The backpack has become the symbol for school life…well, that and the ubiquitous ‘hoodie’ hooded sweatshirt. Our children have been carrying backpacks since third grade. A friend and I were harking back to our school days and neither of us remember ever having a backpack until college. Backpacks were for hikers and Boy Scouts. I suppose that I had a tote-bag in high school but it wasn’t mandatory. Now I don’t think a student would be let into school without that regulation backpack. The backpack has become a portable locker in schools. Our local high school is so large and difficult to navigate that most students don’t see their lockers from September to May.
Clearly the selection of a backpack is important. Backpacks are pricey. The student may be lugging around upwards of $300-$500 in textbooks, which you, the parent will have to pay to replace if lost of stolen. If your student carries a laptop computer to school, the backpack becomes storage for some real valuables. And those aforementioned textbooks are heavy and cumbersome. Our chiropractor commented that he blames overladen backpacks for the rise in back problems that he sees among students. Here is a guide to follow when purchasing a backpack for your student.
-Backpacks vary in size. Open the prospective backpacks your are considering. The cheapie backpacks that run $5- $15 are typically smaller and will not fit your students needs in middle school and high school. These backpacks may do for elementary school, but I still advise purchasing the larger backpack. She may need to carry her binder, pencil case, gym shoes, winter clothing, homework, folder, musical instrument and cold lunch.
-I have purchased about twelve to fifteen backpacks over the years. The larger backpacks range from $20 to $70. Look for sales, but don’t skimp on quality to save a few bucks. That cheap backpack will fall apart by Christmas and then there won’t be those good back-to-school sales. You’ll have to pay full price.
-Even the better backpacks occasionally rip out at the zipper. Look for the roomiest backpack for your buck. Your student won’t likely need all the smaller pouches and pockets, but he will need a large inner compartment for textbooks. When we chose ours, I take a few textbooks to the store and ‘test drive’ the backpack to see that they all fit. I’ve never had an issue with any clerk; they usually like the idea.
-Look for backpacks with padding, especially at the shoulders where the backpack will rest and at the lower back which takes the brunt of the weight.. Some have an extra belt for the waist, but most kids refuse to wear it.
-Skip the wheeled backpacks that resemble luggage or airplane carry-ons. There isn’t enough room in the hallways for students to wheel a backpack. Most kids would rather lose a finger than wheel one of those squeaky things anyway.
-Skip the messenger back style back pack for all students except maybe elementary school girls. The messenger bag hangs like a purse and puts too much weight on one side of the body. The backpack distributes the weight and balances it. Besides, the messenger bag is difficult to carry in a crowded hallway and doesn’t hold as much as a backpack.
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