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Throwing on the best pack for back-to-school style

ALEXANDALEXA.COM - Skip Hop Zoo Pack Owl backpack ($35), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ALEXANDALEXA.COM</em></div>Skip Hop Zoo Pack Owl backpack ($35), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
ALEXANDALEXA.COM - Bakker Made with Love Diamond Print big satchel backpack ($69.50), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ALEXANDALEXA.COM</em></div>Bakker Made with Love Diamond Print big satchel backpack ($69.50), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
AMERICAN EAGLE - American Eagle embroidered backpack ($39.95), available at www.ae.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AMERICAN EAGLE</em></div>American Eagle embroidered backpack ($39.95), available at www.ae.com.
ALEXANDALEXA.COM - Bakker blue stripe backpack ($52.50), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ALEXANDALEXA.COM</em></div>Bakker blue stripe backpack ($52.50), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
CLAIRE'S - Claire's pink floral backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CLAIRE'S</em></div>Claire's pink floral backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
CONVERSE - Converse'Chuck Taylor' backpack ($40), available at www.converse.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CONVERSE</em></div>Converse'Chuck Taylor' backpack ($40), available at www.converse.com.
GLO BAG - The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>GLO BAG</em></div>The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
RABEANCO - Rabeanco's Kanga backpack ($398), available at www.rabeanco.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>RABEANCO</em></div>Rabeanco's Kanga backpack ($398), available at www.rabeanco.com.
VERA BRADLEY - Double zip backpack in 'Cocoa Moss' ($99), available at www.verabradley.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>VERA BRADLEY</em></div>Double zip backpack in 'Cocoa Moss' ($99), available at www.verabradley.com.
ALEXANDALEXA.COM - Zatchels Forest Green duffel bag ($226), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ALEXANDALEXA.COM</em></div>Zatchels Forest Green duffel bag ($226), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
STATE - State Mercer in green ($225), available at www.statebags.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>STATE</em></div>State Mercer in green ($225), available at www.statebags.com.
KOHL'S - Superman molded chest backpack ($29.99), available at Kohl's stores and www.kohls.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>KOHL'S</em></div>Superman molded chest backpack ($29.99), available at Kohl's stores and www.kohls.com.
AMERICAN EAGLE - American Eagle printed canvas backpack ($39.95), available at www.ae.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AMERICAN EAGLE</em></div>American Eagle printed canvas backpack ($39.95), available at www.ae.com.
CLAIRE'S - Claire's Arrow Point backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores and www.claires.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CLAIRE'S</em></div>Claire's Arrow Point backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores and www.claires.com.
ICING - Icing Icing City Stripes fabric backpack ($36), similar styles available at select Icing stores nationwide and www.icing.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ICING</em></div>Icing Icing City Stripes fabric backpack ($36), similar styles available at select Icing stores nationwide and www.icing.com.
CLAIRE'S - Claire's Aztec Print backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CLAIRE'S</em></div>Claire's Aztec Print backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
CONVERSE - Converse'Chuck Taylor' backpack ($45), available at www.converse.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CONVERSE</em></div>Converse'Chuck Taylor' backpack ($45), available at www.converse.com.
CLAIRE'S - Claire's free spirit backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CLAIRE'S</em></div>Claire's free spirit backpack ($28), similar styles available at select Claire's stores nationwide and www.claires.com.
GLO BAG - The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>GLO BAG</em></div>The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
GLO BAG - The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>GLO BAG</em></div>The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
GLO BAG - The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>GLO BAG</em></div>The Glo Bag ($99), available at www.theglobag.com.
RABEANCO - Rabeanco's Kanga backpack ($398), available at www.rabeanco.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>RABEANCO</em></div>Rabeanco's Kanga backpack ($398), available at www.rabeanco.com.
KOHL'S - Candie's floral backpack ($60), available at Kohl's stores and www.kohls.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>KOHL'S</em></div>Candie's floral backpack ($60),  available at Kohl's stores and www.kohls.com.
ALEXANDALEXA.COM - Skip Hop boys dinosaur backpack ($35), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ALEXANDALEXA.COM</em></div>Skip Hop boys dinosaur backpack ($35), available at www.alexandalexa.com.
STATE - State Durham in red ($65), available at www.statebags.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>STATE</em></div>State Durham in red ($65), available at www.statebags.com.
VERA BRADLEY - Vera Bradley backpack tote in 'Heather' ($92), available at www.verabradley.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>VERA BRADLEY</em></div>Vera Bradley backpack tote in 'Heather' ($92), available at www.verabradley.com.
VERA BRADLEY - Campus backpack in 'Lola' ($109), available at ww.verabradley.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>VERA BRADLEY</em></div>Campus backpack in 'Lola' ($109), available at ww.verabradley.com.
VERA BRADLEY - Laptop backpack in 'Heather' ($109), available at www.verabradley.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>VERA BRADLEY</em></div>Laptop backpack in 'Heather' ($109), available at www.verabradley.com.
VICTORNIX - Victorinox red laptop backpack ($64.99), available at www.victorinox.com.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>VICTORNIX</em></div>Victorinox red laptop backpack ($64.99), available at www.victorinox.com.

