IF any of the more than 79 million American students who carry school backpacks is someone you care about, here are a few ideas you may care to consider:
What to know
• You don’t have to let the backpack become a big pain in the back. Just make sure that, fully loaded, the backpack doesn’t weigh more than 10 percent of the child’s total body weight.
• William Hennrikus, M.D., chairman of the orthopaedic section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says, “Kids fall and have an injury because their backpack is so heavy. They can fall right over or not have enough stability to balance themselves, risking wrist, arm or leg injury…or worse.”
• The height of the backpack should extend from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist.
• Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backward and strain muscles.
• Kids should wear the backpack on both shoulders so the weight is evenly distributed.
Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
What to look for
• Select a pack with well padded shoulder straps. The neck and shoulders have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms and hands when too much pressure is applied.
• Look for lots of pockets so everything is easier to find. Some backpacks have stash pockets on the hood to keep small items within instant reach and a side pocket to keep a water bottle close at hand.
• Airflow channels on the back panel provide ventilation.
• A heat-molded, crushproof compartment can protect such things as sunglasses, smartphones and electronics.
• Top and side quick-grab handles make for easy transport.
• A large main compartment can keep daily gear separate from the electronics.
• Breathable, air-mesh backpack straps maximize comfort.
• Compression straps let you customize the bag to fit the load.
• Easy-grab zipper pulls and big zippers allow easy access to various compartments.
• An interior zippered mesh pocket with key fob can help with organizing accessories.
Many parents have found that sturdy, stylish backpacks with all these features and more are available from Thule.
For further information, go to www.thule.com.
North American Precis Syndicate