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Jill Rennicke, Alumni Coordinator

Anyone who has ever slung on a backpack and hiked or biked a trail knows that for all the joys of the sport, backpacks can be, well, a pain in the back. Below, Conserve School ’07 grad Mike Waters explains his vision and the backstory of a new invention to put comfort back in style.

Hi, I'm Michael Waters, and I'm a '07 Conserve alum. This year I co-founded AC Design LLC with a friend, and together we created “Bakspacer,” a backpack accessory that revolutionizes comfort for hikers, bikers, and business-people alike. I grew up in the North Woods, in Florence, WI, and enjoyed nature every day, especially bike riding and hiking. My penchant for the outdoors and dream of making the world more sustainable grew stronger during my four years at Conserve. 

I now live in Chicago and try to bike as much as possible to my day job as a Civil Engineer. On warm days, I would get too sweaty and would take public transportation or drive instead. As it would turn out, I have a friend who was working on a patent to fix the same problem. So, in April 2019, Alex and I teamed up and worked for months to design a prototype to help backpack wearers. We built a large 3D printer to create a prototype, started our business in October, and began guerrilla marketing Bakspacer. Since then, we’ve been churning out 3D printed Bakspacer prototypes to be tested and critiqued. You might recognize some other Conserve alumni reviewing Bakspacer on our website.

In the coming months, we will continue marketing Bakspacer to encourage people to walk, bike, or hike on days they normally wouldn’t. Hopefully that will lead us to a few investors that can help us realize our full potential and start bringing Bakspacer to the masses, which hopefully leads to a more sustainable world. 

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Photos contributed by Michael Waters, Conserve School '07.