We carry so much around with us today and when we go on extended excursions – like camping, summer festivals or vacations – we like to prepare for every possibility. This often results in overstuffed backpacks that can be a real pain in the back and put a damper on your good time!


The first step to protecting ourselves and reducing the risk of neck, shoulder and back pain is to pick it right.  Backpacks are not one-size-fits-all; pick one that’s suitable to your height.

Packs should not extend higher than your shoulders or below your hip bone. Choose one that is made of a lightweight material, such as vinyl or canvas, and has two shoulder straps that are wide, padded and adjustable. A waist strap will also help evenly distribute weight.

You can also consider other options, like bags with wheels and a pull handle for easy rolling.


The total weight for a backpack should not exceed 10 percent of a child’s or 15 percent of an adults total body weight. Only include those items that are absolutely necessary for the trip.

When packing, make sure to evenly distribute the weight, using all the pockets available, placing your heaviest objects in the center for the most even distribution of weight and avoid any balance difficulties.


Backpacks for children aged five to 14  should weigh no more than 10 percent of their body weight, and 15 percent for children aged 15 or older. Yes, that means adults too!

Multiply your weight by 10 percent to find out the maximum backpack load you should carry. Then, make sure the backpack weight doesn’t exceed this amount.

Weigh the fully loaded backpack on your bathroom scale, or weigh each item – including the backpack itself – on your bathroom scale and calculate the total.


As easy as it may be to simply wear your backpack over one shoulder, it’s extremely important to use both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight. Make sure that the straps are snug so that the pack sits close to the body. You should be able to slide a hand between the pack and your back, and it should sit roughly 2 inches above your waist.

Using the waist and chest strap helps to transfer some of the load to the hips and chest, further reducing back and shoulder strain. 

Research shows that 80 per cent of people will experience back pain in their lifetime, and that more than 50 per cent of young people experience at least one episode of lower back pain by their teenage years. When it comes to backpacks, if you and you’re family pick it, pack it and wear it right, you’ll feel better, move better and live better!

To ensure your family stays healthy and strong, consult your chiropractor. They can teach you how to pack, lift and carry a backpack properly to prevent injury. More information, including where to find a chiropractor near you, can be found at www.albertachiro.com.

Click here to view our new backpack safety video