When I recently re-aggravated an old shoulder injury, it seemed like a good time to give my 10-ton shoulder bag a rest. My physical therapist suggested a backpack. Have you ever tried to find a chic backpack? Resolving the fiscal cliff might be easier. But finally I stumbled across this gem by New York designer MZ Wallace. Its body is super-sturdy Teflon-coated nylon (much lighter than leather), but the leather trim and gold hardware keep it miles away from Jansport territory. My favorite touch is the fact that the side pockets–perfect for your cell phone and wallet—zip toward your body, not away from it, making it virtually impossible for anyone to open them without you noticing. Take that, El pickpockets!

$385, at mzwallace.com