When I moved to Berlin in 2016, I had no idea about how to schelp my stuff for a full day in the city. I had been living in St. Louis, where everything I needed could be thrown in the back of my Honda CR-V. I could go between different neighborhoods, grabbing what I needed for each from the back seat. I had been spoiled by the convenience of having a car. But that wouldn’t be the case in Germany.
At nine times the size of Paris, Berlin is huge. And I’m a freelance writer with a Class Pass-style gym membership and a passion for finding the best flat whites to knock down while I work. That means that when I head out for the day, I head out—“swinging by” my apartment just to pick up something isn’t a thing.
For a year, I lugged around a New Yorker tote (I know), overflowing with gym clothes, a small bag of post-spin makeup, my laptop, my charger, a portable phone battery, a bulky European adapter, and an array of little things that I might need throughout the day. (Did you know that the approximate 6 lbs. a woman’s bag weighs on average?) I began to notice my posture take a hit—my left shoulder (which I carried the tote on) was always slightly slouched, and I often caught myself in a shrug position to counter the weight. Yoga helped for a minute, but by the following morning, it would all come back. So, I finally broke down: Fine. I’ll get a fucking backpack.
I had honestly never thought of wearing backpacks as an adult. I still felt haunted by the paranoia that my backpack was making the back of my skirt ride up and I was accidentally flashing people. Plus, to me, they always felt much too sporty for my typical look (dark lipstick, Doc Martens, floral wrap dresses.) I still feel ambivalent about athleisure. But looking around Berlin, it seemed like everyone had embraced backpacks—Germans are all about health and practicality, and a ton of people ride bikes, so it makes sense for the lifestyle. I started looking around on the subway, eyeing the tags on the backpacks I liked to educate myself on brands. Then, one day, I went to my favorite I-want-everything homeware store in Kreuzberg, and left with a $95 backpack from Rains that I’ve been wearing ever since. Approximately half of the people in my neighborhood also own my Rains backpack of choice—seriously, I can’t go anywhere without spotting someone with the same style.
I love that its matte black finish is both stylish (it goes with everything) and practical (waterproof.) I never have to worry about my laptop getting wet or lost, and the outer is super easy to wipe clean. It holds several days’ worth of groceries, or enough clothes for a 10-day trip—I know from experience, since I’ve brought it with me on trips to New York, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, London, Reykjavík, and southern Italy. Minus a slightly bent strap-latch, it’s held up remarkably well.
I’m not alone in my conversion: According to a recent Forbes report, women are buying fewer handbags (8 percent less in 2017 than the year before) and, seemingly more backpacks (purchases by women are up 15 percent, while they’re down 5 percent among men and and 15 percent among children.) Sure, sometimes the backpack life can be frustrating—like when I forget my keys in the bottom and have to unpack everything in the stairwell of my apartment to get into my flat—but that’s a me-problem, not a backpack-problem. My dress doesn’t ride up, because I’m no longer a fresh-eyed 13-year-old trying to wear their backpack low like the cool kids (so that was the problem!); instead, I’m a jaded 28-year-old with the posture issues of someone of more advanced years. This backpack is my savior; this backpack can do no wrong. And yes, my shoulders are feeling much, much better.
Shop the backpack that changed it all for me and nine like it, ahead.
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