FROM: In Its Place Kids
RE: School Backpacks – Buying and Packing Guide
A new backpack can be one of the most challenging items on your back-to-school shopping list. Kids are often lured by a certain brand or style, but what really matters most is finding a backpack that properly fits your child while still offering room for all the things required in a new school year.
Ergonomics expert Chris Adams recommends taking two separate measurements of your child’s back to determine the appropriate backpack size. The maximum height of the backpack should be determined by measuring your child from the shoulder line to the waist line and then adding two inches. (The shoulder line is where the backpack straps will rest on the body, which is generally halfway between the neck and shoulder joint. The waist line is measured at the belly button.) To determine the maximum backpack width, measure between the ridges of your child’s shoulder blades. The maximum backpack width can be up to two inches more than this measurement. For more information, we recommend the following article by Chris Adams on About.com: A Fitting Guide for a Child’s Backpack. It includes an average size chart for children’s backpacks, which is helpful if you don’t have their measurements.
Once you’ve determined the right size for your child’s next backpack, be sure to look for one that is lightweight and waterproof with ergonomic features like wide shoulder straps that are padded and adjustable and a padded back. An adjustable waist strap to help distribute the load and a small strap across the chest from shoulder strap to shoulder strap are other great features to look for. At In Its Place Kids, we offer top-rated, high-quality backpacks from a variety of brands including Lands’ End (which offers a guide to buying their backpacks based on a child’s height), JanSport, Nike, Under Armour, MadPax and Skip Hop. To help you focus your search, we’ve organized all of our backpacks by school year from Toddler/Preschool through High School.
Now that you have it, what’s the best way to pack it? Read on for tips to maximize space and lighten the load:
- Lay the backpack down flat and put the heaviest items like textbooks at the bottom of the bag’s main interior compartment where they’ll get support from your child’s back. Pack lighter items on top. To save room, put workbooks or notebooks into folders or pockets in a binder where possible.
- Make use of all pockets and compartments to help distribute the load. Put pencils, pens, highlighters and other small essentials in a pencil case and pack it in the backpack’s smaller middle/front compartments. Be sure to only put lighter items in any outer pockets. If the backpack doesn’t have pockets, put smaller, loose items into the main compartments last.
- To keep the load as light as possible, kids should carry in their backpack only what they need each day. Things like sports gear and gym clothes can be transported in a separate bag and stored with heavy text books, extra notebooks and other supplies in a locker.
- Go as electronic as your child’s school will allow. If possible, have kids scan chapters of books and papers into a laptop, iPad or other digital device as they’re needed to avoid carrying heavy books and binders.
- Maximize space and avoid additional weight by keeping backpacks organized and free of clutter (broken pencils/crayons, garbage, etc.) and any unnecessary papers. Make it a habit to go through the backpack every day after school and pull out that day’s paperwork. Throw away clutter and any useless handouts immediately. Organize homework assignments and important school papers in folders or binders and store them at home until they need to be returned to school. Also make sure your kids aren’t carrying around items that they no longer need, like textbooks for a test now completed.
- Before school starts, do a packing trial run. Load the backpack with an approximation of what you think your child will be carrying each day and then weigh it. A child should not carry a backpack that is heavier than 10-15 percent of his/her body weight. Weighing the loaded backpack ahead of time will give you a general idea of how much is too much for your child to comfortably carry. Once school starts, weigh your child’s loaded backpack periodically to be sure the actual weight on an average day is not too heavy. Help kids make adjustments as needed.
Before they head out the door for that first day of school, make sure your kids are carrying their backpacks high on their backs, about two inches below their shoulders. Adjust shoulder straps so they fit close to your child’s body without being too snug. (To test this, insert a finger between the shoulder strap and your child’s shoulder. If you can’t fit your finger in easily, the shoulder strap is too tight.) Send them off with a kiss (if they’ll let you!) and rest easy knowing that you have their back!
How to Fit a School Backpack | eHow.com
A Fitting Guide for a Child’s Backpack | About.com
Buying Guide for an Ergonomic Child’s Book-bag / Backpack | About.com
How to Avoid a Heavy Backpack | WikiHow.com
How to Buy and Pack Your School Bag: 4 Steps | WikiHow.com
How to Save Room in Your Backpack: 10 Steps (with Pictures) | WikiHow.com