School backpacks buying guide

An ergonomic backpack can reduce back and neck pain, but only if carried correctly.
 
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  • Updated:11 Nov 2005
 

03.Endorsed bags

Also on the market are a few ergonomic school backpacks, designed to reduce the incidence and severity of back and neck pain associated with carrying a heavy backpack and endorsed by professional back care organisations.

These endorsements may be based on the organisation’s own or independent evaluation, but not always on comparative testing. So they’re an indication that professionals in the field have given the thumbs-up to the pack, not necessarily that they’re the best you can find.

Chiropak II

Manufacturer: Spartan

Contact: www.spartanss.com.au or phone (03) 9874 8955, or 1800 815 557 from outside metropolitan Melbourne.

  • Endorsed by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia and the World Federation of Chiropractic
  • Developed by Spartan and researchers from the Department of Chiropractic at Macquarie University (NSW) with the aim to allow children to carry their heavy load safely — with around 80% of the weight resting on their pelvis and hips, the body’s major load-bearing structure, rather than the spine
  • Features that help achieve this include a padded hip belt, an adjustable spine board (also called internal spine) and a removable sternum (chest) strap to help stabilise the load and keep it centred over the shoulders
  • Available in four sizes, providing for Year 7 students upwards

Features that help achieve this include a padded hip belt, an adjustable spine board (also called internal spine) and a removable sternum (chest) strap to help stabilise the load and keep it centred over the shoulders. For more on these and other features, see What to look for. It’s available in four sizes, providing for Year 7 students upwards; for your nearest stockist, contact Spartan.

Physiopak 07

Manufacturer: Spartan

Contact: www.spartanss.com.au or phone (03) 9874 8955, or 1800 815 557 from outside metropolitan Melbourne

  • Endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and designed with the aim of minimising postural change in school students
  • Based on research by the Centre for Allied Health Evidence at the University of South Australia, which set out to design a pack with limited capacity, as it had found that students would fill up even a large backpack
  • The Physiopak 07’s moulded base and frame are designed to keep the load at the correct angle to the spine and stop it from sagging away from it, even when no compression straps are used (they’re provided)
  • It has many of the other features of a good backpack (see What to look for)

Available in four sizes. Spartan also offers P-Pak III for primary school students.

SAS Academic

Manufacturer: SAS Academic

Contact: www.sasacademic.com or phone (02) 8338 6999

  • The latest of the endorsed packs to come on the market is the SAS Academic, a school backpack designed in collaboration with a chiropractor and endorsed by the Chiropractic & Osteopathic College of Australasia
  • This pack has a special harness that lets you adjust the pack to fit a good range of heights, and shoulder straps that attach to different buckles to cater for different shoulder widths and torso lengths. Ask the supplier for help with the initial fitting.
  • Apart from the usual features of a good backpack, the SAS Academic also has a reflective strip (for better visibility), 3 large internal compartments, rubber feet and a rain cover.
  • It’s available in three sizes claimed to be suitable for kindergarten to Year 12 students and can be personalised to suit the school’s requirements
 

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