Packing it all in: Our guide to choosing the right backpack for college

The essentialist: "I got my backpack at Meijer. It has a lot of compartments, and it looks pretty sporty." Melissa, junior.

The Bohemian: "My backpack is an old mail carrier's bag from Amsterdam. My mom bought it there when she was studying at Calvin." Alexandra, senior.

The fashionista: "I have two backpacks, but I'm really into the messenger bag. I like it because it still looks good when you're wearing nice clothes. And you can bike with it." Mike, senior.

The world traveler: "I love my backpack! It's lasted all through college. I brought it with me to Kenya, and it still has some African dirt on it. I refuse to part with it!" Emily, junior.

The adventurer: "My bag is actually a climbing backpack. It has compartments for carabiners, ice picks, water bottles. And it redistributes the weight from your shoulders, which is nice if you have to carry a million books across campus." MD, sophomore.

VERGE: fall 2011

First-Year Experience