Tote or Backpack for College?

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    That time has come again to choose a bag for College… Finding the right bag can certainly feel like one of the hardest decisions to make as a College student! Two of the most common College bags are totes and backpacks, but which one is right for you??


    If you’re one to carry a heavy load of books, laptops, chargers etc. Backpacks are the obvious go-to-bag. They are easier to carry (especially for those that like to carry coffee, snacks etc. in between class), kinder to our shoulders, and easier to run with - for those who may be late for class ;).

    As totes are worn on one shoulder, they tend cause more strain on the shoulder and back. However, they tend to look more chic and cute than backpacks, with a wider choice of style and also have the versatility of looking good both in and out of class. Who’s ever been in that awkward situation of going to a busy café/mall or riding the subway with their backpack and nutting anyone that gets within a foot of you?

    Striking the perfect balance between functionality, comfort and style is key when choosing between a cute tote or backpack for College. It’s clear that backpacks are the winners when it comes to practicality, but totes clearly trumps on style.

    BUT have you considered leather backpacks? Not only is leather renowned for its quality and durability, it offers a timeless style that is sure to ‘out-cute’ some totes out there. Leather is a great alternative to the everyday polyester/nylon book bags that springs to mind when you first think of backpack.

    MAHI Leather Explorer Backpack in Ebony Black - Female Model
    Explorer Backpack in Ebony Black

    In particular, full-grain leather offers this unique and stunning pattern of almost-distressed, vintage-style look. The blemishes, colour variations and markings of the hide are truly unique, with no two bags ever looking the same. 



    The Classic Tote in Tan English Saddle Leather 

    Perhaps getting both a backpack and a tote, and alternating between the two based on whether you have a heavy or light load for the day, may be the best compromise - although it sure can be difficult with a student budget.  

    MAHI Leather makes full-grain leather bags that are more affordable than high-street equivalents given that the bags are made to order and shipped directly from the craftsmen. This means no costs of stockpiling leather and no middlemen, who take a cut and inflate the price. Just have a quick shop around for other full-grain leather bags and you’ll see what I mean… 



    Personalized Classic Backpack in Ebony Black Leather

    An important consideration when purchasing a leather bag is to ensure you choose high quality leather – you’ll be surprised at the quality of some high street leather bags! Whilst often they are advertised as ‘genuine leather’, portraying the idea of good quality leather – this is often not the case. Whilst ‘Genuine leather’ is made of real leather, it is often the low quality made from split leather. This is much weaker than other types, such as full-grain leather. Full-grain leather is widely regarded as the highest quality of leather.


    Many bags now come with the option to be personalized/monogrammed – making the choice that more overwhelming! At MAHI Leather, every bag is made to order and therefore personalization is stitched on before manufacturing, which ensures a perfect finish with no compromise on leather quality or bag shape.

    Storing Your College Books and Laptop

    When choosing a tote, ensure there is ample space for your college essentials. Often, totes are quite small, with only enough space for a book and notepad. If you take your laptop to college, it is important to find something that can accommodate your device.

    Given leather’s strength, quality and durability, you can be sure to depend on its ability to protect your laptop.


    Many of our totes have been designed with this in mind – Our Classic Tote has enough room for a 15” laptop, whilst the Florence Tote can comfortably fit a 13” laptop. It is important to ensure you don’t over-pack your tote, and ensure you regularly alternate the arm you use to carry your tote throughout the day, to reduce your risk of shoulder and back pain.


    With backpacks, again storage space is one of the key decisions you’ll have to make. Some backpacks also come with extra compartments for organizing your books, laptops and stationary. Our Classic Backpack has enough space for a 13” laptop, with extra compartments for your stationary, phone, bus/train tickets etc.


    For something a little different to this classic unisex design, our Roma backpack and Explorer backpack offers a cute, stylish and timeless solution to carrying your college books and laptop.

    Regardless of whether you decide to go with a backpack or tote, from MAHI or any other brand, there are common important considerations to make: fabric (if leather, ensure you go for a high quality leather like full-grain), storage space, practicality, and comfortableness. Choosing a backpack for days you need to carry more books, and a tote for days you need to carry less is often the best compromise. Even better excuse to get two new bags!

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