Capacity: Carrying capacity is the single most important consideration for a
backpack; 1,000 cubic inches or less is common in small children's backpacks,
while bigger kids' backpacks start at about 1,500 cubic inches, and high
schoolers and adults may require backpacks in excess of 2,000 cubic inches.
zippers: Even a large backpack is only as good as its ability to keep your
belongings securely organized; the zippers should be sturdy and snag-free.
components: Contoured, padded shoulder straps and padded back panel are the
hallmarks of a comfortable backpack. It should fit your body. Other desirable features
include a padded hip belt and suspension straps to help keep the load properly
Durability: The best backpacks can endure years of being dragged around and still come
out with fabric intact, zippers and wheels (if present) working smoothly and
Water-resistance: Your pack doesn't necessarily have to be waterproof, but some degree of
water-resistance is nice -- otherwise all your belongings may end up soaked if
you're caught in the rain.
Warranty: Even the best model from the best brand produces a dud every once in a
while. Your backpack should be backed by a quality warranty; most manufacturers
offer lifetime coverage against manufacturing defects, but not normal wear and
Know Before You
Your activities: Now's
the time to decide whether you want your school backpack to do double duty as a
hiking pack, diaper bag or for any other specialized activities.
back-to-school list: If you're shopping for a child's backpack, ask the
school or teacher for a list of required items. That way you'll know how much
the backpack you're shopping for has to hold.
Your child's weight: The
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a loaded backpack should weigh
no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's body weight; the American
Chiropractic Association sets a more conservative limit of 5 to 10 percent.
Your torso size: Packs
are sized by torso length, not overall height, and knowing your torso
measurement can help you get the right size. Measure from the bony bump at the
base of your neck (your 7th cervical vertebrae) to the top of your hipbones.
Your hip size: If
you're shopping for backpacks with hip belts, knowing your hip circumference
can help you choose the right size right off the shelf. Measure around your
hips at the same level with the top of your hipbones and make sure to keep the measuring
School rules: Many
schools have banned rolling backpacks as a tripping hazard and many wheeled
backpacks won't fit in a locker. Check with your child's school to be sure they
allow wheeled backpacks and measure the locker before buying.
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