A bag is a crucial accessory, but it comes with plenty of easily made practical and style mishapsPixabay

There are some things in my past that I am not proud of, such as the time I forgot to proofread an essay before sending it to my supervisor (also the master of my college!) so I did not spot that I had mistyped ‘mass’ several times, always omitting that crucial ‘m’. However, that pales in comparison to the confession I must now make: last term, necessity drove me to use a DofE backpack as my bag, because I just have so much stuff. Reader, it was not worth it.

The thing is, in an average day, I need my laptop, charger, headphones, purse, packed lunch and snacks, extra layers, bike lights, books…and heaven forfend needing to buy groceries on the way home. These items are bulky, and my bag can only be as big as my bike basket will allow. The DofE bag was an aggressive statement I did not enjoy making, and so I returned to the trusty Longchamp Le Pliage I have used for 6 years. But yesterday, equipped with the above as well as a Topshop delivery and some yoga clothes, I encountered some turbulence.

Julia finds her Longchamp Le Pliage bag ticks all the boxes for student lifeJulia Davies

My delivery of new culottes came with a hanger, which was a blessing and a curse. Hangers are notoriously not bendy, and coupled with the bananas I had purchased from Sainsburys, which ideally should not be squashed, rendered my basket more than full. I crammed my bag into my basket, sideways, and tried to artfully drape the bananas over the side. I then resolved to carry the Topshop bag in one hand, and merrily cycle the 499 feet to the Union. I had forgotten that the Topshop bag was open at the bottom. I pedalled. It divulged its contents all over Sidney Street. Returns labels rained like confetti. A kind man picked them up for me. And some insightful sage felt compelled to say ‘That’s not a very good place to stop, is it’.

Anyway, we all need a bag that is big enough but doesn’t advertise its capacity in litres. I do adore the Le Pliage. It is pricey but excellent quality and is also water-resistant. Its USP is that it folds up, so you can have it in a smaller bag and deploy it in extremis, or even in Sainsburys. I have also seen Google Images of Kate Middleton, no less, cycling with hers as a backpack. I don’t believe there is a better bag than the Le Pliage, but if you find it do please let me know.

‘Why do I have hand luggage and hold luggage? I am going to the library’

Another solid option is an actual backpack – better if actually waterproof. You can then even have another bag in your basket if needed/if you cycle. Fjallraven’s Kanken dominates the student scene, in an array of zany hues. For a more anonymous, utilitarian approach, Mi-Pac’s Classic style is roomy and inoffensive, and at £19.99 is more reasonable than most models.

If you eschew the backpack, what about Zara’s colossal Jute Tote? If you can’t fit all your stuff in this, you actually do have too much. And you can only get 199.8 5p plastic bags for the very reasonable £9.99 they ask for it.

What you really want to be careful of is what I call ‘A Kris-Calculation’, which is when you look at a massive bag and think ‘Ooh, how capacious’ when in fact it holds diddly-squat, as its insides take up a stupid amount of room. Case in point, Kris Jenner’s humungous Hula Hoop Chanel handbag that is all hoop and no holding would actually struggle to carry a Camcard. If you have a bike and have those weird bungee cords at the back and know how to use them, I’m sure they are very handy, however I just seem to ping myself with mine.


Mountain View

Photoshoot Brightening up Sidgwick

Other ways to cope are to use an ugly (read: practical) bag for your big stuff and have a pretty bag for essentials, but we are students and I think you would lose the zeal for this plan before you can say ‘Why do I have hand luggage and hold luggage? I am going to the library.’ In the absolute worst-case scenario, just get a taxi. The average ambulance call-out costs £254.57, and if you wobble off your bike badly enough you’d need it. A taxi would not be more than £10. Unless you go to Girton. In which case, please check the luggage restrictions on your airline of choice.

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