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“Your child’s school backpack is a style statement they put on every day, so it’s important to choose one that excites them,” says style consultant and mom Lee Heyward of Style with Lee in Charleston, SC.
So you can be totally prepared, find your student’s personality type below and check out what you need to know before you go backpack shopping.
Some children have refined tastes that they want reflected in all of their school supplies — but most importantly, their backpacks. “My daughter wants a Vera Bradley backpack for going into middle school next year,” says Lynne Skinner, a mother of two in Austin, TX. “She picks her backpack out, but I have veto power.” If you’re the parent of a Tastemaker be sure to be up on the trends and patterns before you go shopping. It’ll show your students you know their style, and it’ll help you get an idea of the price range you want to stick to.
Kids who carry a range of devices need safe storage for their gear. Exterior pockets are critical for the most-used items, and padded interior compartments or removable neoprene sleeves keep larger items safe. Stephen Fishburn, a frequently flying tech exec and father of three in Maple Valley, WA, suggests picking up a few clear vinyl pouches to hold cords, cables, power supplies, pencils, etc. And be sure to consider a solar backpack. They provide additional battery power on the go.
Student athletes who don’t want to carry a separate duffel bag need roomier backpacks for school. “Consider a backpack with a large bottom compartment that can hold athletic shoes and clothes, and maybe even a towel,” suggests Kevin Strauss, a Leesburg, VA, biomedical engineer and president of FamilyEJournal.com. “If you’re a swimmer, a waterproof compartment can be very helpful.”
Music lovers need backpacks for school that accommodate ear buds or headphone cables. Look for exterior pockets with grommets big enough to handle jacks and cables. True rockers gravitate toward basic black or bold colors. Animal prints can also be appealing, but only if they’re edgy; too high fashion, and they’re a total turnoff. It’s a thin line. You may want to steer clear of band-specific backpacks, too. “Just because they like the band One Direction now doesn’t mean they’ll like them in six months,” says Allison Connor, mother of two in Keller, TX.
Kids who bike, skate or scooter to school need backpacks that securely hold their stuff and can stand up to the elements. Some packs include waterproof compartments or sewn-in rain covers. Padded hip belts and sternum straps keep the pack from shifting, and bright colors and reflective strips will make your kid highly visible to drivers.
In addition to style, there are some functional features to consider when choosing your child’s backpack.
“I want my kids’ backpacks to be roomy enough to hold all their books, along with a jacket and a lunch box,” Connor says. To make sure items will fit, load the supplies you’re buying into the pack while you’re still in the store, and have your kids walk around.
“Simple is best,” Fishburn says. “Too many pockets and zippers and doodads are just more places for kids to lose their homework and other stuff.”
One feature that’s critical, though, is an external water bottle holder. Says Connor: “Nothing like ruining the contents of your pack when your water bottle leaks all over the outside.” Make sure a bottle will actually fit when the pack’s fully loaded.
Use this advice to help your children choose backpacks for school that reflect their interests and personalities while also meeting their functional needs.