How I Found an Affordable Professional Backpack for Work

Why is it so damn hard to find a good professional backpack for work that isn’t expensive?

Quick story time. About two months ago I started working at my new job at a digital marketing agency. As a result, I wanted to upgrade my tech gear–not just to impress everyone–but more so because I could really use it. So I went out and might’ve gone a little overboard. Yes, I splurged and got Bose headphones, new wardrobe, an apple watch, and I upgraded to a Macbook Air.

At this point, I was broke as a joke and needed a new bag for work. I had a messenger bag, but here’s the thing–I have to bike about 25-30 minutes to work. I figured a backpack would be more comfortable.

This is where things get ridiculous.

As I started looking online for a backpack for work and laptop backpacks, I kept running into two problems:

  1. The styles I saw were mainly briefcase messenger bags (which I wanted to avoid).
  2. Any decent backpacks that I found were a.) over $200 or b.) some type of animal skin.

So between the designer briefcase bags and the leather backpacks, it was disappointing that I couldn’t find anything at a fair price. I still wanted a stylish, high-quality bag, but not for $495.00!!! (eBags, looking your way).

The good news is, about a week ago, I found the best professional backpack that is a.) stylish, b.) affordable, and c.) practical. It’s got a few kinks, but overall it’s the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever biked with.

So if like me you’re looking for a high quality, yet affordable professional backpack for work, I have some tips that might help your search along.

Below is a review of the professional backpack for work I chose, as well as my thoughts on two runner-ups that didn’t quite make it, and my reasons for it.

Let’s begin.

My Backpack Checklist: What I Look For In a Work Backpack

To start off, when you’re looking for a backpack for work, it’s important that you outline what you’re looking for beforehand, otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed with options.

Below is my personal checklist of what I look for in a bag. Feel free to use this system, and be sure to customize to your needs.

A Work Backpack Absolutely Needs to Have…

  • Standard zip-up backpack (no roll top, side opening, etc.)
  • Depth of at least 6” (I’ll explain why later)
  • High-quality fabric
  • Good support

I Would Like a Work Backpack With…

  • Wide variety of color options (not just black)
  • Minimalist looking exterior

I Cannot Have a Work Backpack With…

  • Too much outside bulk
  • Poor quality fabric
  • High price

This type of checklist allows you to look at bags and decide quickly if it suits your needs. You can actually do this for any online purchases that you want to make, believe it or not. The key is just to identify what you absolutely need, what you would like to have, and what you can’t accept.

Now, let’s talk backpacks.

Third Place Runner Up In My Search for a New Backpack:

Timbuk2 Cask Laptop Backpack – $278

laptop-backpack

I see a lot of Timbuk2 bags where I’m from so I went to their store location to look around. I will say this: they offer a great variety of bags. From what I could tell, they clearly target the fixie type of audience so I was pretty optimistic that I’d find a few potential options.

My first choice was the Timbuk2 Cask Laptop Backpack. What initially drew me to the bag was the design. Although the exterior was canvas material, it didn’t feel flimsy at all. The bag also fell just above my lower back which is ideal for comfortable bike travel.

Overall, these were the positive qualities that I saw in the bag :

Pros

  • Sleek exterior looked very professional
  • Comfortable fit
  • Quality fabric

However, the bag wasn’t fit for my needs. I was looking for a practical bag that could carry everything while I biked to work. These are a few of the downsides that I found with the bag:

Cons

  • The price is out of my range
  • The depth is only 4.5”
  • Quality of interior was lacking

I’m still unsure as to why the price was so high considering that the interior wasn’t great quality. I assume it must’ve been the leather binding and trim. Either way, I decided that if I was going to pay that much money for a bag, it should at least be weather proof, which it was not.

Second Place Runner Up In My Search for a New Backpack:

Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack – $69

I tried looking for something at a lower price range and I found the Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack. The style is very much like a standard backpack, with even more depth to offer than the Cask Backpack. This bag also has more pockets and compartments than the other one, which is what makes it great for carry-on travel.

Again, here are the overall positive features of the Parkside Laptop Backpack:

Pros

  • Depth of 7.3”
  • Affordable price
  • Ventilated back
  • Doubles as a carry on bag

However, where the bag makes up in functionality, it lacks in quality. I tried the bag on to see how it fit, and unfortunately, I found that the padding was lacking a bit. Another flaw that I found was in the laptop pocket sleeve–not enough padding as I wanted.

