Finding the right bag for school is such an endeavor. Either it doesn’t fit enough, breaks on the way to class, or your shoulders ache for days. However, after countless bags snapping on campus and extra sore shoulders from improper weight balance, I have finally found a good selection of bags for school as well as neat tricks to spot out those untrustworthy ones.

1. Trendy Messenger Bag: Messenger bags are my favorite– you can have it on one shoulder, across the chest, or hold it like a handbag which is extremely helpful if you have to lug around heavy books. However, “contemporary” styled messenger bags seem to be very popular now. This bag style is professional enough to use other than for school and has straps sturdy enough to hold a notebook, light textbooks (maybe novel sized) and an E-reader or Tablet.

2. The Canvas Backpack: This type of bag may be more expensive than what students plan to spend on a bag for school. But if you really need the space, and this fits your style, it may be worth the extra cash. I tried going cheap buying a bag that looked like this, and it did not end well. But seriously, look at those pockets! Imagine the possibilities! This Canvas Rucksack is definitely good for those who carry small appliances like mini staplers, chargers, calculators, and some snacks for breaks.

3. The Laptop Messenger/ Purse: Laptop purses/messenger bags are really helpful if you plan on bringing a full sized laptop instead of something smaller, like a net book or tablet. These bags are specifically designed to hold your laptop, but make sure you get the right size. Attempting to fit a laptop into a bag made for smaller laptops will just put more stress on your shoulders. Moreover, most of these come with an extra sleeve can fit a notebook or a slim textbook comfortably. So this would be ideal for people with strong lecture and power-point based classes where having a laptop is a must, and the textbooks are left at home.

4. The Laptop Backpack: Laptop Backpacks are really good because they have something that other bags don’t have– extra back support. That’s always good! Most of these styled backpacks even have a jack for your headphones, and other cool compartments like an eyeglass pocket. Honestly, even if you don’t have a laptop that you need to bring every day, this would still be good for carrying those large hardcover text books that are required in-class.

5. The Classic Jansport: Everyone probably remembers the Jansport fad of the 90’s, but have you revisited them lately? They still offer their classic design (of course!) alongside other varieties, such as: sling, messenger, laptop, and even sport backpacks. I still see people on campus with their Jansport holding everything they need. Also, that pouch in the front looks very convenient to bring lunch to school!

6. The Hobo Purse: A little different from the other choices, but don’t underestimate the holding capacities of a Hobo bag! These are easy to find in really any store, mall, or even flea markets. Spending a little more money and getting a good brand will also go a long way for the life of the bag. The top of the bag being curved (even if some versions of Hobo Bags look small) actually helps to fit a lot more than you’d expect. I borrowed a friend’s Hobo Purse, and it ended up fitting my net-book, net-book charger, wallet, water bottle, and an array of small miscellaneous objects! The link is to give a general idea of the shape of Hobo bags if you can’t picture it in your mind. After that, it’s on to shopping around for one that is the right size and style for you!

7. The Sling Purse: I’m sure a lot of us have seen these funky-colored cloth bags, but never knew how to search for them! This style is great if you dorm and don’t need to bring too much to class (and they’re fun for spring!) They can definitely hold a lot but make sure it’s not too heavy—it’s completely cloth and there’s no padding on the shoulders, so imagine what would happen if you attempt putting a laptop or hardcover textbook in here! These are definitely helpful if you bring a lot of folders, notebooks, and some books. If you go straight from work to school or vice versa, this bag is also good for carrying a work shirt since it expands more than other bags.

8. The Forgotten Tote: Amidst the varieties of bags, it’s easy to forget a style so simple. The Tote! Tote bags are great because they’re usually longer in length and smaller in width—so if you want everything nice, upright, and neat, a Tote is great! Of course, these are also the ones that will break easiest if the straps aren’t sturdy; the stitching eventually unravels and you have a huge mess of course material. What aids this are totes that have straps focus weight on sturdy metal rings, or incredibly strong material, like leather.

9. The Sleek MacBook Bag: If you’re really into having everything sleek, minimal, and all you need for school is your Mac, then this bag is great. Especially if all your books are E-books—what else do you need to bring to class then besides this! I see students on campus carrying only their laptops in a sleeve, so this is the same idea with the addition of letting you free your hands.

10. The Rugged Briefcase: Not the type of briefcase you’d initially picture in your mind—because now there are briefcase bags that are rugged looking (similar to canvas messenger bags). However, briefcase bags are perfect for organization, and travel. They have special pockets for electronic devices (more than just for a cell phone) document space, and multiple large compartments. The bag in the link, in particular, expands—which is even better!

Kristina Pacione has been an NSCS member since 2011 and attends CUNY Queens College. She is currently majoring in English and expects to graduate May of 2013.