Unpacking Berlin’s Mysterious, Ubiquitous Tote Bag

In Berlin, the bag is everywhere. Hot young dads slip it over one shoulder. Older German women pull knitting from its mouth. This canvas tote is carried by 12-year-olds on field trips, by harried white-collar workers with their laptops, by the homeless and by many, many stylish people. Its design — black Gothic print interrupted by what vaguely resembles a red wax seal — is distinctive. It gives off the illusion of readable text, leaving passers-by squinting after it, trying to decipher its meaning. The bag is to Berlin what a New Yorker tote is to that magazine’s namesake metropolis, or a London Review of Books tote is to its hometown (and, interestingly, Seoul). Yet it signifies nothing in particular and has no known designer. I cornered one of the sharply dressed start-up guys with the bag slung over his shoulder at Weinmeisterstraße U-Bahn to ask where he’d got it, and was met with a brusque “keine Ahnung” (no idea). Some weeks later, when I was too nervous to approach the tall, beautiful women walking down Hermannstraße with the bag, my sister obligingly chased after them to ask. Finally, in July, at Berlin’s Dyke March, a group of young women covered in glitter told me it ...

Whether you’re hitting Colorado’s 14ers or light trails close to home, these trail runners, light hikers,

Whether you’re hitting Colorado’s 14ers or light trails close to home, these trail runners, light hikers, and hefty hiking boots will keep you moving. If there are two times it’s especially easy to overdo purchases, it’s buying gear for a new sport and packing for any trip. So trying to find the best hiking boots in order to tackle adventure travel or weekend hikes? That spells trouble. “You could buy a different pair of shoes for every trail run, backpacking trip, and day hike—but that’s not necessary,” says Karsyn Ansari, an avid runner and expert from gear retailer Backcountry.com. Many people think that if you’re going hiking, you need hiking boots—but that isn’t necessarily true. There’s a whole spectrum of hiking shoes, too, some of which might fit better with some of the lower-key activities you do, as well as prevent the roadblocks that keep you from doing them (Let’s be real: a pair of hiking boots takes up like half a carry-on suitcase.) If you’re interested in short, non-technical hikes, you can totally get away with your standard sneakers, says Ansari. But if you’ll be hitting a trail with...