Healthcheck: How to choose the best backpack

August 17, 2012

Joey and Billy Franciosa are getting ready to head back to school, and are testing out new backpacks. There are dozens of sizes, colors and styles, and picking one isn't always easy.

Joey chose a different model this year with a sling strap.

"That was the coolest style there," Joey said.

Sling backpacks are okay for lighter loads, but Gina Danis of the Aubrey Center which specializes in massage therapy for chronic pain, says two strap packs are better. She says kids and parents should pick backpacks more on fit than style.

"They should probably look for something that is not too big for the body, that has wide shoulder straps, and that comes just to the small of their back," says Gina.

And she says a waist strap will help even more to evenly distribute the weight. That will help prevent back pain, and muscle imbalance which could lead to problems later in life.

Also, kids should strive to carry only about 10-to 15-percent of their body weight.

Joey and Billy's mother says that can be difficult.

"Definitely by the time you get to middle school, it's every textbook for every subject," said Linn Franciosa.

So if possible, have kids try to hit their locker more often.

"Or take a couple books out and carry them in their hands, balanced front to back," Gina suggests.

Also be sure kids pack their bags with the heaviest items in the back or on the bottom. Put lighter stuff on the pockets outside.

So again, the best backpacks have two wide straps, maybe a waist strap as well, and you want it to hit just at the curve of the back and not more than 4 inches below the level of the waist.

And Joey's mom had a good idea, if your kids can't find one in the style that they like, you can have them decorate it to make it more their own style.

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