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My son's back is ~35cm. As I understand, the backpack should have the same height, but we have found one that is 32cm wide x 37cm tall x 17cm deep, 900 grams.

Those extra 2cm height are okay, but there is another option: 32 x 38 x 22 cm, 980 grams. Is 38cm too tall? He will grow soon, so maybe that's fine. But what about 22 cm depth, isn't that too much for a 1st grader? They don't have so many books, I suppose.

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As light and small as possible. I would go for a little safe on location to store the heavier stuff. –  Barfieldmv Jul 19 '11 at 12:55
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I would choose the one that is flatter because it would not pull backward so much even when it's heavy.

It's not so much the size of the bag that matters, but what you put in it. If you're worried that he'll be carrying too much weight, then choose a wide but flat bag, to keep the weight close to his back and not pull him backward too much. It can even be wider than his shoulders. If the child says it feels comfortable on his back, then it's usually good enough as long as it's not overloaded. if it is overloaded, then basically no bag is good enough.

One cool thing I see schoolkids with these days are school trolleys - trolleys didn't exist back in my days but they seem to be a smart choice. You can pack more weight in them without affecting the child's back/spine.

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Added benefit of a rolling backpack (trolley as you call 'em over there) is that once a kid is used to that they know how to handle a rolling suitcase in an airport. Our pre-K little one is so used to dealing with his at pre-school that he almost dealt with a much larger bag the whole way the last time we flew to grandma's. Kept him occupied and one less bag for me to fight with. Win-Win. –  cabbey Jul 18 '11 at 19:40
    
Some of our schools do not allow rolling backpacks due to limited space for storage. You may want to check with your child's school before purchasing this style. –  Marie Hendrix Sep 18 '11 at 12:44
    
@MarieHendrix The ones I've seen are schoolbag-sized. Did you mean they are too small to contain the needed stuff, or take up too much space in the school? Either way, I don't get it. But yes, checking school recommendations is good advice. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 18 '11 at 17:12
    
@TorbenGundtofte-Bruun In our schools, shouldered bags are hung over the back of desks or chairs. Wheeled types cannot be but require a space in the room for storage. This has created tripping hazards/limited space in the classrooms. They also take up valuable space in the hallways. Imagine 400 of these pulled in the halls at the same time, this requires significantly more space than a backpack. Therefore, our local schools have banned them. –  Marie Hendrix Sep 18 '11 at 17:39
    
Thank you for the clarification! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 18 '11 at 17:57
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Get him a backpack he likes that works in your price range!

His back won't be 35cm for long ... it probably has increased a bit in the time it took you to over-analyze this!

<<wink, wink>>

Seriously, precise fit is not necessary, because he will grow, and he will get stronger, and he will learn to carry the pack without difficulty. If he will be walking any serious length, get the wheeled kind and don't let it be so heavy that he struggles to pick it up.

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Torben's answer is perfectly good, but I had to upvote this one for the blunt simplicity -- There are many things that we, as parents, worry about. Don't need to add trivial items to the list. Get a pack the kid likes and you don't mind buying -- keeping in mind no matter how durable or well fitted it is, he'll want a new one next year! :) –  Saiboogu Jul 20 '11 at 13:30
    
Agreed, my wife buys stuff one size too big expecting our son to grow into it. –  MichaelF Sep 1 '11 at 17:00
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Try to remember that utility trumps most considerations.

If the bag is too small to carry everything needed then it's an inappropriate tool for the job; a lunchbox, a warm jacket, a reader, a hat and scarf aren't heavy, but they are bulky. A small bag may be too small to contain the dimensions of your child's reader without folding it, which will make you unpopular with the school.

If the bag has wheels, remember that you child is going to be walking to and from school hundreds of times a year, so investigate the repairability/replacability of the wheels; a wheeled bag that doesn't roll is still a bag, but probably one that doesn't work anywhere near as well as a backpack. If you're not walking to school, what does it matter? A kid can lug any random bag 10 metres to the car.

Our school sells a school-branded bag, and its design seems influenced by the demands placed on it by the school. It seemed stupidly large when we first bought it, but it's got all the compartments that are helpful for storing things securely, and a few extra pockets here and there suitable for things like handkerchiefs, spectacles, dice (don't ask) and drink bottles. If your school does the same thing, it could well be worth your while to acquire one.

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