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.
- 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.
- 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.
- An adjustable Sternum Strap that has three distinct functions,
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
- Contour the Internal Staves or HDPE Frame Sheet to the individual
- 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
- NOTE: A Waist Belt is NOT an Adequate Substitute for a Padded
Hip Belt with Lower Load Stabiliser Straps.
- 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.
- If provided, use the Upper Stabiliser Straps to make sure
that the backpack is still positioned against the back of the
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
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:
- For a person with an average fitness level, 25% of the individual’s
- For a person with a high fitness level, 33% of the person’s
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.