- Buyer's Guide
Back To School Bags
Back To School
As our Northern Hemisphere readers swelter under the summer sun, we thought it would be a good time to review school bags, ready for the return to study.
What’s good, what’s not, and what should help you avoid getting bullied…
Some quick theory
Load Weight: As a rough guide, a growing kid should not carry more than 10% of their body weight. In reality, that’s hard to achieve. A smaller pack will reduce the amount they try and cram in there, or if your kid likes the books (or bricks), be sure to get a more structured and supportive pack (ie: internal frame with waist belt).
Load distribution: Remember the old tale about the wind changing, and some kid getting stuck with that silly face forever? That’s how kids work when it comes to development. If they regularly haul heavy loads on the one shoulder, their bodies will adapt to that, and they’ll be lopsided from then on. You really want them to carry a balanced bag, that spreads weight as evenly as possible. Wide straps, appropriate length, and not being too deep help.
A wide and padded waist belt looks a bit geeky, but if the bag has some structure to it, they work well at transferring some of the weight down to your hips. Like with trekking packs, this is good for helping relieve the burden of heavier loads.
Carrying Tech: More and more schools are requiring laptops, crazy calculators, and even some weirdo science experiments. If you give your kid a bag without any padding or protective pockets, don’t expect that tech to last long. Don’t worry too much about the organising sections… most kids just needs a big area for everything, and then maybe a laptop pocket and another pocket high up for delicate stuff.
Looks: Hey, this stuff matters. Fitting in is hard enough without trying to hide a pink My Little Pony bag from the boys. We recommend doing your research, picking the top 3 bags that will cater to your kid’s needs, and then letting them pick the one they least dislike.
So here’s a few bags we like, as they offer quality, functionality, and a bit of street cred…
Anything from The North Face will be made well, have great straps and a nice set of features, and fit in with most ‘looks’. The Recon is one of many good models or the Hot Shot is a bit cooler again:
Dakine offer loads of value, durable build, and appeal to most kids. Just pick the sport your kid is most in to, and get a pack from that range. Or just go something versatile like the Covert.
We love the Quiksilver Grenade. It does not have all the structure and support, but it does have protection and street cred.
Books weigh lots, so until text books all come on the iPad, you’ll need a semi-rigid pack, with a good waist belt and some compression straps. Trekking brands have options here, like the Gregory Miwok Pack. The issue with most these trekking brands is that they rarely cater to smaller kids.
We love the Gravis Metro, as it’s a versatile pack with loads of colourways and organising ability. Because this pack has been around for several years, you can often find it for really great prices (departmentofgoods.com often has it at discounted prices).
Random bit at the end:
During years of working for global bag companies, we have always found it odd just how different the traditional school bag shape is between continents.
In Europe, it’s been the Dome. This is a basic single section pack made almost identically by loads of brands, that is pretty terrible.
In the Antipodes (Australia/NZ/South Africa), it’s been the Square schoolpack. A huge surf logo and some piping for durability have defined these.
In North America, The Square Dome has been the chief flavor. Again a pretty basic bag.
In Japan, the Randoseru, a semi rigid pack.
And in Antarctica, the micro chip..
All of these are pretty crap bags, and should be left for the retro hipsters… your kid can do better than the traditional.