Wellness & Education

Choosing a Back-to-School Backpack

Helping your child choose a back-to-school backpack can be a challenge. Children tend to focus on the movie or cartoon character on the backpack. Parents want one that will last but isn’t too expensive. Parents realize that no matter how great a backpack looks when new, it’s going to spend the year being overloaded, dropped and kicked around. 

When choosing a backpack with your child, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.  

Is it well-made?  

  • Is the stitching tight?  
  • Are there any frayed or loose fabric edges? 
  • Do the zippers slide easily?  
  • Is there a flap over the zipper to the main compartment to help keep out the rain?  
  • Is the fabric waterproof or water-resistant?  

Is the design convenient?  

  • Is there a handle loop on the top for carrying when the backpack isn’t being worn?  
  • Is there a side pocket for carrying a water bottle?  
  • Is there a large pocket on the front for carrying a cell phone and other things that are used frequently?  
  • Is there a padded slot for a laptop or ipad?  

Is the design comfortable?  

  • Is the back of the backpack padded to protect your child from being poked in the back when carrying items with hard edges or corners?  
  • Are the shoulder straps wide and padded to spread out the load and prevent the straps from digging into the shoulders?  
  • Is there a chest strap to help take some of the strain off of the shoulders?  
  • Is there a waist strap to help distribute some of the load onto the hips?  

Does it fit?  

  • Is the width about the same as the width of your child’s torso?  
  • Is the top of it no more than 2 inches above your child’s shoulder?  
  • Is the bottom of it no more than 4 inches below your child’s waist?  
  • Can the shoulder straps be adjusted to a comfortable fit?  

Is it safe?  

  • Does it have reflective straps or patches on it for visibility?  
  • Does it have only your child’s initials, not our child’s name on it? (This can be important for avoiding strangers.)  

Is it affordable?  

A well-made backpack is going to cost more than a cheap one, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Designer backpacks can be very expensive. It’s cheaper to go with a backpack with a solid color that your child likes. Added key chains and ornaments can be used to personalize it. As a bonus, these things can be fun and easy to switch out as your child’s tastes and interests change.  

Does your child like it?  

While you shouldn’t have to buy something you hate, children shouldn’t have to wear or carry something that they hate. Making a joint decision about a new backpack will make it a happier purchase for everyone.