editors gift picks

The Backpack That Strangers Compliment Me On

The team here at New York is nothing if not opinionated, especially about the stuff they’re grabbing (and giving) for the holidays. From now until mid-December, we’ll be posting items that our staffers really stand behind — that also make great gifts. Below, staff writer Jada Yuan on the backpack that strikes up conversation in cafés.

I spent months, even years looking for the perfect backpack that I could use to haul my computer around during the day but also take out to events at night and not feel like a hobo (I do a lot of reporting in the evening). Most of the fancy leather ones on the market have unpadded straps that hurt my shoulders and make me worry about my back. The ones with padded straps — like Jansport or Eastsport, even Herschel — are huge and make me feel like a sixth-grader.

Once, while out with a friend, I mentioned admiring her nephew’s backpack (it looked just the right size and very comfortable) — and she just went ahead and bought it for me. Now, it comes with me everywhere. It’s got a slim profile and a slot for both a computer and an iPad, making it perfect as a computer bag. When I’m traveling, it’s impossible to overstuff (it’s no Patagonia that I can only use to half-capacity), so airlines never hassle me for throwing it in an overhead bin along with my suitcase. Did I mention pockets? Tons for tape recorders, lipstick, pens, batteries, you name it. The straps are indeed padded and sport a bunch of loops so I can hang my water bottle from a carabiner when it won’t fit in my bag. It’s even a conversation starter: I get tons of compliments on the design (I have the version with the elk on it) in coffee shops — which is nice, since I’m single — but I think a lot of the other designs are classy, too. The price is so nice I’m thinking about getting another one (as a gift, or yes, for myself). And for those who mind, it’s vegan, too.

Focused Space Backpack

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The Backpack That Strangers Compliment Me On