The labour day long weekend and the start of school are both just around the corner. Places like Best Buy are caught in back to school fever and I hope you are too. You’ve probably started the annual back to school drill already. Your kids have dragged you shopping for new clothes and just as you thought your wallet couldn’t get any lighter, you still need to stock them with school supplies. The root of day to day school life starts at a backpack. The backpack is quite simply the needed centerpiece on your school supply mantle. Without it, it’s a real uphill climb for your kids to remember and/or carry everything they need in and out of school.

Backpack needs change drastically on the age of your young student. Whether they just need to make sure their grilled cheese sandwich and art project make it home from Kindergarten or their laptop stays safe and pristine on a long walk or jog across campus, a good backpack is definitely one of the most important school supplies your kids need day in and day out. Here is a breakdown of the types of backpacks to look for based on the age of your child (or for yourself!)

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Starting off in Elementary and Middle school

My 2 year old daughter is a few years away from Kindergarten but insists on carrying her beloved Paw Patrol or “Duggatuffins” (Doc McStuffins) backpack wherever she goes. Don’t even think about offering to carry the backpack for her. It’s completely forbidden.

Early elementary school backpacks are basically just a blend of practicality and fun for your child. The entire purpose of the early elementary school backpack is basically a smokescreened failsafe with a picture of your child’s favorite TV show or book series that makes sure your kid’s lunch bag (which is probably of their 2nd favorite TV show) makes it home. Once they get to grade 2 or 3, that smokescreen evolves into whatever is the popular series to follow and the practicality expands to a few homework pieces, workbooks and pencils. I personally remember going through branded paraphernalia of the Ninja Turtles, Simpsons and even the very short lived Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (don’t worry about Googling. Just click that Wikipedia link.)

I would say it’s probably Grade 5 or 6 when things get serious. That’s when I remember regular homework assignments and multiple textbooks. That late-elementary, early-middle school period was when I first met the 300 page Math textbook and 400 page Science textbook I’d lay eyes on. That is also the time when you’ll have to invest in a wiser backpack choice. Gone are those cartoon character backpacks that you soon realize hardly hold more than a lunch bag and pencil box. You’re going to have to look into daypacks or actual backpacks at this point. Thankfully, the sheer volume of things your kids will be carrying home from school aren’t too strenuous yet. However, it is a good precursor for life ahead.

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Off to High School

Wake up in the morning, feeling shy and lonely, gee I’ve got to go to school…

High school is the time of your life where textbooks get serious and so does the load coming in and out of school. Your kids might be taking 4 or 5 subjects a day and all may have massive textbooks. Fortunately, they have the luxury of a locker to help separate how much they’re carrying during the day but it can be rather torturous lugghighschoolstudent.jpging a heavy backpack from the school to the bus stop or on the walk home. With this in mind, you should look at getting something with as many pockets, nooks and crannies possible. In high school, I used to tote around backpacks not unlike this style from Quiksilver. You get a lot of storage space in the centre, large padded shoulder and neck straps so that it doesn’t feel like your backpack is trying to cut your circulation off and even extra pockets in the side for pens, pencils, calculators and smartphones. A compartmentalized divider in the backpack might be a good idea too in order to separate sweaty gym clothes from the rest of your books.

With many high schools moving toward completely digital curriculums, you may not even need that reinforced backpack in future years. You may just need a sturdy daypack to tote a laptop, tablet and the odd binder or notebook around. Burton makes really durable daypacks (like the Cadet) that get the job done from point A to point B and even come with separate storage areas for different electronics.

Once you get to university and beyond

WheelsBackpack.jpegNo matter what sort of post-secondary education you’re seeking, one thing is for sure: You’re going to be walking around…a LOT. You probably don’t have the luxury of your own locker anymore and can’t just dump books and binders in between classes. You can compromise with the fact that you probably aren’t taking 5 classes’ worth of textbooks around but you still need to be mindful of how long that bag will be slung around your shoulder for those long walks cross-campus. I went to a comparatively small tech school but the walks were still pretty rough with the books, binders and tech I had with me.

When searching for a university backpack, look for a mix of practicality and comfort. Buy a backpack that’s comfortable to wear. I’m talking good item weight distribution, comfortable shoulder straps and the ability for you to carry everything you need without worrying about running out to the car or back to your dorm if you’re far from either between classes.

One thing that I’ve always been partial to are media backpacks. These are the mid-size to large backpacks you see that are wide enough to carry laptops and have wheels. There’s no sense in taxing yourself from stop to stop if you can help it. If you’re going to be carrying a lot of heavy textbooks, a laptop or tablet and more, ease your load by wheeling everything around campus from building to building. Once you get inside, you can fold the handle back in and carry your books to the next class.

That’s a look at buying backpacks for back to school. Whether you’re buying for a student in elementary school, high school or a perpetual student like myself and Francois Laramee (who wrote the French version of this blog,) make sure your backpack choice is comfortable, practical and capable of supporting the dailly grind, whatever it happens to be.

It’s back to school time and Best Buy has you covered for backpacks and much more. Check out the full range of backpacks available now and get set to walk through the doors in style.