Shopping for a school bag

The first step was to decide on a normal bag or an ergonomic (ergo) bag. There were many reasons supporting either school of thought.

I thought I would want to get a normal bag for these reasons – more funky designs, more sleek as ergo bags tend to be bulky & heavy, children could leave some items in school as it was single session. Most importantly, I had grown up using a normal bag and I turned out fine. I did not want to spend so much on a bag that Z could either destroy or lose easily. I also thought it was really overprotective to get an ergo bag.

I surveyed a few friends who had primary school going kids. Of course, there were 2 sides to a coin and it depended on what appealed. Some said normal bags would do. One of my long time friends explained her switch from a normal sport branded bag to ergo bag. It warranted further shopping.

The second step was to understand the various ergo brands available in Singapore – Impact, Deuter Smart/Genius, SPI, LegoDr Kong, Totem, Ergobag and probably more. 

1. Kiddy Palace Marina Square – Impact (also heard that it was available at Ergoworks, some Popular stores & school bookshops)

Relatively “more affordable”    

First Impact bag $79.90 – I thought the size was good but I didn’t like the design. It came with the shoulder clasp.  

Second Impact bag –  seemed rather big and straps were adjustable 

2. Scool Marina Square – Totem, Ergobag

This Ergobag was 1.1kg. Usual SRP was $249 but on promotion at $199. It came with a waist belt and matching accessories.  

Totem which came with no shoulder or waist belts, at 990g cost more than $300 

To be honest, both brands felt bulky and uncomfortable. However, Z liked the Ergobag which I suspected was for the funky prints.

3. Takashimaya – SPI & Lego (also found at Kinderfun United Square & Centrepoint)

I did not let Z try SPI because I did not like the materials. I had mistaken Lego ergonomic bags to be “SPI X Lego” but it was wrong. Lego ergonomic bags were just another range of ergonomic bags carried by Kinderfun.

Lego Starter $139, 675g. Capacity was 19 liters.   

X carried the Lego Starter & Z carried the Lego Starter Plus (a larger version: Dimensions were 40cm H X 29cm W X 19cm D) for comparison (19liters vs 24 liters) 

Lego Ultimate $169 – it was hard case and weighed 0.99kg before putting anything in. Capacity was 21 liters. Dimensions were  36cm H X 28cm W X 20cm D.

It was so bulky that I was going to rule it out, as with Totem & Ergobag. 

Then I put 1.2kg of water in both Lego bags to test. To my surprise, the latter felt lighter on the shoulders. It meant I had to revisit Ergobag but Ergobag’s buckle was not as easy to use as Lego. The Lego Ultimate also came with a better, hard & waterproof base. 

It impressed me enough to return for a second test with 2.5kg of “weights”. 

Trying again with the detachable gym bag   

Spects of the bag  

Test with 2.5kg weights – very comfortable. Ranked #1 on my list, though Kinderfun explained this was for taller (1.3m) and fleshier kids as the hard base could hit the lower backs when children ran with the bag.

SPI – some cute model  

Test with 2.5kg weights – it still felt very heavy and the shoulder straps were uncomfortable.

SPI Active Premium L 

Test with 2.5kg weights – it felt alright but not amazing. The bag was too big for Z too. 

4. Online – Herlitz  

I came across this while researching online. It sounded really good but the problem was we would not be able to try. The style seemed similar to the Lego Ultimate and it was also a German brand. The dimensions of 36.5cm – 37.5cm for large size sounded alright.

The base didn’t seem as impressive as Lego Ultimate. I also read on KP forum that the bag weighed 1.3kg and was made in China, according to information listed on Amazon UK. The down side was – I wouldn’t be able to see or try in person. Hence, I would rule this out.

4.Isetan / Kiddy Palace Toa Payoh – Deuter  

Image from Scool’s website 

Based on the dimensions, S size would work better for Z. However, the capacity was surprisingly lower than lego. Deuter Smart S’ capacity was 14 liters but it was taller than Lego Starter which could hold 18 liters.

Deuter Smart S – Capacity at 14liters was very low. The width of the bag was too narrow. It could fit the L-shaped A4 file but that was about as wide as it could go.  

Deuter Smart M – it was slightly wider but way too long for Z’s current frame.

