THE CONTEMPORARY HAVERSACK. A New York Times column offers advice for parents shopping for their childrens' backpacks.
In its latest rating of the most durable school backpacks, Consumer Reports has conducted its own survey to determine how much weight kids are carrying as a result of overloaded packs. The researchers visited three New York City schools and weighed more than 50 children’s backpacks. They found that kids in the 2nd and 4th grades are carrying about 5 pounds worth of homework and books. But once kids reach the 6th grade, the homework load gets heavier. On average, 6th graders in the study were carrying backpacks weighting 18.4 pounds, although some backpacks weighed as much as 30 pounds.
Glenn Reynolds (yes, him), weighs his daughter's pack, and finds the school's priorities wanting.

The backpack is full, and weighs 19 pounds. I haven't weighed the stack of books, but it's likely that she's carrying one-third her bodyweight

She also has back problems from carrying all this, and the physical therapist said that no kid should be carrying that many books. The folks at the school, however, don't seem to care; I've raised it with them but they've been utterly dismissive.

A few days ago, a Lands' End catalog that would have left a quartermaster of the Army of the Tennessee nonplussed hit my mailbox. There's even a website. Backpacks. Lunch packs designed to attach to the packs. Computer totes. Throw in a cartridge case and a bedroll and your youngster is ready for Genl Sherman's inspection.

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