Millions of people in the U.S. alone suffer from either intermittent or chronic back pain, and the causes are many from poor posture to sports injuries. A couple of reasons may be either the way you carry your backpack or the backpack itself. You may be overloading it, carrying it by one shoulder, or have too much of it below the waistline.
Parents need to especially be aware of bad backpack habits and how to choose a backpack that will help children avoid future chronic back pain. That’s because the lower spine is more vulnerable to injury in children when they carry heavy loads. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 14,000 children have backpack-related injuries every year.
While we don’t attempt to diagnose your back pain, we do want to give you suggestions for well-designed and well-fitting supportive backpacks that will help you avoid future back pain as well as ease the back pain you may already have. Our collection of the best backpacks for back pain are ergonomically engineered to support your back, have added support to maintain balance, and strong, sturdy shoulder straps.
BEST FOR DURABILITY
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BEST LAPTOP BACKPACK FOR BACK PAIN
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BEST FOR SAFETY
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BEST FOR STUDENTS WITH BACK PAIN
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BEST FOR ORGANIZATION
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BEST FOR ERGONOMICS
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For outdoor sports, the durable and water-resistant Friendly Swede can withstand the toughest weather conditions. Take a jog in the rain or go kayaking and your gear will stay dry.
The ergonomic shoulder, chest, and waist straps are fully adjustable and hold the bag steady for the active skier, hiker, or biker. You can adjust the chest straps in height for a perfect individual fit. And lightweight at just 2.2 lbs, weight on your back is minimized.
Made of industrial-grade tarpaulin material, the sleek-looking Friendly Swede 33-liter dry pack also has lots of outdoorsy add-ons such as reflective details and a survival whistle. Two extra spacious mesh side pockets hold water bottles and perhaps a thermos of hot coffee.
Unlike some other dry packs, the Friendly Swede has a 17-inch portable laptop pocket and a mesh inner organizer. And included carabiner helps with organization. Close the bag with the buckles on the top or with sidelocks.
Overall, the Friendly Swede is comfortable on your back and made to withstand outdoor conditions. It’s also stylish enough for the office.
The Tigernu Anti-Theft Backpack is a multi-purpose backpack for business and school. The ergonomically designed back support system includes padded shoulder straps, and the back padding conforms to the human body’s shape. You can easily control the strap length with the adjustable chest buckle to reduce the weight of the load.
The Tigernu is made of sturdy, tear-resistant material. The anti-puncture and anti-theft 4-tooth zipper of the main compartment secures your belongings. A lockable ring on the side of the 15.5-inch laptop compartment adds more protection.
The main compartment is spacious enough for books, clothes, folders, and other work and school necessities. Other compartments for the organization include a second-layer pocket, one front pocket, one back pocket, a waist pocket, and two zipped side pockets.
Enjoy music on the go with the earphone hole feature, and keep electronics charged conveniently with the detachable USB external charger port. A sunglasses buckle gives you a place to stow away your glasses.
Overall, the Tigernu is a good choice for short business trips, everyday work, and weekend getaways.
The North Face classic BOREALIS Backpack is a comfortable carry for school, commuting, and travel. The 28-liter backpack with a front bungee system has a removable waistbelt to get a custom fit. A sternum strap gives extra support. The BOREALIS also features flex vent technology meaning the yoke of the molded shoulder straps is flexible, and the mesh back panel and breathable lumbar panel give ventilation.
Two handy compartments organize your gear, and the padded fleece-lined laptop compartment holds a 15-inch laptop. Store your phone and smaller devices in the external fleece-lined pocket, Use the two extendable side pockets for water bottles or as multi-use pockets. Safety features include reflective details and a whistle buckle on the sternum.
The KOPACK Slim Laptop Backpack for business and school has S-shape padded shoulder straps. S-shape straps are recommended for a supportive backpack to help avoid back and neck pain. The padded back is made from elastic and breathable sponge fabric. A ring-type adjustable hasp allows you to adjust the strap easily to ease the burden of weight.
The Slim backpack is made of durable oxford and is tear-resistant. The hidden laptop compartment tucks a 15.6-inch device away, and the zipper locks to a D-ring with a lock you supply.
