Backpack Already Busted? Check Out These 21 Picks That Stood Up to Real-World Testing (2024)

Table of Contents
Best Overall Wildkin 17-inch Kids Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Back Support Lands End Kids ClassMate Small Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Rolling J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Basic Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Preschool Simple Modern Disney Kids Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Kindergarten Wildkin Pack-It-All Kids Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Big Kids L.L.Bean Comfort Carry Laptop Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Tweens High Sierra Loop Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Teens JanSport Cool Student Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Budget Skip Hop Spark Style Backpack Rocket Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Clear Under Armour Clear Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Mini Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Lightweight Nike Elemental Kids Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Personalized Pottery Barn Teen Interstellar Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs (Large Size): Best Large Adidas Prime Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Water-Resistant Abshoo Classical Travel Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Machine Washable L.L. Bean Original Book Pack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Splurge State Bags Kane Kids Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Cool Light + Nine Kids Starter Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best Eco-Friendly Athleta Limitless Backpack Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Best for Bringing Lunch Bentgo Kids Prints 2-in-1 Backpack & Insulated Lunch Bag Why We Recommend It The Takeaway Key Specs: Kids’ Backpacks We Also Tested: How We Tested Backpacks for Kids Our Experts What to Look for in Backpacks for Kids Frequently Asked Questions Why Trust Verywell Family

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Backpack Already Busted? Check Out These 21 Picks That Stood Up to Real-World Testing (1)

Whether it's strictly for school or something they'll take to sports practice, sleepovers, or a grandparent's house, backpacks are essential for toting kids' stuff around. Many children start using a backpack when they're as young as preschool age, and they'll continue using it regularly well into their college (and even post-grad) years.

There is no shortage of kids' backpacks to choose from, but it's hard to know which one will last a whole school year or more while also being comfortable and user-friendly. Size should be the first consideration when choosing the best backpack for your child. A backpack that's correctly sized for their age and height will ensure the weight is evenly distributed. It's also important to make sure the backpack has enough space as well as all the features your child needs, such as a water bottle holder, cushioned device pocket, or chest strap. Most of all, the bag has to be cute and comfy so your kid will actually want to use it.

We tested 50 different backpacks in various sizes and styles to find out which ones could really withstand real-world use by children. To test these products, we inspected the initial quality, overall capacity, and organizational features. Then, we assessed durability, comfort, ease of use, and other aspects after our kids wore each backpack for at least six months, regularly taking them to school, daycare, and sports practice. In total, our kids have spent more than 8,480 hours testing these backpacks. We also spoke with Brian Reilly, MD, a sports medicine physician at Akron Children’s Hospital and pediatrics professor, to find out what to look for in a kid’s backpack.

Our Top Picks

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In This Article

  • Our Picks

  • We Also Tested

  • How We Tested

  • Our Experts

  • What to Look For

  • FAQ

  • Why Trust Verywell Family

Best Overall

Wildkin 17-inch Kids Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Design

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4.9/5

Pros

  • Adjustable, padded shoulder straps

  • Easy to clean

  • Lots of pockets

Cons

  • No chest strap or clip

Why We Recommend It

Kids can put their backpacks through a lot, so we love how durable and well-constructed the Wildkin 17-inch Backpack is. Made from 600-denier polyester, this backpack holds up incredibly well—one of our fifth graders has been using it for months now, fitting in textbooks, notebooks, and her lunch, and it has yet to fray or show any signs of wear and tear.

There’s plenty of room for all of their stuff, too: Three zippered pockets and an interior mesh pocket help kids organize their notebooks, pencils, and more, and two exterior mesh pockets can hold water bottles, a thermos, or an umbrella. Bonus: A lunch box can fit inside one of the zippered pockets without getting squished, preventing food spills and smells from transferring to your kid’s books.

We appreciate that the back is padded, as are the adjustable shoulder straps, for your kiddo’s comfort. While there is no chest strap, the backpack feels secure when the shoulder straps are adjusted to the kid’s height. The nylon lining is moisture-resistant, which makes it easy to wipe down if their lunch or snacks spill, and we were able to get stains out right away. Plus, the zippers can be pulled smoothly with just one hand.

