Backpacking: 6 Splurges, 6 Saves

12 backpacks - budget and splurge options

Tignanello Baggu Everlane Asos Kokosina Jenny N Proenza Tory Burch Rag & Bone Stella McCartney Cambridge Phillip Lim

Remember when Clueless came out? (Obviously!) I was beyond obsessed. I could quote every line of the movie, and oh, how I wished my hair would brush out like Cher’s did. One item that became all the rage and was a must have in my 12 year old wardrobe? A baby backpack. I begged my mom for one, and I can’t remember how, but I finally got my hands on a little teal canvas number. It was a prized possession!

And then backpacks — at least, those beyond the variety needed for school — fell out of fashion. But just like other trends of the 90s (see: mules, Birkenstocks, et al) are suddenly back and hotter than ever. While I don’t necessarily see myself prancing around with a baby backpack again any time soon, a few backpacks have recently given me pause, because I’ve realized they’d be great “purses” to cart around with me when I’m in France. Based on past trips, I know that we like to wander, wander, and wander some more, and eventually a tote and even a crossbody bag get annoying on my shoulder. Perhaps a backpack is the solution!

Backpacks have come a long way since my little baby and my high school JanSport. How chic are some of these? There are so many cool details, materials, and colors being used now! As always, when you search for something like backpacks, you get a ton of affordable options, and some that are astronomically expensive. I’ve divided this round up into ones that are under $200 (the Saves) and over $200 (the Splurges). Which ones do you love? Have you guys tried out the backpack trend (again)?

Me? On a budget, I’m loving the colors this Baggu one comes in, and this handmade one from Kokosina. No budget? It’s a toss up between the Phillip Lim in black, or the Stella. Prettttty.


or, click any item in the graphic above!

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  1. 4.8.14
    Rachelle said:

    The stella and prouenza backpacks are everything.

  2. 4.8.14
    Abby said:

    That Stella backpack!!

  3. 4.8.14

    I haven’t really found one that I like, but I do have to admit, you made it sound appealingly comfortable for using when walking around all day! My shoulder usually kills after a day of walking around in the city, from the weight of my bag. It’s funny how things come back in style – I had a little nylon Kate Spade backpack way back in the day – maybe I should’ve kept it! The one thing that I’d be scared of is getting pickpocketed though, since your bag would be on your back and out of your view (I think that’s my Mom’s paranoia getting to me). Even when I wear a crossbody and it’s sort of behind me I get a little paranoid and pull it to the front!

    • 4.8.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Agreed…I think the key when traveling is not to keep the really valuable stuff in outer pockets — or I’d have to find a backpack with interior zippers to put stuff in! Things like a scarf could be left in the main pocket though.

  4. 4.8.14
    Anna said:

    This is a valuable thing to own! I’ve started to buy cute purse/backpacks a couple of times now, but I want to find one I really really love. These are all nice options. :)


  5. 4.8.14
    Alecia said:

    totally with you on clueless….i can still quote every line of that movie. also Is it bad to say I want all of them?

  6. 4.8.14

    I have been stalking that TB. The Phillip Lim orange is hands down my favorite.

  7. 4.8.14

    Ha! I had a baby backpack in school too, lol. I really like the Tignanello one!

  8. 4.8.14
    Lily said:

    Of course I love all the splurges the most… but thanks for pointing out I can do this trend on the cheap!

    x Lily

  9. 4.8.14

    The color of the Cambridge Satchel bag is perfection. And I love the Kokosina, too! xo

  10. 4.8.14
    Kodi said:

    I picked up a sweet floral print backpack recently when I realized they’re just the nicest on my body for carrying around an airport. SO MUCH EASIER!

  11. 4.9.14
    Erica said:

    I used to watch Clueless every night to fall asleep! So far I’m saying no to the backpack. It might be one trend I can’t go back to.

  12. 4.9.14

    Love this round up! It’s so funny. I was in Cole Haan this weekend and I fell in love with a really cute small back pack there. It’s was in the “splurge” category, but I never got a diaper bag when our daughter was born, so I’m considering it as a diaper bag. Is that crazy? Frees up my hands for carrying that baby around!
    ~Mary Keller

    • 4.9.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Sounds rational and reasonable to me!!! :)

  13. 4.12.14
    tiffany said:

    i have the Everlane book bag and love it for my trips! It fits everything! If I didn’t have a budget, I would totally spring for the rag & bone. Love the rugged mix of leather and suede.