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This is generally something portable, like a lady’s handbag/purse, designed to be carried most days for work and/or pleasure activities. Men’s bags often start out as practical items for carrying computers or cameras, but are modified to carry more items for use during the day. If you’re looking for a new bag, you’ll need to decide exactly what you want to use it for, whether it needs to be waterproof, how many compartments you want, and so on. Fastenings also vary a great deal; you could opt for discreet magnetic closures, or brass buckles, or noisy zippers and Velcro.
This is designed to be slung over the shoulder – across the body – and originally date back to the New York messenger services of the 1950s. They are often quite slim, and so not suited for bulky items, like large cameras. These bags should be tough and water-resistant and are often made from plastic. More expensive, style-conscious bags are made from leather.
Laptop bags are originally built to carry a computer, but usually, have more space to carry other items. As laptops can be relatively heavy to carry for long periods, the bags are designed to be fairly lightweight. The laptop bag should be able to survive a rain shower, and the bottom of the bag should have some padding. These bags usually have a shoulder strap as well as the handles. Most are made from plastic, but some are made from canvas or leather.
The name comes from the legal profession; it’s a hard-sided container, with handles, for transporting documents safely. Most people would tend to use a laptop bag these days. Equally, a “briefcase” could probably work well as a laptop bag. Traditionally, these would have only had normal handles, but some may now have an optional shoulder strap. Briefcases tend to be heavier, and made out of metal, hard plastic, or thick leather.
These are usually designed for walking and hiking. Small backpacks are commonly used by everyone from children to office workers. They fit conveniently out of the way on your back, and are very versatile. There are many types; some have many divisions and pockets, while others have a big main compartment and just a few pockets. It can be useful if they have carrying handles, for use over short distances. These bags are expected to be waterproof, and resist being ripped by thorns. They are usually made from plastic, but there are some leather options available.
This type of bag usually has one main large compartment for holding clothes and shoes, plus a few smaller compartments. There is often a place for keeping wet items separate from other things, and some have a place to keep your shoes separate. These are commonly made out of light plastic material, and probably not tough enough for outdoor use, or for airline baggage. Go for a leather one if you want your gym bag to last. Moreover, it will also protect your valuable items.
The classic travel luggage is the “Gladstone bag”, which has often been incorrectly copied, and was the forerunner of the suitcase. These days, this type of bag is more like a gym bag. It should be robust, and be resistant to rough handling, as well as rain. They are usually intended to carry a small amount of items, so would be used as hand-luggage/carry-on, or for a weekend trip. The construction is often thick flexible plastic or leather.
The duffel bag was just a cylindrical bag with a drawstring at the top, for carrying luggage or equipment. Sailors and marines would refer to these as “seabags”. The word comes from the town of Duffel in Belgium, where the cloth for the bags was made. These days, it’s used to describe many bags which could also be called travel bags.
A tote bag might simply be called a shopping bag by many people. The word “tote” just means “carry”, and bags of this style became popular in the 1940s. Normally, it’s an open-topped bag with long handles, capable of being carried on the shoulder. They can be made in a variety of materials.
Camera bags usually have many compartments to hold camera bodies, lenses, batteries, and other bits and pieces. There are very small versions that can hang on your belt for holding compact cameras. If the internal layout of the bags can be altered easily, then a camera bag can be useful for other things. They usually come with padded sections, should resist ripping, and be waterproof.