Alternatives exist to the conventional backpack

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College students must find ways to carry a variety of hefty school supplies to campus each day. And sometimes, the conventional backpack doesn’t make the cut.

Some BYU students use alternative options like side bags, rolling bags and purses to replace a more traditional option.

Micah Cozzens, a freshman studying English at BYU, uses a side bag instead of a conventional backpack.

“It’s cheaper than other backpack models,” Cozzens said. “My shoulders don’t get tired because I can switch between them. Also, I bought mine so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy a bicycle because I knew that would be a bad idea. I like it. It has everything I’m looking for in a bag for school.”

Natalie Bothwell
Liz Ashby, a BYU junior, poses with her rolling backpack. Ashby uses a rolling backpack to provide relief to her knees and back following a double-knee surgery. (Katie Rhoton)

A study done by Tel Aviv University found the “frequent use of heavy backpacks can damage the soft shoulder tissues, leading to microstructural damage of the nerves.” Some students choose to use rolling backpacks as an alternative to avoid or stop preemptive issues that come with heavy backpacks.

Liz Ashby, a junior studying information systems, uses a rolling backpack because she had two knee surgeries.

“My physical therapist told me that in order for my knees to truly heal I needed to stop unloading weight onto my knees,” Ashby said. “I have kept the backpack because it is spacious and roomie, I’m used to it and I prefer rolling my backpack behind me than carrying it.”

Courtney Jones, a sophomore studying English teaching at BYU, uses a large purse as an alternative to the conventional backpack. Jones started using her purse when her backpack broke.

“My regular backpack actually broke because I had my laptop in it,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to buy another one that was just going to break again, so I tried using my purse and I really like it. It’s a lot more sturdy than my old backpack, and it’s cute so that’s nice too. I’m not going to buy another regular backpack when my purse works better. Plus, it’s easy to access everything. It’s all consolidated so I don’t have to dig through my backpack for stuff.”

Other alternatives include briefcases, drawstring bags or satchels; other students opt to carry their textbooks without any backpack at all.

According to Tel Aviv University’s study, to decrease health risks students are also encouraged to go through their backpacks daily and take out books and other heavy items that aren’t needed for the following day.

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