Cons

  • Lack of strap and back padding
  • Lack of laptop padding and protection
  • Poor quality fabric

I weighed the pros and the cons and decided that if I’m going to spend the money, it might as well be on something that’ll last.

The Best Work Backpack Winner: Hazen Professional Backpack Black– $139 ($125 with 10% off)

This backpack surprised me, mainly because online buying sometimes leads to rip-offs.

Here are my tips for avoiding online shopping fraud and making sure you’ve found a real company:

    1. Check online presence. This includes their social media, blog mentions, etc.
    2. Check out reviews. Look for verified purchase reviews both on site and on Amazon.
    3. Check for shipping and return policies. Read the return policy carefully and make sure you keep the receipt.

I researched Just Porter and found that they were a small company based out of Chicago. After checking out their collection I was torn between the Logan Square Backpack and the Hazen, but I decided to order the Hazen bag in black.

In the box came a handwritten note from the CEO, which was such nice touch.

Upon opening, I could feel that the bag was made of high quality. The exterior is made of Cordura nylon, which feels smooth yet durable to the touch. There is significantly more padding on the straps and back than the other bags I looked at. Compared to the other two bags from Timbuk2, the interior quality of the Hazen professional backpack seemed far better.

Without further delay, these are the qualities that I think make the Hazen professional backpack stand out.

Pros

  • Depth of 7”
  • High-quality fabric
  • Great strap and back padding
  • Protective laptop padding
  • Comfortable fit
  • Good compartmentalization

The Hazen professional backpack delivers on everything that I looked for in a backpack for work. It has an insane amount of space without looking too bulky. The separate laptop padding in the back is perfect for both easy access and keeps my laptop safe from unnecessary scratching.

The two exterior front pockets and sunglass holder are perfect for my smaller items. I put my Bose headphones in the bigger exterior pocket, along with my phone and wallet. On the smaller, exterior pocket I sometimes stash my Moleskin, or a book if it’s small enough, just something to entertain me on my commute. As for the sunglass pocket, it’s perfect if you don’t want to crush your Ray-Bans.

Other perks

  • Easy to clean interior
  • Magnetic chest buckle
  • Side water bottle pockets
  • Compression straps

The magnetic chest buckle is such a cool feature that I haven’t seen in another bag before. It’s great for biking because it gives me an extra sense of security while I bike to and from work.

I use the side pockets for miscellaneous items, like my keys, bus card, or random notes I have to stash. It’s also great for my water bottle, but I find that thinner bottles fit better.

The compression straps on the side were a good call in the design of the bag. Aesthetically speaking, I prefer a bag that looks thinner. But when you carry as much as I do, thin backpacks tend to look overpacked. Compression straps are a nice option on days I decide to travel light.

The only downside that I can see is that the bag is not weatherproof. However, I did bike in the rain once and managed to only wet the outside. The inside, including my laptop, was dry.

This last point may have tipped the scales in my decision making, but for good reason. With every purchase made Just Porter donates a bag with school supplies to a child in need. A company with a good social cause? I’m down.

The 10% off discount code didn’t hurt either;)

Final Verdict: The Hazen Professional Backpack for Work Won This Round

In the end, I did buy the professional backpack for work at the cost of $125 with free shipping. Considering the other higher priced, lower quality options, I’d say this was a bargain. It has enough room to take everything I need, while also aiding a social cause? Hell, yeah!  Even though I still don’t understand why some work bags are so expensive, I hope this guide will help you in your search for an affordable backpack. Cheers!

5 Blogs for College Students Who Want to Focus Better

College Blogs to Read

College is a headache most of the the time. But you can manage that headache with the right steps. These blogs for college students are filled with insightful tips and best practices that any student can take advantage of. Give them a look, and I promise you’ll learn a trick or two!

Helpful Blogs for College Students Her Campus

This blog covers everything all college chicas (and guy pals too!) are looking for. Her Campus covers serious topics like career and resume advice, but also provides fun tips about fashion, dating, and DIY tricks. The blog is broken down into different sections of interest, covering topics that can seem personal but still need attention, like sexual health and LGBTQ+ advice. It’s a perfect guide for college students because the content is written by college students. Many colleges and universities have their own Her Campus page with content that specifically relates to your own college experience. You could even try and become a content creator yourself.

Blogs for College Students Broke Millennial

This is one of the ultimate blogs for college students looking for ways to save some extra cash. I mean let’s face it, school is a full-time job, and with all the studying and homework who has time for anything else? Broke Millennial is perfect because is discusses ways to bring in a few extra dollars that won’t compromise your GPA. It not only talks about how to earn extra money, but also how to save money during your time as a university student.

