How to Find a Comfortable and Affordable Work Bag

If you're anything like us, you schlep stuff. A lot of stuff. So to ease the pain of carrying a serious amount of things to and from the office, here are a few tips for finding the perfect work bag that won't break your back—or the bank.

1. Try a backpack.

From left to right: Marc by Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon Knapsack, $198. Kate Spade New York Raimy Backpack, $278. Lonchamp Veau Foulonne backpack, $462.

The biggest issue with carrying a lot of stuff is that all that stuff will hurt your back. Aside from a roller bag, Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Associate Professor at the University of California, San Diego Dr. Douglas Chang told us to use a padded backpack.

"The best recommendation from an orthopedic perspective is to use a roller bag," Dr. Chang says. "Otherwise, a backpack-like bag with dual shoulder pads would be more comfortable than a messenger bag. If you have to use a messenger bag, wear it low with the computer across the lower back."

Opt for ones made of a soft fabric so they won't dig into your shoulders while you are carrying it, and will evenly distribute the weight of all your junk.

2. Pick a bag made out of a lighter fabric.

From left to right: Marc by Marc Jacobs Preppy Nylon Dakota, $278. Rebecca Minkoff Boyfriend tote bag, $117. Topshop Aztec Sack Bag, $50.

Nylon, canvas, and straw are all much lighter weight than leather. So even if you are still trucking a lot along, you won't feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

3. Find one with thick straps.


From left to right: Cole Haan Jitney Color Block Tote, $70. Lo & Sons "The Brookline" 15-inch laptop tote, $198.

Part of the reason a heavy bag hurts so much is because the straps are too thin and dig into your shoulders. Find nice sturdy straps that stay steady on your shoulder.

4. Use e-commerce sites with designer discounts.


Aside from the physics of a good bag, it's really hard to find one a bag that's price matches the quality. Shop on sites like Gilt, Bluefly, and Piperlime to score some serious steals. Look for deals on small cross-body bags and fashion-forward backpacks.

5. Consolidate.
It may be hard, but sometimes, all you need is a spring (summer?) cleaning. Edit down what you're taking to work—papers from meetings months ago, two extra chargers, five lipsticks—and maybe you won't need to purchase a new bag after all!
A staff account at Livingly Media - the home of zimbio.com, stylebistro.com, and lonny.com.
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