This backpack comes in a variety of colors and patterns, from horses to hearts to chevron. One of our kids loves her metallic backpack so much that she asks to take it to gymnastics and sleepovers in addition to school. The $47 price point is reasonable for a backpack that will hold up throughout the school year and has plenty of handy pockets, so your kid won’t need to rummage for a pencil or water bottle. To complete the set, you can purchase a matching lunch box, too.

The Takeaway

This backpack is perfectly sized for older elementary-age kids, and durable enough to stand up to whatever they get into. Lots of pockets means better organization, and padding ensures even heavy loads are comfortable to carry.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 9 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: 8 years old and up
  • Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best for Back Support

Lands End Kids ClassMate Small Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4/5

  • Design

    3.9/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Supportive chest strap

  • Adjustable shoulder straps

  • Additional sizes available

Cons

  • Not the most spacious option

Why We Recommend It

With all of their textbooks, folders, and school supplies, kids' backpacks get pretty heavy, so choosing one that will support their back is important. The Lands' End ClassMate has a handy adjustable strap that goes around the chest, which helps to spread out the backpack's weight and keep it securely in place at the right height. The padded shoulder straps also help make toting the backpack around more comfortable, and they can be adjusted to fit over a puffy coat or a t-shirt, depending on the weather. The back of the bag is also padded for breathability.

Even after several months of our 6-year-old tester tossing this backpack around, we haven't noticed any wear and tear; the backpack looks as good as it did when it arrived. When it gets wet, it dries out quickly and keeps the contents dry, too. It has the right amount of room for the 6-year-old's necessities, but for an older kiddo who will need several textbooks, it may be a tight fit. The bag has an outer zippered pocket, two mesh water bottle holders, reflective safety tape, and an inner sleeve for a folder.

This bag comes in multiple solid color and print options. The material isn't super soft, but it's not rough or irritating, and it hasn't scuffed or ripped. We wish the zippers had larger holes so we could attach an AirTag, but we don't think this is a major downside. (There are two ribbons on the front that kids can clip small plush toys to, though.)

The Takeaway

We love this backpack for its incredible durability, chest strap, and padding. We tested the small size, which is great for younger kids, but the ClassMate is also available in Medium (for kids 4 feet or taller), Large (for kids 4 feet 3 inches or taller), and Extra Large (for kids 4 feet 6 inches or taller). Since this backpack will last a long time and supports your kiddo's back and posture, we believe the $40 price tag is more than worth it.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 6 x 16 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Suggested for kids 3 feet 6 inches through 4 feet
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes
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Best Rolling

J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4.5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    4.5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Two carrying options

  • Adjustable handle height

  • Pockets for water bottles and pencils

  • Sturdy metal frame

Cons

  • A little heavy

Why We Recommend It

A rolling backpack can help reduce strain on a kid’s neck, shoulders, and spine, and some kiddos may find it easier to pull a fully loaded backpack instead of lugging it around on their shoulders. The JWorld Sunrise Rolling Backpack has two carrying options—rolling wheels and shoulder straps—so it’s a versatile option for school and travel.

In terms of features, this backpack has three main zipper pockets (one has dedicated pencil slots, a key fob, and card slots), two mesh water bottle holders, reflective safety tape, and an inner pocket for small toys or a phone. It also boasts an adjustable handle so it can grow with your kid. The spacious bag, which is made from polyester with a metal frame, easily fits everything one editor’s preschooler needs for the school day. The metal frame and the wheels do make it heavier, though.

Made from 600-denier polyester with PU coating, this backpack holds up well in the rain, with no color running or odor, we found. We have yet to notice any tears or fraying after six months of testing, and it’s easy to get crumbs out by shaking it upside down.

The Takeaway

If your school permits rolling backpacks, this is a great pick for elementary ages. Even outside of school, this would make a great travel backpack. It's sturdy, has plenty of room and pockets, and has stood the test of time (and kids). Since this backpack has several carrying methods and is made from sturdy material, we think $75 is reasonable. Plus, you can choose from several patterns, so you’re sure to find one your kiddo will love.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 18 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best Basic

Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4.8/5

  • Design

    4.5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Water-resistant

  • Color hasn’t faded in the sun

  • Comfortable adjustable shoulder straps

  • Unzips with one handed

Cons

  • No chest strap

  • No inner zipper pocket for lunch money

Why We Recommend It

The Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack lives up to its name: It's a fairly roomy, comfortable, and organized backpack that comes in several appealing prints. It's not particularly fancy, but it's a great pick that's well-sized for mid-elementary schoolers. The lightly padded shoulder straps are comfortable, easy to adjust, and don't dig into the kid's shoulders, though there's no chest strap. Our 8-year-old tester uses this backpack daily for school and appreciates that it has two water bottle holders—one for water and one for a sports drink—and that he can zip and unzip it with one hand while it hangs off one shoulder.

This backpack can fit plenty of supplies and a light hoodie, though a puffer jacket wouldn't fit. We like that it's easy to organize your kid's gear: The bag has a large pocket for books with a sleeve for a folder or laptop, a smaller front pouch, a small pencil holder, and two small inner pouches for a calculator or phone. Although it has an outer pocket, we'd prefer an internal zipper pocket for lunch money so it's not as easy for others to access.

The 600-denier polyester material holds up well in the sun—none of the colors faded—and we haven't noticed any fraying or ripping. And when it rains, the fabric doesn't get too wet and the backpack's contents stay completely dry. Though it doesn't come in as many prints as other options on our list, we like the few designs available.

The Takeaway

This classic backpack has it all: it's roomy, easy to keep organized, and high quality. We love all the pockets and pouches and water bottle holders, as well as the fact that it keeps our stuff dry. At $54, it's priced competitively with several of our other top options.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 6 x 16.25 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior), 3 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

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Best for Preschool

Simple Modern Disney Kids Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4.7/5

  • Durability

    4/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Fun patterns

  • Fits necessities

  • Chest strap

Cons

  • Smaller capacity

  • Zippers may break

Why We Recommend It

The Simple Modern Kids Fletcher Backpack is our top pick for preschoolers because it holds the necessities but isn’t too large or bulky. Our young tester regularly uses it to tote folders, PE shoes, a water bottle, and occasionally a lunch box, which is all they need. Though this isn’t as spacious as some of our other picks, it fits a preschooler’s necessities. The bag has two outer zipper pockets plus an inner padded sleeve for a tablet or folder. It also has two external water bottle holders.

We like that this backpack has a chest strap to support your little one’s growing body. Plus, the adjustable padded shoulder straps are comfortable and keep the bag in place while the kiddo runs around. The polyester fabric and inner lining are simple to wipe clean, and we’re impressed by how the reinforced stitching helps the bag maintain its shape and quality. Some users have found that the zippers break easily, though we haven’t noticed this yet after six months of testing. The backpack is available in several fun patterns, including a Disney princess print that we adore.

The Takeaway

We love that this bag has padded shoulders, multiple pockets, and quality construction. Kids love this bag for its amazing array of print design options; everyone should be able to find a favorite character. We think $40 is a worthwhile investment for an age-appropriate backpack that won’t overload your little one on the way to daycare or preschool.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.5x 5.25 x 15.25 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes (tablet-sized)

Best for Kindergarten

Wildkin Pack-It-All Kids Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4.5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Lots of exciting patterns

  • Spot cleans well

  • Loop for clipping on a lunch box

Cons

  • No chest strap

Why We Recommend It

For many kids, entering kindergarten is the first time they’ll go to school all day, so a backpack that looks cool and is easy to use can help get them excited about their new adventure. We think the Wildkin Pack-it-All Backpack is just the ticket. It comes in several fun color combinations and patterns, including dinosaurs, metallic, and see-through, and it has enough room and pockets to stash a kindergartener’s supplies without being too overwhelming.

Our kid testers report that the padded straps are super comfy and help keep the bag in place; we appreciate that the straps are adjustable so the backpack can grow with them. We do wish it had a chest strap, though. In addition to one water bottle holder, there’s a small zipper pocket for storing treasures or lunch money and a sleeve for a tablet or folder. (Bonus: The rectangular design helps keep folders in shape.) There’s also a strap on the front to clip on a lunch box, like this matching one.

The lightweight bag’s zippers are easy for small hands to manipulate, and the 600-denier polyester material cleans up nicely—even after a fall in the mud, we were able to get it looking as good as new using a cloth and warm water. The fabric and colors also held up well in the rain and snow.

The Takeaway

We love this backpack for its fun designs, sturdy, lightweight construction, and roominess. It's best for younger elementary-aged kiddos, but it may be able to see kids up to middle school. At $45, we feel the bag is priced competitively with many of our other top picks.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11 x 4.7 x 15 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: 3 to 10 years old
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best for Big Kids

L.L.Bean Comfort Carry Laptop Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Design

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Durability

    4.8/5

  • Value

    4.8/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Spacious

  • Well-designed pockets

  • Adjustable waist, chest, and shoulder straps

Cons

  • One thread is fraying

Why We Recommend It

We recommend the L.L.Bean Comfort Carry Laptop Backpack for big kids because it’s not too young-looking and fits much more stuff than our picks for younger kids. Our 11-year-old tester regularly uses it to tote a thick three-ring binder, a smaller binder, pencils, a Chromebook in a case, a few notebooks, and scrunchies—and it all fits. There’s an inner zipper pocket large enough to stow the hair ties and pencils, but not so big that she has to root around to find what she’s looking for, and a dedicated padded sleeve for her laptop. The backpack also has a bungee cord on the front for stowing a light jacket or a book.

Uniquely, this is one of the only backpacks we tested that has both chest and waist straps to help distribute the contents’ weight so it doesn’t take a huge toll on the kiddo’s shoulders. The padded shoulder straps are also comfortable enough to walk a mile to and from school daily with no complaints. (The chest, waist, and shoulder straps are all adjustable, so the bag can still be used as your kid sprouts up in their tween years.)

When it comes to design, we appreciate that the zippers work smoothly and don’t get caught on the fabric. Plus, the durable nylon bottom keeps the backpack sitting upright, and the nylon and polyester body wipes clean easily and keeps moisture out. We like that the padded mesh back is breathable, though the material could be trickier to clean if your kiddo is slinging it around in the dirt or sand on the playground.

We have noticed one thread fraying at the top of the backpack, but it hasn’t pulled. If you're worried about quality, know that if you're not 100% satisfied with a product purchased directly from L.L.Bean, you can return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After a year, you can return items with defective materials or craftsmanship.

The Takeaway

This backpack is great for when your kid starts needing to carry a laptop to and from school or when that fat 4-inch binder appears on the school supply list. While the designs aren't as loud as those meant for younger kids, there are plenty of solid color and print options to choose from that should appeal to their growing tastes. This backpack is pricier than many of our other picks, but it’s the only one with chest and waist straps, and it’s spacious and sturdy.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.75 x 10 x 18.75 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: 13 years old and up
  • Weight: 1.85 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

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Best for Tweens

High Sierra Loop Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4/5

  • Design

    4.5/5

  • Durability

    4.2/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Several color options

  • Handy loop handle

  • Many small pockets

Cons

  • Fitting in a lunch box is a tight squeeze

Why We Recommend It

Many tweens will appreciate that this High Sierra backpack comes in several solid colors that don’t look too kid-like, though there are still fun patterned options—like mermaids—if they’d prefer. Toting this backpack around the halls of middle school is a breeze thanks to padded adjustable straps, and uniquely, it has a loop at the top for picking it up, which feels sturdier than a typical handle.

There are plenty of pockets to stow your tween’s necessities. Our kids used the media pocket for a pair of headphones, and there are lots of smaller pockets for a phone, lunch money, and more. Plus, the two larger pockets fit binders, folders, notebooks, pencils, and a sweatshirt, and there’s a dedicated sleeve for a device. Fitting a lunch box into the bag is a tight squeeze, but there is a loop on the front of the backpack you could hook a lunch box onto.

In the outer zippered pocket, there’s a ring for attaching keys if your tween lets themselves in after school, and there are two mesh water bottle holders on the outside of the bag. We also like that there are extra straps on the outside that can compress the contents if needed. (This is handy for putting it in an overhead bin during travel.) The strap has also proven handy for keeping taller water bottles securely in place.

