Finding backpack comfort zone

Shopping With

Your Money

September 26, 2004|By Laurie Squire

The product: Backpack

The expert: Pediatric orthopedic specialist Dr. Stuart Weinstein, first vice president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

What I want: Kids to have more time to get to their lockers in between classes. The volume and weight of material they carry to and from school has multiplied, and students seem to carry everything they own in these backpacks.

I must have: Padded straps and a waist strap to help support and distribute the weight. The bag should be well-padded to keep sharp book corners from poking through. Several compartments are important to help pack the bag ergonomically (heavier items in center and toward the small of the back).

What I hate: One big open space doesn't allow items of different sizes to be held in a specific section of the bag, making it more difficult to control weight distribution. Also, thin straps that slip make it almost impossible to adjust.

Sharp shopper: Try out the backpack with the items you intend to carry. Look for durable, nonpenetrable materials. Make sure latching mechanisms are secure but easily operated.

My pick: I buy my children's backpacks at camping stores because their selections tend to be designed for maximum durability. These generally include numerous pockets ($40 to $75).

Next best thing: Any backpack that has well-padded, comfortable straps, numerous compartments and is made of high-quality materials will work (Hilary Duff backpack $15.99; with wheels, $19.99, Target).

Laurie Squire is a staff writer for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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