Coming out of lurking because, alas, as much as I've looked through the forums, there are a few questions I cannot find answers to. But, everyone is so friendly on here, I'm sure someone can help. =) And I'm going to address the title in reverse order, as that makes more logical sense. Please bear with me.
I have a wonderful backpack (different manufacturer), but now that I've downsized my MBP and live close enough to ride my bike to the university, it's too large. And if it's empty, I will find a way to fill it. So, I want to downsize. My thought is to build myself some panniers which will carry the odd textbooks (to/from the library), lunch, and the new bag. The new bag will carry a 13" MBP, water bottle, small spiral, mini first aid kit, various electronics cables, GS3, and other sundry items even tomboys have on them (I am a mom, after all). Plus winter gear when the weather changes =(. I want a bag that will work for grad school now and once I become a professor (*fingers crossed*), can do conferences (which will have my laptop in it almost constantly), and can be used in general when I don't have enough pockets or want to run errands. If I need to carry more stuff, I'll go with the backpack I have now as, alas, I am a poor grad student, and can't justify getting something in a format I already have.
The bags I've narrowed down to atm are:
- Large Cafe Bag
Shockers, I know! This seems to be the biggest conundrum on the forums! Moreso that I'm a backpack person by habit. Shoulder bags tend to hurt me very quickly. But then again, I'm pretty sure all the shoulder bags I've tried in the past are crappy. And by shoulder bags I mean cross-body. Which I know look stupid on me because I'm average build and weight (5'6", 140lb and shrinking), but VERY large chested *sigh*. Fortunately, I don't really care that I look silly -- all about the comfort and convenience =)
With cross-body in mind, and that I do walk a lot across campus/ride a bike, I'm not sure which strap to go with. My automatic thought was the Q-AM, but for it to hit my sternum means either going under a breast or straight across one. I cannot find any images on the forums of a busty female wearing a Q-AM (though I have seen references to them eventually being posted, back in 2008 =P). Or, would Absolute + waist straps work well enough? I'm a cincher and like backpacks tight across my body (the lw backpacker in me) and greatly dislike something flopping around as I'm weaving through human traffic. Oh, and if it helps, I find most straps far more comfortable with just the webbing than the hard brick of a thing called a "shoulder pad". Pad... hah! Pad should mean soft and weight reducing. I swear most of them make the load feel heavier!
And before you say "go with a backpack", I simply don't want to. I'm tired of constantly taking it off, setting it down, kneeling, and unsnapping it, just to get out a pencil and small notebook to jot down a random idea or get my chapstick (I do the 2 strap thing). I figure if I downsize enough, a single-shoulder bag shouldn't be too cumbersome with the right strap(s).
Done with the dissertation, sorry it's so long. Open to feedback, and thank you so very much in advance!!!