NPR logo A Story Behind Every Backpack


A Story Behind Every Backpack

This week we reported on the history of the school backpack, and it got a lot of you talking. If you missed the post, check it out here.

It turns out that most backpacks come with a story, and we wanted to hear some of those stories.

We asked for pictures of your first, current or favorite backpack using the hashtag #nprbackpack. Here are some of our favorites:

Some backpacks double as travelogues:

This soft, feather-light Yak Pak backpack has been around the world with me for the past 7 years. She's survived...

Posted by Sheela Cheong on Monday, November 2, 2015

Other backpacks represent personal timelines:

All backpacks seem to represent their owner. Almost like an extension of their personality:

#NPRbackpack Sophie's shark obsession

A photo posted by Michelle Benedetto (@mermmbenedetto3) on

Also, the classic "off to school" shot:

These three #siblings #llbeancommercial #NPRbackpack

A photo posted by @somchayxe on

And we even got a short lesson on the history of school backpacks in Sweden:

On Facebook some of you tried to one-up my editor Steve Drummond with your own "in my day" experiences:

"No one used backpacks in later years (I'm 68), but in elementary school, when I rode a bike to school, I used an olive drab WWII surplus backpack, from my father, I think. He later told me it was actually the pack a paratrooper wore strapped to his front." - Marion Moïse, on Facebook

"Was recently telling my kids that if a boy liked you, he'd carry your books (I graduated from high school in 1986)!" - Kim Hallemann Crank, on Facebook

"We didn't use backpacks when I went to school. We carried our books on the backs of dinosaurs." - Eileen Noel, on Facebook

And a certain debate emerged in our comment section about whether you were a "one-strapper" or "two-strapper":

"Do you wear it over both shoulders or just swing it over one?" - Thorfinn Skullsplitter,

"I graduated HS in 1979, and used a backpack from middle school on. We would NEVER have put it on our backs - the cool way to wear it was slung over one shoulder. The only exception was while you were riding your bike, as long as said bike was a fancy 10-speed with the 'ram's horns' handlebars." - mayya,

"I think the two-strap thing came about because more weight was being carried in backpacks, too much to be comfortably carried on one shoulder." - Joseph,

"Oh, the contemptible double-loopers." - Denise Powers,

It turns out that Slate even wrote an article about the one-strap/two-strap phenomenon. Check it out here.


What inspired the article? A scene from the movie 21 Jump Street, which is definitely worth a look:

So, which one are you? One-strap or two?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.