Believe it or not, the new school year is right around the corner. While you’re scouring the flyers for the best deals on all the classroom essentials, don’t forget about the piece of equipment your kids will use every day, twice a day: their backpack.
Although the Teen Titans backpack might be the one your kiddo claims they must have, there are a few other features that go deeper than aesthetics that will help make this the best bag ever. Not only does it need to withstand wear and tear, snow, sleet, and sun (sometimes in the same week), but we also want to consider proper fit and comfort.
To be sure that you’re choosing the best fitting bag, you’ll need to grab a measuring tape.
Measure from the top of the shoulders to the top of the hips. As much as I love Amazon, it's actually best to shop for a bag in person, and bring your kiddo to make sure you get the best fit.
Here are general size guidelines:
Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 2 - 12” (30 cm)
Grade 3 to 5 - 15” (38-40 cm)
Grade 6 and over - 17” (43-45 cm)
The bag should sit just below the shoulder blades (2”) and end before the hips. It’s always better to be on the conservative side for size.
A backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of your kiddo’s total body weight. This Kindergartner weighs 50 pounds - his backpack should weigh between 5 and 7.5 pounds. Remember, it’s best to be on the light side to save that spine! To save on added weight, send an empty water bottle and have your kiddo fill it at school. Breathable materials such as nylon or polyester are going to be lighter than leather, and a bag with wider straps will help to decrease pressure on the shoulders. Make sure you pack smarter - put heavier items in the main compartment, closer to your child’s back, and look for a backpack with multiple pockets to distribute the weight evenly throughout the bag. Many schools allow for supplies to be dropped off before the first day, which saves your first grader from hauling a 20 pound bag to school.
SUPPORT THE SPINE
Additional features like a chest or waist clip will help to support the spine. Make sure the chest strap does not get in the way of arm movement, and that the waist strap actually sits at belly button height. Encourage your kiddo to always wear both straps, and adjust them so that the bag rests snugly against the body. It is preferred that the bag sits high on the back, and not on their butt.
Wheeled backpacks are another option, but be sure that your kiddo can still carry the bag up the stairs, instead of bouncing the wheels off the steps of the bus and busting them in the first week.
Proper fit and weight are the most important qualities in a backpack, but a few other features can make a bag perfect. A thick zipper with a big pull tab makes it easier to open. If needed, place a key ring on the zipper for extra fine motor support. Your kiddo will helpfully use the bag every day this year (and maybe next year too), so personal style still does matter. Add on those patches, fabric paint, and rainbow loom zipper pulls to make it their own. Don’t forget a reflective patch for safety.
What are your favourite places to shop for backpacks? Leave a comment below to help out other parents!