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These are the best gender-neutral bags of the year

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13.06.2019

Over the last five years, dozens of bag startups have popped up, selling totes, duffles, and suitcases for the way modern consumers live today. For many people, a typical day involves rushing from the gym to work to a business trip to taking care of children, without enough time to move our belongings between bags. A fleet of brands that I have featured in my annual bag review—like Senreve, Dagne Dover, Cuyana, and Caraa—focus on creating bags that are both beautiful and functional, carefully incorporating pockets, built-in laptop cases, and sleeves to stick your bag onto your rolling luggage.

Many of these startups cater primarily to women, creating silhouettes and colors that are traditionally feminine. But not everybody is drawn to snakeskin-wrapped satchels or blush-colored totes. While there’s less innovation happening in the realm of gender-neutral or masculine bags, there are gems to be found if you look carefully. I’ve surveyed the market and found bags that look great, but also perform well in the midst of full, busy lives. Each of these bags has also been been tested for several weeks to ensure it stands up to daily use.

Price: $165 with solar phone charger, and $195 for added boombox functionality

Adrian Solgaard launched his eponymous company in 2016 to create a backpack that was fully equipped with tech features, but that also made it hard for thieves to steal from. Over the last few years, this same bag, known as the Lifepack, has been continuously improved.

We tested the Lifepack Solar 2.0, which comes in black and gray with a minimal design that makes it easy to blend in with both formal and relaxed outfits. The bag is equipped with a solar powerbank, which charges throughout the day when you are in the sun. For $165, you can get a powerbank that charges your phone via USB, but for $195, you can upgrade to one that also works as a Bluetooth speaker. Our tester found the boombox remarkably useful, particularly in the summer when he was out with friends. But he also pointed out that when he needed to charge his phone, the device had to be inside his bag, which was sometimes inconvenient.

[Photo: Solgaard]On the interior, the bag comes equipped with pockets for absolutely everything. In the brand’s parlance, there are two separate sections, the “workzone” and the “lifezone.” In the workzone on the back, there’s a laptop compartment. In the lifezone in the front, there are pockets for everything from sunglasses to cords to pens. But there are also........

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