How to Choose a Daypack for School or Work

Posted by Whole Earth | 07.14.2022

Students gathering on the quad with daypacks at their sides


How to Choose a Daypack for School or Work


Despite the heat, summer's beginning to wind down and a new school year is on the horizon. How's that backpack holding up? Did it accompany you on your summer travels? Has it served admirably over the years, but is now showing its age? Has your child outgrown or just plain worn out their pack? If it's time for a new daypack, we have a few suggestions on how to choose one that fits, has useful features, and lasts.


The first thing to look for when choosing a new backpack is a proper fit. Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, starting with packs made for small children to those proportioned for grown men and women.

  • The top of the pack should not extend above the shoulders and the bottom of the pack should fit in the curve of the back.
  • Look for contoured, wide, adjustable straps that comfortably distribute weight. 
  • A padded back can protect against being poked by objects in the pack, and a mesh layer between you and the padded back can help keep you cooler.
  • Extra padding in the bottom of the pack can cushion and protect whatever you’re carrying.
  • Sternum and waist straps keep the weight of the pack closer to your body. When the pack rests firmly against your back, it’s easier to carry.
  • Ideally your child should be carrying no more than 10% or 15% of their body weight on their back. Keeping a daypack on the small side can help prevent Sherpa-ing, carrying very heavy loads.



Here are a few basic features you should look for in your backpack:

  • Look for strong nylon materials with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finishes. And for extra points, some packs may include recycled materials. Kids’ daypacks are often made of polyester.
  • Sturdy, reinforced stitching, especially on corners and other stress points, is a sign of a well-made backpack.
  • Look for heavy-duty, double-headed zippers that open and close easily, and are covered with fabric flaps to keep out water.  Inversely sewn zippers also increase water resistance.
  • A good daypack design includes: easy access to the interior of the pack, multiple interior compartments, zippered pockets, and a compartment for a laptop or tablet, should you need it.
  • Reflective panels are an added safety feature for low light conditions.


And finally, consider how you’ll use your daypack. What will you need to carry, and can it be easily stowed and retrieved from your pack?Patagonia Refugio pack

  • Are there secure but easily accessible pockets for your phone, keys and sunglasses?
  • Does the pack’s interior organization work well with the items you need to carry? Is there room for lunch and bulky or oddly shaped items, like umbrellas?   
  • Is there a special pocket for a water bottle and will your favorite fit in it securely?
  • Exterior adjustable cording may be useful for carrying sports gear or jackets.
  • If you’re a cyclist, look for a loop to attach a blinker light.
  • And finally, remember to pack the heaviest items closest to the back of the pack. Your body will thank you.


Some of the daypacks you'll find at Whole Earth are made by Patagonia, Osprey, The North Face, Arc’teryx, Thule, Cotopaxi and a favorite for both kids and adults, daypacks from Fjallraven. If you live near one of our brick and mortar stores, please stop by and checkout our daypacks and backpacks or visit us online!




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