This checklist has been developed to assist individuals to undertake a review of their backpack use.

1. Loading:
1.1. Does the backpack have separate compartments?
Use compartments to pack heavier objects closer to the body.
1.2. Do these compartments allow the contents to be securely arranged?
Ensure objects are secure and not free to move about the backpack.
1.3. Have you selected the most appropriate sized backpack for you?
1.4. Many backpacks have built in wheels to minimize the load carried.
Can you purchase a bag that has wheels to avoid the need to carry the Back Pack at all times?
1.5. Is the load comfortable and safely stored?
Sharp or hard objects should be packed in such a fashion that they
do not come in contact with the body.
1.6. Is the Back Pack being handled correctly? Do you bend your knees to lift the Back Pack?
The most ergonomic Back Pack is still bad, if lifted incorrectly. Ensure you lift with your knees rather than their back!

2. Weight:
2.1. Is the weight of the backpack when loaded appropriate for you?
2.2. Do you lean forward when you are carrying your backpack?
This is a sign there is too much weight in the Back Pack.
2.3. Is your backpack made of durable and appropriate materials?
Try to purchase a lighter Back Pack to assist in reducing the weight carried. Consider the materials used in its production, ensure it has been constructed from strong, durable and light-weight materials.

3. Lumbar Support:
3.1. Does the Back Pack offer support for the Lower Back?
Purchase a Back Pack that supports the lower back. Ideally this will be a frame of some kind which follows the contours of the Lumbar Spine and provides support.

4. Waist Straps:
4.1. Does the backpack have a waist strap?
Waist straps are important for keeping the Back Pack stable and reducing excess movement which increase discomfort and fatigue.

5. Shoulder Straps:
5.1. Do the shoulder straps allow for adjustment to fit your body?
Shoulder straps need to be adjustable to ensure the Back Pack can be kept close to the body.
5.2. Always use both shoulders to carry the Back Pack

6. Padding:
6.1. Is the padding appropriately located?
Padding needs to be located at all of the major contact points where the backpack meets the body.
6.2. Is the padding of sufficient thickness?
Padding needs to be thick enough to be comfortable but not so thick it produces a poor fit.

7. Hygiene:
7.1. How often do you clean out your backpack
Regularly check your backpack to remove excess clutter that might reduce available space or restrict correct loading.
7.2. How hygienic is your backpack
Food and other materials left in the Back Pack can increase wear and tear which reduce it life span.

8. Plan:
Does everything really need to be there?
Can equipment for special activities (i.e. gym) be carried separately.

9. Posture:
9.1. Are you unable to stand normally when wearing the backpack?
Distortions to your posture can be an indicator it is inappropriately fitted or too heavy.
9.2. Do you have any excessive curve in your lower back?
Poorly fitted backpacks commonly cause disruption to your spinal curves. If this is the case then please start from the beginning of this document and review.
9.3. Do you slouch at the shoulders?
Are your shoulders in a relaxed neutral posture without leaning? This is another indicator the backpack is poorly fitted and should prompt review.
9.4. Can you wear the backpack and keep your head and neck in neutral position without excessive forward or backward tilting?
9.5. Is the backpack being worn on both shoulders?
Hanging a backpack off one shoulder produces poor posture and is linked to numerous future health issues.

10. Fitting:
Consider the following points when fitting your backpack:
• Adjust the straps to fit securely
• The bottom of the backpack should sit clear of the buttocks
• The top of the back pack should NOT be above your head

11. Maintain:
Maintain a mindset to reduce the load of your backpack!


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