Guide to Choosing a Winning Backpack

Has this happened to you? Your child had another “backpack-pull” at school today and broke the strap – again. Or perhaps the zipper jammed or simply broke – for the last time. Looks like it’s time for a new boys or girls backpack again. Maybe the nearby department store will still have some decent ones left in stock in the style and size they like.

On the other hand, it may be wiser to put a little more thought into it this time and look for something that will last longer.

I’ve been there – and can say from experience that a little research can go a long way towards producing a durable pack that will last. Simply looking out for a few quality features is all you really need to do in order to save from repeating this scenario again anytime soon.

Save time, money and hassle, not to mention your child’s back…

Durability is a must for children’s packs – they can be tough of them. I’ve seen them dragged, thrown and dropped. Look for a strong canvas material and be wary of other materials that can be easier to tear. If a manufacturer is confident in their product they will usually off a limited, lifetime warranty. Strong, supportive shoulder straps and good, heavy-duty zippers are a must in a quality pack.

Comfort and proper pack sizing:

Consider your child’s size and weight and purchase something age-appropriate. To be more accurate, measure his or her torso length along their back rather than their actual height. This would be from the bony part of their lower neck (7th vertebrae) down to the upper part of their hips. Fortunately, kid’s packs are quite adjustable so you needn’t dwell too much on accuracy. Determine just what needs to be carried but be careful not to oversize as this will lead to the temptation to overload.

Place a strong emphasis on a comfortable fit. Not only will your child appreciate it, but it’s more likely to be “worn instead of dragged” after a long day at school. Another way to help keep it on their backs is to look for age-appropriate styles so they won’t be embarrassed to wear it: kids love to have cool gear. Shoulder straps should be strong, padded and contoured for a proper fit along with adjustable waist belts. This combination will also help assure load stability and proper support.

Do not overload:

Load the pack carefully – and weigh it. Chiropractors recommend that the total weight should never be more than 10-20 percent of your student’s weight to protect their backs from injury (and you from expensive trips to the chiropractor)! School kids can have a tendency to stuff and overload so please be careful. Should weight be a concern, consider a pull-along pack with wheels; just make sure that it will fit inside the school locker and that the school allows them (some don’t because of the potential for tripping hazards).

I’d be remiss, if I didn’t add this:

If there’s a possibility that your student will be walking or riding his or her bike to school, even on rainy days, look for a backpack that is also water-resistant. This could save a lot of soggy lunches, books and homework papers. And whether shopping in a local store or online, why not involve your child in the process? Although they may not say it, they’ll definitely appreciate being a part of the shopping process. Plus, if it turns out to be something they really like they’ll tend to be more careful with it (sounds good anyway).

In conclusion:

There’s actually a lot more to backpack shopping than most folks realize, but these basic thoughts should at least get you pointed in the right direction. You’ll find plenty of helpful information and product reviews online – along with your best pricing. Have fun shopping – hopefully for the last time!

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