Bags for grad students

Thanks to a follower who asked for a bag round-up for grad school! A grad school bag is pretty important if you ask me! It’s your daily companion so it needs to be able to lug gear and set you apart from your students. Here are my current favorite workhorse bags, updated for 2021!

Let’s start with what I most recently acquired, the Lands End zip top tote. This tote is under $40, has a ZIPPER, and it has held up super well–no strap damage or loose stitching. The medium size holds a laptop, no sweat. I think it’s a great bargain that still looks businessy. Plus, because it’s fabric it’s lighter to carry than a leather tote!


Next, another option I’ve used before, the Herschel Little America backpack. This is definitely a step up from what my undergrads are using, and it can hold everything. I carry this to school when I have too much to haul (like 5 lunches and sets of workout clothes). It’s around $100 (you can find it for less depending on the pattern–Zappos usually has a couple on sale). Mine is 7 years old and isn’t even breaking a sweat yet.

Ok, I have a couple other leather totes that deserve some praise, both from Madewell. The Transport Zip Top tote looks spendy and academic with the brass hardware, plus it holds a 13-inch laptop. Madewell has made many versions of this, so it’s available on eBay and Poshmark (or try searching the old models, called the Glasgow and the Kensington).

I’ve also found some nice totes at Nordstrom. This tote ($49) is laptop sized and all business.


Finally, Chic Professor recommended the Dagne Dover “legend” tote to me. It is a laptop bag with a laptop compartment. It’s definitely an investment but I’ve seen several for around $100 on Poshmark (see here) and if you’re paying attention and ready to snap it up, you can find an even better deal on there. Another good conference/job market option.

What other bags have helped you live your grad school life? Please share!

This post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author.

2 thoughts on “Bags for grad students”

  1. I’ve heard a lot about the Fossil Ryder Satchel! I haven’t used it personally but am looking to get one for conferences. I’m in the Computer Science field so the purse dimensions are large enough to ATLEAST fit my Macbook Air, plus a few notebooks and essentials


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: