The Best Backpacks for Kids for Back to School
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Unlike disposable school supplies, backpacks are an investment made to last that can be carried across many school years. You want something sturdy, durable, and age-appropriate. A backpack is also a great way for your kid to express their unique personality, so take their opinion into consideration this back-to-school season. Outside of a bookbag, backpacks can be used as daypacks and suitcases when traveling, so choosing the right option will serve you well.
More: 11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Here are our 10 favorite backpacks for every age.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Kids Backpack: High Sierra Loop Backpack at Amazon
- Best Everyday Kids Backpack: Fjallraven Kanken Classic Backpack at Amazon
- Best Disney Backpack: Mickey Mouse Deluxe Backpack at Amazon
- Best Travel Backpack: The North Face Women’s Borealis Backpack at Amazon
- Best Backpack for Elementary School: JanSport SuperBreak Backpack at Amazon
- Best Backpack for Middle School: Adidas Unisex Backpack at Amazon
- Best Backpack for High School: Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack at Amazon
- Best Laptop Backpack: SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Backpack at Amazon
- Best Crossbody Backpack: Nicgid Sling Backpack at Amazon
- Best Rolling Backpack: J World New York Sundance Rolling Backpack at Amazon
What to Consider When Purchasing a Kids Backpack
- Storage Space for school essentials. Depending on the age of your child the amount of storage needed for school supplies, books, and a laptop can vary. Typically the older the child, the more pockets and storage space the better. A bottle holder or bottle pocket on the side is great for all ages for easy access to a water bottle throughout the school day.
- Shoulder Straps. Again, this can be a preference depending on the age of your child. The heavier the load, for example, high school level textbooks, the sturdier the straps need to be. Extra-large backpacks with padded straps are a great option for high schoolers.
- Material. Both durability and the ability to clean are essential requirements for backpack material. If you choose a backpack that is made from durable material, you can expect them to last for a few years even with daily wear and tear. As a bonus, if they are made from a material that is easy to clean, then you can keep it looking fresh and new year after year.
This High Sierra Loop Backpack has everything you can look for in a kids backpack. Generous space is provided in the main compartments, and there are additional storage pockets, side mesh water bottle pockets, a tablet sleeve, a front attachment clip, and bottom compression straps to attach extra gear. You can fit a lot in this backpack, so the S-shaped padded shoulder straps will come in handy.
“Once I bought my child their first high sierra backpack I was hooked. I don't mind spending a little more on these backpacks because I never have to worry about replacing them throughout the school year. My child carries a heavy load of books etc... to school and these backpacks have always stood up. Love the high sierra brand!”
The Fjallraven Kanken backpack is a simple design, perfect for kid’s everyday use. The top tote handles are a great addition to the back shoulder straps, offering two easy ways to carry around this bag. The two-way zipper offers full access to the contents of the main pocket. In addition to the main storage, there are two open side pockets and a zippered front pocket. Made from Vinylon, this material is water-resistant, dirt-resistant, and easily wipes clean.
“It is well made and very lightweight. She says she never has back problems with it the way she did with others. Says it seems to be balanced a different way.”
For Disney lovers, this backpack is durable and adorable. Your standard main storage compartment offers a padded interior pocket for a 15-inch laptop, in addition, there is a zippered front organizer pocket and two open side storage pockets. The adjustable shoulder straps are padded for ideal comfort. Your kids will love getting complimented on the beautiful graphics of this backpack.
“Looks just like the picture, very big and good material.”
Coming in a ton of different color options, this North Face backpack is spacious and comfortable for a variety of different uses. Whether headed to school or off on a travel adventure, the various pockets, and front elastic bungee system will keep everything safe and secure.
“I'm in law school so I usually take 3 or more huge casebooks to and from school. None of my friends can fit even one of the textbooks in their backpacks because they're scared that their backpacks will break. I can usually fit 2 casebooks (think of huge textbooks) just fine. I highly recommend this backpack to other students.”
