Whether you are returning to school or going hiking, the fit and wear of your backpack is very important. A great rule of thumb to remember is: you should always wear both straps and have it fit snugly against your back. There should not be a gap between the backpack and your back.

While this may be easy for an adult to remember, parents sometimes have a harder time relaying the message to their young children or teenagers. Kids often like to wear their backpacks loose and hanging below their bottoms, which pulls their shoulders forward (to counterbalance the back/downward pull of the backpack) creating stress at their low back. Sometimes the “cool” thing is not always the “healthy” thing, so let’s help educate our kiddos on keeping their spine safe.

Here are some tips on making sure that your loved ones are wearing their backpacks correctly to minimize any back pain or potential injury.

Backpack Safety Guidelines for Parents

The Fit

When looking for a new backpack for your child, look for one that follows these guidelines:

  • The backpack is the same width (not any wider) than your child.
  • The height should not go above his/her shoulders.
  • The backpack should have padded shoulder straps. Wider straps are better, but make sure they do not fall off of the shoulders of your kiddo.
  • The backpack should ride high on their back, so make sure the straps are adjustable and you are able to bring the bottom of the pack (with something in it!) to and/or above their waistline (at belly button).

backpack safety

How to Pack It

The overall weight of the backpack should not exceed more than 15% of the child/adult’s body weight. For example, if the child weighs 100lbs, the backpack should not be heavier than 15lbs, or if they are 120lbs, not more than 18lbs in the pack, etc.

When putting items in the pack, the heaviest items should be closest to the back of the child/adult and the lighter objects further away or on top. We always want to hold heavy items as close to our bodies as possible for proper ergonomics. High school students often have big textbooks and heavier school supplies. Encourage your child to leave textbooks in their locker, if able, and encourage them to only carry the necessities in their backpack each day.

The Use

While walking with a backpack, encourage your child to keep his or her chest up and shoulders back and down, and head in line with the trunk. The tendency is to lean forward and bend at the trunk and low back with shoulder rounded forward. Keep it as light as possible!

If you have any questions about backpack safety, contact us. We are happy to help!