Most school supplies are disposable. Notebooks, pens, and pencils will have served their purpose before the first term is up. A backpack, on the other hand, is an investment. Your purchase should be based not on trends, but on quality. A good backpack should last for years — make sure you choose the right one!
Little JJ Cole Backpack
All aboard! This sturdy little bag makes a great first backpack for your preschooler or kindergartener. Choose from eight cute designs, ranging from ballet slippers and butterflies to robots and dinosaurs. Each design features a reflective patch for added safety, and comes with a matching folder.
Skip Hop Zoo Pack
Durable meet adorable! Skip Hop's line of Zoo Packs are the perfect backpack for animal-loving little kids. With an array of creatures to choose from, each bag is durable enough to withstand little hands, and you're child will love choosing the perfect zoo animal to take to school with him everyday.
Olive Kids Sidekick Backpack
As your child begins to haul a few more books home, this vibrant backpack with a padded back and straps is a smart choice. It's made of extra-durable fabrics and has a moisture-resistant lining. With more than a dozen designs to pick from (and a matching lunch box, sold separately), it's sure to please your stylish child.
Herschel Supply Co. Backpack
For classic back-to-school cool, check out Heritage Supply Co.'s extensive line of standard and kid-sized backpacks. They feature a timeless, retro-inspired shape with signature striped fabric liner and leather trimmed zippers. Some bags feature additional bells and whistles, such as an interior laptop sleeve pocket.
L.L. Bean Backpack
The undisputed champ of kids' backpacks is made by L.L. Bean. Their products are rugged and durable, and come with a lifetime guarantee. That means that if the backpack ever breaks, they'll replace it at no charge. The bags also include safety features like a reflective strip, and fun touches like monograms. They also carry backpacks with wheels in case your child's books become too heavy to carry, and the variety of colors and designs means your child is bound to find one he loves.
High Sierra Rolling Backpack
As your child's homework load gets even heavier, consider a wheeled backpack. With its padded computer sleeve, headphone port, and large, corner-mounted wheels for easy use, this bag will help lighten the load for your older elementary school student or middle schooler.
The North Face Backpack
The North Face has taken their expertise in making clothes and gear for extreme outdoor conditions and applied it to one of nature's most rough-and-tumble environments: the school yard. Of course, these bags will also hold up if your children take them on a field trip or camping.
Jansport is one of the biggest backpack manufacturers in America, and for good reason — their products are sturdy come in colors and designs to suit all tastes. In addition to their top-of-the-line bags, Jansport sells a budget series under the brand name "Trans."
Messenger bags have been increasing in popularity among high-school and college students. Not only are they stylish, they're also ideal for carrying laptop computers. One of the leading messenger bag brands is Chrome Bags, which stand up well to the rigors of a bike messenger's day.
Like most of the companies on this list, Timbuk2 makes good-looking, tough backpacks and messenger bags. They also allow you to build your own bag on their website: Customize your bag by size, fabric, and color options.