Though it's tempting to snag a pack that's on sale or that features the cartoon character du jour, keep these practical considerations in mind while shopping for this essential back-to-school gear, Angela Kwan writes on Parents.com.
A backpack leaves with your child in the morning and stays with him until he gets home. It's essential for holding supplies, books, and lunch. So it's no surprise that kids prefer picking backpacks that show off their personality and interests.
Shoulder the Straps
Narrow straps and one-strap messenger bags put too much pressure on a small area of the body. Some packs also come with a waist or chest strap, which provides extra support. When adjusting the straps for your child, make sure that the pack fits snugly around the body and that it doesn't tilt down.
Pinch the Padding
The back panel and shoulder straps should be padded with foam. Check for comfort, support, and durability by doing a "rebound test." Give the area a simple squeeze and wait for the foam to rebound to its original shape.
Make Room for Essentials
It's important that the backpack can easily fit a 2- or 3-inch, three-ring binder and other classroom essentials. Bigger is not always better, however. And be on the lookout for zippered pockets that can securely hold items such as pencils, ID cards, or phones while still offering easy access.
Consider Materials and Extras
Fabric: Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon or polyester, are more water-resistant but less eco-friendly than natural fibers are. If environmental sustainability matters to you, look for a backpack made with natural fibers like hemp.
Zippers: Quality zippers that zip smoothly and don't catch on fabric tend to last longer.
Reflector: For added protection against cars and bicycles in the evening and at night, many backpacks come with reflective paneling.