Do grad/law students use messenger bags?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by wowoah, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. wowoah macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Hi everyone and thanks in advance for your help.

    I'm a 4th year undergrad who is planning to go to law school next year and I've been using a North Face backpack for the past two years (which, for anyone who is looking for a backpack, I very highly recommend.) I got my backpack after my messenger bag, a cheap one I got from Old Navy, started giving me back and shoulder pains. However, I recently talked to a friend who has been hauling stuff around in his spiffy Timbuk2 bag and he said it's great, no pains whatsoever, which is making me want to go buy a bag now.

    I've always had a soft spot for messenger bags--they're so much easier to grab stuff out of while you're walking, they're nicer to your books and papers, they stay on you better when you're biking, and they just look sexier in general. The problem is that they don't hold as much, which I'm concerned about as I'm going to be off to law school next year with big fat legal texts to lug around. If I'm going to buy a bag, I want to throw down some good money on a really high quality one, but I don't want to buy something I won't be able to use.

    So finally my question: do grad students or law students use messenger bags, or is it mostly a backpack world? In other words, if I get a sweet bag now, will I be using it in a year, or will I be going back to my North Face?

    Thanks again and sorry for the long-winded question! :)
  2. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ

    Whatever is most comfortable. I have used both (as a grad student) with my laptops and while I agree about the ease of use with the messenger bags, backpacks are tons more comfortable when toting books, a laptop, etc...
    Are you worried about people making fun of you? Are yuou going to Berkeley?
  3. dotnina macrumors 6502a

    Aug 19, 2004
    Hey, if you want a messenger bag, go for it. :)

    You can definetely find some high-capacity messenger bags. As a messenger bag person myself, however, I will warn you that cramming such a bag with books may cause you to fall over (and have shoulder pains in general). Also, when the bag gets too thick from tons of books, it can get uncomfortable to walk with. Every step you take causes the bag to slap against your side -- not the best feeling in the world. You can get around this by tightening the strap so that the bag sits high on your back, but this definetely takes away some of the messenger bag sexiness. ;)

    One thing you might consider is buying a tote bag to carry the books, and putting the rest of your papers / binders / etc. in the messenger bag. Then, you can decide at whim whether you feel like carrying a giant pile of books around on that day.

    I think you'd be happy with anything from Timbuk2 (as you mentioned) -- you might also want to have a look at Manhattan Portage, which has very rugged and lightweight (and stylish!) bags with good shoulder straps.
  4. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    i wouldn't concern yourself so much with what everyone else is doing... if the messenger bag fits your individual needs, use it.
  5. TLRedhawke macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2004
    I'm a law student, and unlike the majority of my classmates, I do't carry my books to school. The reason for this is that I've already read the necessary readings, and know them sufficiently well to understand the references made to the case. As such, I know the material better just for having read it in advance. I also save my back and shoulders. I use a messenger bag to shuttle my 12" PowerBook to and from the law school. I carry only a few other necessities in there (blank CDs and DVDs, GBA, AC Adaptor, Video Out Dongle, etc.). The messenger bag looks very sleek as opposed to a backpack, and it manages to get all the necessities to school and back.
  6. Aaon macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2004
    I am a grad student, and a fan of backpacks. Though I agree that the messenger bags are pretty stylish, I think a backpack suits my needs better. I have a 20 minute walk into work each day, and a 20 minute walk home, so comfort is important. I can carry my laptop, as well as two decent-sized books/notebooks with no problem. There are stylish backpacks out there as well, and they are much more comfortable to wear, in my opinion. That being said, my friend uses a messenger bag for his laptop and books, and loves it. So I suppose ti comes down to preference. See if you can find a store that will let you load up a messenger bag to try, or perhaps ask to borrow your friend's for a day.

  7. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    The majority of students will bring their books to class, though. At least in my LS classes, the prof. would often ask for specific questions from teh reading, not just general things about the cases. That is, he'd direct people to the text. Obviously whatever works for you is great, but I'd figure most people will be carrying books.

    Of course, at some law schools, people leave their books in library carrels, or study areas, or lockers, and read in teh library, so maybe the issue isn't too big. And sometimes you have only two classes per day, so you may not need all your books.

    That said, figure you'll be carrying two good-sized law books most of the time, sometimes three or four.
  8. bigsteve3 macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2002
    As a new grad student, I'll throw my 2¢ in. I already had a messenger bag with a special slot for my laptop, but in undergrad I mainly used a regular backpack. I will say that your mode of transportation at grad/law school should affect your decision. I walk about 2 miles to class each way, and the messenger bag is definitely not as comfortable. If you bike, sure, it will be great, and if you drive or ride the bus, it really shouldn't matter what you get :)

    But, ultimately, it's up to you to decide what is most important.

  9. apple2991 macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2004
    Erm, I thought backpacks were better for biking due to equal side weight distribution and the fact that THEY DON'T SLIDE OFF YOUR BODY.
  10. wowoah thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks for all your help everyone! I'll take this all into consideration when I think about what to get for next year.

    In response to an earlier post, no I'm not worried about being made fun of :) I think we can say I'm safely past that point in my life. I just don't want to throw down some good cash for a good bag that'll be a good dust collector in nine months because the books I'll be carrying around are too freaking heavy.