Blogs for College Students: Study Hacks

Looking for tips on how to bring up those grades just a bit? Then you need to check out Study Hacks. Your study methods may have worked in high school but college is different. Make sure you’re prepared. In college, you’ll have far more freedom and independence but with that comes much more responsibility. Rise to the challenge and impress your professors with your academic performance. Study hacks focuses specifically on studying in the midst of a digital age.It’s a great source that provides tips and tricks on how to use technology to improve your study methods and do better in school.

Blogs for College Students: Collegiate Cook

Ahh, the ultimate Freshman 15. Known for fostering unhealthy eating habits, dorm life has the notorious reputation of feeding college students nothing but fast food and mystery meat. Well never fear because this blog contains recipes and overall advice on cooking for college students. This site has nutritious recipes, innovative ideas, and “dorm food must haves.” Collegiate Cook is absolutely perfect for college students looking to stay healthy and eat right. Eating right is a critical part of  good academic performance. Be sure to not overlook it. Skip the ramen and learn to craft your cooking skills with Collegiate Cook.

Blogs for College Students: Hack College

This blog discusses numerous topics that afflict many modern college students. From book recommendations to interviews with college professors to post graduation advice, this blog covers a multitude of topics prevalent to college students. And the best part about this blog is the variety of topics it covers.

5 Successful Business Blogs You’ll Want to Follow Today

Business Blogs to Follow

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to read business blogs. Business blogs are free, insightful resources for anyone hoping to learn more about a particular industry.

Especially if you’re a young professional, you’ll want to immerse yourself into the world of your company.

Ready to learn more? Here are five great business blogs you should follow.

1. LinkedIn Today, the Blog for Professionals That Want to Stay Up-To-Date

LinkedIn Today is one of the best business blogs you can read at the start of your day. The website brings together all articles related to your profession and also from your LinkedIn social connections.

On the blog, you can read all the latest news, get ideas, and motivational articles among others. What makes LinkedIn Today stand out among other business blogs out there, is that it gives you content that specifically relates to your field, This saves you time to choose in between which article to read.

2. All Business, the Blog With a Variety of Business Topics to Choose From

All Business is a website that has a collection of business bloggers who specialize in different fields of business. The blogs feature topics such as financial management, financial planning, marketing, and strategy among others.

Another great feature of the All Business site is that it contains how-to advice articles that are prepared by experts in different fields of business. The content of the site is updated daily. There is a search button to allow visitors to search for specific articles and topics.

3. Quora, the Blog With Expert Tips and Advice

Quora is one of the best business blogs you should consider following. It is a Q&A website where users can ask questions and have them answered by experts.

You can have almost any question answered on Quora. The best thing about Quora is, unlike most Q&A sites, only experts give answers to your questions. Quora features articles from successful entrepreneurs across the world.

4. PandoDaily, the Blog That Touches Almost Everything in the Field

Are you looking for a blog site where you can get information about technology and entrepreneurship? Look no further, Sara Lacy made one for people just like you. Sara Lacy is the lead blogger and the founder of PandoDaily.

The blog features interviews with successful entrepreneurs in various fields of business. Most of PandoDaily bloggers previously worked for Techrunch.com; this proves they have skills to provide the user with quality and credible information.

5. Smart Hustle, the Blog For Entrepreneurs

Although Smart Hustle is less of a blog and more of a business magazine, it’s still worth mentioning.

It provides entrepreneurs with insights to start and run businesses. The websites also feature interviews with successful entrepreneurs like Daymond John, the founder of Fubu and Shark Tank among other popular people in business.

Immerse Yourself in the World of Business Blogs

There are a lot of business blogs available on the internet. Finding the right blog to follow i.e. the blog that is regularly updated and has credible information can be quite hard.

Choosing any of the above-listed blogs will guarantee you a steady flow of quality information.

Kicking off the day by reading any of these blogs with provide useful information and help you better understand different industries, motivate you and raise your chances of being successful in the business of your choosing.

Building a Professional Wardrobe on a Budget: Men’s Edition

Professional Wardrobe on A Budget

Building a Professional Wardrobe on a Budget

Professional Wardrobe on A Budget

I remember when I graduated from college, and I had no idea of what to wear for my first job. I started asking my coworkers, but they thought the professional wardrobe should look like.  But, I told them that I needed a professional wardrobe on a budget.

