52, project manager
She considers this bag her rolling office: "I can stop wherever and work." And it also means she gets exercise. "I didn't want to take taxis. I wanted to walk." After several back surgeries, she tries to minimize the weight on her back and shoulders.
What's right: You can't beat wheels if you absolutely have to haul heavy stuff around.
What's wrong: There's a tendency to pack the bag fuller than it needs to be (and you still have to carry the heavy thing up and down steps at the train station or bus); not remotely a cool look.
58, audit assistant
"I don't really have a system. This works for me," she says, carrying a medium purse for her wallet, hand sanitizer and glasses. The tote is for lunch, umbrella, makeup bag and a sweater or jacket.
What's right: Two bags make carrying more manageable, and she can leave the tote at work or home when running quick errands.
What's wrong: Nothing, as long as she cleans out her bags often to eliminate what she doesn't need.
He says he's weighed down with an overflowing briefcase because he's delivering two giant textbooks — American history and college algebra — to his high school son. Leinenweber made a tactical mistake, having the online retailer send the books to his office when he should have had them sent to the house.
What's right: Not much. He's so hard on his briefcases, even when not carrying high school text books, he has to buy a new one every year.
What's wrong: The bag is digging into his shoulder; wearing it cross body would distribute the weight.
22, barber school student
"I just run out of the house in the morning, so I throw in everything that fits," she says. She's carrying a purse on top of her black tote.
What's right: The bags don't look stuffed, even though she carries a change of clothes in one of them, a requirement for school.
What's wrong: She carries two, and sometimes three, heavy, glass, full-size perfume bottles in her purse because she likes options during the day. Limit scent to one a day.
Tips for a lighter commute
•Be a smart shopper: If the bag is heavy when empty, don't buy it; choose a lighter one.
•A dose of realism: Are you really going to get all that paperwork/studying done tonight? If not, leave it at home, school or the office.
Minimize: Why carry a heavy wallet with check book, 18 credit cards and frequent shopper cards if you only need two?
•Calendars weigh you down; use your phone as a planner.
•Downsize: Opt for smaller makeup, water bottle, fragrance containers.
•Clean up: Assess your bag(s) every night to assure you're only carrying what you need.
•Leave extra shoes, workout clothes at your desk.