An anti-puncture 4-tooth zipper provides extra anti-theft protection. Over 10 slots for organizing your supplies make the KOPACK a good choice for commuting to the office. An external USB charger makes keeping your devices charged conveniently.
Overall, the KOPACK is an ergonomic backpack that helps improve your posture when carrying a laptop.
If you travel often for business, the SwissGear 1900 Travel Gear Backpack is a good choice for an ergonomic backpack. The mesh shoulder straps are contoured and adjustable side straps help lighten the burden of weight. The shoulder straps also have a built-in suspension system for absorbing shock. The back panel is padded and ventilated for even more support as a comfortable backpack.
Made of durable 1200D ballistic nylon, the SwissGear is highly weather-resistant and holds up with heavy use in harsh conditions. Traveling is less of a hassle with the ScanSmart lay-flat technology. The bag opens flat so TSA agents can scan the laptop without having you remove your laptop and iPad from the dedicated compartments.
Internal organization includes an accordion file folder and multiple accessory pockets. Exterior pockets hold items like cellphones, keys, and sunglasses. A front organizer holds travel documents and other items you need to access quickly.
Overall, the SwissGear 1900 is a savvy backpack for daily office use and business trips.
Don’t let back or neck pain keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. The TETON Sports Scout is an internal frame high-performance backpack for hiking and camping.
This top-seller for men and women features multi-position torso adjustment to fit a range of body sizes. The waist belt is adjustable between 20 and 60 inches. Molded channels and open-cell foam lumbar pad provide cushioning and ventilation.
The TETON is fairly lightweight at 4.5 lbs, and the 55-liter capacity gives packing room for a 2 or 3 day outdoor adventure. Storage includes a sleeping bag compartment and multiple compartments and pockets for convenient access to needed gear. Use the exterior bungee system to secure a jacket. A sewn-in rainfly tucks away when not in use.
The TETON is the ultimate backpack for hiking and camping without increasing your chances of back pain. Although it doesn’t include a water bladder, there’s a pocket for one. It could be used for a weekend getaway, but it doesn’t fit the requirements for a carry-on.
High school and college students can carry the Jansport Big Student Backpack without worrying about future back problems. It features S-curve shoulder straps, recommended by health experts for protecting your back, and it’s versatile enough to use as a backpack for the office. The back panel is padded for extra comfort.
The large capacity main compartment holds several textbooks and multiple pockets in varying sizes accommodate electronics from a cell phone to an iPad or Chromebook. A utility pocket and organizer panel hold extra accessories.
The Jansport is made of durable fabric and has strong zippers. It comes in 35 colors and patterns to reflect your personal style.
Overall, the Jansport Big Student Backpack is ideal for the campus and also meets the standards as a carry-on for travel.
The stylish North Face Jester Backpack for women is a comfortable carry for school, the office, or travel. A removable hip belt and sternum strap give you added support, and the molded shoulder straps feature North Face’s patented Flex Vent for more comfort on your back.
The 26-liter Jester integrates four grades of polyester for durability. Carry books, clothing, or office essentials in the main compartment. A padded laptop pocket holds a 15-inch device. An organized panel and front accessory pocket hold smaller items.
The front bungee system carries extra gear. Other features include a whistle buckle on the sternum strap, an LED light loop, an integrated key clip, and mesh pockets for water bottles.
Overall, the North Face Jester is lightweight, strong, durable, and stylish for women.
The Yorepek College and Travel ergonomic backpack for men or women is a good choice for the campus and for traveling. The breathable mesh shoulder straps are wide and comfortable. Sponge padding helps you avoid shoulder, back, and neck pain. The U-shaped 3-dimensional ventilation system makes it cool on the back.
The Yorepek is made of tear and water-resistant polyester and lined with high-density nylon for long-lasting durability. With a capacity of 45 liters, the extra-large backpack allows you to carry a lot of gear. Three spacious compartments have multiple pockets to accommodate school supplies, clothing, and travel accessories.
Deep side zipper pockets hold extra essentials, and side mesh pockets hold water bottles or an umbrella. The TSA-approved laptop compartment holds up to a 17-inch device and opens to 90-180-degrees for ease in checking through airport security.
