ISSUE 46  |  All in the Family

Editors’ Picks: 11 Favorite Urban Backpacks

November 21, 2014 12:00 PM

BY Izabella Simmons

Something must be in the air: We’ve all been ditching our shoulder bags and converting to backpacks. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re constantly hauling around computers, cords, phones, and notepads, along with the usual load of everyday accessories. Here’s a roundup of our latest favorites.

Let us know: What’s your favorite backpack?

Above: Lately, I’ve been admiring the work of Kika NY, a Brooklyn-based studio established by Kika Vliegenthart and Sabine Spanjer. Their Canvas Harvest Backpack is available in black or tan water-resistant waxed canvas and features bridle leather straps and brass hardware. The bag has two dividers (large enough to fit a 13-inch laptop) and a small pocket on the back panel; $335 from Kika NY.


Above: It wasn’t until Alexa saw the Building Block Rucksack in person (on someone’s back in the subway) that she realized just how much she loved it. It’s the kind of backpack that, with a slip of the extendable strap and flipped over to a single shoulder, could double as a bag for the evening; $530 from Building Block. To see the Building Block shop and studio space, visit our post True Grit: The New Iko Iko Shop in LA.

Above: Julie has her eye on the 12-inch-tall Mansur Gavriel Backpack, made from Italian vegetable-tanned leather and available in six colors (with contrasting interior); $745 from Mansur Gavriel.


Above: Francesca likes the Mercer backpack from State Bags. “This could be our go-to family backpack: simple, classic design that anyone could carry (adults, teens, kids). And for every bag sold, the Brooklyn company donates one to a child in need,” says Francesca. The Mercer bag features a water-repellent waxed cotton canvas exterior and adjustable leather straps. The interior includes a zippered iPad pocket and padded laptop sleeve; $225 from State Bags.

Above: Julie is a fan of the lightweight, handmade nylon Hammer Backpack with leather handles from Tokyo-based company Postalco; it’s $618 from La Garconne.

Above: Margot says, “I’m a longtime backpack addict. I carry one every day, usually paired with a tote bag; the combo of bag in hand and bag on back feels perfectly balanced to me.” Her current pick: This Classic Backpack of waterproof sailcloth with leather detailing from This Is Paper of Warsaw, Poland; €120 ($150.64). “It’s not too big, not too small, and, most importantly to me, not too heavy”, adds Margot. 


Above: Justine is a backpack lover (in fact, she has devoted an entire Pinterest board to various versions she admires). Her choice comes from the Netherlands. The handmade Minimal Rucksack is available in black and nude leather and features a rope handle that can be adjusted to make a handbag; $341.36 via Chris Van Veghel’s Etsy shop. 


Above: Christine’s go-to backpack is the Frances Waxed Cotton Rucksack in navy (shown here in olive) by Ally Capellino; £224 ($351.72).


Above: Sarah recently spotted (and admired) the Military Backpack in Nylon Canvas made by Yoshida for Margaret Howell. “I have had several Japanese bags over the years, and they are well-made and long-lasting,” she says. The backpack is £435 ($682) via Margaret Howell.


Above: On Janet’s wish list: The navy and black Rucksack by Southern Field Industries is handmade in Saitama, Japan, by artisan husband-and-wife team Manabu and Keiko Okada. The bag is made of heavyweight Japanese waxed canvas and accented with soft, supple vegetable-tanned leather and brass fittings; $398 from Roztayger. 

Above: Meredith’s pick is definitely on the rugged side of urban style–what else would you expect from a Pacific Northwester? She likes Filson’s water-repellent Rucksack in navy, which “fits all my work gear (laptop, camera, notebook) but is surprisingly light,” she says. The Rucksack is $290 at Filson.

For more Editors’ Picks: