Shapelier profiles. The size of most backpacks is still determined by the standard three-ring binder, Jones said. But as students carry more devices and fewer old-school textbooks, the scale and profile of the bags have changed, and they have become more “shapely” and less bulky, she said.
Room for technology. More backpacks come with compartments specifically designed to hold phones or other electronic devices. Some backpacks have places to thread a cord for headphones from the child’s ears to the music player in the pack.
Care and usage tips
Don’t machine-wash your pack. Jones said putting a backpack through a washer and dryer could damage reflective coating and foam padding. Instead, immerse the pack in warm water with dish detergent and scrub it with a stiff brush or abrasive sponge.
Wear the pack correctly. Karen Jacobs, national spokeswoman for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s National School Backpack Awareness Initiative, said children should always use both straps. They should wear the pack fully on their backs, rather than on one shoulder. She recommends packs that have straps across the chest and waist to help distribute the weight appropriately. She said padded back panels and straps also help cushion the load.
Don’t overload. A backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight, Jacobs said. Put the bag on your bathroom scale to check the weight. If you find that your child is consistently exceeding the 10 percent rule, consider a wheeled backpack or keeping a second set of textbooks at home. If your child takes a water bottle to school, have him take it empty, then fill it up at the water fountain when he arrives, to cut down on extra weight.