Leader of the packs YAK'S CORNER

Just For Kids

August 31, 1998|By Cathy Collison

A backpack has to look cool - but kids aren't fooled. If it isn't tough, large and easy to unzip, it's not hip.

That's what our five Yak's Corner panelists told us in our annual backpack test.

Yak's Corner rated five backpacks this year: an Eastpak Ultimate backpack, a Rugrats backpack, a Looney Tunes backpack, a Godzilla backpack and a Pacific Gear backpack.

The winner? Tied for leader of the pack were the Eastpak Ultimate (about $66) and the Looney Tunes (about $17) packs. In tests of tugging and carrying heavy books, both did fine. The girls liked the Looney Tunes design.

For one tester, though, the Eastpak didn't fare so well. For kids, it had "too many strings," said Beth Lubeck. Chip Brady and the other boys (and their parents, who watched the test) liked Eastpak. It's big, sturdy enough to toss around and has no decorations. That's cool. Most of our testers planned to use the same backpack for several years, so being strong and sturdy was a must.

What didn't do well?

Although Lauren Anderson loved the Rugrats bag (about $9- $10), she admitted she probably wouldn't use one. She and Beth agreed the plastic would likely break. Maybe a kindergartner could use this pack - but not for long.

Byron Anderson really wanted the Godzilla bag (about $9-$10), which has Godzilla's head popping out the back. "But kids would pull the monster right off," Chip said. Byron agreed - but he thought that might be fun anyway.

Our panelists agreed that today's kids need space for projects, books and after-school stuff like a water bottle or extra shoes.

And that brings us to the zippers. The ones on the Pacific Gear pack (about $16) had some kids fumbling. That doesn't help. A good zip is hip.

Pub Date: 8/31/98

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