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Wearing a backpack

• Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.

• Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms and hands when too much pressure is applied.

• Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child's back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backward and strain muscles.

• Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack's weight more evenly.

• The bottom of the pack should rest on the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than 4 inches below the child's waistline.

• School backpacks comes in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right pack for your child, as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

Sources: The American Occupational Therapy Association

Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Notebooks and markers can go back to school in style, too, in a backpack that reflects the individuality of the student who carries it.

From neon hues to bold, checkered prints, floral patterns and camouflage designs, there's plenty of styles that earn passing grades.

“The backpack is making a big fashion comeback, seen on respected runways like Hermes, Chanel, The Row and Rag & Bone, as well as on the backs of some of the biggest models and style-setters,” says Jacqueline Tatelman, co-founder, with husband Scot, of State. The company hand delivers a backpack to a student in need for every backpack purchased.

“Backpacks are on trend with a ton of pizzazz to fit any personality,” she says, “and are designed smaller to keep up with technology trends like laptops, iPads and mobile phones.”

Fashion always finds a way to reinvent things and make the old-school classics look brand new, Tatelman says. You can find slouchy backpacks, small and structured backpacks, one-shoulder, textured, studded or multicolor ones.

And they aren't just for carrying to and from the classroom.

“Backpacks are perfect for hands-free toting,” Tatelman says. “Whether you're going to school, work or running weekend errands, you can rest easy knowing that you have everything you need — a laptop, books, snacks and more.”

Backpacks are a great way for students to express themselves,” says Chris Cox, vice-president of design and creative for Nautica.

“Not only are they very functional with various compartments, mesh pockets and multiple straps,” Cox says, “but they are offered in so many colors and graphics.”

As with all fashion trends from season to season, backpacks ride a wave, and this year is a backpack year, says Elaine Sugimura, U.S. president and CEO for Rabeanco.

“From the beautiful materials and patterns to playful colors and multifunction, backpacks have become a must-have this back-to-school season,” Sugimura says.

While it's important to look good, the backpack must function well to fit an individual's needs, Sugimura says. And make sure to not overload it.

More than 79 million students in the United States carry school backpacks, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, Md. About 55 percent of them carry one that is heavier than the recommended guideline of 10 percent of the student's total body weight. More than 2,000 backpack-related injuries were treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctor's offices and clinics in 2007.

When shopping for a new backpack, look beyond the hot-pink color or Spider-Man design, says Karen Jacobs, spokeswoman for backpack day and an expert in ergonomics for the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Always select a backpack that is the correct size for the child, Jacobs says. Make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist. This will position the load on the strongest part of the back. Also, make sure shoulder straps and the back of the pack are well-padded. Look for backpacks that have additional waist, chest and hip straps for added support.

“The weight of the backpack is not the only thing to consider with comfort,” Jacobs says. “Distribute weight evenly by loading the heaviest items closest to the child's back and balancing materials so the child can easily stand up straight. And I recommend buying a lightweight, breathable material.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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