The Backpack That Shaved 6 Minutes Off My Morning Commute

updated Feb 20, 2020
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As one of the 4.3 million New Yorkers who commute by subway every day, I’ve come to embrace the fact that my tote is my car. It gets me from the office to barre to book club without having to make any annoying pit-stops at home and holds everyday essentials like my water bottle and laptop, plus lifesavers like lip balms and Tide pens. It also weighs a ton—about 6 pounds on most days. So when I started experiencing shoulder, back, and neck pain, I realized it was time to switch to something more sensible. but equally stylish. Enter: Dagne Dover’s Dakota backpack, which turned out to be a gamechanger.

Like me, you’ve probably seen the cult-favorite, New York-based company’s pastel neoprene Landon Carryall bags all over Instagram or spotted their Weston laptop bag on the subway. Despite not having used a backpack in over 11 years, I opted for the Dakota and was pleasantly surprised by how light it was. The padded straps sat comfortably on my shoulders without the pinching and biting I got from my tote bag, and I also loved that the neoprene fabric gave the ergonomically designed commuter backpack a sophisticated look and kept its shape intact even after I stuffed it to the brim.

Buy It: Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack, $195 at Shopbop

And you can definitely stuff a lot into this bag—there are 12 organizing pockets. I used the zippered side pockets to stash my subway card and wallet; the tiny top pocket for my headphones; the interior cubby pockets for my laptop, water bottle, and a mason jar of morning oats; and I still had room left over for a pair of shoes and gym clothes (a laundry bag is included to keep dirty clothing separate).

But I think the biggest and most surprising benefit of switching over to the Dakota backpack is that it shaved off about 6 precious minutes from my commute time. All of those pockets meant I no longer had to stop everything and dive into the black hole of my tote, digging around for important things like my wallet, keys, or metro card.

Ultimately, I’m thrilled that I traded my tote for a commuter backpack because it’s not only saved my back but also saved me time. Plus, it’s stylish and comes in a range of colors including Heather Gray, Dune, and Onyx. I went with the large version of the Dagne Dover Dakota backpack ($195), but you can also choose small ($135) or medium ($175), depending on how much of your world you need to lug with you.

Buy It: Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack, $195 at Shopbop