Every career professional needs a reliable bag. After all, you trust this bag to carry your papers, electronic devices, umbrella, wallet, lunch and more on a daily basis. The Jansport backpack you had in college just won’t do anymore, it’s time to move on to the next level. But how do you choose the right bag that would meet your professional environment, your needs and your style? Simply answer the following 4 questions.
1. What are your needs?
First things first – what will you be carrying in your bag? Do you need a big backpack or briefcase for your laptop and papers, or do you keep your materials at your workplace? How important to you is that the bag has many compartments and zippers for better internal organization (and to protect your phone from being scratched by your keys)?
Make sure the bag you buy is comfortable, first and foremost that it’s not too heavy, adding more weight to your already heavy laptop and documents. If it’s a backpack, make sure that it’s got proper padding on the back and the straps. If it’s a shoulder or messenger bag that you’re interested in, see that the strap is not only padded but also wide enough for better distribution of the weight on your shoulder. From the perspective of comfort and health, a good backpack is the best choice.
Another thing to consider is whether the bag might be used for some errands or things that are not purely work related. Maybe you go to the gym or pass by the supermarket for a few little things after work, so it’s a good idea to leave some space for some unplanned extras, but at the same time, avoid buying a bag that’s too big relative to your body. As a rule of thumb, you probably don’t need a bag with a capacity larger than 25 liters.
2. Where do you work?
What’s your office culture like? Do you and your colleagues wear buttoned shirts and suits or can you show up for work wearing T-shirts and jeans? It goes without saying that the you’re your work tends towards the business/law/management fields, the more you need a high quality, classy bag, be it a briefcase, a shoulder bag, a hand bag or a backpack for your laptop (although the last one doesn’t always go with a suit). If you work for a company with a younger atmosphere, the overall looks can be more laid back and trendy.
3. How do you commute?
How do you get to work every day? Do you commute by car, use public transport or get to work by foot or by bicycle? If you commute by car and throw your bag on the passenger seat, the weight of the bag and the comfort of carrying it are not as important as when you carry it on your back or shoulder throughout the city. However, if you commute by bicycle, it makes sense to purchase a backpack or messenger bag. If you commute often in rainy weather and want to protect your laptop and papers, also make sure that your bag can handle it either by design, having an incorporated cover, or by treating it with a spray-on repellent.
Another thing to consider is how often you travel for work. This is relevant both for the comfort of carrying the bag between airports and cities, as well as the impression you’d like to have on the people you meet n case that you’re meeting them straight after landing. A more structured bag would not only be more comfortable and look more elegant, it would also be better for your body and could save you unnecessary visits to the orthopedist in the long run.
4. What’s your style?
Like everything else life, your preferred bag is a matter of taste and old habits. First you have to choose the type of the bag – will it be a briefcase, a backpack or a messenger bag? As mentioned above, the briefcase is considered the classiest option, but it’s not the most comfortable one. If you carry a lot and don’t get to work by your car, a backpack or shoulder bag might be better for you.
When it comes to picking colors, if your workplace has a formal dress code, stay conservative and go for black or brown as they would match most of your clothes. Prefer structured elegant bags with that retain their shape even when empty and avoid big brand logos. Leather is the more stylish material when it comes to briefcases and shoulder bags, while the hi-techy fabrics are considered more practical and professional (with them always go for the blacks). You can leave the basic polyester backpack for other uses.
Working for a company with a younger spirit would allow you to try more modern, and less conservative types of bags, with a wider range of materials, structures and colors. In any case, keep in mind that you’re still looking for a bag to be used primarily for work, so maybe keep the really wild colors and designs for after hours.
Choosing the right bag for work doesn’t have one clear answer, as it depends a lot on you, your professional environment, and your needs. However, by answering the four questions above, you should have a better picture of how to find the right bag for you - a bag that would meet your needs, send the right message to your colleagues and boss, and would be comfortable to carry.
To conclude, think of your new bag as an investment. The higher its quality the longer and better it would serve you, and we all know good bags can be used for decades!