Some backpacks are a lot like SUVs: they're made for extremes their owners will never, ever endure. Leave it to the Japanese to take this paradox and milk it: hand-made, haute-couture bags where every detail is scrutinized beyond what seems reasonable. They're so expensive you'd arguably be nuts to take them outside.
Master-piece bags, based in Osaka, is a prime example of this "high- performance, higher cost" phenomenon. For approximately $250 you can buy a "Buddy" skateboard backpack--the glistening leather and nylon front straps are there for the improbable occasion the wearer actually owns a skateboard.
And if $680 sounds like a reasonable amount of money to spend on a pack, you're also in luck: Master- piece's "Navy Potential Multi- Way Bag," made from waterproof nylon, leather, and suede trim, should fit the (pre tax) bill.
White Mountaineering, the Tokyo- based fashion line specializing in utility and technology, has a signature water-repellent canvas and suede backpack. The pack, which boasts a reinforced base, is marketed for "everyday use" and retails for approximately $440.
And then there's Undercover, the fashion line designed by Jun Takahashi. Undercover's bags are admittedly less concerned with performance and more focused exclusively on fashion. That said, the "Men's Patch Backpack," retailing at an eye-watering $1,030, makes a nod to durability with "hard-wearing" nylon. The brand's logo, a hand giving the middle finger, is pleasantly ambiguous about the recipient: the person walking behind you or the one schlepping a thousand-dollar napsack.
James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.