The Best Backpack for Shoulders

xalanx/iStock/Getty Images

What to Look For

No matter the type of backpack you're searching for, it is important to find one that offers ergonomic support for your back. Search for well-padded, wide shoulder straps. In addition, school backpacks as well as hiking and recreational backpacks should have adjustable waist and chest buckles. This will alleviate the pressure that many types of backpacks put on the shoulders and distribute the weight of the backpack's contents more evenly throughout the entire back. For added comfort, select a backpack that has slight padding along the section of the pack that rests directly on your back.

Common Pitfalls

Avoid purchasing a backpack that is made of inexpensive materials such as cotton or thin canvas. Instead, select a backpack that is made from nylon. Don't let style sell you on the backpack. There is much more to a good backpack than the way it looks. Avoid thin shoulder straps, as these will assuredly dig in to the shoulders and cause discomfort. Also avoid any messenger-style bag. These bags aren't conducive to shoulder comfort as they do not evenly distribute the weight of the bag.

Where to Buy

No matter if you are searching for a recreational backpack or one for school, sporting goods stores are an excellent place to look for shoulder-friendly backpacks. Keep an eye out for brands who offer excellent warranties on their backpacks for no additional cost.


The cost of shoulder-friendly backpacks varies depending upon its intended use. For high-quality school backpacks, expect to pay $30 to $50. Hiking backpacks run between $70 and $200 or more.

Insider Tips

Test out different backpacks in-store, but wait to make your purchase. There are often deals online for brand-name backpacks. In addition, don't forget to check out sporting consignment stores, as they sell gently used and discounted backpacks.