I Almost Exclusively Carry Backpacks, and This One Is My Favorite Yet

From work to play to travel, even in the age of coronavirus, this pack’s got my back.

Confession time: I'm an adult, and I love backpacks. (Just call me Dora.) Yes, backpacks are most commonly associated with schoolchildren, but it's nearly impossible to beat the durability, efficiency, and reliability of backpacks, especially when you're walking, biking, train-riding, or doing anything beyond traveling almost exclusively by car. I should know—I've tried tote bags and satchels large and small over the years, but I just keep coming back to the trusty backpack.

In my experience, all backpacks are good—but there are definitely some backpacks that rise above the rest, and lately I'm finding that the Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack is one of those bags. There's a time and a place for every type of backpack, of course. When I studied abroad in college, I had the standard backpacker's backpack; when I was on campus, I had the classic college student's North Face backpack. Now, though, as a young professional, I'm finding that the Dagne Dover backpack fulfills every need I have in the city: It's chic enough for work, casual enough for weekend outings and adventures, and durable enough for short and long trips. What more could I want from a backpack?

Dagne Dover Dakota backpack review - Dakota backpack in black

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack in Onyx (size medium), $175; dagnedover.com

There is some debate surrounding the appropriateness of the work backpack, to which I say, anything that serves its purpose and does so without straining my back and shoulders is work-appropriate. That said, the Dagne Dover backpack really does feel office-ready. It's monochromatic, so it seems a little more mature than elementary schoolers' bags, and the premium neoprene make feels a step above basic canvas bags. The outer pockets aren't too large, either, so when I carry this bag to work, I feel more sleek and streamlined than I might with a huge backpack with trailing straps and pouches.

Beyond its work-ready look, the Dagne Dover Dakota backpack is packed with efficient, actually useful features that regularly make my commute and errand-running easier. The side pockets are snug enough that I can tuck my phone and keys inside while I'm biking or hurrying to catch the ferry and not worry about them falling out—and there's even stretchable elastic bands on one side to hold my oversized water bottle. There's a zippered hip pocket for stashing essentials (like hand sanitizer or my credit card) that I want close at hand, and a slew of compartments inside the main pocket that help organize my earphones, lip balm, chargers, and other items that typically bounce around while I'm on the move. Best of all, this backpack has a padded laptop pocket where I can safely tuck my computer without worrying about it getting dinged or scratched, even if I'm not being too careful with my movements.

I'm also impressed by how durable this backpack has been. City life isn't easy or clean, but this backpack wipes clean if I bump into a less than sparkling wall or pole, and if it gets really dirty, the whole thing is washable, thanks to the neoprene material and nylon lining. I did buy a dark color in this backpack, to be fair, to help keep it looking clean and new longer, but it's available in six standard colors and some seasonal ones, many of which are lighter, in case you like living life on the edge.

I debated which size to get for a while—the Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack is available in three sizes—and eventually decided on medium, which ended up being the right choice for me. The small size is definitely cute in a petite way, but it has limited capacity, which would be tricky for my office commute; the large is sizable, but as a chronic overpacker, I'd be tempted to overfill it. Medium is just right.

In the age of coronavirus, when I want my hands free and everything I need close at hand, this backpack has been a huge help—and I love that it still looks cute and trendy, not like a giant sack on my back. The padded straps keep my shoulders comfortable, and the firm shape keeps everything inside evenly distributed, so I'm not risking an achy back by carrying this bag. Overall, I've been happy with my purchase—so much so that I'm already eyeing the beloved Dagne Dover gym bag. Backpacks aren't for everyone, but if you (like me) can't give up the utility of these great bags, this option is a reliable pick that won't make you feel underdressed.

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