Purses that are bulky and heavy on your shoulders can often lead to back pain. If you are looking for a bag that is light, comfortable, ergonomic and healthier for your body, we have found some of the best options available. From styles that are cross-body, sling, backpack purses, to small clutches, we have found the best designs that will cut down on the strain on your back and help to keep you pain-free. We have options for all tastes and budgets that are not only comfortable but are also stylish and look great.
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Healthy Back Bag by Ameribag
Ameribag Healthy Back Bags is one of the best options to check out if you are finding that your purse is causing you pain. They are often imitated, but nothing quite beats the original Healthy Back Bag. They come in a few different sizes, (XS, small, medium and large) with the design being mostly the same for all sizes. These bags are made to take the pressure off your back, but they are also helpful for organizing your stuff due to the inner design of the pockets. The numerous pockets should give you the added bonus of only carrying what you need, so you will cut down on the weight of the bag, which is a huge factor in finding a bag that won’t cause pain. One notable feature of the Ameribags is that the straps have a pebbled surface which keeps them on your shoulder and stops them from sliding off. The strap is adjustable so you can move the bag around and carry in front of you, across your body, or over your shoulder. Another favorite feature in the Ameribag designs is the contrasting color of the inner lining that helps to make it easy to locate everything inside the bag. For comfort and functionality, you cannot beat these bags if you are trying to avoid back pain. A lot of people say that this style of the bag feels better than a backpack to wear because of the way that it distributes the weight.
Find on Amazon
Rebecca Minkoff Julian Nylon Backpack
Wearing a small, light backpack is one of the best options to keep your back and shoulders feeling great since it allows you to distribute the weight of the bag evenly across your shoulders. Backpacks also allow you to adjust the straps so you can move them around if you are starting to feel discomfort in one position. If you do go for a backpack style, don’t wear it over just one shoulder, as it will strain your neck and it will make it harder for your back to stay properly aligned.
A beautiful, fashionable backpack style is the Rebecca Minkoff Julian Nylon Backpack. What is great about this bag is that the nylon makes it light for carrying, and since it is a backpack style, it is big enough to take a lot of your essential items, while still being reasonably small for a backpack. It has an unusual back zipper that helps makes it a great looking style. The nylon material makes it easy to take care of and keep clean. It works great for traveling or commuting due to how comfortable it feels to wear. You can get this backpack in three colors: black, light pink and gray.
Available from Bloomingdale’s
MICHAEL Michael Kors Rhea Zip Small Backpack
The small Micheal Kors backpacks are trendy styles that work well as a back-friendly purse alternative since fashionable while still being comfortable. The Michael Kors Rhea Zip Small Backpack is a gorgeous bag that small, but can fit quite a lot of essentials. This particular bag is more like a handbag in the design of a backpack. It has one interior zipped pocket and one exterior pocket. Since it is leather, some may find the 1.6 lbs weight a little too much compared to nylon options, but the small size helps to make up for the weight of the leather. Also if you are looking for a leather option, this may be the bag for you. It comes in a few very chic and elegant colors in beautifully textured pebble leather. In addition to being cute and classy, it is a convenient bag as it has so many compartments to keep you organized.
Find at Macy’s
Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Light Convertible Crossbody and Waistpack
Sometimes you don’t realize just how uncomfortable your bag is until you take a trip with it. Hours of walking and carrying a decent amount of stuff in your purse can wreak havoc on your back. A great brand to check out that make excellent bags to wear when traveling are Travelon. They have a lot of different styles and sizes of the bags for traveling, with one of their best for your back being the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Light Convertible Crossbody and Waistpack. It is quite a small, light option that converts from crossbody bag to waist-pack with are both styles that easy on your back. The cool thing about this design is that it has a bunch of anti-theft features including locking compartments, slash-resistant construction, as well as an adjustable shoulder strap that can attach to a chair. It also has RFID blocking card and passport slots and multipurpose pockets for smartphones and passports. It is just big enough to carry quite a few essentials while remaining light enough to carry all day. It comes in a nice variety of colors to choose from including black, purple, lush blue, mocha and berry.
Available from Amazon
KAVU Sydney Satchel
The Sydney Satchel by Kavu® is a larger, lightweight option that has an ergonomic contour design, so it will be safe to wear if you have back issues. It is made of a light canvas that comes in a few different colors and patterns. Since this a bigger bag than some of the other options on this list you can wear this style a few different ways if the weight one way becomes too much. It has a lot of interior organization pockets, as well as back external zip pockets to keep you organized. It is quite a sporty looking bag so it won’t work for all situations, but it is a great, ergonomic option if you have no choice but to carry around large amounts of items in your purse.