They looked at me like I was crazy. For men, it’s even worse.

Now, if you’re like a lot of people you only have a small budget to buy clothes with.   You see, most people don’t have an unlimited budget for creating a great wardrobe.  This post is why I’m writing to you. Hello, men.

Bottom line, If you want some solid tips on how to build a professional wardrobe on a budget stick with me for five minutes I’ll give you the answers. Your Mother, Girlfriend or Boyfriend will thank me.

How To Create A Wardrobe Budget Out Of Thin Air

Consider this: the first thing that people tend to say when they’re considering building out a new wardrobe is, “I have no budget I have no money. How my going to do this?”

Listen up. I can give you the solution, but you have to save a little bit of money.

To make it easy to set aside some money I have a simple suggestion. Take 7% of your take-home pay and put it away for buying new clothes every single month.

Now, there are a couple things that you can do to save some money every single month. Being part of the millennial generation, we tend eat out a little bit more. So, suggestion number one is to eat out less. On average, you’ll  save yourself $30-$50 per week if not even closer to $100 dollars per week.

My other surefire suggestion is: stop drinking Starbucks for a little bit. The average Starbucks bill  for a single order is $3.63. If you decided to drink a coffee at work, or just get to go cup from your home, that will save you over $1000 dollars per year.

Of course, you want to be able to indulge yourself. But make no mistake about it, if you set aside a little bit of money every single week or month, you’ll have an extra  $2000 to $5000 per year that you can put towards a classic professional wardrobe.

Go Shopping In Your Closet

People only use 25% of their clothes in their closet.   How does this occur? Well, people are creatures of habit and they tend to wear the things that make them feel most sure about.

Here’s what you need to do.

1) Set aside one hour.

2) Going to your closet, and divide your clothing between things that you wear and things that you don’t.

3) Then divide the things that you don’t wear into two categories.

A) One I can and will wear this and it works for my job.

B) I will never wear this.

The clothes that fit into the second category, take them put them in a bag and donate them to charity. An added bonus is that you get a tax reduction on the clothing that you donate to charity.

Luckily, that tax savings allows you buy better clothes.

 Focus On The Essentials For Your Budget Wardrobe

Frankly, a lot of people make this mistake when building out their wardrobe essentials.

They start to buy clothing and an ad hoc way. This results in I’m having close that don’t necessarily Match the quality and specificity that they need.

Here’s what I mean, look at buying the basics, very conservative men’s clothing. If you look at Ralph Lauren it’s almost timeless. Now I’m not suggesting that you go out and buy those clothes, but I am suggesting that you look at going traditional styles. An awesome way to  find clothing with a limited budget is that you might want to be looking at thrift stores or secondhand stores. I found of many hermanas ties, Armani suits, Ike Behar  classic clothing to fill my wardrobe.

I also suggest that will if you do buy secondhand clothes, you want to be able to take them to a Taylor. Now, some older clothes that I bought were a little bit baggy and that was the style at the time.  But, after spending $40 at my local tailor, he was able to make them look pristine and they fit like a glove. (Best investment 🙂

Bottom line, you have to be strong and avoid trendy clothing when you’re acquiring your basic.

 Avoid Fast Fashion and Go For Quality

Now, you might think that you wanted cheat the system.  Your friends may have suggested that you go to places like H&M and Zara. But, do not do this. Here’s the thing: when you buy inexpensive clothing, They are simply not built to last. The quality is solo maybe you’ll get to wear  it 30 times before the stitching comes apart.   Don’t fall into this trap.

Rotate Out Your Old Wardrobe

One of the smartest piece of his advice that I received  is remarkably simple.

Every month, take one old shirt and one pair of pants and replace them.

Every six months, replace one suit.

For Christmas, Hanukkah or any other giftgiving time, ask for premium quality socks, underwear and accessories.

The End: Here’s Your Game plan To Build A Professional Wardrobe On A Budget

This is not a sprint. Acquiring  a high quality, Long-lasting, classic wardrobe takes time. It takes patience.

For starters, focus on saving a little bit of money every single month. Focus on the quality of the clothes that you’re purchasing and even look at purchasing from secondhand stores.

Furthermore, clean out your old clothes and see if there’s anything that you can continue to use. If not, get rid of it.

Avoid crappy clothes that you might find at a cheap price. Sometimes cheap is just too expensive.

Lastly, rotate out your old wardrobe on a monthly basis: one shirt one pair of pants every month.

What are you think? Leave me a comment below…