After months of use, there were some faint stains on the lighter-colored fabric that didn’t fully come out when we cleaned it. Overall, the backpack still looks clean, and light staining is to be expected when your kiddo is slinging it to the floor and wearing it in different types of weather. However, the color itself didn’t fade in the sun, and we haven’t noticed any fraying or loose threads. The zippers are easy to use one-handed when your other hand is holding the bag taut, and we like that they’re made of a stretchy elastic material that can withstand plenty of tugging.

The Takeaway

This is a great pick for a tween (or teen) who appreciates pockets and organization and wants a backpack that doesn’t look too childish. While other backpacks have worn out in a few months, our kids' High Sierra backpacks still look great after several school years. Priced at $45, it's a great price given how roomy and durable the bag is.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 8.5 x 19 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (interior), 1 (exterior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 2.04 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes
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Best for Teens

JanSport Cool Student Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Design

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Durability

    4.7/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Durable faux leather bottom

  • Spacious

  • Straps are easy to adjust

Cons

  • Only 1 water bottle holder

Why We Recommend It

From laptops to textbooks to binders, teens have a lot to lug around, so a spacious backpack that stands up to wear and tear is a must. We recommend the JanSport Cool Student Backpack, which boasts large pockets and sturdy construction. The bottom of the bag is covered in durable faux leather that helps protect it from scratches and scrapes—plus, it reinforces the backpack if your teen has filled it to the brim. The ends of the zippers are covered in the same leather to protect your kiddo’s fingers, and the zipper pulls have handy cords to grip.

Our kid testers regularly used this backpack to stow a laptop, lunch, folders, and a snack, and it's tall enough that the corners of the folders don’t get bent. There are also quite a few smaller pockets on the outside—two small stash pockets and one large pocket with an organizer and key ring—so there’s ample room to store a phone, pencils, keys, and other small items. We appreciate that the laptop sleeve is located against the padded back so the device is extra cushioned.

The padded back panel and easily adjustable straps make this backpack comfortable to wear for a while, including our kid's quarter-mile walk to and from school. We’re particularly impressed by this bag’s stitching, which is doubled up in areas likely to get the most wear. The metal zipper handles also feel strong and sturdy, and the inside of the polyester bag is coated in a mostly water-resistant lining.

The Takeaway

JanSport has been a top name in backpacks for decades now, for good reason. The key words here are roomy and sturdy—exactly what teens need. For school or travel, this backpack can handle everything you need to carry. We believe that a price tag of $60 is reasonable for an older kid or teen who will need a large, long-lasting backpack for high school.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 17 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 4 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

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Best Budget

Skip Hop Spark Style Backpack Rocket

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    4/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Cute design options

  • Wide opening

  • Clear pocket for school supplies

Cons

Why We Recommend It

You don’t need to spend a ton on a kids’ backpack to find a well-made option, like the Skip Hop Spark. Best for younger kiddos, this backpack easily fits preschool essentials, like a blanket for naptime, an extra set of clothes, and cold weather gear for recess, when necessary. And though our preschooler didn’t need to bring lunch to school yet, we think this backpack could fit a lunch box in addition to all the other gear.

We love the adorable design options, too. Our 3-year-old tester often asks to carry “his rocketship,” and there are other sweet designs like an ice cream cone, a soccer field, and a strawberry. The thinly padded straps, though adjustable, are a little stiffer than we’d like, and there is no chest strap. However, we appreciate the stretchy water bottle pocket that keeps the bottle in even when the backpack is filled to the brim.

The organization is basic, with one interior pocket—great for holding artwork—and an external zippered see-through pouch, so you wouldn’t want to put valuables like lunch money in it. We wish the main compartment’s string zippers were more like the durable metal zipper on the outer pouch, which feels more equipped to stand up to a kid’s rough-and-tumble use.

