University Student: Cheap backpack alternatives?

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by The Good, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    I'll be transferring to university shortly after Christmas, so that leaves me with about half a month. I own two backpacks, one is a bright maroon colored backpack, and the other is a dark blue one with a leather bottom. Both of these are typical Jansports. I'd like to have an alternative to having to use backpacks, as I plan on wearing a sportcoat, and occasionally a suit. Because of my budget limitations, are there cheap alternatives to backpacks that could look professional? Preferably, I'd like to avoid looking like I'm following a fashion trend; because of this, I'm not sure if messenger bags will really do it for me. Are there good leather briefcases I should be aware of?

    What do you think of this one?

    http://www.wilsonsleather.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11746448&CAWELAID=413820006

    It can be worn messenger style, but can also be carried around like a briefcase. I'd like to go a bit cheaper than that (I'd like to find one between 40 to 60 dollars if possible), but still relatively good looking, and leather.
     
  2. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    I think your best bet is probably the Bay, looking for something used, although I am not really sure what brands to look for.

    Refusing to get something because it is on trend is just as bad as buying something because it is trendy. Get what you think looks good and serves your function, ignoring the trends.
     
  3. Metatron

    Metatron One Too Many

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    Even though bags are generally where I draw the line in 'it has to be rustic looking' :
    Be on the look out for ex Swedish 1960s army stuff, they are all over ebay and look very 1940s.

    Actually some of it is 40s, but as Sweden was a neutral nation during WW2, people don't get as excited about Swedish militaria and the prices remain reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2011
  4. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    Nothing ruins a good outfit like a backpack on your shoulders. Why not look around at your local antique and thrift stores for an attache case? They are a better looking alternative to the backpack.

    But, there are also alternatives to the typical backpack as well. Ones that don't look like the stuff sold at university bookstores. If you want the functionality of a backpack but with style, look for something leather with buckles and straps.
     
  5. Marla beat me to it. I found a very nice leather briefcase for $5 at a second and shop. A little leather cream and is as tough as nails.
     
  6. Twill

    Twill One of the Regulars

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    Exactly. You're still allowing the trend to dictate what you use and buy.

    I second going in the military direction. Something like this, but add a strap? It doesn't even have to be army green. Maybe you could find something khaki.
     
  7. Woodfluter

    Woodfluter Practically Family

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    I'd suggest the Filson medium field bag as a possibility.

    [​IMG]

    You can find them used and less costly on eBay if you look long enough. Unless truly abused they just look better with age. I carry the small size often, and usually fit it with a wide olive-colored nylon webbing strap rather than the leather with sliding pad - it just works better for me most of the time - but the medium size is handy when I need to haul more stuff.

    The leather strap is very well made, but if you find it less than comfortable to carry, investigate other strap options. You can salvage good ones or easily make yourself. One point you should know...these have an opening that is smaller than the bag itself, like a shotshell bag but less extreme. This is both good and bad. Things don't tend to fall out, but wide things like large books take more fiddling to get in.

    Something else to consider are the now-discontinued Lands' End Square Rigger briefcases. Heavyweight canvas construction, but not as water-resistant as the Filson twill. I have two, a maroon one that dates to the early 1980s, has been used a lot and is as good as ever; and a different version (deluxe attache) in navy with more depth and compartments that I got a couple of years back. Unlike almost any briefcase, these are just wide enough to accept a flute case! The inner liners and pockets are made of the same stiff canvas, which I much prefer because of better protection and staying open for quick in-and-out.

    The replacements for these excellent Lands' End items appear to be very different in appearance, materials and quality, gauging from what buyers have said, so I wouldn't bother with them. (I hate it when someone makes a superb, signature item for decades and then comes out with a cheaply-made substitute, but it happens all too often.)

    As an aside, I have a lot of day packs and they see a lot of use, but do understand how it doesn't quite fit your needs at times.

    - Bill
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  8. Jack Burton

    Jack Burton One of the Regulars

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    I agree, backpacks are for little kids. That Wilson's bag might work. I've had this canvas Blackpaw for over 10 years and used it through college. Even taken it to the shooting range a couple times. To me it looks more like a laptop bag than a messenger bag but either way, I'm impressed with it's functionality and semi-nice looks. I know where all my crap is without digging and it's quite rugged. The front flap has mesh on the inside so you can put wet umbrellas in it. I'm not sure where Blackpaw is made now but this was made in Korea and cost about $40 in 2000. Don't underestimate the abuse your bag will take over 4 years of school.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Duluth Trading use to have a Leather Plumbers Bag that would work well.
     
