It seems like even the cheapest backpacks are an investment.  With styles changing yearly, kids growing, needs changing, and normal wear-and-tear, backpacks seem to be constantly rotating in and out of my house.


“If a student leans forward when wearing a full backpack – it is too heavy.”

The American Chiropractic Association

So, what should you look for when purchasing a backpack for your child this school year?  Here are a few suggestions more helping you choose the best backpack for your student:

Look at the age & size of your child.

When contents are added to a bag, the backpack should not weigh more than 5 to 10 percent of your child’s body weight.

  • A child that weighs 25 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 1.25 – 2.5 lbs
  • A child that weighs 50 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 2.5 – 5.0 lbs
  • A child that weighs 80 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 4.0 – 8.0 lbs
  • A child that weighs 115 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 5.75 – 11.5 lbs
  • A child that weighs 140 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 7 – 14 lbs
  • A child that weighs 175 lbs, the backpack should’t weigh more than 8.75 – 17.5 lbs

Bigger doesn’t mean better.

Although a bigger backpack allows extra room, it also allows extra room for needless things that create clutter, unnecessary weight and excessive distractions.  Before shopping, look at the requested or required supplies provided by your school.  Access what size book bag your child is going to need for the whole school year.  Although you don’t want to invest in a bag too large for your child, you don’t want to spend $60 and find out the second semester required book or binder will not fit.

Talk and compromise.

Talk to your child about they style and practicality of their backpack and come to a good compromise.  Here are a couple of rules to keep in mind as you are shopping:

  • Do your best to avoid one-shoulder bags, because uneven distribution of weight may cause muscle spasms in a student’s neck or lower back pain.
  • Look for book bags that have two, wide, adjustable, padded straps
  • Test backpacks for lightweight material – reflective fabrics are a safety feature plus.
  • Does the style of backpack your child like distribute weight evenly across their shoulders and back?
  • A backpack does not require multiple pockets or zippers: however, do take into account keys or a mobile phone that may be handy to have its own compartment.
  • The bottom of the backpack should align with the curve of the lower back.*
  • The bag should not drop more than 4 inches below the waistline.*
  • The shoulder straps anchor points should rest 1 to 2 inches below the top of the shoulders.*

Do you have a favorite back pack or tips about getting ready to make that back-to-school supply trip to the store?  What do you like about it specifically?  We would love for you to share with us!

*Suggestions from Consumer Reports product testers.