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White Mountain Backpacks™
619 Plenty Road, Preston,
Melbourne VIC 3072 Australia
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School Daypacks

What is a good school daypack harness design?

There has been much discussion about school packs and the damage inflicted on students in carrying excessive weight. The main consideration here is the design of the daypack, the positioning of a well-designed daypack, and customization of a fully functional harness system on the individual. The designers at White Mountain Backpacks™ tend to disagree with some of the statements made on school daypack construction, and this is what we recommend.

What are the  features of a good school daypack harness system?

  1. An internal Frame Sheet inserted into the back of the daypack made of high density polyethylene (HDPE), a flexible but strong plastic to protect the back from objects within the daypack, and provide backpack stability.
  2. A vertically centred single aluminium Internal Stave covered in 50 mm webbing and stitched to the HDPE frame sheet. The HDPE frame sheet not only protects the back, but in bending the Internal Stave and the entire HDPE frame sheet the backpack can be contoured to the individual back curvature.
  3. An adjustable Sternum Strap that has three distinct functions, to;
    1. Distribute some of the daypack weight across the chest to alleviate pressure on the shoulders.
    2. Pull the Shoulder Straps away from the shoulder joints to prevent shoulder joint stress.
    3. Keep the Shoulder Straps flat on and across the chest for maximum comfort.
  1. Longer Harness Shoulder Straps which enable the backpack to sit comfortably on the lower back, and in combination with the Sternum Strap prevent excessive pressure on the shoulders. The Harness Shoulder Straps can be adjusted to control the distribution of weight from the shoulders to the lower back.
  2. Correctly contoured Harness Shoulder Straps by design, provide neck and shoulder joint clearance, come in at the chest and away from the shoulder joint, move away from the body twisting to a contoured fit for a comfortable male or female fitting.
  3. A fully padded Hip Belt with a dual adjustable side release buckle, and Lower Load Stabiliser Straps. A fully padded Hip Belt and Lower Load Stabiliser Straps enables the individual to draw up to 80% of the load into the lower back and prevent excessive pressure on the shoulders and lower back. The Hip Belt webbing and the dual adjustable side release buckle make it an easy exercise to tighten the hip belt fully to prevent backpack slippage.
  4. A backpack harness system of this type prevents backpack sway that contributes to involuntary body movement in correcting balance, and excessive muscle and spine use which eventually results in body pain.

How do you wear a school daypack correctly?

Worn correctly, a well-designed daypack with a fully functional harness system will function correctly in protecting the back. That means having the Waist Belt, Hip Belt, and Sternum Strap in use, and not wearing the daypack too low on the back, hanging from one shoulder, or strung over the neck and shoulder as a shoulder bag. Positioning the daypack incorrectly puts excessive pressure on the shoulders, neck, and lower back, and quickly leads to severe lower back, neck, and shoulder pain. A standard daypack worn correctly on the back between the shoulders with a waist belt attached alleviates a lot of pressure on the lower back, provided the weight is not excessive. For heavier daypacks, a fully functional Internal Frame Harness System is a necessity.

The steps in wearing a school daypack correctly are as follows

  1. Contour the Internal Staves or HDPE Frame Sheet to the individual back.
  2. Using the Harness Shoulder Straps, position the backpack Hip Belt at the point where an individual would position a trouser belt, just below or above the Iliac Crest. Positioning the Hip Belt in this way will prevent soft tissue damage between your lower rib and the Iliac Crest, and prevent excess pressure on the stomach.
  3. NOTE: A Waist Belt is NOT an Adequate Substitute for a Padded Hip Belt with Lower Load Stabiliser Straps.
  4. Position the Sternum Strap snuggly across the centre of the chest, then loosen the Shoulder Straps just enough to allow a weight transfer to the Sternum Strap, and lower back. Then retighten the Sternum Strap.
  5. If provided, use the Upper Stabiliser Straps to make sure that the backpack is still positioned against the back of the shoulders.

How can you ensure your child is supplied with a school daypack of good design?

If you are not satisfied with the current backpack your child is using, you are entitled to seek a medical certificate from your doctor to purchase a backpack that will best protect your child’s back.

What is the recommended maximum backpack weight you should carry?

For ADULTS we would recommend that the maximum weight, even with a well-designed backpack with a fully functional harness system should not exceed these recommendations:

  1. For a person with an average fitness level, 25% of the individual’s body weight.
  2. For a person with a high fitness level, 33% of the person’s body weight.

These weight recommendations are often exceeded with Travel Packs, however in these circumstances we would envisage that these loads are not carried for long periods.

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