail-y after work. Because every day I write the book, my commute to Boston from Providence requires a laptop. How to solve the form/style quandry? This would be a beautiful place to start:

Kichizo by Porter Classic

WOW. That is not your awkward/mean-girls-smell-your-fear backpack. That is an aesthetic wonder. DREAM BAG.

Speaking of form/function, Brooks (of the saddle) has made this very versatile bag, which somehow involves a roll top and other shape-shifting functions and makes for an extremely comfortable (and handsome) commute bag.

Brooks Islington Rucksack

This bag is super sweet. It has adjustable shoulder straps and other features that allow for stabilization, expansion, and crushing down. But, for those of us that can’t afford a $400 bag, I suggest:

Herschel Survey

Herschel makes these scout-inspired bags for $50 a pop, and they come in a nice range of colors and a larger version to hold all your stuff.

If you’ve got a little more dough, you might like Herschel’s knapsack-y offering:

Herschel Little America

And, though I cannot imagine wearing this fucking sweet rucksack by Black Pine Workshop, I can imagine someone else doing so–maybe you?

Black Pine Workshop Canvas & Nylon Rucksack

In what situation? I don’t know! Show me. Especially if you are not a skater or an adult 30+ who does not dress like a skater. If you look like a grown-up and you figure out a way to rock this bad boy, hats off to you. Because it’s fantastic.

Herschel’s lookbook makes me feel dreamy, so I leave you with images of  people in rucksacks/knapsacks/backpacks in the great outdoors. Dappled light!


About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:


  1. I love my messenger. It has my little Audubon pins and a few crochet hooks sticking out of it & the leather’s so old it feels like a slipper. But I like the look of the Herschel Survey, & I like Porter Classic’s Kichizo even more.

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