Choosing the Right Backpack

Backpacks make life easier for students. They are one of the handiest school supplies a child can have to help transport belongings between school and home. Kids love picking out a new backpack. They’re drawn to those with pictures of favorite characters, eye-catching colors, and clever patterns. It’s easy to allow kids to pick a backpack based on how it looks since they often appear to be one-size-fits-all; however, this is not the case. Backpacks can cause long- and short-term pain and discomfort if they are not fitted correctly. The weight added to your child’s back can adversely affect posture, muscles, and joints. Selecting the right backpack for your child is easy when you know what to look for.

The first thing to consider when choosing a new backpack is its overall size. Many people select huge backpacks because they want to have enough room for all their stuff. Unfortunately, that’s what happens: all the stuff fits, and the weight becomes unhealthily bearable. To fit the body properly, a backpack and its contents should weigh no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. Look for backpacks that are no wider than your child’s torso. Also notice what material has been used to make the backpack. You want a durable bag that will at least last the entire school year, but you also want light-weight material. Most of a backpack’s weight should come from what’s packed inside of it, not the bag itself.

Straps are the second key feature of a backpack. You most certainly want a backpack that has two shoulder straps. This helps to distribute weight evenly. These straps should be wide and adjustable so that the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. Once the backpack has been filled, the bag should be close to the body, and its bottom should not hang more than four inches below one’s waistline. Those that do tend to cause the users to support the backpack’s weight on their shoulders. To compensate for the mismanaged weight, users often bend forward as they walk. This can cause pain and poor posture.

Padding is another essential feature to look for when selecting the best backpack for your child. You will want to find a design that has padded straps. This padding is added to keep the straps from digging into one’s body and cutting off circulation. The area of the backpack which rests against your child’s back should also be padded. This helps prevent objects from digging into one’s back. You don’t want the corners of books or other sharp objects poking into your child’s skin and muscles. Padding adds comfort.

Inspect your choices of backpacks for the number of compartments. The main compartment is usually an open area for large supplies like books that your child must tote around. Sometimes this area is sectioned off with padding to divide and protect the large items in the bag. If your child will be responsible for transporting a laptop or tablet, padded dividers may be needed to help protect these items. Small zippered pouches inside the backpack are a great feature for tucking away valuable items like housekeys and lunch money. Likewise, a small pouch on the front of the backpack is handy too. It provides your child with easy access to pencils, cellphones, and other small items that are used often. Mesh pockets on the sides of the backpack are great additions, too. They secure things like water bottles and other small items while providing easy access. Some backpacks even contain insulated compartments for storing one’s lunch.

As you search for your child’s new backpack, you are bound to notice other features that may help you make a selection. If your child walks to school or waits for a ride at the bus stop, visibility is extra important. Some backpacks are made with reflective material that can help your child stand out to passing motorists. Rolling backpacks are also available. These are made with retractable handles and wheels that allow for the backpack to glide along the floor behind your child. While these types may work well in large, open spaces like airport terminals, they may pose a trip hazard in densely populated school hallways. One other feature that you can find is additional straps. Some backpacks are made with chest straps and waist straps. These help with weight distribution, making one’s legs bear the load better than shoulder straps alone. Storage compartments may have compression straps, too. These cinch around the pack’s contents, securing them in place. All these features should be considered when you are looking for the right backpack to suit the needs of your child.

To help circumvent pain and discomfort, your child must not only wear the backpack correctly but also fill it correctly. He or she must make sure the straps are properly adjusted and that the pack is carried by using both shoulder straps. Slinging the backpack over a single shoulder is a bad habit. It creates stress on the body that can result in painful effects, not to mention poor posture. Kids should also know that they can’t make up for this by switching the shoulder that carries the load. Filling the backpack evenly is key to safety, too. Teach your child to load the heaviest items first, positioning them in the bottom and center of the bag. The child must also learn to use all the compartments efficiently so that the weight carried is as evenly distributed as possible.

Avoid buying a backpack on impulse. The right backpack for your child is out there. You don’t want your child suffering from tingling, numbness, or a sore back. Take care in selecting the right backpack for your child’s daily use.