Select Page

How much should a backpack weigh for school? This is a very crucial topic to cover in ensuring our kids’ ultimate wellbeing throughout their school years. Here is a short story about my daughter and the problems she experienced for carrying a heavy backpack.

A few years back, my daughter was always complaining of a stiff neck and sour shoulders almost every morning when waking up for school. At first, my wife and I thought it was just the same old same old cliche excuse to skip school.

However, these complaints persisted for three consecutive days. We also noticed that she came home very tired after school. That’s when we started taking her seriously and decided to take her to see a doctor. To our amazement, the doctor confirmed her situation. Apparently, this was due to carrying heavy weight.

After a few minutes of brainstorming what could have been the cause, it became so clear that the major issue was carrying a heavy school backpack. We immediately rectified the issue by;

  1. Buying her this extremely affordable and cute rolling school backpack instead of a carry on one. The best part of it is it came with a matching lunch bag.
  2. Ensuring she only carried the school essentials.

Needless to say, she was completely fine in a few days.

Therefore, as a parent too, you shouldn’t take this for granted. And because I take this seriously, not only did I research on the topic at hand only, I also dug more and wrote an article on the effects of carrying a school backpack with one shoulder.

How Much Should a Backpack Weigh for School Kids?

Generally, I found out that kids should not carry more than 10% of their overall body weight. This is because the spine bears about 7 times the weight on kid’s backs. To put that into perspective, a 10 pounds load on the back of a kid will feel like a 40 pounds load. The carrying a heavy backpack situation is even worse when going uphill.

Here are some average children’s weights according to their age and how much weight of a school backpack they should carry.

Years  Average Weight of the Kid Recommended Weight to Carry
5yrs old boy 40.5lb 4.05lb
5yrs old girl 39.5lb 3.95lb
6yrs old boy 45.5lb 4.55lb
6yrs old girl 44.0lb 4.40lb
7yrs old boy 50.5lb 5.05lb
7yrs old girl 49.5lb 4.95lb
8yrs old boy 56.5lb 5.65lb
8yrs old girl 57.0lb 5.70lb
9yrs old boy 63.0lb 6.30lb
9yrs old girl 62.0lb 6.20lb
10yrs old boy 70.5lb 7.05lb
10yrs old girl 70.5lb 7.05lb
11yrs old boy 78.5lb 7.85lb
11yrs old girl 81.5lb 8.15lb
12yrs old boy 88.0lb 8.80lb
12yrs old girl 91.5lb 9.15lb
Teenagers
Years average weight safe weight to carry
13yrs teenage boy 100.0lb 10.00lb
13yrs teenage girl 101.5lb 10.10lb
14yrs teenage boy 112.0lb 11.20lb
14yrs teenage girl 105.0lb 10.5lb
15yrs teenage boy 123.5lb 12.35lb
15yrs teenage girl 115.0lb 11.50lb
16yrs teenage boy 134.0lb 13.40lb
16yrs teenage girl 118.0lb 11.80lb
17yrs teenage boy 142.0lb 14.20lb
17yrs teenage girl 120.0lb 12.00lb
18yrs teenage boy 147.5lb 14.75lb
18yrs teenage girl 125.0lb 12.50lb

ACA Approved Tips for the Right School Backpack for Your Kid

When choosing a backpack for your child, you’ll need to reduce potential problems by checking the following structure.

a. Lenient and lightweight material

Nowadays many packs are made of polyester, nylon or canvas. These are soft yet durable and lightweight materials. Ensure there aren’t any stiff sides that could cause discomfort and potential injury when wearing the backpack.

b. Wide, thickly padded back and adjustable straps

The key here is to provide better support and weight distribution. A backpack with straps that rest comfortably on the shoulders and back without rubbing on your child’s neck or underarms is the right choice.

Other than the uneven distribution of weight, non-padded straps are uncomfortable and can dig into children’s tender shoulders. The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can fit your child’s body. Loose straps can cause the backpack to dangle uncomfortably causing spinal misalignment hence great pain.

c. Right size backpack depending on your child’s age/size

The backpack shouldn’t be wider than your child’s shoulders. Also, the backpack should never hang below the waistline. This increases the weight on the shoulders and the stress on the back causing discomfort when walking. If it has to, it shouldn’t extend more than two inches below the waist.

Overall, bigger is never better as you want to aim for that snug fit for the school essentials only. As such, go for a proper-sized backpack and avoid one that your child can “grow into.”

d. The 10 Percent Rule

Ensure your child’s backpack doesn’t weigh more than 10 percent of his or her body weight. A heavy backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders.

e. Ample Compartments

A backpack with multiple compartments helps in positioning the contents inside effectively for optimum weight distribution across the shoulders and at the back.

f. Urging the kid to use both shoulder straps

Walking around wearing only one strap may cause an irregular distribution of weight to one side, leading to problems like neck and muscle spasms, shoulder pains as well as low-back pain.