Home Culture & Wellness Backpacks vs. Tote Bags, Which Should You Use?

Backpacks vs. Tote Bags, Which Should You Use?

Written by Allison M. Shaw

In the endless stream of school supplies you have probably already purchased for this upcoming semester, there is one essential that usually doesn’t require a lot of thought; the backpack. Most people use the same backpack for years, or make their qualifications for the bag based on practicality (is it big enough? How many pockets does it have?). However in recent years there has been a surge in students trading the tried and true backpack for something a little more unconventional; the tote bag. 

If you’re considering making the switch to a tote bag, there are probably a few reasons why! For starters, tote bags are more versatile, doubling as accessories or purses, and tend to also have way more options than a traditional school backpack. Using a tote bag with your favorite album cover, artwork, or even brand on it is a great way to show your personality and express individuality through your school supplies! Tote bags may also be a more convenient option if you need to frequently take things in and out of your bag. Needing your keys or Maroon card no longer requires taking off your entire backpack, just open your tote! 

However, there are plenty of good reasons why backpacks have remained the tried and true method of hauling around school supplies. For starters, a backpack on average can hold much more than a tote bag can, especially when it comes to electronic devices. Speaking of devices, a backpack will provide a lot more protection for those items if something were to happen. Tote bags typically don’t have the laptop sleeves found in backpacks, or even the same amount of padding. 

Tote bags also tend to be a lot more fragile than backpacks. As all of the weight which would be carried across your back is instead concentrated on one side of your shoulder, the straps can begin to rip after extended use. Also, due to the distribution of weight your shoulder may begin to hurt if you aren’t used to carrying so much. If you typically carry around electronic devices, or need to carry a lot of heavy books and class materials, a tote bag may not be the right choice. However, if you find that your class materials usually seem to take up a small amount of space in your backpack, or your backpack feels weirdly light, maybe a tote bag is the right choice for you!

At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual student and their needs for their class materials. If you’re considering switching to a tote bag, I say go ahead and try it! You might end up really liking it.