In Gear: Outfitting Your Brat Packs

Help is here for America's students, who, come fall, once again will carry the weight of the world on their shoulders--in overstuffed, spine-compressing backpacks. Nike has just introduced the BioKNX load-management system--O.K., an ergonomic book bag--which helps redistribute the weight of all those texts. It has wide, padded straps, "air pods" that look like bubble wrap--to protect the lumbar region--and a padded waist belt that shifts weight from the spine to the hips. A molded plastic panel inside the pack supports the spine.

Nike is not alone in capitalizing on the student-as-mule trend (46% of schoolkids get backaches from their packs)....

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