Other handy features include an external USB charging port, a headphone hole, a rugged top handle for carrying, side adjustable straps, and a detachable key ring. The lanyard design on the shoulder straps lets you hang sunglasses and other small items.
The Yorepek is a comfortable backpack and is practical as both a college backpack and for travel. It comes with a one-year quality guarantee.
Serious hikers and backpackers will appreciate the innovative design of the Osprey Pack Atmos ergonomic backpack.
The unique anti-gravity suspension system makes it one of the most comfortable backpacks for long treks. You’ll feel like you are carrying much less weight than you are. The adjustable harness and hip belt help you get the right fit, and upper and lower compression straps help stabilize loads.
Aside from plenty of room in the main compartment, the Osprey Pack features pockets on the lumbar strap, a hydration sleeve that fits a 3-liter water bladder, a lower zippered sleeping bag compartment, stretch mesh side pockets, zipped top lid pockets, and an ice tool loop.
A poorly-designed backpack, as you may have already discovered, can be hard on the back, shoulders, and neck. The chances are good that you’re now looking for the most comfortable backpack to carry. With a good ergonomic backpack, you don’t have to give up your favorite activities or give up style and resort to a rolling bag.
And chances are, you’ll find that a good ergonomically designed backpack will actually help improve your posture. Don’t forget to consider other features to enhance your backpack for you individually. The purpose of the backpack will determine this. For a long-lasting backpack, look for one made of durable materials.
Look for features like S-curve padded shoulder straps, padded back panels, and compression straps for the office, school, and travel. For hiking, look for features such as anti-gravity suspension, internal frames, hip and sternum belts, and compression straps.
The backpacks for pain in our collection are all durable, some more so than others. Consider where and how you’ll use the backpack and look for features like water-resistant, strong zippers, and highly durable fabrics.
You’ll find backpacks in our collection that are perfect for school, commuting to the office, short business trips, and hiking. If you want to use your backpack for more than one reason, consider versatility.
Look for features that will make organization easier and accommodates your laptop and other school and office necessities. For hiking and camping, search for backpacks with water bladders, sleeping bag compartments, and other features to match your hiking habits. Safety features will keep your things safe for travel.
First, you must use both shoulder straps properly. Slinging both straps over one shoulder is a sure way to hurt your back, and you shouldn’t do it unless the bag is practically empty.
Second, utilizing the sternum strap and hip belt is essential with large-capacity bags that have them. It might not look cool, but it’s guaranteed to make you more comfortable and protect you from back pain.
Lastly, you need to make sure all the straps are properly adjusted. The shoulder straps should fit snugly (but not too tightly), while the hip belt straps should be tightened as much as possible to successfully transfer the load onto your hips.
Yes, it is, but only if it’s worn properly. The weight of the bag is distributed evenly across both your shoulders and transferred onto your hips if you wear a backpack with a waist belt. When you wear a crossbody bag or a messenger bag, all the weight is carried on one shoulder, which can ultimately cause more pain.
It actually is. There’s even a physical activity called “rucking”, which entails walking around (hiking) with a heavy backpack on your shoulders. However, this is only a form of quality exercise if the weight is distributed evenly across your back and hips so that it doesn’t cause pain or strain muscles.
They could, but not in the sense that a backpack would cause scoliosis. Carrying extremely heavy things on your back or shoulder for prolonged periods can and will cause curvature of the spine (scoliosis). Especially if you carry the weight on just one shoulder.
The Osprey Pack Atmos AG 65 has a unique anti-gravity system, an adjustable harness and hip belt, and compression straps for a dramatically-reduced weight load on your back.
Three spacious compartments with multiple pockets, a TSA-approved laptop compartment, and side zipper pockets make the Yorepek College and Travel Backpack our pick for best organizational options.
The KOPACK Laptop Backpack has a hidden laptop compartment and lockable, and anti-puncture zippers along with S-curve straps recommended by health experts making it our pick for best for safety.
The Friendly Swede Dry Pack, along with a good ergonomic design, is waterproof and can withstand the harshest conditions.