When you’re a little kid, it’s all about having the latest superhero, princess or Disney character backpack – and, of course, the matching lunch bag, water bottle and accessories. Unfortunately, such products may be poorly made and unable to withstand the rigours of being dropped on the ground, washed, played with, and overstuffed day in and day out. As we get older, the weight of the textbooks only gets greater and the demands placed on our hardworking backpacks only get, well, more demanding.
Whether you’re a parent or shopping for your own back to school needs, should you surrender to the name brand hype? How can you objectively analyze qualities like durability and price, even if the bag doesn’t have your favourite X-Man on it? Read on…
What to look for in a school bag
With a mind-boggling selection of school bags and backpacks on sale everywhere, it can seem easier to just haul out that old battered model than to find something new. After all, the offerings go well beyond simple aesthetics to a wide array of sizes and features unique to each brand and line. Here are 5 important things to look for in a backpack:
- Great organization. Gone are the days when school bags had 1-3 gaping compartments. Now, backpacks come with divided sections and specialized compartments for devices; mesh water-bottle holders; insulated food areas; padded and zippered laptop holders; and much more.
- Support. If you’re going to be carrying a lot, opt for a bag with wide, comfortable shoulder straps and a padded back. Sternum and waist straps aren’t just for hikers; with the average weight of a sixth grader’s backpack reaching up to 30 pounds, they can be a lifesaver for people of all ages who just have to have everything with them at all times.
- Style. Okay, it is important! Otherwise Herschel wouldn’t be such a popular brand. Jansport also offers a huge product line with different patterns and colours everyone will love.
- Safety. Will you be biking home from school in the winter traffic with the backpack on? Opt for reflective light features. Hiking in the woods in high summer? Look for a backpack with ventilation. Carrying a lot of electronics or cash in a foreign country? Try for safety features like those offered in theft-resistant backpacks like the Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-theft Backpack.
- Wheels. The best way to prevent back strain and overload is to opt for a pack with wheels. It will probably mean taking elevators and escalators rather than stairs, but it’s worth it if it can spare you the hunching, numbness and back problems that can result from hauling huge loads the regular way.
And now…the best backpacks for back to school (or wherever you’re going)
Here are our top five picks for the best backpacks and brands for back to school!
- Swiss Gear. This model is currently on sale and has everything a kid needs to carry school books, water bottle, etc. while coming with a pedigree from one of the most durable brands in the business.
- Older kids and the tech-wired will appreciate the ability to safely transport a laptop and a tablet in this large backpack.
- These guys make anti-theft options like this sleek suede number that’s slashproof – perfect for teens attending Uni away from home for the first time.
- Lightweight and full of pockets to stash every conceivable type of possession, the popular Puddle Jumper model truly has all the bells and whistles.
- They’re not just for luggage anymore! Try this convertible hardside to lug all your worldly goods on wheels, whether travelling or hitting the books.
Looking for advice on the best rolling backpacks, school bags or luggage? We’ve got it all, plus the experience and knowledge of what will best meet your needs and help you on your journey, from this semester till graduation and beyond.