Pack it light, wear it right! Backpack safety

Proper use of a backpack

Proper use of a backpack

Back to school is just around the corner, and with all those new school supplies is often the most forgotten but most important part of a childs back to school wardrobe, their backpack.

Students these days are provided with more and more materials they need to bring on a regular basis. College and university students are often carrying laptops in addition to their daily school books.

Tips for packing light and wearing right

All this is a recipe for pain, but a few simple steps may provide for worry free carrying.

1.  A properly fitted pack should include;

  • well padded shoulder straps – The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and should not fit too snugly around the arms, straining muscles and affecting nerves.
  • a significant waist strap – a hip strap or waist belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine. The waist belt will equalize the strain on the bones, joints and muscles.
  • compression straps to keep the pack tight together – on the side of the pack they help to keep a less full pack from shifting weight backwards and away from the body.
  • sized to fit the torso of the person or child wearing it – The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

2. Properly weighted pack should be;

  • packed so heavy items are close to the body
  • no more than 15% of body weight for teens & adults and 10% for children
  • filled with lots of compartments to keep contents from moving around while walking

3. Properly worn a pack should;

  • have heavy items close to the body helps keep the weight close to the body’s center of gravity
  • be worn with BOTH shoulder straps – slinging a pack on one side causes strain and a lean to the child wearing the pack
  • be put on with the pack on a table or desk – helps from straining the low back twisting to put on the pack

How much is too much?

To help you figure out what is overloading a pack, we have the following chart.

Shoes 1kg/2lbs
wet towel 1kg/2lbs
6 text books 2.7kg/6lbs
2 binders 1.5kg/3lbs
20 CDs .5kg/1lbs
Game Boy .25kg/.5lbs
water bottle .25kg/.5lbs
sports gear 4.5kg/10lbs
lunch/snacks 1kg/2lbs
laptop computer 2.7kg/6lbs

To determine the maximum weight you should carry

If you weigh Only carry
23 kg/50 lbs 2.2 kg/5 lbs
32 kg/70 lbs 3 kg/7 lbs
40 kg/90 lbs 6 kg/14 lbs
50 kg/110 lbs 7 kg/16 lbs
59 kg/130 lbs 9 kg/19 lbs
68 kg/150 lbs 10 kg/22 lbs
77 kg/170 lbs 11 kg/25 lbs
86 kg/190 lbs 13 kg/28 lbs

Download this backpack_handout for additional help with backpack safety.

So what does this mean in the store?

While this information may help give guidelines for your Childs backpack, real life searches can be a bit more challenging.

To help save you some time we have stopped by a few local locations for back to school supplies to find the best options.

Walmart
While having the biggest selection, the choices for quality packs is thin. Of the many boxes of packs only one had curved shoulder straps, compression straps and well divided compartments.

  • Watch for thin straps with weak stitching to the main pack. Zippers should be coarse with metal preferred.
  • Seams should be wrapped with edging.
  • Theme bags may be a hit with kids but a theme lunch cooler in a better pack is your best choice.

Staples
Another large selection of packs. Obus Forme is the brand of choice with the selection available. If your son or daughter is heading to university with a laptop, Targus makes a few solid packs with laptop sleeves. Watch for a few packs which are very large but not very well designed with weak materials, poor straps and stitching that probably can’t handle the weight which would fill the available space.

Canadian Tire

Suprising enough, our local Canadian Tire store had a great selection of quality packs with two Obus Forme models and another from Outbound which all provided great features for a reasonable price.

Other local stores

Other retailers in town have a selection of packs. From Dakine to Quicksilver, these branded packs may be missing the compression straps and waist belt, so be careful to look thoroughly at the available models.

For more information and to check if your childs pack is suitable, please give Dr. Wilson a call at 250-898-8683 or find a nearby chiropractor at www.bcchiro.com

Information provided courtesy of the BC Chiropractic Association. For more handouts and to have backpack safety information for your school follow this link to the association site.

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