How to Fit a Backpack

One of the best parts of back to school shopping is choosing a new backpack for the year. With so many colors, designs and styles, children can get a new bag to match their growing personalities and changing interests. While style is certainly one element to consider in the purchasing decision, fit and comfort are more important. Having a backpack that doesn’t fit properly can make it hard to carry books and even lead to injuries. At Pottery Barn Kids, we've put together a few tips on how to fit a backpack so that you can start the school year off in style.

How to Fit a Backpack

Avoid adult-sized backpacks

It might be tempting to get the most bang for your buck by purchasing a full-sized backpack, but you should avoid doing this at all costs. A backpack that is too large will not sit right on the shoulders or distribute weight evenly enough to prevent bad posture and back pain. Choose a backpack that is the right size for your child instead. This means that the backpack should sit right below your child’s shoulder blades and the bottom of the pack should reach your child’s waist. The backpack should not be wider than your child’s trunk or extend past the shoulder blades.

Look for wide straps

Several styles of backpacks and bags only have one strap or have thin straps that do not have much cushion. These are decorative and not suitable for carrying books and other heavy items. Instead, look for wide straps that offer ample cushioning. This will help distribute the weight of the backpack over the shoulders to make it easier to carry.

Consider waist and chest straps

If you know that your child will be carrying a heavy load regularly, then consider backpacks with waist and chest straps. These should fit snugly around your child’s chest and abdomen, but should not be too tight. Your child should be able to move without any hindrances. These straps will distribute the weight across your child’s trunk rather than pulling back on the shoulders. In turn, this will help your child maintain proper posture.

Don't overload the backpack

Make sure that the backpack does not have too much weight for your child to carry. When adjusting the straps on the backpack, place a few items in the bag first. This will help maximize comfort. Children in elementary school should carry no more than 5 to 10 pounds in their bags. No one should carry more than 25 pounds on a regular basis. If they do need to carry this much, then consider getting a rolling backpack. This will prevent unnecessary strain on the back as well as keep your child from getting injured.

Adjust the backpack every year

If you invest in a quality backpack, then it should last your child several years. However, as your child grows, you’ll need to make adjustments to the straps to make sure that it still fits properly. Keep track of your child’s growth and readjust the straps each summer to make sure that they still fit comfortably and snugly.