This past week, my niece and nephew excitedly showed me their backpacks full of school items in preparation for the upcoming school year. Upon looking at their bags full of supplies, I was shocked: the fully loaded bags weighted a ton. Even though both are still in grade school, the bags easily tipped the scale at over 15 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to be put on the backs of our children. According to a study conducted by Consumer Reports, the average American sixth grade student’s backpack weighs 18.4 pounds. That’s a big factor to consider when purchasing a new backpack for this upcoming school year.
There are plenty of reasons to purchase high quality packs over cheap bags, but to save time, I’ll cover the top three reasons:
1. Comfort. By far, this is the number one reason to spend a few more dollars on a well designed, quality backpack. As mentioned earlier, our children are carrying heavy loads, often for extended periods of time if they commute to school on foot. With anatomically designed straps, high density foam padding, dedicated lumbar support zones, and moisture wicking fabrics, bags from brands such as The North Face and Patagonia do a much better job at carrying heavy loads.
2. Quality. The old adage of “you pay for what you get” is never truer than when buying a backpack. High quality packs use nothing but the most robust materials: Cordura ripstop nylon, ballistic nylon, heavy duty zippers, etc. In comparison, cheap bags are almost always constructed of polyester, a material that is both thin and prone to premature wear. Seams that should be sewn with heavy duty threads are instead sewn with flimsy thread, and are often the first things to go with very little use. Other features nice packs have that poor quality bags don’t? A warranty! Most of our backpacks from The North Face and Patagonia have lifetime warranties. Further, most offer light rain protection, reflective safety features, and are produced by companies that promote fair labor with safe working conditions (for an example of this, click here –> http://www.patagonia.com/us/footprint)
3. Value. Value you say? How can a $80 backpack be a better value than one you can get from a big box store for $20. Simple. Spend $80 on that good quality bag and it’ll likely be the last bag you’ll need to buy for multiple school years. I recently sold an old North Face bag to my wife’s brother I purchased in the 1990’s and it’s still going strong. Alternatively, you can spend a minimum of $20 each school year, and hope you don’t have to buy a second midway though the year. You’ll be money ahead by purchasing the nicer bag, and you won’t have to spend extra on Ibuprofen nursing sore backs either.
We currently have a great selection of back to school bags to prepare your child for a happy and comfortable return to school this fall. Swing down and check them out today!
Each week, we’ll be highlighting a few staff picks of our favorite gear around the store. After all, we don’t just sell great clothing and equipment here at Shep’s; we also buy our great clothing & gear and use it for our own outdoor adventures! This week, Sep wanted to share a few items he just can’t live without.
1. Patagonia Arbor Pack – This 26L is one of my favorite backpacks of all time. It’s cool retro styling combined with easy entry and a bulletproof build make it perfect for a day of hiking or a place to stash your books. Plus, because it doesn’t have any built in padding along the back, it’s easily packable and hugs my body like a glove when I’m out exploring the outdoors.
2. Chinook Superlight Mummy 45 Bag – I have the older version of this bag, and it’s been a champ for years. This one have been upgraded with Insufil 1 making it lighter and warmer than it’s predecessor, costs a mere $49, and is one of the best 45° lightweight bags I’ve ever used for any money. These are a true bargain in the camping / hiking world for sure!
3. Patagonia Wavefarer Engineered Board Shorts – I’m kind of a Patagonia junkie, and for good reason. As a company, they continue to push for environmental causes to keep our world clean and renewable. They haven’t lost sight of the fact that people buy their clothing to be used outdoors, in tough conditions, with the highest demand for performance. Their fit and quality is amazing, and pretty much everything they design looks great! I picked these board shorts up before a recent trip I took to Oregon with my wife, and I never wanted to take them off. These shorts are super comfortable and built to last for years.
You can swing by our Downtown Wausau location to check out our full line of backpacks, sleeping bags, and swimwear for all your outdoor needs!
Did your stomach drop when you saw the school supplies going up in stores all over town? As crazy as it seems, the time has come. Now’s the time to make your shopping list and get going… move-in day and the first day of classes will be here before we know it!
Luckily, Shep’s has your must haves for heading back to campus. Grab them before you go.
What are your plans for the 4th of July? Ready to enjoy a day of grilling out, playing on the beach, hitting the water and get up on those waterskis? If you’re celebrating in any of these ways, take note. Below is a gear checklist and a little eye candy. Shep’s has everything on the list. (The only other stop you’ll have to make? Grocery store for hot dogs!)
If you’re spending any time outside, you’ll definitely need these things:
Sunscreens (Banana scented….. 🙂 )
Sunglasses (Oakley, Native, Chili’s)
Packing a Picnic?
Toys; foam guns, hacky sacks, paddle ball
Frisbees & Discs
Sun Dress & Accessories (PrAna & Patagonia have looks you’ll love.)
Button Ups & Shorts (Guys- same thing for you!)
Flip Flops (Ever worn Teva’s? Now’s the time.)
Bag from Sherpani
Tube (One rider or four? That’ll help you choose the tube!)
Wakeboard/Waterski/Kneeboard/Wake Surf/Wakeskate (Hyperlite & H.O. take the cake)
Vest (Nylon or Neoprene available for the family)
Swim Suit (Kids, men’s & women’s suits in stock)
Hitting the Beach?
Swim Suit (Choose your cut & your pattern from Patagonia or PrAna!)
Sunglasses (patterned, sporty, and everything in-between.)
Sunscreen & Aloe (Did we mention how great SunBum smells??)
Love to Hike?
Backpacks (from The North Face, Burton, Dakine)
Salomon Trail Shoes
Smartwool Socks (they’re a necessity.)
Bug Spray (yes, more!)
This is just a summary. You’ll find accessories and extras that will help make your summer outings the very best they can be. Stop in at Shep’s and let our experts set you up with the gear you need.