Backpack Back to School: What’s Right For You

Teresa Hunsaker, Family and Consumer Education Specialist with USU Extension/Weber County presents information you need for that important school supply for your child.


Here are 5 tips to choose the right backpack for your child:

One: Decide how much your child will be using the pack, and how much they will be carrying in it—all their books most nights, or just a few books most nights?? When children are young and not carrying much more than a few papers and their coat, you may not need a heavy duty sturdy backpack.

Two: Make sure it fits the child. If they are very short or very tall, you may have to search for a backpack with a comfortably sized carrying pouch. It should fit snugly and worn high.

Three: Check for padded straps. To keep them comfortable and reduce back strain, a good backpack will have padded shoulder straps and even a waist strap. It may even have a strap at chest level, although this may not be padded. Make sure to encourage your child to wear it correctly. (Easier said than done!)

Four: Look for storage space. Does the pack have a pocket large enough to carry books and other necessary supplies? Will your child still be comfortable with the pack, whether the storage pocket is full or empty?

Five: What kind of fabric is it made out of?? Is it durable luggage quality?

Need for concern: More and more children and teens are suffering from back strain due in large part to the “load” they carry. Some kids packs have weighed in at 25 pounds easy. Doctors say kids’ backpacks shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of their body weight, but many kids carry up to 50 percent of their weight in their bags.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that 4,928 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags and back carriers. “Students attending primary and secondary schools are more susceptible to these disorders because their bodies are developing faster, and females are even more susceptible because of the physiological demands on their bodies.”

But weight isn’t the only problem. How kids wear and carry their packs can also cause strain.

When more than half the backpack is below the waist it creates an unnatural force on the lower back. Additionally, when the backpack is around one shoulder, all that weight is really on a small set of muscles just on one side.

Consider a wheeled bag, but know that some schools say they are a tripping hazard. If you can use a wheeled backpack, make sure not to overload it because children have to lift it to get in and out of cars and the bus.


For more information, go to or call (801) 399-8200

Add comment