- Buyer's Guide
Best Work Backpack Finalists – Second Annual Carry Awards
There’s always a lot of love for the Work Backpack. If this was the Oscars, it’d probably be the award for Best Lead Actor. So when we finally open up the lines and the votes flood in, we’re forced to hire a horde of trained monkeys to help us collate the data, but don’t worry, I’m one of them.
And thankfully, we’ve clawed through the mountains of votes, including from our contributors, and risen to the surface clutching a handful of really special items.
To refresh, a good Work Backpack should look great in an office. That generally means refined, not too techie and not a colour that resembles a Skittle or a Martian.
It should also be comfortable on the commute to-and-from work – no aching shoulders. And it should travel well when you get that bug to just pack up and jetset somewhere with slightly cheaper cocktails.
With that in mind, let’s kick it off…
You have two votes to use as you will…
Allocate your 1st choice with 2 points
And your 2nd choice just with the 1 point.
Note: any votes made over the allotted limit will be wiped from the voting tally.
Is anyone else radically impressed by the refinement Cote & Ciel have undergone over the last few years? From a quirky and offbeat fashion carry brand, they are now a serious force for awesomeness, represented in many of the coolest retailers around the world. Their Isar backpack has grown up with them, getting some slick, banging colorways, and a range of fabrics that would keep anyone interested.
The Drive backpack is tough without being intimidating, and simple without being basic. Some great hardware, a floating laptop pocket, and solid weather resistance all tick the boxes. While it was only just over a year ago that it’s predecessor the Magnitude launched on Kickstarter, this pack has already evolved into a more refined and sorted carry piece. When you add that whole masculine motorbike vibe that the brand goes for, you can see why the Drive is a popular nominee.
One of the issues with manly bags is that they’re typically developed by manly men, so they’re often BIG. For smaller folk, they can make you feel teeny. As Goruck broaden their fanbase, they’re scaling their bags for an ever wider audience. Hence the GR0 – a scaled down GR1. The GR0 has all the cult traits of its larger brother, only sized for those under 6 foot. Oh, and Gorucks now have color options (even though we’d still buy black).
Could it be that black high denier nylon is finally departing it’s last refuge, amongst those airport brands who helped popularize it? Not only does the Diligence relax its form with a soft drape cotton blend fabric, it also has a softer form, giving a much more casual appearance than we’re used to from Tumi. This is a versatile pack for moving between work, travel or play. And yes, there’s complementary monogramming.
Most shoulder bags that can transform to backpacks take so long to do so, you never bother. Instead, you haul across your eighth airport terminal with an aching shoulder and an emptying jar of ibuprofen. Qwstion have resolved this with a sweet pivoting strap and a handsome hybrid office bag that will look sharp in any work environment.
As KILLSPENCER continue their march up market, the Special Ops 2.0 sheds some of it’s tactical vibe and replaces it with a big dose of minimalist lux. A starkly simple silhouette, some primo fabrics, zippers going to metal rather than grid, that same beautiful internal pocketing, and then just a bit less of everything else. This is less military and more Pitti Uomo, but it’s awesome.
First up, T-Level are rad and getting radder – we’re expecting big growth from these guys over the coming year. Next up, their Infinity Roll-top would seem the more obvious choice for a nomination, but it’s the new Uno and Dos that we’ve fallen for. These simple silhouettes have loads of sophisticated patterning, just enough structure, and all the organizing you actually need. The Dos just feels so buyable because it’s got the basics so right. This is great carry.
Looking something like the Chrome Ivan’s great uncle, the Wilderness Rucksack is seriously classic from the day it was released. This is an adult backpack in a way that few manage, stirring frontier emotions without the same cliche toolkit most heritage brands are drawing from. Balancing a huge main space, pocketing, and comfortable straps, we’re loving the progress Tanner have been making.
– VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED –
What’s not here?
You’ll see some nice work backpacks show up in our Carry On nominations. Sometimes, the lines can blur between these two spaces.