Backpack 101: Picking, packing and carrying

<p>Parents and kids can follow these guidelines to maximize safety, comfort and proper backpack use ...</p>


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Parents and kids can follow these guidelines to maximize safety, comfort and proper backpack use:

Choose the right kind of backpack:

  • Well-padded back, for comfort and to prevent objects from digging into the back.

  • Well-padded and contoured shoulder straps.

  • Numerous pockets and compartments to keep things from shifting around.

  • A waist strap to distribute weight onto hips and off of the spine and shoulders.

  • Lightweight material construction (canvas bags are lighter than leather bags).

  • Make sure the pack is the right size! Backpacks should not extend higher than shoulder level and not lower than four inches below the waist.

Make sure the backpack is packed correctly:

  • The backpack should weigh less than 10 per cent of the student’s body weight (JK-8); older students can carry up to 15 per cent of their body weight.

  • Pack the heaviest items so they are closest to the child’s back. If the heaviest items are packed further away, this throws out the child’s centre of gravity and causes unnecessary back strain.

  • Use the inside organizer compartments to keep items secured in place during transit.

  • Carry only what is necessary in the backpack, and make frequent trips to the locker during the day if possible.

Clean out unnecessary items and papers every night.

Correct lifting and carrying techniques:

  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the bottom of the backpack is just above the waist — don’t wear it slung low.

  • When fitted correctly, the backpack should contour snugly to your back, rather than hang off the shoulders.

  • Squat or kneel to pick up the backpack, never bend at the waist!

  • Lift the pack with both hands and hold it close to the body. Slip one arm through one shoulder strap, and then the other.

  • If you have to lean over, the backpack is too heavy, incorrectly fitted or wrongly packed.

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