  10. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

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    They still do. A nice little case. It may be out of the original poster's $40 - $60 price range though. Duluth carries several bags that would be perfect for his described use, only they're probably both out of an average starving student's price range.

    Czech Plumber's Bag
    [​IMG]
    Item 58007
    $139.50


    Bashful Billionaire's Briefcase
    [​IMG]
    Item 71038
    $225.00
     
  11. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

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  12. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    Thank you for the responses everyone. I just realized that I haven't checked this thread since I started it.

    Yeah you're right. I guess I just don't like the stereotypes associated with them, but I wouldn't mind having some sort of satchel eventually. I wear leather jackets often, so a military inspired (or original) one would be good; olive drab, khaki, or brown.



    I'm thinking something like this would suit my purpose:

    http://www.allbibles.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=836601001692&eq=&Tp=&Bc=

    It looks like a briefcase, although I doubt it's actually leather or all that durable. I can see myself using this instead of a backpack if I wear a suit or sports jacket. I just don't want to look like this:

    http://theclassicgentleman.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/suit-carrying-backpack.jpg

    No offense intended to the gentleman in the photo.


    Fifty150: Your suggestions are good as well. I'll check those sites out.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  13. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

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    That sounds like it's just about big enough for a bible.
     
  14. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    Maybe I must have misinterpreted the size... you're right, it's probably just for one Bible or book of similar size, not several. I don't think that's what I'm going to get.
     
  15. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    London, UK
    I hate that "nylon backpack with a suit" look. That said, don't dismiss too quickly the option of a bag you can carry over two shoulders if you are likely to be carrying a lot of heavy stuff. I still have one weak shoulder from years of being far too self-conciously "cool" to beseen carrying a bag over both shoulders.

    The best way of keeping the price down is to go non-leather, though almost inevitably this will lead to compromise on vintage aesthetic if you also seek something weatherproof. Derinitely worth scouring the bay. You're unlikely to find a used Saddleback near your budget, but Cambridge Satchell Co are worth checking out. They have a model you can switch between shoulder strap and back pack carrying, could be a good option.

     
  16. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    London, UK
    Also... from experience, for now avoid a rigid-shaped attache case style, they're too unforgiving in terms of how much they will fit, and generally only really designed for transferring a few papers and a packed lunch between car and office.
     
  17. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    Makes sense, thanks, although they do look nice and professional.

    Actually, something like this picture would probably be perfect for my needs, judging how thick it is:


    http://www.ebags.com/product/heritage/catalog-case/757?productid=1828##

    I may place an order on that, and it's affordable for me.
     
  18. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    Although it's not as nice as some of the suggestions here, I ended up buying a "Timbuk2" messenger back at Sports Chalet this evening. Somewhat ironic, since I had doubts about getting one before (the whole "murse" thing basically), but it's very functional for how I would use it. This is what mine looks like:

    [​IMG]

    I like it, the color is a simple earth-tone, which is what I was after, and the strap is detachable; I could either hang it around my neck, or just carry the bag.


    Thanks for the recommendations everyone!
     
  19. Fifty150

    Fifty150 Practically Family

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    Being from San Francisco, I'm partial to the Timbuk2 line. I've been to their store, and really like their products. It may not be in line with members of this forum who shun modern items because they're not vintage. But Timbuk2 sells a very good bag. I've got a laptop computer bag from them that I use from time to time. I usually use my Timbuk2 on days off when I'm in sweats and riding my bike. So tell me, just how is that nylon messenger bag going to look with a suit?
     
  20. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    I'll see when I find an occasion I'd expect to find myself in a suit. I'll have to bring it with me anyway because I'll be carrying my books and laptop in it. I think it will look a lot better than wearing a backpack would (with a suit especially), that's the difference I wanted to make most importantly. I also would wear it with my new Wested Raiders of the Lost Ark jacket (and it may look a bit Indy that way too). It may not look that bad, but I knew it wasn't going to give me a vintage look.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

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