Backpack fitting tips from health experts

The start of the new school year is right around the corner and with it come plenty of back-to-school to-dos

With more than 5,000 backpack-related injuries last year, experts at Oregon Health and Science University are adding backpack fitting to the checklist.

“Placing too much weight in your backpack, wearing a pack that is too big, or only utilizing one strap are all categorized as incorrect usage,” said Dr. Matthew Halsey, associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, in a news release. “This may cause unnecessary muscle strain, back or shoulder pain, curvature of the upper back, poor posture, and in some cases, even circulation issues.”

With that in mind, here are some backpack fitting tips from the experts at OHSU:

  • The width of the backpack should be equivalent to the width of the child.
  • Broad straps with padding are ideal for comfort and fit.
  • Straps should stay even and the backpack should be high on the back (not below the child’s waistline).
  • Distribute backpack weight evenly. Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back and always wear both straps.
  • The backpack and its contents should not total more than 15 percent of a child’s weight.


Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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