The Briefcase is Dead. All Hail the Backpack!

backpack business work

Times they are a changin' - backpacks for work are on the rise

Times they are a changin’, and these times are very interesting, no doubt about it. In whichever aspect of our lives that you look at, from how we eat, work, play, communicate, or even dress, chances are high that how we do things nowadays would be almost entirely unrecognizable to people just a few generations back; and things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

One of the more startlingly revealing examples just how much things are changing is taking place right now in one of the areas that have always had a notorious reputation for its adherence to formality, conformity and resistance to change - your office workplace. And what symbolizes a new day in American office workplaces the most? The backpack.

So how did this happen? Is it a trend or are the professional backpacks for work here to stay? Here's our take on this intriguing topic.


Only Millennials? Think Again

Anybody old enough to have owned a Discman at some point in their lives will remember the time when everybody with the slightest claim to allegiance to the corporate scene, from door-to-door insurance pushers to multinational CEO’s wouldn’t be caught dead heading out without a briefcase in hand, and heaven forbid they show up at the office with a backpack slung over their shoulders. No matter how impractical the briefcase would be for your everyday commuting or work, it was just something that you had to accept.

Not too long ago showing up with a backpack in front of a receptionist would have seen you sent off in the direction of the mailroom. Not anymore! The professional backpacks are blitzkrieging their way into office spaces and boardrooms from coast to coast.

Now, what makes the rise of the professional backpack all the more curious, is the fact that you won’t see it carried into the building exclusively by youngish millennial twenty-somethings, but by an ever-widening age range. You’ll find people over the age of 50, who throughout their working lives had their beloved briefcases firmly clutched in hand, well represented amongst the ranks of the recent backpack converts.


Sales Are Booming

Retail trend data in the USA indicates that in the last two years, the sales volumes of adult’s backpacks have been rising steadily, seeing an increase of 5% in the period between August of last year and August this year. That translates to sales of up to $864 million, which represents a hefty 48% of the entire backpack market in the United States of America.

But how did it happen? Three main reasons can explain the rise of the backpack as a legitimate bag for the office:
  • Reinvention of design
  • Change of office culture
  • Changing needs


Reinvention of Design

In recent years bag companies have reinvented the concept of the professional backpacks for work Completely. Gone are the amorphous, sad, and defeated looking rucksacks in cheap polyester and Chinese mystery material that we were forced to make do with.

The professional backpacks have evolved from technical and utilitarian designs that simply get the job done and pay no mind to aesthetics or comfort to finely crafted upscale designs in sumptuous leather or tasteful combinations of fabrication. Labels are crafting new offerings every day, coming up with everything from supple suede rucksacks, safari-styled leather-trimmed bags, to functional yet patently fashionable flip-tops. Backpacks have become more executive and the selection today is a far cry from what we had to do with only five years back.

eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack


Change of Office Culture

The second compelling explanation for the backpack revolution would be the recent explosion of the informal-to-the-core philosophy of the startup generation, with its far-reaching influence skewing the business world in general towards a more casual footing.

Surely though, a more solid explanation could be quite simply the fact that the traditional briefcases don’t meet today’s professional needs. Whether you consider interns or CEO’s, nobody’s hauling around stacks of paperwork home with them every evening; and even if you still are, you probably want more than just your files along with you. Office culture has become less formal and strict, and so have the acceptable bags.


Changing Needs

Frequent traveling for work is more common than ever, even in junior positions. A versatile backpack can attend to both your travel and professional needs in ways a briefcase could never do. Generally, today everyone needs a laptop bag, but also use their work bag to fill their needs before and after. They would want to have, for example, their laptop, maybe some workout gear for the gym later, a water bottle, or anything else you might possibly think of. All this while seeking the freedom to multitask that only a backpack would enable.

In past times briefcases tied up one hand as soon as you were on your feet, and were prone to get lost or stolen once you sat down somewhere. They just don’t answer to modern lifestyle’s demands anymore.

OGIO Wheelie Pack



Gone are the days when you needed a fancy briefcase for work. As today everyone has a laptop and workers’ needs (frequent travel, carrying laptops instead of papers etc.) and professional norms and conventions changed, so has the entire concept of the professional backpack for work. From merely technical boring designs, the backpacks for work have evolved to finally address aesthetics and comfort, and incorporate high-quality upscale materials such as leather.

All that said, it’s still important to maintain a certain level of restraint when it comes to picking out your backpack for work. Stick to sophisticated minimalism and avoiding garish color schemes and cartoon emblems. Make sure you invest in a good backpack that meets your versatile needs because the backpacks are here to stay.

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