Getting the right size pack and loading it properly can help you avoid a trip to the doctor.
You might have already purchased a backpack for yourself or for your child this fall. Some do the job well, but others leave room for improvement. If you find yours is grinding on the shoulders and causing the kids to complain, you could be back at the store looking for a solid replacement.
Should you go for Angry Birds, or visit the local outdoors store and spend a bit (or a lot) more?
Here are six tips from the experts to help you get the right fit, stay healthy and keep your back (and kids) happy:
1) Get the Right Size
You want to make sure your bag is the right size. If it’s too big, you could overload your or your child’s back and cause too much strain.
The key is to pick the right size in relation to your torso. Your pack should sit at the base of the neck and it shouldn’t sag too low at the bottom. You want to be able to fit a three ring binder and other school essentials in there, but anything that rises higher or drops lower is too big.
2) Go for Smooth Zippers
When judging the quality of craftsman ship that went into making your backpack, take a good look at the zippers. Do they move easily, or are they rough? High quality zippers can help you get more life out of your back pack and ensure that kids can open and close the bag themselves, when they need to.
3) Look for Foam Straps
The straps should be made of foam, and be thick enough to provide the needed padding. If they crinkle, it’s not a good sign. Go for something else.
4) Consider Two Large Wheels
Choosing a bag on wheels can be easier for your child or yourself, if you’ve often got a lot to carry.
If you’re going with wheels, make sure they’re going to last. There’s nothing like dragging a bag on broken wheels down a snowy winter sidewalk first thing in the morning. Many systems that use small wheels will break down quickly.
Consider getting a bag mounted on what look like two in-line skate wheels. These are better in bad weather and will stick around to get the job done.
5) Don’t Overload It
How much weight should you be carrying? Experts recommend this rule of thumb: when the bag is fully loaded, it shouldn’t exceed 10 to 20 percent of your or your child’s body weight.
For example, a 50-pound child should only carry about 10 pounds on their back, and no more.
6) Consider How You Pack It
For the best distribution, pack the heaviest items closest to your back. Things like textbooks and computers should sit flush against your back, allowing room for clothing and other items up front.
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