The Takeaway

While basic, this backpack is adorable and fitting for a little one’s needs. At $30, this is the most affordable pick on our list, and it’s a reasonable price for a kiddo’s first or second backpack. It's priced appropriately for its size, and it should be spacious and sturdy enough to tote all your preschooler's favorite stuffies and spaceships until they outgrow it.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 5 x 14 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior)
  • Age Range: 3 years old and up (or 48 inches and taller)
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes
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Pros

  • Water-resistant plastic

  • Built-in laptop sleeve

  • Adjustable straps

Cons

  • Only one zippered pocket

Why We Recommend It

Whether your child’s school requires your kid's backpack to be clear, or your kiddo just likes the look, the Under Armour Clear Backpack won’t disappoint. We love how lightweight and durable the backpack feels throughout the day.This backpack is fully transparent so that kids can easily see where everything is inside. It also boasts a water-resistant material to protect items inside from rain on the walk home or any drink spillage.

This Under Armour backpack features one main zip-shut compartment for binders and books, an exterior zippered pocket for pencils, a cell phone, and smaller essentials, and an internal sleeve for a 15-inch laptop. Plus, two pockets on the sides of the exterior are just the right size for water bottles or other drinks. Kids will appreciate the adjustable shoulder straps that are plush for comfort, regardless of how full the backpack is.

The Takeaway

Some schools only allow kids to use clear, fully see-through backpacks. If you're looking for one that's big enough for a binder and laptop, and tough enough to withstand everyday use, we recommend this pick.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.8 x 5 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 4
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Best Mini

Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    2.5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Glows in the dark

  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps

  • Can be personalized

Cons

  • Too small for older kids

Why We Recommend It

If your toddler needs a small backpack to carry a change of clothes or stuffed animal to and from daycare or grandma's house, this mini backpack from Pottery Barn Kids fits the bill. Designed for kids 36 to 42 inches tall, the small bag is lightweight and easy to carry around with the adjustable padded shoulder straps.

This backpack’s practical features are basic but functional. The zippers have handy pull tabs for little fingers, and on the outside, there are two mesh water bottle pockets and a strap for connecting a lunch box. Little kids will love that this backpack glows in the dark: After it’s “charged” under a bright light for 30 minutes, the pattern glows, which is an exciting feature to play around with at home or on a camping trip.

One of our preschoolers and her older brothers enjoy using this backpack for pretend play, though she also occasionally uses it to tote a change of clothes and a favorite toy to school. The 600-denier, water-resistant polyester fabric hasn’t shown signs of wear and tear after six months of testing, and it’s lightweight to help smaller kiddos carry it around. To get little ones extra excited about starting school, this backpack can be personalized with the child's name or initials, but do note that this will cost extra.

The Takeaway

If you're in the market for a mini backpack, this one was a big hit on our test. While $45 is a little steep for a mini backpack, the fun pattern and glow-in-the-dark effects are wonderful ways to get a little one excited about starting daycare or summer camp, and the material is built to last.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 4.5 x 12.5 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior)
  • Age Range: For kids 36 to 42 inches tall
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best Lightweight

Nike Elemental Kids Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4.2/5

  • Design

    3.9/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Straps are easy to slip on and off

  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Too small for larger items

Why We Recommend It

Kids load up their backpacks with a lot of stuff, so we recommend finding one that’s lightweight to begin with to avoid weighing them down more. The Nike Elemental Kids’ Backpack is slim and weighs just 12 ounces. Though it’s light, it fits plenty: our 9-year-old tester could carry a folder, workbook, full-size planner, lunch bag, and a baggie of thin books for his reading log. Plus, his water bottle fits into the mesh side pocket.

We love the included matching pouch that zips onto the side of the backpack, which is the right size for toting hand sanitizer, lip balm, and tissues. (We didn't think it was large enough to be a pencil case.) There’s also a zippered front pocket for stowing lunch money or a phone.

Thanks to the thinly padded shoulder straps, the 9-year-old finds it easier to slip this backpack on and off compared to other backpacks he’s used that have thicker shoulder straps. These straps don’t dig or rub uncomfortably, making this bag a great pick for kiddos with sensory sensitivities. There isn’t a sternum strap, but it stays on securely when kids run with it on.

We have yet to see any signs of wear and tear (an impressive feat, given how rough our 9-year-old tester is on his stuff), and we were able to wipe off messes with a wet paper towel. The bag is also reasonably priced at $37, less than many of our other top picks.

