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5 Ergonomic Backpacks for Back to School

Posted on 7th Oct 2011 @ 1:40 PM

Toting a heavy backpack to school every day can cause neck and back injuries in children that will make them walk more like an 80-year-old than an 8-year-old. But is there anything a parent can do to reduce the stress and strain on their child's little body?

The Facts

In 2009, Consumer Reports conducted a study on kid’s backpacks. They found that children in grades 2-4 carried, on average, 5 pounds of homework and books every day. By 6th grade, kids in the study were carrying an average of 18.4 pounds – some were carrying up to 30 pounds.

Considering how much extra weight kids are toting around, it’s important to not only lighten the load they carry every day, but also seek out backpacks that offer the proper support.

The Right Way To Wear A Backpack

Not all backpacks are created equal. Nor is it okay to just throw a backpack on your child's shoulder and let them walk out the door. Here's how to make sure that your child is wearing a backpack properly and taking advantage of all the ergonomic features that some backpacks have to offer.

  • The lower part of the backpack should align with the curve of the lower back and fall no more than 4 inches below the waistline.
  • The straps should be wide, patterned and contoured, and should rest 1 to 2 inches below the top of the shoulders.
  • The back should also be padded and there should be several compartments to help balance out the weight.
  • The backpack should have waist and/or chest straps, which can help distribute the weight more evenly between the back, waist and hips.
  • Make sure your child is loading her backpack properly as well. The heaviest items should go at the bottom of the backpack, closet to her spine.

Some websites, like Lands’ End and Garnet Hill, allow you to shop for backpacks by your child’s height, which can help you find one that better fits their size.

The Best Backpacks

Given all of these factors, we rounded up some of the best ergonomic backpacks for back to school.

  1. Lands’ End FeatherLight BackPack


    This was the highest-rated backpack from Consumer Reports. It’s 15 percent lighter than any other backpack Lands’ End sells and it rated high in construction quality, rain resistance and safety features. ($40, LandsEnd.com).
  2. Airpack Kid’s Backpack


    Developed by orthopedic professionals, the Airpack has several useful features, including shoulder straps that adjust at the top and bottom and that automatically adjust to side-to-side to help maintain the best ergonomic position. It also has an inflatable lumbar cushion. ($42.95, AirPacks.com
  3. Garnet Hill Backpack


    Not only does this super-cute backpack have padded shoulder straps and an adjustable sternum strap, it comes in a variety of styles -- from ponies to robots -- and Garnet Hill provides instructions for making sure the bag is a healthy fit. ($39.95, GarnetHill.com)
  4. Kids School Backpacks


    Neck Solutions claims that their backpacks can reduce back stress by up to 80 percent and lighten the effective load up to 50 percent using air technology. An inflatable lumbar cushion combined with foam-cushioned straps with top and bottom adjustable buckles reduce the strain on the upper back, neck and shoulders. ($60, NeckSolutions.com)
  5. Ivar Aero


    The smallest and most lightweight of the Ivar line would be suitable for a child who isn’t carting a ton of books around, but still needs extra support. Ivar’s patented internal shelf design helps evenly distribute weight while keeping all those textbooks, notebooks and school supplies organized. ($48, Ivarpack.com)

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