Choosing A Back To School Backpack

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

School Backpack | Best Toronto Chiropractor

As heard on 680 News this is the followup article to the interview that was done with Dr Ken Nakamura on August 13th.


Choosing a school backpack depends on 4 criteria.

  1. Use: What you will be using the school backpack for.
  2. Features: What features are important when looking for a school backpack.
  3. Fit: Buy the right size school backpack for your child or teen.
  4. The capacity of the backpack: Depends on the use of the school backpack.

School backpack | Best Toronto Chiropractor

#1 Use of Your School Backpack

Backpack for Primary School Kids | Best Toronto Chirorpactor

What are you going to be using your backpack for? If you are simply taking a binder and lunch to school and leaving most of your books in your locker you don’t need a large capacity school backpack. However, if you are going to be hauling all your books between school, home and the library perhaps you need a larger capacity backpack?


For me personally, I like to have the largest capacity backpack so I can take those school projects, treats for friends etc…just in case I need it.


#2 Features To Look For In A School Backpack

School Backpack | Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

  • Laptop Compartment: For middle school and high school the use of a laptop is often necessary for school. Bring your laptop when shopping so that you know it fits.
  • Internal Frame in the back panel: When carrying a heavier load of books over 10kg / 22lbs an internal frame helps distribute the load over the whole back panel.
  • Organizer: Every school backpack needs an organizer for phones, pens, math sets and key chains.
  • Mesh Back Panel for breathability when it’s hot or carrying a heavy load.
  • Water bottle pouches on the sides of the school backpack: I’m not a big fan of water bottle pockets as I find I lose water bottles when I put the backpack down on its side. The water bottle inevitably falls no matter how pockets are.


  • Hip Belt: Transfers weight from the lower back to the hip. Very important when you have lower back pain.
  • Shoulder Strap: Look for wide, well-padded, S-shaped shoulder straps, not thin, unpadded and straight shoulder straps.
  • Chest Strap: Also called a sternum strap, this strap is necessary when carrying a heavy load to shift the load from the back higher up to towards the chest and forwards away from the lower back.

#3 Fit

The top of your pack should be about 1-2 inches / 2-5 cm from the top of your shoulders, while the bottom of your backpack should be near the top of your pelvis.


#4 Capacity of Your School Backpack


If you have lots of books that require you regularly take them back and forth between school and home pick a 34 L / 9 gallons or larger.



  • Bring your laptop to make sure it fits your new backpack.
  • Bring younger kids in elementary school with you for fit and colour.
  • Give teens a budget and let them do the research, to look for the features they need.  The coolest school backpack doesn’t always function well. I give my preteen a budget for all their fall school needs that way they don’t buy the most expensive stuff because it’s “free”. They learn to prioritize what’s most important for them. In a few years, I’ll be asking him to get a part-time job.



  • The heaviest items like books go in the main compartment closest to your kid’s spine. This reduces the strain on the shoulder and helps with their balance.
  • Wear both straps. It might be cool to wear one strap but it promotes a one-sided posture and certainly won’t help your teen if they have scoliosis. It may even make them worse. The jury’s out on that one as no research proves things either way but it makes sense not to purposely make your spine lob-sided.
  • Don’t lean forwards: A heavy school backpack forces you backwards so to compensate most people lean forwards. It’s actually better to let the backpack force you back so you keep the lower back arch. The arch will protect you but if you lean forward the lower back arch will disappear along with the protection that the arch or lordosis give you.


Which School Backpack?



For adults, teens or adolescents with lots of books, I recommend the Big student backpack by JanSport.  I have no affiliation with JanSport or any other company.

Jansport Big Student Backpack: Choosing A Back To School Backpack | Best Toronto Chiropractor

For primary or elementary school children under 12 years of age, I recommend the MEC BookBag.

Mec BookBag For Students | Best Toronto Chiropractor


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.


Photo Reference:

Feature Photo: Photo by KiVEN Zhao on Unsplash

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Photo by Victor Kwashie on Unsplash



Dr Ken Nakamura

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