Test with 2.5kg weights – I could not test the full load because I could not fit in a A4 Hard Plastic file into the S bag. Based on whatever was put in, it did not feel comfortable and I still feel the weight on the shoulders. 

5. Ergo kid Wheelock – McMeil, Ergobag Soft Basic, Ergobag 2016 model 

Ergobag- 1.1kg, soft case, basic model at $198. Capacity was 23 liters. Dimensions were 40cm H X 26cm W X 22cm D.  

Test with 2.5kg weights – It was rather narrow but it was not rigid. We managed to squeeze the wide file in but the bag went out of shape. I could not comment on support since it was hanging oddly on Z.

Ergobag 2016 model -900g, hard case at $258 without accessories. Capacity was 23 liters. Dimensions were 40cm H X 28cm W X 22cm D.
Test with 2.5kg weights – The support was acceptable but the bag was too long and shoulder straps placed too close, so it felt rather tight.

McNeil – 1kg, hard case, $418. Capacity was 23 liters. Dimensions were 37.5cm H X 31.5cm W X 19cm D.  

Test with 2.5kg weights – The support was exceptional without the use of shoulder belt and waist belt. The buckle was easy to open and straps were easy to adjust. The back cushion was water repellent and would not absorb sweat. It was also the was the easiest bag to lift from the ground to carry because of there were no “complicated” straps. The SA could offer an additional 20% discount too.

6. Good old Nike – super light, non-ergonomic, $55. Dimensions were 39cm H X 28cm W X 15cm D. 

Test with 2.5kg weights – with the thick straps, though it was not ergonomic, the bag felt light and comfortable to carry. In fact, it was more comfortable than some of the tested ergo bags. However, the bag could not stand so I was not sure how it would pan out for assembly and classroom’s use.

6. One KM/Changi City Point/JEM – Dr Kong 

Dimensions of the bag in different sizes   
Carrying S size, $79

Carrying M size – too big for him 

Test with 2.5kg weights – The weight felt like it was still on the shoulders. I was not really keen to find out more. When Z tried the S size, we realized his shoulder belt was slanted. I thought we did not adjust the shoulder straps equally. Turned out that the stitching of the shoulder belt was lopsided. One side was higher than the other. It casted considerable doubts and I did not like the design. Hence, we left promptly after trying.

Verdict : Yet to buy !! (As of point of posting in 2015)

Edited in 2020: As an unsponsored post, there is also no need to reveal the final selection. Besides, this is outdated info. Please gather your own intel.

10 responses to “Shopping for a school bag

  1. That’s a lot of research going into one school bag! I would have just picked one based on size and design =P
    My Co. has a premium backpack that’s supposedly ergonomic as well but I’m not sure how it would measure up against these big boys but let me know if you are keen!

  2. Preston uses a Lego ergonomic bag, which we bought in HK SOGO. I have no idea which model it is but the design is not available in Singapore. It holds enough & Preston found it the most comfortable among the many ergonomic bags he tried on. πŸ™‚ have fun shopping and let us know which bag you picked in the end.

  3. Hi

    I am urgently looking for an ergo bag for my son. Seeing that my son’s built is similar to your son, can u kindly share the brand that u have finally decided. Thanks.

    • Hi there, I picked the Lego Starter bag for him. It’s only available in the 2015 design and the 2016 design will come much later (if it comes). I got a $30 discount at Kinderfun a few weeks ago. Hope that helps!

  4. Hi

    Thanks so much for yr reply and was even more appreciative when I saw yr latest post that you are actually holidaying in Tokyo but still continue to post and reply.

    Went to check out the Lego bag. May I know if it was the super lightweight as compared to e rest of e ergo bags that u made your final choice upon.

    Thanks again for your attention.

    • It was the smallest Lego bag. It’s the $139 SRP one. We picked that because it has the smallest dimension in the Lego range and most suitable for his built. I liked the Lego ultimate but concerned that he will injure his back. My son picked Lego cos he liked the prints. Hope that helps!

  5. What’s the weight & height of your son at that time? And what’s the dimension of the Lego bag that you’ve chosen? Thanks.

    • Hi, he was 116cm. The height and width were marginally smaller by 1-2cm. The biggest difference was the depth which differed by 4cm or so.

      However, Kinderfun no longer sells the Lego ergo bag. Instead, their SPI series now look a tad similar to the Lego starter and starter plus bags.

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