living

Why we are all carrying backpacks nowadays

Elizabeth Wellington, STAFF COLUMNIST

Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017, 4:03 PM

This metallic Think Royln backpack is $158 and available at www.thinkroyln.com.

Hands-free is necessary, because we need our hands to text and eat on the go.

The Trendlet

It’s no wonder backpacks are in the midst of a serious comeback. These aren’t just for the back-to-school set. We are carrying them with everything from causal joggers and sneaks to the work-appropriate shirt dress.

Nothing new about that, right?

Nope. Backpacks’ usefulness can be traced to prehistoric times, when cavemen carried their bounty on their backs in bags made of animal hide.

In 1938, Colorado businessman Gerry Cunningham, owner of Gerry Outdoors, invented the first zip-up backpack. However, it was used only by outdoorsy types because they were heavy and meant to be durable. Think hikers and skiers.

In the meantime, kids still primarily carried their schoolbooks in their hands. It wasn’t until around 1967 when the folks at JanSport (although Gerry Outdoors claim it was them) introduced a lightweight, nylon backpack to the accessories game. Almost immediately, it became an elementary, high school, and college student must-have.

Fast-forward to the 1990s, and brands from Coach to Calvin Klein introduced fashionable — and expensive — knapsack-style bags for trendy girls on the go. But they were quickly overshadowed by the oversize logo bag.

These MCM backpacks are popular with kids who like to go the 1980s throwback route.

For better or worse, we can’t seem to put our phones down. Either way, a new crop of luxury brands, like MCM and Chloe, reintroduced backpacks for fashion as well as function. These lighter versions have extra pockets for our laptops and all their accessories, our lunch, and our gym clothes. Don’t worry though, designer brands aren’t the only ones in the backpack game. Smaller brands, like Herschel Supply Co., offer sustainable versions. And, of course, you can get them from your favorite discount stores, like Ross and Marshall’s.

But do grown women carry them?

Yes. And grown men, too. You even see people rolling them down the street.

Does Elizabeth carry one?

Every day. My sister gave me a backpack for Christmas after seeing me struggle with all my stuff. Changed my life. I throw everything it: laptops, lunch, yoga apparel. Full disclosure: In the ’90s, I had a mini brown leather knapsack. I wish I hadn’t given it to Goodwill. Full, full disclosure: I, however, still have my burgundy JanSport I carried in the 1990s during my NYU days because A Tribe Called Quest was/is everything, and, well both Phife and Q-Tip carried them.

Elizabeth Wellington, STAFF COLUMNIST

Read full story: Why we are all carrying backpacks nowadays