Your Ultimate Buying Guide to the Best Backpacks for School
June 21, 2021
One of the key items on most back-to-school shopping lists is backpacks for school. And not just any backpacks, but cool backpacks. As much as your kid would like a cool-looking backpack, it’s also important that the backpack is versatile and rugged. This article aims to outline some of the key features to consider when choosing the best backpack for school.
Features to Consider
Most kids lug around a lot of stuff — textbooks, notebooks, homework, calculators, and, sometimes, even equipment to support their activities, such as a change of clothing for sports or an instrument for their orchestra practice. However, some lucky kids have newfound freedom because their school has gone increasingly digital — just one sleek tablet or laptop computer, and they have what they need, at least for a few of their classes. Before you invest in back-to-school backpacks that are too big or too small, you can talk to your child about what they will be regularly carrying around and then plan your purchase accordingly.
For example, you can look at a full-size, spacious backpack in the traditional style or something smaller like a cinch sack. Most backpacks in the traditional style can be considered laptop backpacks because they have special compartments or pockets specifically for a laptop or other electronics. Children may need instruction about how to properly wear their backpack. That’s important for ergonomics and to also help them stay balanced if they will be biking to school
Yes, you want backpacks for school that are the right size, but there’s another consideration to balance with equal, shall we say, weight. Let’s face it, kids today are under a lot of pressure, and sadly, much of it is from their backpack.
And that’s likely more than is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which suggests that backpacks weigh less than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) goes even lower, recommending only 5% to 10% of your child’s body weight. (Go ahead and weigh your child’s backpack, as you’re likely to be surprised at just how heavy it is.)
After weighing your child’s full back-to-school backpack, you might need to help them brainstorm how they can make it lighter — such as leaving heavy textbooks at school or only bringing them on certain days.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), you can focus on the shoulder straps, which should be padded and wide, and your child should wear them over both shoulders for better posture and help prevent lower and upper back pain and neck and shoulder strain. The NSC also recommends that backpacks for school not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline, which can cause your child to lean forward due to increased weight on the shoulders.
Consistently carrying an overstuffed backpack can lead to trouble not only today but also down the road.
How much will your child be in and out of the backpack? Since most children are usually going class to class and using different books or supplies throughout the school day, consider a backpack with multiple pocket configurations and compartments so that they can easily find what they’re looking for. Many of today’s backpacks even sport features like a water bottle holder, mesh pockets, and bungee cording.
Of course, the cost is a factor, but this is one of those areas where you’ll probably be better served spending more for a rugged backpack, which will last, than going a little cheaper and having to replace it sooner.
If you live in a rainy or snowy climate, or your child will be walking to school — potentially in inclement weather — consider whether the pack is waterproof. You can also use a waterproofing spray that can help repel dirt and stains.
Elements that indicate a well-made backpack include sturdy zippers and strong straps. Many of the best backpacks for school also come with a warranty, so be sure to save the requisite paperwork just in case.
Don’t worry, we’re not totally overlooking the need for cool backpacks for school.
Today’s backpacks come in a wide variety of looks, from stripes and geometric patterns for your young sophisticate to whimsical fabrics adorned with almost any theme you can think of, such as arrows, space, hearts, animal prints, camo, and dinosaurs.
In fact, a special shopping trip for back-to-school backpacks and lunch bags is a good way to cap off your summer and get your child excited for the year ahead. Enlisting their participation in the selection of cool backpacks for school is an important way for them to showcase their interests and personality.
Keeping Your Back-to-School Backpacks in Top Condition
So, we’re going to state the obvious: Backpacks can get pretty darn gross as they slide along bus floors and are grabbed by germy hands. That’s why you should try to do some routine maintenance to make sure your pack stays as fresh as possible. Here are some tips:
Empty Everything Out.
This is a good time to try to go through artwork and homework and find any errant school supplies that can be repurposed. You also might find out that whatever you’ve been packing for school lunches hasn’t been making the grade — and definitely better to find this out sooner rather than later.
Check the Laundry Instruction Tag.
Sometimes, even the best backpacks for school shouldn’t be fully immersed, so definitely try to check the directions before tossing it in the washing machine.
Remove Anything Detachable
Take off any hooks, straps, etc., that are easily removable. Soak the straps in a solution of water and liquid detergent and allow them to air-dry.
Wash the Pack in the Washer or Spot Clean.
Depending on the directions, you can wash in the washing machine—best bet is to use a gentle cycle and turn it inside out—or spot clean with mild detergent. Either way, air dry away from direct sun.
Consider the Material.
If the pack is leather, follow directions for cleaning leather garments, such as not immersing it in water. If the backpack is waterproof, don’t submerge it more than once or twice a year, as that can harm its protective coating.
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer who specializes in small business, finance and real estate.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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