This is the time of year where parents across the UK are stocking up on school uniforms, school supplies and something to carry them in: a rucksack.

There are some considerations to bear in mind when choosing a new rucksack for your child for the school year.

The first is to make sure the rucksack fits.  How should it fit?

Have your child place the rucksack on their body, and tighten the straps so that it fits snugly against their body – you don’t want it waving around.

Look at the top of the straps where they join the rucksack. There should not be a large gap between the back and the top of the straps, no more than a finger or two width.

Once the straps are fitted, look at where the bottom of the rucksack lands.  It should not go below the low back and should not be over their buttocks.  If it is, it is much too long/large.  The rucksack should nestle into the low back.  Another way to tell if it might be too large:  you can see daylight between the rucksack and your child’s back.

Dont’ be too tempted to buy a larger rucksack for economic reasons.  If there is a large gap between the straps and your child’s body – or a gap between their back and the body of the rucksack – it is too large and does not fit.  A poorly fitting rucksack will swing weight rather than keep it close, and this will put strain on your child’s neck, shoulders and back.

A well fitting rucksack which is very deep front to back will also cause strain – try to choose a model that is narrow and fits closely to the body.

Other tips:

  1. Don’t allow your child to carry more than 10-15% of their body weight.
  2. Only pack what is needed for the day get packed into the rucksack.
  3. Arrange to leave laptops and heavy bulky items at school – give your child a memory stick to store their work and bring it home instead
  4. Teach your child to pack their rucksack so the heavier items are at the bottom and close to the back of the rucksack (close to your child’s body)