How to choose the perfect backpack for school

How to choose the perfect backpack for school

If your child is starting secondary school this year, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate at the moment. You may have the usual worries that accompany any big change: will your child settle in? Will they find some nice friends? Will they cope with a much bigger school and older kids?

Then there are the practical issues to think about. Do you really need to purchase everything on the uniform and equipment list? And when it says names should be embroidered on the front of PE kit, do they really mean it? (hint: no!). How are they going to deal with a mobile phone? What sort of school bag are they going to need?

What type of bag is best for secondary school?

If you take a walk down to any secondary school at drop off or pick up time, you’ll see a wide variety of bags in use: sports kit duffle bags, messenger bags, backpacks, handbags, tote bags and even shopping bags for life. Knowing which to choose for your new Year 7 is a bit of a minefield.

The first thing is be prepared for the inevitable argument between what you think is sensible and what your child wants! And no matter how much life is left in the Smiggle backpack that your child absolutely begged for at the start of Year 6, it’s not going to cut it at secondary school.

No matter where you are in the country though, the backpack is the ubiquitous choice and it’s not hard to see why.

Why is a backpack the best option for secondary school?

I would highly recommend that you encourage your new Year 7 to get a backpack. Backpacks normally have lots of compartments and pockets for storing belongings. They are made of sturdy materials and often have good durability and water resistance, which is particularly important if your Year 7 is going to walk or cycle to school.

But the biggest advantage of using a backpack for school lies in the way they are carried. As the load is spread evenly across the back, padded straps and a padded back will ensure that your child can carry heavy loads comfortably over longer periods of time. And you’ll be surprised by how much kit one Year 7 is supposed to carry across the day. My daughters’ school backpacks are always really heavy with books, lunch and a full water bottle.

If your child really wants a one strap bag, I would do my best to dissuade them. Long term, slinging a heavy bag over one shoulder or constantly carrying a heavy bag in one hand will lead to pain in your back and shoulders and in some cases, do permanent damage.

Backpacks also leave the wearer’s hands and arms free which is particularly key if you need to hold on if you’re travelling on a train or bus or indeed, if you are riding your bike.

So why should you consider an LED light up backpack?

If your child is going to walk or cycle to and from school, it’s worth bearing in mind that from the end of September, the nights quickly start drawing in. It really won’t be very long before your child will soon be travelling to and from school in the dark.

This is exactly the reason why I designed the Futliit LED light up backpack. When my eldest daughter started at secondary school, she had to walk to and from the school bus. We lived in rural Warwickshire and the village had no streetlights nor pavement. As the nights drew in, it soon became clear that walking in the road in her navy school uniform, she was practically invisible to drivers.​

Even though the onus is always on the car driver to pay proper attention, it really worried me. Accidents do happen and young teens don’t always make sensible decisions no matter how much you’ve talked about road safety.

As an adult it was clear that the answer was to buy a luminous backpack with reflective panels all over it, but I also knew that was the way to make my daughter a social pariah at secondary school!

So that was the start of the Futliit journey. I designed a backpack with integral LED lights that would allow kids like my daughter to be seen and stay safe when they were out and about.

Our light up backpacks have two strands of white LED lights that can easily be turned on when you need them and reflective panels that are really bright at night. The LEDs and reflective panels are discrete enough during the day not to spoil the visual appeal of the backpack and the LED lights can be turned on easily from the outside – no fiddling about in the depths of the bag trying to turn them on.

School backpacks: other things you need to consider

The ideal school backpack needs to be big enough to fit all your child’s stuff in, particularly if your child won't get a locker (or their locker is miles away from their form room). However, it also needs to be small enough to be tucked under a desk.

Does your child need to take a device like a laptop or tablet with them? If so, you’ll need a backpack with a padded device sleeve inside. The Futliit light up backpack has an internal padded sleeve that will fit up to a 15" laptop.

Other features your Year7 might also find useful are deep water bottle pockets, slots for your phone and headphones and a zipped interior pocket for your bus pass and timetable. Our Futliit backpacks also have a key holder to reduce the chances of your child losing their keys and having to sit on the doorstep until you get home.


Read our top tips for staying safe walking to school and find out more about how to make yourself visible walking home on our blog. 

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