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How To Fit a Backpack

Back to school is right around the corner, which means it’s time to break out the shopping lists and load the carts up with pens, folders, notebooks, crayons, glue sticks and – of course – the backpack. To help your little (or not so little!) one carry that load, it’s important to have the right size pack. We’re here to help!



The first consideration for a good fit will be the the torso sizing. To measure the torso, start from the base of their neck and bring the tape to their hip bones:

  • From a standing position, have your child tilt their head forward and look down. At the base of the neck there will be a big bump (totally normal, called C7). Measure vertically from there to the top of their hip bones. Have them put their hands on their hips and draw an imaginary line across their back – from thumb to thumb. This distance from this line to that C7 bump is your measurement. You want to find a back pack with that length. A few extra inches longer to accommodate growth is fine.

The second consideration will be the multitude of features. You’ll want to be sure whichever backpack you choose has the following elements:

  • Adjustable straps
  • Hip belt
  • Chest strap
  • If your child will carry any electronic devices, you may also want to examine options that include a padded laptop compartment with a waterproof feature

Once you’ve identified the appropriate features, and measured your child’s torso, you’re ready for the fitting to make your final selection. Have your child put on the back pack, and follow these steps:

  • Adjust the waist belt – it should sit up on top of the hip bones, and shouldn’t be so tight that it pinches or so loose that it slides down onto their hips.
  • Adjust the chest strap – it should feel snug, but not so tight that it makes it hard to breathe.  When your child is wearing the full back pack (with books in it), they should not feel any pinching in their low back, or burning between the shoulder blades. They also shouldn’t feel straps digging into them.  If they feel any of those things, you need to keep making small adjustments.
  • Check to be sure your child is able to carry the pack standing up right, without it pulling them backward or forcing them to lean forward.

Be sure to steer clear of these ‘don’ts’:

  • Don’t – drag the bag on the ground
  • Don’t – wear only one strap
  • Don’t – use the chest strap but not the hip belt
  • Don’t – choose a messenger bag
  • Don’t- put more than 20% of the child’s weight in the back pack.

So, if you’ve selected a backpack that fits the torso, has all of the right features, and has been adjusted to a good, comfortable fit, you’re ready to go. DO have a fun and safe return to school!