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Choosing a Backpack or Purse for College

BY Buffalo Jackson Insight
BY Amanda Uher

Debating between a backpack or purse for college this fall? It may feel like you have to sacrifice either function or fashion. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Whether you choose a backpack or purse, stylish AND practical options abound.


If you’re planning to carry a heavier load to class or the library, then a backpack is a solid choice. Using the two straps to evenly distribute the bag’s weight across both shoulders will help you avoid back and shoulder soreness -- especially if you’ve got a long walk.

But don’t worry -- your college backpack doesn’t have to look like your old nylon or polyester high school bookbag. Backpacks for college can be much more stylish and mature simply with a change of material. Consider a leather backpack, for example. This leather backpack has an interior laptop sleeve and plenty of pockets, while still maintaining a slim profile.

Not into leather? Check out waxed canvas. Like your old canvas Jansport bag, but all grown up, this waxed canvas commuter backpack includes a laptop sleeve and adds even more interior room, plus water bottle pockets and padded straps!


Want to carry a purse on campus instead of a backpack? That’s definitely possible -- if you’re looking at the right kind of purses. Consider how much you plan to carry. Just a pen and a notebook? Or a laptop and a book? Plus your keys, ID, and a coffee too?

Versatile, practical, and on-trend, a leather or waxed canvas tote makes a fantastic purse for college. Totes are generally roomy enough for a laptop and book or two, but they’re easily styled as a purse. Since you carry a tote on one shoulder, comfort-wise they’re not the best choice for heavy loads. But if what you need is a throw-it-all-in-and-run-to-class (or Starbucks) bag, then a tote is the choice for you.

A crossbody purse is another functional and stylish on-campus option. Wearing the purse across your body adds security and keeps it hands-free for those walks across campus to the library or the coffee shop.

Backpack Purse

Here’s another option: a purse that IS a backpack! The best of both worlds, this sort of bag is sized and styled like a purse but carried like a backpack. Smaller than a more traditional backpack, this drawstring leather backpack is still quite roomy inside. (This one also comes in a waxed canvas version.)

Whether you choose a backpack or purse for college, invest in a bag that will go the distance with you. And remember to find a backpack or purse that works for your needs while still expressing your personal style.

Shop our Backpacks Here
Related Articles:
How to Wear a Crossbody Bag
Shoulder Bag vs Tote
Waxed Canvas vs Leather
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