Backpacks vs. Totes

As we conclude the third month of the academic year, I find myself pondering the consequences of lugging my trusty Longchamp bag everywhere. I like the way it sits on my shoulder and the subtle component it can add to an outfit, but upon feeling my shoulder throb after a long school day, I start contemplating. Is it time to start carrying a backpack? 

Backpacks carry an array of items, including textbooks, notebooks, a laptop, an umbrella (just in case), a water bottle, snacks, headphones, lip care,  and any other combination of trinkets. Backpacks resemble Swiss Army knives, equipped with more compartments than a toolkit, and students have  mastered the art of efficient packing to a degree that would even impress Marie Kondo. Heidi Small (BC ‘27), who humorously refers to herself as a “Backpack Mom,” appears to have just about everything you could possibly need at any given moment, whether it’s tea bags, a separate snack stash for herself and her friends, or her hefty Chinese 2 textbook. 

On the opposite end of the campus fashion spectrum, we often encounter those who swear by tote bags, the bag most synonymous with college students. Students confidently travel the campus, emanating taste with their fashionable and often generously sized totes, looking like they walked straight out of the pages of a magazine. Tote bag enthusiasts prioritize the art of appearing effortlessly cool as they navigate the campus, and they undoubtedly succeed in this endeavor, with eccentric slogans or a simple Barnard logo adorning their bag. However, this coveted essential has a downside; once something is lost in a tote bag, getting it out will involve a thorough rummaging through its contents. Maren Frey (BC ’27), a devoted tote bag user, openly admits to her struggle with maintaining order within her tote, a problem that is exacerbated by her curated collection of bags. Frey frequently finds herself missing a notebook or her AirPods when switching between totes, leading her to hastily return to her room to retrieve them. 

In the ongoing battle of backpacks versus tote bags, there exists a perpetual struggle between practicality and fashion. Backpackers may endure occasional teasing, but they are always prepared for any situation they may find themselves in. Tote bag lovers, on the other hand, run the risk of appearing disorganized when they fumble for their elusive possessions during a lecture.

In this enduring debate, we can all find humor in our own quirks and preferences when it comes to carrying our belongings around campus. Whichever side you choose, just remember, it’s not about the bag you carry; it’s about the knowledge you gain while toting it to class, whether you prioritize fashion or functionality. So, wear your backpack or tote bag with pride, and may your academic year be filled with laughter, learning, and the occasional awkward bump caused by your too-full, ever-present campus accessory.

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