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Archive for Saturday, August 1, 2009

Backpacks offer more options than briefcases

August 1, 2009

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A backpack? Really? True, you’re probably not spending your summer dashing from youth hostel to train station, but chances are you’re just as active.

Consider the advantages of a backpack. First, the practical: Hands are free to carry an iced latte while texting. Next, the physical: A backpack completely changes your stance. Shoulders suddenly look more toned, and you take on the air of someone rushing to work from a mixed-martial-arts class. Even if you’re only brushing donut crumbs off your lapel while heading from car to elevator.

Backpacks are enjoying a resurgence not seen since the early-’90s era of the black nylon Prada with triangle nameplate.

This season, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and, yes, Prada all offer luxe, logo-ed versions. And outfitters such as St. Bernard Sports and Mountain Hideout stock backpacks no matter which way the fashion compass happens to point.

The movement has high-powered endorsements. Kanye West’s custom Damier Azure reportedly took a year and a half to make and set him back $15,000. The Sartorialist blogger Scott Schuman, documenter of street style and zeitgeist, has snapped backpack wearers from Miami to Moscow. And the much-photographed Maddox Jolie-Pitt favors a lime green JanSport (though his may actually be carrying schoolbooks).

Style choices tend to fall along stereotypes. Are you a Bear Grylls type, braving the elements in a tropical-wool suit and gadget-friendly North Face, ready to set up camp after the conference call? More Rahm Emanuel, BlackBerrying nonstop, your entire existence safely stowed in an understated brown leather Samsonite? Or maybe an aspiring Zac Efron, working a Gucci with detachable wallet chains and believing your own press?

Or perhaps you’re just a guy on his way to work, wanting to survive a summer in Dallas and not look like everyone else. That’s an option, with daypacks and rucksacks available for skateboarders, Internet surfers and boardroom scions. Whichever pack you choose, commit. Shoulder both straps and hit the trail. Here are some picks:

• The North Face “Modem” laptop backpack with removable hip belt, $89, Mountain Hideout in Dallas (888-613-6806).

• Tumi pebbled leather “Alamogordo,” $545, Neiman Marcus.

• “HTL” leather laptop packs, $225 each, Samsonite Black Label.

• Calf backpack with gunmetal and leather chains, $2,250, Gucci.

• Weathered canvas drawstring rucksack, $125, Ralph Lauren Rugby.

• Water-resistant canvas “Businessman’s Backpack” with padded laptop compartment, $149, Orvis.

• The North Face “Recon SE,” for laptops 15 inches or smaller, $109 (on sale for $100), eBags.com.

• Coated-polyester “Perform” with rain sleeve, $120, Puma.

• Vans polyester “Offender” with skateboard strap, $55, shop.vans.com.

• Leonello Borghi for Barneys New York Co-op coated nylon “Xtreme,” $198, Barneys New York.

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