If you're classic prepsters like ourselves, you've been relying on The North Face to tote your goods around since you had goods that needed to be toted around. But, gentlemen, the time has come to lay the nylon contraption to rest and welcome something that has looks and utility, to boot.
Enter the man-tote. Now, let's first negate anything girly about the tote bag. So it may look like a purse, but classic male prepsters have been sporting monogrammed L.L. Bean totes since their very inception. Their catch-all utility beats out the backpack by far when on the go, and you don't spend 45 minutes unzipping secret compartments and discovering new ones each time you delve deeper into the depths of the North Face black hole.
The looks you get in the city are atrocious when seen sporting a backpack, but people passing with totes are completely the norm. And we're not basing our opinions on those of the masses, but the recent switch to toting instead of backpacking has been an enlightening experience.
If you're secure enough in your manhood and you're ready to make the switch, there are countless options to choose from. We have picked up a couple from Rugby and Filson that suit our personalities. We've seen cool bags in canvas with leather accents, all leather bags, nylon bags, and so on. So when it comes time to grab your things for Fall, on your way to class or to work, look cool doing it with your man-tote instead of a bulky black backpack.
If you don't trust our opinion (which you should...hah) look at the Fall '08 and Spring '09 runway shows from across the world and you'll see countless designers sending variations of the tote down the runway.
When you're ready to hit the tote market, here are a couple of suggestions on where to start. John Varvatos has a cool linen and leather tote in stores right now. The price is slightly ridiculous, but the bag is cool. RRL, RL and Rugby have several cool options. The navy/yellow bag pictured is from Rugby. The other bag pictured is by Filson, an outdoorsy brand for the manly man (www.filson.com). Try going vintage at What Goes Around Comes Around (www.nyvintage.com) or your local vintage store. Or if you're in the mood to give back, try Lauren Bush's Feed Bags (www.feedprojects.org) that feed needy children across the world with the purchase of one of the bags. And, of course, if you're a traditionalist, check out the old school L.L. Bean totes.