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The Dagne Dover Dakota backpack comes in three sizes and eight different colors. Oh, and it's on sale.
As professional shoppers, we InStyle commerce editors have seen and tried it all. Those Spanx faux leather leggings everyone loves? Of course. The trendy LED light wand Solawave? Definitely. The cozy Aritzia Super Puff? Duh. And while we all have our favorites among the viral products, very rarely do we come across an item that all of us love. But miracles happen sometimes, especially when it comes to Dagne Dover and its Dakota backpack.
Not only did we call this our best overall backpack to shop, but we also realized one day in the office that we all owned it — not unlike the Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man meme that still exists rent-free in my mind — while it sat sturdily next to our desks (that’s the durable neoprene in action). It first began as a conversation between me and fellow senior commerce editor Shannon Bauer, who owns it in a fall-friendly olive green. Commerce writer Caitlyn Martyn chimed in telling us she desperately wanted one. A few weeks later, she got one of her own in the same green. Then suddenly we noticed more and more staffers around the office on InStyle, Byrdie, and People magazines owned the backpack.
And if you asked every single one of us, we’d all say the same thing: it’s the best backpack ever. “It has all the pockets I need — laptop sleeve, internal water bottle holder, front zip compartment — as well as the ones I wouldn't have thought of: the zippered pockets at the back are perfect for a small wallet or passport and stay protected against pick-pocketers,” says Bauer. Martyn even went as far to say it “revolutionized commuting” for her.
Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack
Price at time of publish: $146 (Originally $195) at Dagnedover.com
Shipping: Free over $75
Returns: 90 days from delivery date
I have it in all three sizes — I told you, I love this backpack — but speaking strictly about the medium size, which we all agreed is the most useful and goldilocks-esque size, you can cram literally whatever you want in it without it looking too bulky. In case you don’t believe me, take it from Martyn: “I’m able to fit everything I need for a day at the office and a gym workout to follow or an overnight at my boyfriend’s apartment with my skincare and makeup bags in tow,” she says. And best of all, it protects everything properly.
The water-resistant, hand-washable material flexes with the items stored inside. It offers a soft, shock-absorbent landing for valuables, like a work laptop, and never feels like it might accidentally pop open thanks to the chunky, durable zipper. Opt for the medium size in order to receive a shoe bag and matching neoprene pouch. Newer models also have a sleeve on the back to slide over a suitcase handle. (My nearly four-year-old version does not have this handy feature, and I’m definitely jealous of those who have this added benefit.)
The backpack for me has made it through numerous commutes to the office, overnight stays at hotels, and one puppy who enjoyed chewing on straps of things. With the cushioned straps, my back has never hurt, even when I definitely carry more than I should inside. This backpack can take a beating to be sure. It does wrinkle a bit if laid flat for a prolonged period of time — a mistake I have made — so I recommend stuffing it when not in use to allow it to keep its shape. But that’s the worst of it: you never need to worry about accidental holes or broken straps.
Buy this backpack for the notorious schlepper in your life because it doesn’t have to be for a student. It looks sleek and professional and, if we may, pretty freaking chic. As Bauer puts it, “The design doesn't make me feel like a kid who's hopping on the bus to kindergarten,” a downside of a majority of the backpacks out there. Need we say more? Slap a bow on this bad boy and give it to any loved one this holiday.
You probably noticed our “Gift of The Day” badge on this story. For the next handful of days, we’ll be rolling out reviews of one product that we think would make an excellent gift, whether it’s a set of no-makeup makeup, an LED light mask, a backpack perfect for work, or a personalized phone case. Follow along to find foolproof gifts, including some excellent last-minute ideas for those who are a bit challenging to shop for.
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