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Backpack Ergonomics: What features to look for?

Backpack Ergonomics: What features to look for?

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Many of us have been lugging our laptops and work documents back and forth with us as we alternate between home and office. Here are our top tips for finding a good backpack to ease your daily commute.

Storage

Look for backpacks that have a dedicated laptop insert closest to your back. This will prevent the laptop from shifting around in the backpack. Typically the heaviest items should be tucked closest to the body towards our center of gravity. Look for a backpack that has suitable storage options for your needs (documents, gym shoes, pens, other electronics, etc.).

Tired of digging around for all the small items that sink to the bottom of your backpack? Look into storage bags that you can keep your items organized in (ie. packing cubes, pencil cases, etc.).

Unloading and loading frequently? Look for a front-load or backpack instead of a top-load backpack which can save you from digging through the bag or emptying all your contents just to get to the bottom of the bag. Think similar to a suitcase but with backpack straps. 

[Canva] Arborist 13

Shoulder Straps

Look for adjustable shoulder straps that will allow you to shorten the straps in order to keep the backpack snug against your back. It’s normal to be regularly adjusting our straps. 

Padded shoulder straps can help make the backpack more comfortable if you are planning to wear it for prolonged periods of time.

For durability, check the stitching at the top of the shoulder straps to where they attach to the main body of the bag. This is where most backpack straps wear out first.

You also want to use both straps. Slinging a backpack on with only one strap has the potential to lead to muscle imbalances and pain in the neck and shoulders, especially if the pack is heavy. Using both straps allows for more equal weight distribution across the body.

Fit

Your backpack should sit between your hips and the base of your upper back/shoulders. It should sit snug against your back.

To test this out, try leaning forwards and backwards with your backpack on. The backpack (and the items inside if you packed well) should not shift too much. A poor fitting backpack may result in awkward postures or uncomfortable wear.

Fit will vary depending on your size and stature so it is important to take the time to find the right fit for you!

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Weight

A general rule of thumb is that a daypack should not weigh more than 10% of your bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs your backpack should not be more than 15lbs. Heavy backpacks worn on long commutes can result in extra stress to the shoulders and upper back as they work to carry the excess weight. Extra waist straps and chest straps can be used to help disperse the load across the body. Alternatively you could consider a wheeled bag to take the load off your body.

Have you found any other features that have made a big difference? We’d love to hear from you!

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