Anders Nekstad has put together this simple guide on choosing backpack for your child when they start school and for other activities requiring backpacks.
1. The backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s total body weight. When filled with books etc, it will become heavier. A backpack that is too heavy will cause a change in the child’s posture, how they breathe and how they walk. This can cause back, neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches in children. It can also affect how the spinal column develops.
2. The backpack should have adjustable shoulder straps. They should be adjusted so that they don’t irritate the neck and shoulders. Most new backpacks have plenty of ways to be adjusted, learn how to use them properly.
3. Bring the child to the store when buying a backpack. Every child is different. Some are taller, some are broader over the shoulders and some are stronger. Try different models and ask the child how the backpack feels on the back. It should feel nice and close to the spine.
4. Don’t buy a backpack because of how it looks. Always chose two shoulder straps over one.
5. The backpack should not be too long, or too wide. It should rest comfortably and stable on the back and not hang over the buttocks. This will result discomfort when walking and running.
6. When the backpack is too wide, it will restrict the arm movement when moving about. If trying on backpacks in store, ask if you can try on the backpack with some weight in it.
7. The backpack should have proper cushioning on the back for good comfort. Squeezing the cushioning with your palm is a good way of checking the cushioning.
8. Some sort of waterproofing is always a plus.
9. Don’t buy a bag with wheels. The child will walk with a twisted spine when pulling a backpack on wheels. It will also slow the child down.
10. Change backpack as the child grows. They all grow in different paces and the average child should change backpack 2-3 times over the 7-8 first years of school. Don’t let the child grow into their backpack, let them grow out of them.
11. Use the straps that go across tummy and chest (if applicable). This will offload the back and neck and make the backpack feel lighter to carry.
Many of these rules go for adults as well. Think about your spine when choosing backpack. Make sure the backpack rests as close as possible to the spine when tightening the straps. The backpack should feel nice and snug. When packing the backpack. Try to bring the heavier objects closer to the spine and towards the bottom of the backpack, as it will not shift the centre of gravity that much.