Selecting The Right School Backpack: What To Look For

It’s that back-to-school time of the year when many households are in the market for a new backpack. As many parents will know, cute and trendy backpacks are not always the best choice for a backpack that should last at least for the entire school year.

Before you start looking, it is wise to familiarise yourself with your child’s school regulations and guidelines for backpacks and backpack safety, if available.

Choosing function over fashion will help to avoid lasting problems with posture and chronic back pain. To ensure that you end up with a quality backpack, experts recommend that you focus on three main aspects when selecting a new backpack:

Comfort and Fit
Comfort is by far the most important factor in choosing a backpack.

  • Experts advise that backpack capacity should be no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. For example, if your child weighs 30 kilograms, the backpack should weigh no more than 3 kilograms when full. The smaller your child, the smaller the bag should be. Less is more.
  • If your child is regularly carrying heavily laden bags, consider a backpack with wheels. A bag with a waist strap improves comfort and can also help to distribute weight more evenly.
  • backpack reflective strips
    For safety, use stick-on reflective strips to improve visibility.
  • Straps are one of the most important elements of the backpack. For efficient weight distribution the shoulder straps should adjustable and should be wide and padded. Adjust shoulder straps for comfort and so that the backpack sits a little higher on the back, about 2 cm above the waist.
  • Avoid narrow straps and one-strap messenger bags as they put too much pressure on a much smaller area of the body.

Quality of Materials
Aside from nylon, polyester is probably the most commonly used fabric in the post-cotton era. Polyester is cheap and holds colours well. This makes it the fabric of choice for school bags.

  • Choose synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon over natural fibres like cotton and canvas which are less water-resistant.
  • Turn the backpack inside out to check that seams are properly finished. Avoid frayed edges which could unravel with use.
  • Zippers should have fabric flaps over them to keep the backpack interior dry in wet conditions.
  • Look for a bag with a padded back section for added comfort

Fashion and Style
Style is an element to consider if your child is to make friends with their backpack and use it happily over the full duration of the school year.

  • Solid colours, as opposed to prints, may be a better match for most school uniforms and outfits.
  • To show individuality, many students personalise their backpacks with fabric markers, iron-on patches, or button pins – helpful for avoiding mix-ups at school.
  • Reflective strips can be added to help improve visibility – an important factor for safety when commuting to school and back.

Sources: American Osteopathic Association; Osteopathy & Podiatry Center.

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