Backpacks are commonly associated with kids carrying books to and from school. However, there are many other ways to use backpacks. Campers, hikers and mountaineers have been using backpacks for decades. It allows them to have their hands free when climbing over a wall or fallen trees, using a walking stick when traversing rough terrain, or climbing a mountain and still being able to carry all of their gear, makes the backpack a vital piece of their equipment.
It was from these groups that college students first got the idea to use backpacks as book bags. Now most students at all grade levels use backpacks to haul their school supplies back and forth. One concern of parents and pediatricians is the increased incidence of back, neck and shoulder pain, and numbing of the hands and arms, among kids who routinely carry heavy backpacks to and from school.
When these symptoms could not be linked to any other causes, it was found that the one thing all the children had in common, was, that they all used backpacks. Obviously the backpack in and of itself, is not the whole problem. The load being carried, the way the pack is worn and the construction of the bags, marketed as book sacks for kids, all contribute to the problem. Orthopedists, pediatricians, physical therapists, and chiropractors all agree that kids’ backpacks, should not exceed 10-15% of their body weight, even when using ergonomically designed backpacks.
Some groups say up to 20%, that is a 10-pound pack for a fifty pound kid. This is the equivalent of a 150lb adult, having a 30-pound weight bouncing repeatedly against his back, causing repetitive impact injury. Too narrow, unpadded shoulder straps can pinch the nerves and cause numbness and tingling in the arm and hand.
An overloaded bag can pull backward and cause the child to lean forward to compensate, this can cause compression of the vertebrae and pain in the neck and shoulders. You don’t have to abandon backpacks for your kids. There are back friendly backpacks out there. You just need to know what to look for. Get a bag that has wide shoulder straps, padded back and at the very least a waist belt.
Ideally, it should have chest and side straps also. There are other uses for backpacks. Young parents sometimes use backpacks for a diaper bag, when they are out for a stroll in the park or are pushing junior in his jogging stroller. This is also a good way to carry your water bottles, keys and other incidentals at the same time. Travelers often use backpacks as carry ons.
They fit easily under the seat or in the overhead bin, and you still have access to your book, notes whatever. Many people carry their laptops in their backpacks, when flying or walking to work school. Occasionally, women will use smaller backpacks as purses, again it leaves your hands free to push a cart or remove items from the shelf. It is also wise to use a pack when bike-riding.
It leaves you free to handle the bike safely. Crafters will often use a backpack to transport fabric and other sewing notions to a guild meeting, leaving both hands free to carry the sewing machine.
Hang several see through backpacks to store fabric by color. Hang them on a pegboard so that you can see at a glance what you have. This would also work for knitters and crocheters, as a yarn storage solution. As you can see there are many ways to use backpacks. I am sure you have ideas of your own.