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Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2006

Starting college? Think outside the backpack

August 12, 2006

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Books and college are synonymous - almost all classes have something that a student needs to carry to class. But for all the types of coursework at Kansas University, there's a different style of bag to suit students' needs.

"I look for support, good padding and quality," sophomore Julie Heschmeyer said. "You want to buy something good enough so it won't fall apart in a week."

The most conventional bag has two straps and multiple compartments. Brands such as the North Face, JanSport and Easton are common sights on campus. Extra padding in the shoulder is a nice feature that distributes weight evenly on both shoulders. To see this theory in action, students can try on backpack weight packs. Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 802 Mass., equips students with the right tools to find the perfect bag for them.

"Try it on," said senior Adam Argetsinger, who works at Sunflower. "We have weight packs, and then look for the features you'll need."

Argetsinger recommends choosing a bag to double as a day pack for a hike or bike trip. Many packs come equipped with space for a water hydration system for the serious outdoorsman or a laptop sleeve for the more studious.

"I wanted one that could secure my laptop," freshman Becca Beaulieu said. "And for going off to college, I thought I needed a more substantial backpack. I wanted something that could hold enough stuff."

Many backpacks now also come with a pouch to hold an MP3 player. The headphones come out of a small opening in the top.

"I liked a compartment with a place for headphones to go through," Beaulieu said. "I listen to my iPod all the time. Also, at KU there is a lot of walking. I wanted something that would hold everything I would need for the day."

And for all the walking students do to and from classes, having a backpack that does not strain the shoulders is essential.

"There is a lot of padding on the straps," Beaulieu said. "I will be wearing it a long time so I wanted something that was really comfortable. The two straps are so much more comfortable. The one strap may seem more stylish, but in the end it will probably cause more aches and pains."

Some students would disagree. Messenger bags are a popular trend, and students chose these for the comfort, style and versatility.

"It's better for your back," senior Andrew Terkel said. "It puts the load across your chest instead of your shoulders. It's more comfortable to carry more weight."

Terkel purchased a messenger bag online from www.timbuk2.com. He was able to make his bag one-of-a-kind by deciding what style and color he wanted.

"On their Web site, you can build your own custom pack," he said. "It's cool to have something no one else does."

Sunflower also carries this brand in different sizes, from messenger to metro. Junior Liz Stuewe decided that a metro size would be ideal.

"It's the perfect size for a little notebook and a few books and my water bottle," she said. "It's easier on the bus to have something small. And I don't need all that much crap."

The one-strap messenger bag is seen a lot at KU on students who do not need to carry all their books at once.

"They are really popular," she said. "You see a lot of guys and girls with messenger bags on campus."

Whether choosing a messenger bag or a backpack, students look for comfort and style when finding how to dress up and carry their books at KU.

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