Buying the “Schulranzen”

Last weekend we went to buy a Schulranzen, an essential part of starting school in Germany.

I’ve been trying to find a good translation for Schulranzen over the past few days, and every time I keep coming back to “satchel”.  Although they look nothing like what I associate with that term, LEO agrees with me, and Wikipedia informs me that many years ago the term really was used for a traditional type of school satchel.  So satchel it is.



Not that they look anything like that.  Schulranzen refers to a type of rucksack that primary school children use.  It is one of those “must have” items to start school with, and there is a wide range in quality and prices.  Although the latter tends to start at around 100EUR.

One of the major brands is “Scout”, which are not only amongst the most colourful, but for some reason have a high percentage of plastic to them.  I don’t mean to reinforce the corners, I mean whole sides!

Then there are a few models from well-known brands such as Samsonite and Jack Wolfskin, but there are a whole range of other manufacturers to choose from.

We were lucky enough to find a shop stocking a good selection, so we were able to find one that we as parents were happy with, whilst at the same time has a design that our daughter liked.

Things to be considered were not only the material, but also the weight, the type of rucksack straps, the comfort of the rear side and the size and number of the compartments.  Some even came with matching sports bags, pencil cases and even purses.

Of course, this would not be Germany if there was not a DIN standard for Schulranzen – and the magic number is DIN 58124.  This specifies what percentage of the visible area has to be a luminous colour and how much has to be reflective.

In the end we agreed on a model from DerDieDas which not only conformed to that DIN and came with lots of extras, it also weighs only 850g.  The decision process in the shop took about 90 minutes, and means that a major part of our school preparations have now been completed.

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