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Trading my Tote Bags for a Backpack Is the Best Decision I've Made All Year

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I’m one of those girls — you know the type — who carries everything she owns with her at all times. We’re talking computer, notebooks, magazines, bottles of water, snacks, makeup back, gym clothes, an extra sweater, and more gum wrappers than I would care to admit. For the past seven years this has a meant a daily commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again with one of my giant, Mary Poppins-like tote bags to fit all that junk— and one side of my body bearing the brunt of the weight.

A few months ago it started to catch up to me. My right shoulder hurt constantly and I had visions of myself aging into a lopsided old woman, crippled by the weight of a lifetime of belongings carried on one arm. I tried using smaller purses, but that turned into carrying multiple canvas totes on top of the purse in order to fit my computer, my lunch, or my sneakers for the commute. Determined not to be a bag lady, I gave into practicality and decided to get a backpack.

The last time I bought a backpack was probably the year 1997, and it definitely was not cute. It was one of those giant L.L. Bean book bags with a monogram — I’m sure you remember them from grade school or middle school — with puffy straps and two huge pockets. Somehow, with my leather tote bag blinders on, I hadn’t paid enough attention to the fashion brands producing book bags over the past few years. There are now so many stylish, grown women sporting the look without looking nerdy or like little kids.

To make up on lost time, I did my fair share of browsing the huge (and pricey) designer selection on sites like Net-A-Porter and Farfetch — $1,690 Gucci backpack, anyone? But ultimately didn't want to spend more than $100, so I was thrilled when I came across the new-ish, New York–based brand State Bags, which makes a number of options in fun colors that hover in the $80–$125 range. (As a bonus, they also donate a backpack to an American school child in need for each one purchased.) I opted for a black, $80 satin-y one, because black goes with everything and the silver zippers make it feel like it’s meant to be worn with my moto jacket (which I wear all the time). It has a roomy pocket, a slip for my laptop, two front zipper pockets for my cell phone, wallet, and various loose items (like makeup and gum wrappers) plus a tiny side pocket that I keep my keys in.

And the best part? No more back pain, and no more fear of permanent, tote bag–induced bodily damage. Why on earth did I wait so long to make the switch?

Check out the bag I purchased below, plus a few of the other styles from State Bags.

Cute backpacks State Bags Lorimer Backpack, $80

Denim Smith Backpack State Bags Denim Smith Backpack, $80

Adams Backpack State Bags Adams Backpack, $85