Current Issue / DU Alumni

Alum Ian Ivarson reinvents the backpack

Students, commuters and anyone else who has ever used a backpack knows how difficult it is to keep things organized while on the go. Ian Ivarson (BSBA ’04) realized there’s a better way.

Ivarson created the “Ivar System” — soft shelves that keep books, papers and other necessities separate and easily accessible. By keeping the contents from sinking to the bottom, the shelves distribute weight more evenly across the wearer’s back and shoulders.

As a student, Ivarson interned at, a retailer that now carries his product. After graduation, he went to work building his company, Ivarson USA LLC. He created the one-person operation with his savings and with help from his family.

He had hoped to manufacture the product in the U.S., but the high production costs caused him to look to Vietnam, where the backpack is manufactured in a unionized workshop under humane conditions.

“The product has been received remarkably well,” says Ivarson, who noted it had received press coverage in California in the Marin Independent Journal and in family-oriented publications. Stories about the backpack will appear in September issues of Family Circle and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

Future plans include a child’s backpack, a slightly larger version and newer models of the current design, including one with wheels.

More than 25 retail locations, including the DU Bookstore, carry the Ivar backpack.

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