Available from Zappos
Baggallini-Everywhere Lightweight Crossbody Bag
The Baggallini-Everywhere Lightweight Crossbody Bag is perfect for traveling as well as for use as a large, everyday purse. It can also help you stay super organized due to the high number of pockets and an inner compartment for your various items. The bag is not only functional, but it’s also chic and comes in a great variety of attractive colors. You can adjust the straps and make it short or long, depending on your particular need. The other great features of this bag are that it is inexpensive and super durable so that it will last quite a long time.
Available from Amazon
Herschel Supply Co. Fifteen Fanny Pack
You may not be a massive fan of the fanny pack, but if you are looking to take the strain off your back, they are an option that is worth considering. The Herschel Supply Co. Fifteen Fanny Pack is quite a nice pack as far as colors that are available and the size of the bag. Fanny packs are great if you only have a few items to carry and you want to keep your hands free. A lot of people love wearing them when visiting theme parks because you can usually wear them on the rides. They are easy to access, and they make it easy to get through security quickly. Overall this pack from Herschel is convenient, cute, easy to clean, and is easy to adjust.
Available from Amazon
Minicat Small Crossbody Bag
If you can’t quite bring yourself to wearing a fanny pack, another small option that will be easy on your back and your shoulders is the Minicat Crossbody Phone Purse design. It is tiny, but you can get most phones as well as some credit cards, money, keys and probably a lipstick in it without too much trouble. The inside is lined with a fuzzy material to avoid any friction or damage to your phone. The less you carry around with you, the easier it is to avoid straining your back. Sometimes you can’t avoid carrying a large number of items in your purse, but for the occasions that you ca,n it is well worth it. This Minicat Crossbody is a fashionable, practical, and great design that allows you to carry your essentials in an organized way. It also comes in lots of colors and is inexpensive.
Available from Amazon
Madewell The Leather Pouch Clutch
Another option to avoid the pain of carrying a purse on your shoulder is to try a clutch. What is excellent about clutches is that due to the lack of a strap you are going to be moving it around quite a bit, you may hold it in your hands or under your arm, switching it side to side as you walk around. They aren’t the most practical option in all situations, but they are great for helping to avoid back and neck strain. A chic beautifully made clutch if you are looking for a style to carry your essentials without being too big or bulky is the Leather Pouch Clutch from Madewell. It is a great clutch that is stylish and chic, and that won’t cause any strain since it is easy to hold or wear against the body. It comes in 5 colors in tumbled leather with a ring-pull zipper for easy opening. This leather clutch also has a built-in wallet with six interior card slots and a snap pouch for coins.
Available from Nordstrom
Coach Foldover Crossbody Clutch
Coach makes a lot of beautiful purses, one style you can wear as either a crossbody or a clutch is the Coach Foldover Crossbody Clutch. This clutch includes plenty of slots for credit cards and money, as well as enough room for your phone. The leather is super high quality, and it is a gorgeous, basic style that can be worn in almost any situation from dressing it up or down. It is a simple and elegant style that is both practical and stylish. If you choose to use it as a clutch, you detach the strap.
Available from Coach
Finally,y one other type of bag that is not quite as common as the styles listed above is a small bag with a top handle that is impossible to hang from your shoulders. An excellent example of this type is the Launer Handbags that the Queen always wears, which unfortunately run into the thousands of dollars. A slightly cheaper option is the Michael Kors Small Leather Satchel. It’s not exactly cheap, but it is a great option that forces you to carry it by the handle (unless you use the shoulder strap that you can attach and detach) which in turn saves your back.
Available from Nordstrom
What to look for in a purse to avoid back and shoulder pain
Types or Styles
- Ergonomic bags or purses are a good place to start. Unfortunately, they aren’t always the most stylish.
- Backpacks if worn with both straps, are recommended as a top style to avoid back pain, especially if you have large or heavy items to carry around.
- Crossbody styles are usually very light and easy to switch the sides often to even out the weight.
- Clutches can also be a good option as long as they aren’t too big or bulky.
- Fanny packs are something to consider, especially for a theme park or situation where you want to keep your stuff close to your body and your hands-free.
- Small bags with a top handle are worth looking at as they force you not to carry the bag on your shoulder.
- Multiple Way Bag– A bag that you can wear various ways as a backpack, cross-body or shoulder bag, to vary the load is also a great option.
Easy Access- Look for bags with lots of pockets and compartments that make it easy to find your items. If you have to dig around in your bag, you may twist or strain your back causing dis-alignment of your spine leading to further back pain.
Light Material and detailing –The best bags for your back are those that are made from light materials like a soft, light leather or nylon that have little or no heavy adornments like buckles, metal hardware, studs or heavy stones.
Size – The smaller the size, the better, as you won’t be able to overload the bag with unnecessary items. Heavy bags create stiffness in the back and neck because the weight of the bag isn’t distributed evenly. If you do find yourself carrying a bag that is heavy on your shoulder, make sure you switch it from side to side frequently to try to cut down on the strain.