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The Bags Our Staff Actually Uses to Commute to Work

Backpacks, messengers, totes and more.

Chase Pellerin

At Gear Patrol, our staff is always on the move, testing gear of all sizes in the office and in the field. So naturally, we’re pretty discerning when it comes to the bags we use on our daily commutes. While some of us have cars, other rely on public transportation in the greater New York City area, so we’re able to gauge the size and functionality of a bag on an everyday basis. While the favorite design of commuter bags ranges widely between staff members — backpacks, messenger bags, totes — the functional end game is the same. Here are the bags we actually use to commute to work.

Waterfield Designs Vitesse Messenger Bag


“For the longest time, I commuted to work with a backpack. A cool backpack, but still a backpack. On the streets of Manhattan, I assumed that most people thought by my boyish charm and lack of arm hair that I was going to high-school. Maybe college. In my late 20s, I decided to shake that perception… and I did, by purchasing this beautiful, sophisticated messenger bag.” — Tucker Bowe, Staff Writer

Buy Now: $159

Filson Original Briefcase


“I love the rugged heft of this bag, and I love the fact that I don’t feel goofy carrying it, no matter if I’m wearing a suit and tie or a t-shirt and jeans. It’s styled so well that it projects quality and attention to detail, without ever seeming fussy. It also has more capacity than what you’d expect at first glance — I’ve totally filled it up before, but that was when I was carrying gym clothes, a large water bottle, a sandwich, two books, a thick magazine and my laptop. For a dedicated briefcase, I think that’s pretty good. 

“Before I bought this, I was totally a backpack guy. I loathed messenger bags and briefcases, as well as the people who carried them. But now that I’ve found the perfect one, I get the appeal; this style of bag is much more low-profile on a crowded subway car, you don’t have to take it off and swing it around to get inside the pockets, and it looks like I’m put together. All these factors aid my attempted transformation from a gawky college kid to, uh, an absolute yuppie. Thanks, Filson.” — Andy Frakes, Editorial Assistant

Buy Now: $325

The North Face Yavapai Backpack


“My mom bought me this backpack in the fall of 2004, just in time for my sophomore year of high school. I’ve used it ever since. It’s been to Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, North America, the Caribbean and more, and it still hasn’t fallen apart (though the internal lining is beginning to finally crumble and get all over my stuff). I keep telling myself I’ll replace it, but at that the end of the day, this one just has too many years’ worth of memories associated with it.” — Oren Hartov, Assistant Editor

Buy Now: $89

Douglas Rose Stockton Black Bag


“I have tons of backpacks. They work great when I’ve got jiujitsu practice after work, or when I have errands to run. On the days when things are less complicated, I try to dress like an adult that has his life together. This bag is sleek, sharp and holds a laptop and a few odds and ends comfortably.” — Andrew Haynes, Senior Art Director

Buy Now: $750

Evergoods CPL 24


“This bag is simple, durable and understated. It’s got GoRuck vibes, without screaming mil-spec intensity. There’s a side-access laptop pocket that’s invaluable, one big accessory pocket on the front, some internal pockets and a large panel-loading opening that makes it easy to access what’s inside. Plus, my girlfriend spilled a milkshake all over it and it survived the washing machine — it doesn’t get better than that.” — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

Buy Now: $229

Côte and Ciel RISS Coated Canvas Laptop Bag


“Having not seen me, this bag may make me look like a techwear person — this is far from the truth. I don’t know how to wear techwear; it looks very cool, but anything with the word “tech” attached to it is typically not in my own product zeitgeist (hence, Home & Design writer). But because I appreciate the look, and this bag weighs very little, makes me look like I might know what I’m doing (I don’t) and water matters fuck-all to it, I adore it and have made it my daily bag. I find it dresses up or down fairly easily in the city, and it receives compliments from urban ninjas and stockbrokers alike.” — Will Price, Associate Staff Writer

Buy Now: $265

Topo Designs Backpack Tote


“Though no longer offered, Topo Designs’ Backpack Tote is either a vertical-loading handbag or a thin-profile backpack. I love being able to simply toss the tote handles over my shoulder in the morning (completely avoiding sweaty back syndrome). In the evening, I’ll throw it on my back for a more compact fit as I hustle to catch the train. In either configuration, it’s been a complete trooper. Whether I’m chugging up 5th Ave or sitting down in a client’s boardroom, it almost always gets compliments. Best of all, the more I’ve used it, the better it seems to look!” — Kyle Snarr, Head of Marketing

Learn More: Here

Cotopaxi Volta 35L


“Sometimes my work commute includes an airplane. When that’s the case, I turn to Cotopaxi’s Volta 35L to carry the load—it’s roomy with a handful of pockets dedicated to keeping my smaller doodads organized. The laptop sleeve has an exterior zipper making it easy to move through security fluidly and, if I’m traveling with my kids, it moonlights as a well-disguised diaper bag; the front pocket is roomy enough to stash wipes, diapers, teething toys, and pacifiers, and, most importantly, in a handy, quick-grab location. Rolltops aren’t for everyone — my husband laments the possibility of things spilling out — but I like that I can cinch the bag down to a more compact size when it’s not full for everyday use” — Ali Carr Troxell, Managing Editor, Editorial Operations

Learn More: Here

Aether x Mystery Ranch Backpack


“I’m a big fan of Mystery Ranch backpacks and have a couple that I use when traveling. This collaboration with California-based Aether is perfect for the city, though. It’s a convenient 21L size that can be cinched down when it’s not packed full. The outer is made from water-resistant nylon and inner has organizing sleeves for a laptop and tablet along with a water bottle and other accessories. It’s functional and durable, and importantly, the right size.” — John Zientek, Staff Writer

Buy Now: $235

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