    Mess. bags are better because they strap across your entire chest which actually makes them less likely to slide off. Backpacks, on the other hand, are only restrained by your shoulders and have a tendency to try and slide off while you're biking, which pulls your arms apart and can, at best, force you to stop and readjust yourself.
  11. apple_iBoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Don't strain yourself thinking about it too much. . . Really not a major decision in the grand scheme of things.
  12. mrpaperknife macrumors member

    Nov 8, 2004
    Louisville, the Derby city
    I'm an undergrad and I use a Timbuk2 Messenger bag size large which is big enough for books, a binder, and my Timbuk2 laptop sleave for my iBook. I've tried out several messenger bags including a few from Old Navy and one from an army surplus store, but the Timbuk2 bag is superior.

    The nicest feature of a Timbuk2 bag is the "cam buckle," which allows you to easily adjust the length of the strap so you can wear the bag lower on your back or higher on your back.

    The large IS big. This from the Timbuk2 website: "Warning: this bag also holds 80 pounds of text books, or 200 pounds of concrete. "

    I highly recommend Timbuk2.
  13. timsq macrumors regular


    Feb 27, 2004
    New Orleans
    They use what's smart. TImbuk2 Crumpler, etc. you can too!
  14. Peyote macrumors 6502a


    Apr 11, 2002
    I will vouch for the Timbuk2 bags as well....Very sturdy, high quality, and so customizable when you order them online! They also have a belt strap that helps the bag act like a backpack when you are riding a bike. When you order, opt for the shoulderpad and you'll be set.
  15. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
  16. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    Honestly, you're better off asking people at your particular school how many books they really end up toting around; or even just sitting on campus and watching to see how many of the students are lugging libraries.

    Personally I only carried my college textbooks if I knew the specific professors were going to utilize them in class, and made frequent stop-offs at the dorms/car if I'd otherwise have had to drag too many at once; but there wouldn't have been any way to know that in advance.
  17. DanTekGeek macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2004
    Denver, CO
    do what feels comfortable. who cares what other people think if you are hobbled over in pain?
    also, ive heard that breifcases (the grown up boring messenger bags), are traditional law school graduation presents.
  18. betsbillabong macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2004
    I'm a graduate student, and like someone else I also have a 20-minute walk. I agree that if you're carrying anything other than just your computer, backpacks are more comfortable - although I imagine that true messenger bags like the Timbuk2 bags, which, let's remember, are BICYCLE MESSENGER BAGS, are probably best for biking!

    It's important to realize, though, that if you want a sleeker look, you can get backpacks that are both more styled-out and more organized than your North Face probably is (if it's a normal daypack). I just bought the Incase Backpack from the Apple Store - at $79 it was cheaper than a lot of the ones that are recommended around these parts (Brenthaven, Booq, Jacques), seems well-protected, and is thin and black. It holds way more than I would have expected.

    I'm sure you'll find something that works for you.
  19. nbs2 macrumors 68030


    Mar 31, 2004
    A geographical oddity
    law school...

    you'll probably carry your books a bit first year, and then realize you wre stupid late that year or your second year. I'd say a backpack is better b/c depending on where you are going to school, messenger bags scream computer. and screaming computer in isn't always a good thing at night. also, between torts, crim, and contracts i had my share of weight. Anyway, learn your lesson now - lockers are good, stay on campus to study. otherwise you'll be pulling allnighters late in the semester and be way behind on things. sorry for rambling, but i finally finished a draft of a major paper - and it's still short. :( where are you going to school anyway?

    for what it's worth, i have a marware sportfolio and just throw the pb in the case and the case in my backpack. the nice thing is that if i'm only going up to the building for a class or so, i clip on the shoulder strap and just take the computer by itself.
  20. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    from my experiences, i think the last thing you will think about is what device you are using to carry your books...the workload will make you also not notice a lot of other things ;)
  21. mjlizzad macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2004
    Hope you don't have a Mac

    I'm a 1L (you'll learn that everyone refers to themselves as 1L, 2L, 3L) at a Chicago law school. I have a Timbuk2 messenger bag and I think it's great. You're really looking for something to lug 3-5 huge books around.

    In my classes wheeled luggage is extremely common - esp with girls. That should give you some idea of what you'll need to bring to class everyday. Like others mentioned, many schools have lockers, and some people do most of their work in the law library. I tend to do most of my work at home, so I needed a huge bag. Sometimes my Timbuk2 can't even handle the load.

    On another note, you may want to worry about your laptop choice. I'd say about 95% of law students have laptops, and there's good reasons. At my school we're allowed to type our finals. Almost all lawschools mandate you use ExamSoft ( - From their faq: "SofTest [examsoft] may only be used on a PC. It is not compatible with any Macintosh operating system nor may it be used with PC emulation software."

    You'd really be hurting yourself by not having a laptop for exams.
  22. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    why dont you just find a cute undergrad to carry your books for you??
  23. djkny macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2003
    Tom Bihn bags -- an ID or a Brain Bag with Brain Cell.
    These are Made in the USA, custom manufactured, iPod chic.

    There's a months long wait list to get your hands on one hand crafted beauty. that says it all ....
  24. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    I'm taking graduate courses in mathematics and everyone seems to be using backpacks here.

    I, personally, use a surplus NATO issue backpack which I've been using for 7 years now. It's great! :rolleyes: Though I have no idea where you could get one these days.
  25. adaminpompey macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2004
    Use whatever you like -- you'll see everything at law school...

    You're going to see quite a mix of bags/packs at law school, so I would keep using whatever you like. The biggest difference I noticed between undergrad and law school is the presence of laptops - the majority of people seem to take lecture notes on laptops at law school.

Share This Page