In this article:
- How do you pick the right kids backpack for school?
- Children’s backpack, why we need to choose smart
- Which school bag is best?
- 1. Wide padded shoulder straps
- 2. Durable material
- 3. Waterproof or not waterproof
- 4. Multiple compartments
- 5. Padded Back Panel
- 6. Quick Grab Handle
- 7. Suitable Size
- 8.Covered main zipper compartment
- 9. Easy and smooth zipper, button, buckle, or other closures
- 10. Structured or Lightweight
- 11. Safety Extras
- 12. Color and Pattern
- School backpack size guide
- What is a good price for school bags ?
- Backpack Safety for Students
- Kids Backpacks for School | A Buying Guide
How do you pick the right kids backpack for school?
Doing your back to school shopping? Are you overwhelmed with the vast varieties of kids school bags out there?
It might be tempting to snatch that cute glittery pink backpack for your girls, but are you sure it’s gonna hold up until the next back to school season? Why do you want to consider that?
This article will give you 12 things you want to consider when you’re out for your next school bag shopping.
It’s not a right or wrong choice thing, but this could be useful when you really into want to pick a backpack that can go longer with your child.
Children’s backpack, why we need to choose smart
Backpack is usually one of the big one, or sometimes the biggest, thing in your back to school shopping list.
Sometimes I got lucky when my girls’s bags are still pretty decent to be worn again the next school year.
But sometimes mishap happened, the strap stitching pulled off, the zipper got stuck, or it’s just too dirty even after some attempts to soak and wash the bag.
Or simply when the kids were going from kindergarten to grade school, then it warrants a bigger bag.
Backpack is something that stays with your kids for quite a long period of their days. Hence kids’ school backpack usually needs to be durable enough to take a beating.
Especially when you have children going to elementary school or older, with more textbooks, project binder, and other stuff going inside their backpack, it surely needs to hold things up stronger.
Not to mention if your kids are rough with it, like dragging their backpack while walking, dropping it on to the pavement and the like.
In short, don’t just buy a school backpack for school just because it’s the cutest or the cheapest you can find.
But try to see if you think the backpack can hold up to a year or so, also if it’s comfortable to wear, and whether it’s suitable for your child’s needs.
Which school bag is best?
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for kids backpack. Read these 11 tips for choosing the right backpack for your kids.
1. Wide padded shoulder straps
The shoulder straps should be padded and wide enough to be comfortable to wear.
If it has narrow or thin straps, when the bag is heavy it could “dig” into their shoulders.
Means it will put pressure only on certain part of your kids’ shoulder which can be painful over time.
Wider & thicker straps would distribute the weight more evenly on their shoulders.
Nice to have: Chest strap or waist strap
This would be useful to support and distribute the bag’s load more evenly to the body.
2. Durable material
I would avoid bags that feels flimsy or using thin material. Why?
Because when it’s thin, the stitching may come off easily (especially the part where it connects to the straps, or the zipper), and it may be easily torn or poked through by sharp objects or corner of books.
Also, if you shop in stores, it’s worth to take a look at the inside of the backpack.
Is there any unraveled fabric or zipper end? Is there any loose thread visible?
Good backpack construction is also a deciding factor that Very Well Family had advised for when choosing the right backpack.
3. Waterproof or not waterproof
Personally I prefer something made of a material that is at least water resistant or waterproof.
It will help to protect your child’s project papers or homework from wet weather or spill!
It also makes it easier to clean with wet clothes when there’s a spill or dirt.
Marker stains are still a nightmare. I don’t really care if it stained inside the backpack. But if it’s outside and I really want to take it off, I’d use my magic sponge to rub it off. Sometimes not everything would come off cleanly.
If it’s not waterproof, you may want to choose something that is machine washable so you can just throw it into your laundry.
4. Multiple compartments
This is personal preference, but I would say a good rule of thumb for kids backpack is to have these; a big front pocket for easy access, a pocket inside (for wallet, and other small items), and side pocket for water bottle (so they can access their drinking bottle easily).
Nice to have:
– organizer front pocket. Usually with different pockets for phone, cards, and pens. Good for kids in grade school and beyond.
– divider (or big pocket) inside main compartment. Useful to separate non-books/folder stuff, like pencil case, rulers, lunchbox, etc.
– padded gadget sleeve for tablet/laptop, for your middle/high-schoolers and beyond.
For toddler or kindergartener, I don’t think they will need a lot of different compartments or organizer pockets. Perhaps just a simple front pocket and water bottle pocket would suffice.
5. Padded Back Panel
Backpack with padded back (usually with some foam and net/mesh material) will help to protect your child’s back from sharp corner of textbooks, and make it more comfortable to wear.
But keep in mind that it would also make the bag a bit bulkier, compared to those classic canvas backpacks.
Of course all these factors are not hard and fast rules. They’re just further considerations if you want to your school backpack to go longer.
But wait, there’s more….
6. Quick Grab Handle
Pick a backpack which has a handle or loop on top. This will help when the child needs to grab it by hand, or when they need to hang the bag on a hook.
7. Suitable Size
Backpack comes in various sizes. How do you pick the best backpack that suit your kids?
There are two considerations here.
a. Height and posture of your child.
Don’t pick a size that’s too big for your child.
Ideally an ergonomic backpack should be no more than 2 inches below the child’s shoulders to no more than 4 inches below the child’s waist.
And the width should not be wider than your child’s torso.
I discuss more about the backpacks size guide below.
b. Child’s school needs, what things they need to bring to school.
Check with the school if they need to bring a large file (like an A4-size folder or the likes).
A few years back, my eldest daughter only carried a small backpack just enough to keep her pencil case, water bottle, a thin A5 notebook, and some snacks.