This JanSport SuperBreak Backpack is perfect for all ages, but we recommend it for elementary school based on its lightweight design. You will find a spacious main compartment, a zippered front organizer, and a side water bottle pocket. No major bells and whistles, but just exactly what elementary school students need. Choose from a variety of different colors depending on your child’s interests. The lifetime warranty is an added bonus that will keep up with the daily wear and tear kids give a bookbag.
“JanSport is the best brand for backpacks because they are stylish, durable, and have a FABULOUS repair program. If you buy a JanSport you have purchased a product that lasts a lifetime! Whenever our kids (or us) break a zipper or wear out a seam, we simply contact the company and, for the cost of shipping, get it repaired quickly and well. The only downside is the sheer amount of colors and designs to pick from...but that, in my opinion, is a great problem to have!”
This Adidas backpack is just the right size for middle schoolers. The main compartment offers plenty of space for notebooks and textbooks and a zippers media safe pocket. A large front zippered pocket is perfect for smaller items and the side pockets are great for water bottles. The clean lines and classic design are stylish and unique, and the lifetime warranty is a great selling point.
“My daughter searched and searched for a backpack for middle school and this was the winner. It’s a great size, fits everything, and doesn’t look huge on her. I love that the bottom is black so it doesn’t get too dirty from being on the floor.”
This Herschel Little America Backpack is stylish and roomy, perfect for high schoolers who have laptops and multiple books to carry around. The interior features a drawstring and the exterior has magnet fastener straps with pin buckles. The padded shoulder straps are supportive and comfortable for heavier loads, and the multiple pockets make it easy to stay organized.
I've spent countless hours this past week searching for a backpack to carry around all of my things during the school day and this one takes the cake. I was a little skeptical at first because I like having some pockets to keep my smaller items from getting lost in the bag, but besides the small front pocket, there are two small pockets inside on each side! I'm able to fit my 11" laptop, 30oz water bottle, some books, snacks, wallet, keys and there's room for more. I've already got so many compliments on it.
This Laptop Backpack is designed specifically for travel, allowing you to easily scan your laptop without having to remove it. The padded pocket allows for laptops of up to 17 inches in size, there is also a padded tablet pocket as well, making it ideal for various tech tools. This backpack is comfortable to carry and offers various organizing spots for different school accessories.
I have had this bag for more than 5 years and it is only now starting to wear out in 2 places. I usually carry a 15" laptop, 2 tablets, 1 kindle, and some extra equipment, so I carry a lot of weight through airports and in my daily commute. The bag showed no sign of wear until very recently, so I applaud the durability, especially at that price point.
Some students may prefer to have a slingback or crossbody backpack. While not a large back, this sling backpack option is still large enough to fit books or up to a 14-inch laptop. There is also an iPad compartment for tablets and a hidden anti-theft zippered pocket for a wallet, credit card, or other valuables. This is a great option for school backpacks or day trips. You can carry it as a tote bag with the handle on top, or adjust the crossbody strap for ease and comfort.
“The bag has been great for my son! It is really meant more for older people, but he is 10 and loves it. It has tons of compartments for storage. There's a spot for a laptop, pens, pencils, water bottles, his binder fits in it. There are even "hidden" zippers where he keeps his lunch money and hand sanitizer. Every inch has a use!”
Rolling backpacks are a great option for teens who need to carry a lot of heavy textbooks and school supplies. This particular one has a huge capacity, a fully padded interior laptop carrying case, multiple pockets for organizing, and an adjustable handle. You can easily convert from a backpack with comfortable shoulder straps, to a rolling back where you don’t have to worry about shouldering the load.
“I looked and looked for the right school backpack that would stay in place and keep its shape. Well, this was it! Bought it for my 6th grader who has a laptop, many books, and a huge flask. The side netted pocket is big enough for the flask without it flipping over like many backpacks. Also, it stays in place and does not fall over. The wheels are soft so they do not harm my floors. There is a slight wheel sound, but not bad at all. Rolls smoothly and colors were true to pictures.”
We know being a parent is never easy. Continue to explore our list of The Coolest New School Supplies to help prepare for this upcoming school year.
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Jennifer Caffelle is an Early Education professional and blogger, but by far her favorite job is being a Mama to two littles. Jennifer completed her Bachelors in Education from Curry College and her M.Ed from Concordia University.