Backpack glossary: a guide to understanding the features and why they matter.

Hey Siri, it’s me again…I know, I ask a lot of questions. Do you happen to know what a grab handle is?
Siri: A grapple is a grape and an apple…

Hey Google, I have no idea what a monogram is. Do you know what it is?
Google: A sonogram is a…

Alexa? What’s a sternum strap?
Alexa: I’m sorry, I haven’t heard of that band…

Okay, let’s take the robot out of the equation. We’re asking someone else. Hey Lands’ End, can you tell me what makes a better backpack? Great! Now please tell me what you mean by:

Backpack Sternum Strap

A sternum strap is a shoulder saver that helps disperse the weight of a backpack from the shoulders to the chest and other parts of the upper body. It’s a clip mechanism that keeps the padded shoulder straps linked together across your chest, more specifically, your sternum. If you use a sternum strap regularly your back will thank you for your good habits. If not, you might sound like a creaking floorboard when you get out of bed twenty years from now.

Backpack Lunchbox Clip

A lunchbox clip is for you to attach your lunch to the outside of your backpack. Remember when your lunchbox opened unexpectedly in your backpack and that bag of ice spilled all over your final essay? You tried to tell the teacher but they’d heard it all before and that was your crying wolf moment. What about that one backpack you had to get rid of because it always smelled like bananas? Or the daily PB&J sandwich smushed into a berry pancake at the bottom of your bag? Well, you’re probably more of a lunchbox clip type of person. It may not help ice or juice from spilling open but it does keep homework, laptops, or your second set of clothes safe from whatever bad day your lunchbox might bring. No more having to scrounge around the business of your bag when it’s attached right there for you. Convenient and clean.


Not to be confused with somebody who denies, and no, it’s not about Robert DeNiro either. A denier is a measurement for thread thickness and strength. While one denier would be plenty for an ant, us humans notice the quality with a high denier count. Backpacks have different denier needs: since the base gets the most rugged use it’s likely to be a higher reinforced strength like 1200 denier, while the rest of the backpack at 600 denier can be more flexible to the form to the myriad contents inside. These high denier counts are what’s going to keep that backpack lasting even if one of the straps gets stuck in the car door and the car takes your bag away on a short trip as you run yelling after it. These are some things we think about when we make our backpacks.

Backpack Grab handle (GRAB hann dull)

The grab handle is the strong u-shaped handle on the top of your backpack. It’s the first thing you reach for when you speed out the door for the bus, when you hear the school bell go off, and the last thing you hold before running out onto the practice field. Or if you’re a parent, you might call it the “homework handle” when you’re bringing your kids backpack to them in order to get them off their phones.

Backpack with a foam padded back panel

No matter how heavy those books get, a foam padded back panel is a key feature in a Lands’ End school backpack. It will keep oddly shaped items from jutting into your back and will provide comfort all day long, especially after sitting on those uncomfortable desk chairs for hours. Less impressive backpacks don’t have these. Not only does it serve the back well, it gives the backpack its shape which helps keep it from flopping onto its side or frontside down. We’re all about a two-for-one.

YKK Zipper (why kay, kay, zip purr)

YKK Zippers are the tried and true, most trusted zippers on the planet. Other companies try to save a dime with cheaper versions and the amount of frustration that comes from broken zipper teeth or a zipper that snaps right off often renders the whole pack useless. What’s a backpack without a good zipper? A shopping bag. Treat your backpack with the same respect you give to your jeans and stick with the YKK zipper.


A monogram comes in various designs and is a way to personalize a backpack with one, two, or three initials. Go the extra mile with a full name too! No more wasted time looking for a blue backpack in a sea of blue backpacks. “Ope, there it is, let’s go!”

Embroidered Icon

Similar to a monogram, an embroidered icon adds some personal flair to a backpack. Do you like camping, sailing, lounging back in an Adirondack chair, or find yourself personified as an emoji? Lands’ End has 198 options worth adding.

Now you’re on your way to finding the absolute best backpack for you or your family. You’ll be “backpack in session.”

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