advertising supplement to messenger post media for august 15, 2013
A lot goes into your child's school
By DeBorah Blackwell | Messenger Post MeDia
Backpacks are a must have item or back-to-school. Theseimportant carryalls are an extension o the user who totesessential items to school, sports, and even play. But did youever wonder about the origin o the school backpack? Orhow they are designed, or who comes up with the styles? TheL.L.Bean company is a veteran o backpack manuacturing,and their innovative concepts changed the ace o kids’ book-bags orever.“We were lling a unctional void in the market. The problemwe needed to solve was building a lightweight, durable,water-resistant, easy-to-get-inside-pack to t bulky, squaretextbooks,” says Pam Jones, senior designer or packs and bagsat L.L.Bean.Bean introduced their “Bookpack” in 1982, a time whenoptions or durable, high-quality, kid-sized book-bags werehard to nd. Backpacks o other sorts had been around sinceancient times, or hunting, use in the military, climbing, hiking,and more. But convenient bags to hold bulky, square, heavytextbooks and three-ring binders were simply not available onthe market.So, L.L.Bean developed the Bookpack based on what kidsneeded, how they used backpacks and what parents needed ortheir kids. They designed the packs to be sturdy, comortable,and supportive. “Few other products are used like a book pack:250 days a year, eight hours a day, and weekends, too. Kids arereally tough customers,” says Jones.Jones is a 25 year veteran o backpack design with L.L.Bean,which has been successul in creating a book pack that willlast rom grade school through graduate school. The nylon,waterproo abric is strong and abrasion-resistant, and theheat-cutting technique prevents unraveling and raying.Double-needle stitching secures the seams. The shoulderstraps are secured to the body o the pack by “backtacking,”a method used or rock-climbing harnesses and parachutepacks. O course, the engineering around organization,pockets, access to the compartments, and abric colors andpatterns are all careully considered by the designers.L.L.Bean looks or inspiration in a lot o places when designingpacks. The in-house team continually watches market trends,and listens to customers. They receive hundreds o letters each year, as well as customer eedback on theirwebsite, providing insight into creating backpacks withquality and value, backed by a 100 percent satisactionguarantee.
The design cycle goes something like this:
Dene the “pack mentality:”
who is using the pack,how old are they, where is it going or being used?
Study the market trend,
consumer buying-habitsand the price range.
Understand customer requirements,
including size, t, eatures.
Design the pack silhouette
Choose color and print or pattern.Select trims,
including zipper pulls, hardware,mesh, reectors and other elements.
ensuring a kid-riendly, active,dynamic appeal.
Produce prototype samples.Do a “t test”
Perorm lab tests
Do a eld test,
and modiy when necessary.Ater the packs are designed, they must then stand up torigorous testing in the laboratory and in real-lie. These includewater and stain tests, strength tests, tearing, ripping, breaking,and even a test that involves reezing then olding the backpack at minus 20° to be sure it does not crack. The technicians strapon the packs or a one mile course with a standard weight inthe bag. They also do a stair test involving a weighted back on10 stairs, and another test using 17 stairs covering two ightswith a weighted bag, repeating it 25 times.“Not only is our luggage tested to prove its durability, ourtechnicians remain physically t,” says Dave DaPonte, seniormanager o global quality assurance and testing, L.L.Bean.Keeping “t” in mind, the team at L.L.Bean alsoknows that backpacks not only carry books,but also are a reection o individuality. Theyrecently introduced diferent styles or diferentpersonalities, such as the explorer, the scholar,the science major and more. The company’sgoal is to make sure that everything ts: lie,style, and stuf. And they even make matchinglunchboxes, that are just like their backpacks,and make the grade!
Tips for selecting a pack:
Don’t overbuy or size or pack volume.
Purchase a size appropriate or the students’ age.Look or age classication when you purchase.Many catalogs will suggest age appropriatepack styles.
Look or quality abrics and oam.
You doget what you pay or. Amortized over a schoolyear the investment in a pack gures out to bepennies per day. A good pack will last manyyears and will be reliable.
Foam should be in both shoulder strapsand back panel.
Foam should rebound whenyou squeeze it and should be a rm, mediumdensity. Not too hard, not too sot.
Look or a pack with quality refective trim orsaety.
3M Scotchlite Reective Material helpsto keep students visible in low light conditions.
For more information or to see backpacks, visit www.llbean.com.