But nowadays some kindergarten would need the kids to bring along their progress A4 file folder too. This thing definitely would be another consideration when choosing a backpack for your child.
The above are the most common things people usually look up to when they’re hunting for a good kids backpacks for school.
I also have some which are generally more on preference, or simply just good features to have.
8.Covered main zipper compartment
Some people preferred a backpack which has a flap that covers the zipper on the main compartment.
This is so the things inside will still be protected in the case of rainy day. And the zipper is not so easily opened by accident because it’s snug under the flap.
If you buy your backpack in stores, check all the zippers, buckles, or pocket button if any.
Make sure it can be easily opened and closed by a child.
Some less well-made bags might have a zipper that is hard to pull open/close, or sometimes stuck halfway because it catches on the fabric. Not worth the hassle of your child not able to open their bag when they’re in school.
10. Structured or Lightweight
Again, this depends on personal preference. A good backpack which has padded strap and padded back, would be bulkier than a classic all purpose canvas backpacks.
For younger kids until end of grade school, I would tend to pick a structured backpack with enough padding, just because they’re still in the phase of learning the good pose to wear a backpack.
I would want them to build the habit of wearing backpacks properly and safely. Like making sure they wear both straps, or they don’t overload the pack.
While teenagers or middle school students and beyond usually preferred a casual lightweight bag that they can bring everywhere; to school, to club activities, to soccer games, and so on.
11. Safety Extras
Some backpacks come with reflective patch on it which makes it easier for drivers or other adults to see your child especially when they walk in early morning or at night. Like this LL Bean Book Pack here.
Alternatively, you can also buy a reflective iron-on / sew-on patch from a craft store, to attach it at the front of your backpack.
12. Color and Pattern
Consider the color and patterns of the backpack too.
Light or pastels color may look so sweet, but they will also expose dirt more. While dark color or busy prints may help to camouflage when the backpack is no longer in pristine condition.
Or perhaps your child prefer something simple?
You can let them choose a backpack in solid colors, and then they’d have the freedom to personalize it with badges, pins, patches, or sharpie drawings.
Style is important too. Your child has their own personality and preference.
Help your kids to make smart decision, but give rooms for them to pick their final choice.
So once you narrow down other consideration, ask your child to pick from the available color or patterns variations.
Do not forget that your child needs to be happy with the backpack too!
School backpack size guide
Backpack comes in different sizes. A good ergonomic backpack, when being worn, should rest no more than 2 inches below the shoulder line, to no more than 4 inches below waist line.
Here are some common backpack sizes (in height) for different kids age:
- Toddler (2-4 yo): 9″ – 12″
- Kindergartener (3-6): 12″ – 14″
- Grade school (7-12 yo): 14″ – 16″
- Middle school & beyond: 16″ or bigger
There’s another useful guide too from Pottery Barn Kids on backpack sizes as you can see below;
What is a good price for school bags ?
A lot of factors comes into place that differentiate the price of one backpack to another. Most of the time it would depend on the materials, features, durability, and also the brand name. Some brand might also have a lifetime warranty comes with it.
I would usually budget the kids backpack according to their age and school level.
For a preschooler or kindergartener, I would probably choose a small bag without much compartments or other extras, for something around $20 or less.
Would be great if I can find ones in colorful or cheerful characters, like this Skip Hop Zoo Collection toddler backpack.
Since this might be just a small bag and would serve them until before they’re into grade school. And the kids might have a different taste in colors and pattern by then.
After kindergarten this bag could still be used for a casual day trip too.
But I knew some people chose a bigger size backpack for their kindergartener and it lasted them until the kids were in grade school.
And that’s fine too.
For grade school and middle school, clearly they’ll need a bigger, roomier backpack.
Even better if it comes with organizer pockets, since now they usually would have more stationery and other stuff to bring.
For this age, other than compartments, I would consider the comfort factor and durability of the backpack too. Hence a higher price range until about $50 might still fit my budget.
Overall no matter how nice or how cool a backpack is, for school children I’m not comfortable to spend anything higher than $80. But again, this is my personal opinion, others might disagree with. “Affordable” is a very relative term to use. 🙂
Next, SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY.
Backpack Safety for Students
It doesn’t matter if you found the best backpack for your kids with the best features, if they don’t wear it properly.
It’s crucial to teach them how to wear a backpack correctly since young to avoid any long term health issues.
Some safety tips when wearing a backpack:
- Choose the suitable size.
- Make sure the child wears both straps, not only one side of them. It might be cool or in-trend but doing it continuously could cause neck & shoulder pain or even spine injury in the long run.
- Adjust the shoulder strap so the bag did not hang too low. If the child slouch forward when wearing it, it’s also a sign that the bag is either too low or too heavy.
- Roll or fold any hanging end of straps to avoid being stuck in the elevator or vehicle doors.
- Do not overload the bag. The weight of the bag ideally should not exceed 15% of your child’s weight.
- Reflective patch or embellishment on a backpack is a plus point.
- If you want to have the bag personalized with embroidery or custom patch, choose an initial rather than using their first name. Showing off your child’s name to strangers could be a safety hazard. Even better, you can write your child’s name (with address & contact number) in a card and put it inside the bag.
This video from Hampton Primary School on backpack safety tips is a good visual presentation on some backpack safety tips for students:
Related Article to Kids Backpack Buying Guide
Wants to know the best seller choices for the best backpacks for preschool, elementary, teens, casual, and laptop backpacks?
Check out my round up article for the top picks in 6 categories of best backpacks for your school kids here.
So that’s it!
I hope this can help you find the better backpack for your kids.
Do you have any other tips in choosing a backpack? Leave me a comment below!
Kids Backpacks for School | A Buying Guide
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