The best secondary school bags: How to wear a backpack properly

We spoke to the experts to find out how to wear a backpack properly, so your little ones can avoid potential back problems

Kids of all ages across the country have recently made the big return back to school. As a parent, you may think nothing of it when they sling their backpacks over their shoulders and make their way through the school gates, ready to start another academic year.

Not just a practical necessity for books and lunchboxes, backpacks have been a style staple for years and have even been considered to be the be-all and end-all factor with the potential to damage your social image (remember when all the ‘cool kids’ wore them slumped over one shoulder?!)

But, the way kids wear their bags can actually have a lasting impact on their posture and can even lead to back problems in later life. We’ve taken a look at how secondary school bags have changed over the years and have spoken to the experts to find out how to wear a backpack the right way, as well as tips for finding the best styles for school.

The evolution of the school backpack

The backpacks we know and love today started off its journey by experimenting with canvas and leather materials.

The backpack we’re familiar with today is a relatively modern addition to school life. It wasn’t until 1967 that the first nylon backpack arrived. Before this, backpacks were made from canvas – a much less durable and robust material not well suited to the rigors of school life.

During the 70s, leather satchels with a single strap also became fashionable, but these were quite unwieldy compared to the modern backpack! So, the hardwearing and trusty nylon backpack quickly became the best school bag and the go-to choice for schoolkids around the world.

We caught up with two experts – Dr. Diana Gall and chartered physiotherapist Lyndsay Hirst, who specialises in back problems – to ask them for tips on how to wear a school backpack safely and healthily.

Dr. Diana Gall told us:

“When a heavy bag is carried on one shoulder, it forces the wearer to adopt an abnormal posture which can place unnecessary strain on the back, often causing muscle aches and pains.

She continued: 

“Bad habits when it comes to posture can often cause back problems later in life, leading to pain and frustration that could have been avoided.”

Both experts stressed that when wearing a backpack, it’s important to distribute the weight evenly, meaning that one-shouldered wear is a big no-no (sorry to all the cool-kid wannabes!). The best way to wear a backpack is to make sure that the straps are over both arms and sufficiently tightened to ensure the bag doesn’t swing from side to side.

Top tips for choosing the best school bag

  • Choose a backpack that fits the back – don’t get a backpack that is too big for your child; Lyndsay reinforced the importance of a bag fitting between the top of the shoulders and just above the beltline.
  • Ensure the bag isn’t overloaded – Dr. Gall also explained that backpacks should be no more than 10% of a child’s weight so as not to place unnecessary strain on their back.
  • Look for plenty of pockets, dividers, and compartments – even out the distribution of weight and stop your child from compensating with bad posture.

Make sure the backpack has broad straps with plenty of padding – to make wearing the bag more comfortable and provide the shoulders with more protection.

On the hunt for the best school bag for your child? Check out the fantastic range of affordable backpacks online or pop into your local Wynsors store to grab yours!

For more back-to-school advice, head over to our blog, packed full (excuse the pun!) with useful tips and handy guides.

Shop school bags and backpacks


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