With September fast approaching, back to school—and by default, back-to-school shopping—is on the brain for many. But you don’t have to be hitting the books to refresh your stash of stationery, Sharpies, and backpacks. (Or any bag for that matter.)
Below, a selection of our favourite carriers, totes, and rucksacks that look as good in the hallway as they do in the airport, gym, office, and en route to Sunday brunch. And like with your favourite ballpoint pen (shout out to Muji!), don’t feel the need to limit yourself to one.
Design buffs and eco-conscious cool hunters will find their match in the Zand-erover backpack ($465). As functional as it is chic, the understated sack is designed and handcrafted in the Netherlands with sturdy, European-sourced leather and minimal amounts of waste.
The asymmetrical brass zip adds a certain je ne sais quoi—is there a Dutch equivalent of this phrase?—while adjustable, extra-wide straps provide the wearer with optimal comfort and support. Inside, the pack boasts a separate pouch and a surprising amount of space for digital and stationery goods.
Find it at Lion & Sun (4219 Main Street).
If the Stan Smiths gracing the feet of everyone and their grandma wasn’t enough indication, Adidas is back, y’all, and it’s bigger than ever. And though we’re not ones to shy away from refined runners and tracksuits, we’re digging the athletic label’s Farm Chita Backpack ($59.99).
Featuring a crimson hue and bright, contrasting blooms supplied by the Farm Company, a Brazilian brand known for its heavy-handed use of lucid floral graphics, this is one 'pack you can count on to do the talking on days where your outfit is unfussier than it is loud.
Find it at Sport Chek (various locations).
Designed and manufactured in Japan, Porter’s Tanker 3-Way Briefcase ($455) is perfect for the citizen on the go. Like its name suggests, the bag can be worn one of three ways—as a briefcase, backpack, or over-the-shoulder tote—making it a great pick for indecisive shoppers who are torn between styles, too.
Modeled after the MA-1 military jacket—a high-performance pilot coat developed by the United States Air Force pre–Vietnam War—it’s crafted from a durable nylon; features plentiful pockets for your laptop, books, and pens; and comes coated in the same olive-and-orange colourway found on the original flight threads.
Find it at Neighbour (12 Water Street).
Who says lunch bags are restricted to tots? Ditch the brown paper and nab one of Joseph Henry Workshop’s Waxed Canvas Lunch Sacks ($55) and you’ll see afternoon mealtime in a new light.
Handcrafted in Vancouver, the carriers are coated in a blend of paraffin and beeswax that impart a delicate honeyed scent and just the right amount of structure, so it remains upright when you’re packing and unpacking your turkey on rye. Leather details—with the option of a personalized handle—add a luxe touch.
Find it on Etsy.
Local designer Erin Templeton is known for her supple, handcrafted leather accessories that walk the line between West Coast caj and big-city cool—and the Gunny Sack ($395) is no exception.
Sling the bag over your back when you’re cycling between classes or meetings and then rework the straps to transform the pack into a bucket bag for happy hour and lunch.
Designed and lovingly stitched in Templeton’s Chinatown studio (511 Carrall Street), it comes in a range of warm, autumnlike hues, though we’re partial to “forest”, a dark emerald hue reminiscent of evergreens.
Looking for a bag that will fit everything but the kitchen sink and then some? Taikan’s Sherpa ($99.99) may just fit the bill. Originally intended to be a camera bag, the locally designed tote is both roomy and deep enough to house a 15-inch laptop, DLSR, and probably a dictionary or two.
Four handy external pockets allow you to stash away your phone, earbuds, and cards with easy access—making this an ideal travel sack—while a number of interior compartments will ensure you’re never stuck rifling for a pen again. A set of nickel-finish feet help elevate the bag, keeping it off icky floors in public spaces.
Find it at El Kartel (104 East Pender Street).