Backpack or Messenger Bag for 4Th Grader?

Updated on July 19, 2012
N.Y. asks from Bedford, TX
16 answers

Sorry if this question sounds petty...but backpack or messenger bag (over the shoulder)? We've always bought my daughter the traditional backpack for school. She's going into 4th grade and is now considering changing to a messenger bag. Her school requires them to carry a large binder home every day. I always felt that carrying the backpack allows their backs to carry the weight. But, does it really matter?

Also, any ideas for where we could find cute girly backpacks or bags?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for sharing your stories and advice! Thanks too for giving me ideas of where to shop! I'm going to go with my gut and get the backpack as I originally thought I should do.

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Definitely the backpack with both straps worn is the best bet for her back. Messenger bags are stylish but with the weight these kids have to carry now, the backpack is going to be much better and easier for her to carry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Backpack. In 4th grade she probably won't have a ton of books, but in 7th my SD had a messenger bag and carried everything in it. After 2 months and $1000 of chiropractic care for a frozen shoulder, she now has a backpack and wears it with both straps.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

If those are your options, I say the back pack will definitely be better for her back. I have seen the kids at our bus stop dragging those messenger bags behind them, because they are just to heavy to carry correctly. My daughter will also be going into the 4th grade and has the binder home every day situation too. Her back pack was so heavy last year on the days she had to bring home a subject book along with the binder, plus the lunch box, I worried for her back. This year we went with a back pack that has wheels. So it can be worn as a back pack or if it's heavy she can roll it behind her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would wait until she's older for the messenger bag (if she still wants one then). My 14 year old carries a messenger bag, and it works fine for him because his textbooks are online, so he doesn't need to carry much.

My 8 year old uses a backpack, and that works much better for him.

Target has their backpacks on sale now, but I'm not sure about the quality. Land's End does have great quality backpacks.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter has carried both and likes both. She will be in 8th grade this year. If your daughter carries a backpack, make sure the straps are set properly. If she carries is to low on her back, which lots of kids like to do, it can cause back problems like scholiosis.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My daughter has used both and liked both. I let my kids pick out whatever they want for their backpack so I know they are happy with it and I won't have to buy another one if they don't like the one I pick out for them. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My daughter loved her messenger bag in 4th last year. It was a little too small on some days to carry everything, so on those days, she switched to her backpack. There were several very artsy, independent girls who carried the messenger bags, but it was not terribly common.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

My stepson has a messenger bag that he really likes. He uses it when he wants to switch things up, but mostly he uses his back pack. Even though he likes the messenger bag and thinks its "cool", he usually only lasts a couple days carrying it because the weight hurts his shoulder. He is going into 5th, and has had the messenger bag since 3rd grade.

I like TJ Maxx for back packs. They have good brands- Under Armor, Nike, Addidas, North Face, for less $$. I was just there yesterday buying my 1st grader a new back pack, and I saw plenty of cute girly ones.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Definitely a backpack to distribute the weight evenly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I asked my son if he wanted a messenger bag for 4th and he said "uncool!"
Maybe cool for girls. Try pottery barn kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

LL Bean... has GREAT school bags.
AND it is warrantied for L., and you can return it if it gets broken and they send you another one for free.
Both my kids have LL Bean bags.... and it lasts. Even for my 5 year old son who is not gentle with it. The price is WORTH it.
My daughter has had her's since 1st grade, and she is going to 5th grade, and it is still like new.
And it is monogrammed w/their initials.

My daughter just completed 4th grade. They had TONS of things to carry home everyday. HEAVY things, which is hard on the back. Therefore, my daughter AND MANY of her classmates, had wheelie backpacks. My daughter, everyday, was bringing home a binder, text books, things/memo envelopes, and other homework in it. Therefore, carrying a bag on your shoulders, is hard on the back.

LL Bean, has MANY different styles and designs.
Look at their site:
My daughter's backpack, which she has had since 1st grade, has grown with her with no problem... and it is not a "baby" design, but a design that is still, per her age.
You can let your daughter, choose her own design.

Keep in mind, that the binder, will not be the only thing they need to carry home everyday.
There will be school projects too, and textbooks etc. too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Backpack. Definitely. Lands End has good quality ones that you can customize with initials or other embroidered patches.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

backpack, with the big binder it gets really heavy for just a shoulder bag.
My daughter was in 4th grade last year and she had a messanger bag for part of the year and it was very heavy.

We are getting backpacks from LL Bean this year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Backpack will be better for her back

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

My forth grader wanted a messenger bag this year too. I got her one at childrens place. Purple with peace signs for $12 bucks. HTH

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I see kids much older, sixth graders, at my child's school with messenger bags and the kids are always leaning hard to one side to balance out the huge weight on the one shoulder. Messenger bags look cute and trendy - until they are stuffed to bursting with all the binders and other things kids need to tote. I can only figure they are terrible for kids' backs and posture, based on the way the kids who all carry them seem to tote them! A good backpack that is worn properly (with both straps used, and sitting high enough on the back and waist -- not drooping down so the weight is over the lower back and bottom) distributes the weight better. Yes, it really does matter.

1 mom found this helpful
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