A CNN investigation carried out in Atlanta, Georgia found that students were carrying up to 25 pounds of weight in their backpacks.1 This is significant because research suggests that backpacks should be no more than 10% of the wearer’s body weight.2 If a 17-year-old student, for example, weighs an average of 130 pounds, their backpack should only weigh 13 pounds.
Why does the weight of backpacks matter? While more research is needed, studies show that the incorrect use of school bags may lead to discomfort and changes in posture. It’s important to note that wearing a backpack does not in and of itself lead to back pain.
“If a backpack has a reasonable amount of weight in it and fits correctly, children are not wearing it long enough for long-term damage to occur,” says Michael Holmes, Canada Research Chair in Neuromuscular Mechanics and Ergonomics. Our ultimate guide to backpacks will provide a comprehensive list of items to consider when shopping for a backpack – as well as tips on how to wear them correctly.