Whether it’s for travel, work or gym, a leather backpack is versatile and will keep your hands free.

Kendal Jenner and Gigi Hadid have recently been spotted using backpacks instead of handbags. And perhaps they are onto something – backpacks free up your hands, allow you to carry weight across both shoulders and give you a bit more packing space.

Dr Alisha Griffith, an autism parenting coach, told Moneyish that her backpack carries her laptop, folders, files, makeup bag, wallet and books. “The bonus is having my hands free to hold my phone, cup of coffee or simply nothing … which is perfect for traveling in NYC in the cold,” she said. “Fingers get to stay warm in gloves and pockets as needed.”

Even Vogue fashion writer Brooke Bobb loves using a backpack. She describes it as the most comforting item in her closet. She wrote, “I use it almost every single day,” she added. “It’s a little bit of everything:  simple, durable, useful, fashionable, sophisticated, covetable. The enduringly cool Prada backpack taught me what fashion-meets-function actually means and, in turn, just how ‘it’ a bag can be.”

For Danielle Nuzzo, a publicist and social media director at i.d.e.a creative consultancy, she uses a backpack every day and has been for about 10 months. She says the locking zippers, padded Macbook sleeve and removable straps are a big positive. “Since I wear it into my office everyday, I’ve now converted four other women, including our CEO, to ditch the tote and opt for a backpack,” she said.

“Backpacks offer a lot of function – most have many pockets and can hold everything, including tech devices, in an organized manner. And, convertible backpacks (ones that can be carried as satchels or shoulder bags as well via multiple straps) offer versatility. If she’s carrying less one day, or if it looks better with an outfit, she can carry it a different way,” Beth Goldstein from NPD told Moneyish. “So there is still opportunity for more fashion brands to offer functional backpacks for work.”

4 reasons to buy a backpack

According to Domitille Parent, product director of Eastpak, a premium bag company, “[A backpack is] a versatile piece of fashion. You can put all your essentials in it, and more. Whether you go to work, to the gym, or into the city for a day, the backpack has got you covered.”

He says you want to buy a backpack that is high quality and durable. “The backpack is an accessory people should be able to rely on, in all situations. Look at size and functionality, depending on where you are going, and what you need to carry. Once you narrow it down, you can choose a style that fits with your personality or outfit.”

  1. It keeps your hands free
    Wearing a backpack means your hands are free – you can grab a coffee to coffee, return emails or hold onto the rails in the train. Susan Grobler, a physiotherapist based in Pretoria, says this is important when it comes to walking. “We are designed to move without restrictions. We should walk like soldiers, swinging both arms. Any bag that restricts this movement can create a problem, especially if it’s too heavy or being used for long periods.”
  2. It’s good for your health
    Carrying a backpack over both shoulders will protect your back, neck and spine. It’s far better to evenly distribute the weight than to sling a heavy bag over one shoulder or arm – so make sure you use both straps.
  3. It can carry everything (which means you only need one bag)
    A backpack offers quite a bit of space – you can pack your laptop, lunch, gym clothes, water bottle and a book if you commute via public transport. But make sure you don’t over pack it – experts say you shouldn’t carry more than 10% of your body weight.
  4. Leather is durable
    A leather backpack is durable, which means it will last you a long time – it becomes an investment. Leather is also easy to clean and simple to look after.

How to buy the right backpack

Alex Willen of Consumer Reports says the most important thing to look for in a backpack is how well it fits and how it rests on your back. The straps should be wide and padded – the top of the straps should sit about 2.5 to 5cm below your shoulders. While the bottom of the bag should rest in the small of your back – make sure it doesn’t sit 10cm below your waistline. He says the ideal backpack should distribute the weight you’re carrying evenly to avoid putting any strain on your back and shoulders.

Choose a genuine leather backpack from Modern & Tribal


Marcus – stylish leather backpack with two adjustable shoulder straps with two side slip pockets. Available in large (23cm x 30cm x 5cm) or medium (23cm  x 24cm x 5cm).


Grace – beautiful round leather mini backpack with adjustable straps.

liezl-zebra-leather-handbag-backpack liezl-springbok-leather-handbag-backpack

Liezl – stunning dual-purpose bag that can either be used as a handbag or a backpack.

Image credits: Mandy Freeman – Freelance photographer in Cape Town