(images from http://www.schulranzen-markenshop.de/)
These are German school bags. I think on the whole they are pretty ugly. In fact I've not seen one that I would have wanted if I was of school age. I don't think I was that fussy, but honestly, no amount of peer pressure would have made me carry one of these boulders on my back.
But everyone has them here. As in, EVERYONE. They are an absolute must-have for school children here. I've half-convinced myself that there is a law that states no child will be allowed into the German school system unless they can carry their own body weight on their back for at least a few blocks.
These bags are huge and you quite often see German children walking bent over as though they are walking into the wind in Stornoway. But, that must be the look. Apparently there are brands that are more desirable than others. I was trying to unfurl the mystery as to why these bags are so popular when I came across a topic in Toytown (an expat message board) that says that in 2008 you can't go wrong with McNeill, Scout or 4YOU. I don't know whether in the ever-changing world of rucksack fashion these brands are still the ones to go for, because I just can't draw out anything cool from such a broad range of ugliness.
On this message board someone has asked whether there are special criteria for buying the 'right' bag, whether there are 'class distinctions' but the only thing they offer apart from choosing the 'right' brand, is that you get a big one. Size apparently does matter. With these rucksacks you usually get a pencil case, a P.E. bag, sometimes a little purse, or a water bottle. All well and good, but I'm still not convinced that these extras justify the price. Yes, yes, you could have a point that they have reflective parts, and plastic bottoms, and are ergonomically designed for your child, and have oodles of compartments. But honestly, how much would you pay for an ugly bag?
Because all of the bags I have shown you above cost over 150.00 Euros! At least one of these costs over 200.00 Euros! And I just don't get it?