The Takeaway

This backpack is the right size for an elementary schooler’s needs, but it likely wouldn’t fit an older kid’s textbooks and binders. Our 9-year-old noted that the backpack is lightweight and nice to carry—explaining that it’s much easier for him to run with it on than it was with backpacks he’s used in the past.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12 x 5 x 13 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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The 10 Best Labels for Kid Lunch Boxes and Clothing

Best Personalized

Pottery Barn Teen Interstellar Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    4/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Pros

  • Can add a name or monogram

  • Roomy

  • Several size options

  • Made from recycled water bottles

Cons

  • Single zipper on front pockets

  • Personalization costs extra

Why We Recommend It

A personalized backpack can make kids feel extra special, so we love that you can add a name or monogram to this one from Pottery Barn. (It costs an additional $15, but we think it's worth it.) To make it even more fun, the brand sells a matching water bottle and lunch box, which can be personalized as well. The backpack comes in several sizes—small, large, XL, and roller—so the number of features varies by size. (We tested the large.)

The backpack's main zipper compartment fits a lunch box, water bottle, stuffed animals, and books, and there are two exterior pockets on the front for smaller items. The main compartment can even fit a jacket in addition to school supplies. However, while the main compartment is plenty roomy, we wish there were a few more pockets or other organizational elements.

The front pockets each have a single zipper, making opening and closing them a bit of a pain—a double zipper would be more convenient. However, the straps are padded and adjustable, and our second grader describes her backpack as "very good and very comfortable." There are also two mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles or an umbrella.

Though the polyester material doesn't feel as durable as some other backpacks, we do like that it's made from recycled water bottles. It's also nice to have several size options: If your child gets attached to the pattern and style of their backpack, they can size up once they've outgrown it.

The Takeaway

This PB teen backpack is a spacious bag with fun options for personalization and matching accessories. Our kids found this bag comfortable, but we would prefer to see a double zipper and more compartments in a backpack of this price point aimed at tweens and teens.

Key Specs (Large Size):

  • Dimensions: 12 x 7.5 x 17 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Best Large

Adidas Prime Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Design

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    4.5/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Fits lots of books and gear

  • Smooth zippers

  • Material is easy to clean

Cons

  • Water bottle holders aren’t very stretchy

  • Shoulder straps could be comfier

Why We Recommend It

The older your kid gets, the more they’ll need to cart to and from school every day. This Adidas backpack—which boasts an impressive five pocketsholds everything our 14-year-old tester needs for school and soccer practice. He uses it to carry a large binder, notebooks, and one or two textbooks every day, and on days he has after-school sports, he can also fit in a soccer ball, cleats, a water bottle, and a change of clothes. The large pocket also has a padded sleeve for a 15-inch laptop, and one of the smaller pockets has an internal organizer for items like earbuds, a calculator, and keys. Since there are so many pockets, the 14-year-old dedicates one to permission slips and other important notes so they don’t get lost at the bottom of the bag, which is pretty clever.

The rugged polyester material is easy to wipe clean and protects the inner contents from rain or snow. Plus, its structured bottom gives the backpack stability when loading it up. Despite being thrown on the ground during soccer practice and crushed in a locker, this backpack still looks almost as good as new after six months of testing, and we're even pretty confident we’ll be able to pass it down to our younger kids.

Though there are two water bottle holders—which are handy for carrying water and a sports drink—these pockets don’t stretch to accommodate larger bottles. We also wish the adjustable straps were less stiff; when the 14-year-old walked home from school on days his backpack was filled to the brim, they dug into his shoulders a bit.

The Takeaway

With all of its pockets and the rugged fabric, the Adidas Prime Backpack is an excellent choice for older kids or those who need a large bag, especially kiddos who have after-school sports practice or dance lessons.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 11 x 20.25 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 5 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Best Water-Resistant

Abshoo Classical Travel Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Holds up in rain and snow

  • Budget-friendly

  • Lots of color options

Cons

  • Heavy

Why We Recommend It

If you live in a climate where there’s frequent rain or snow, you’ll want your kiddo to have a water-resistant backpack to protect their notes and books. This Abshoo backpack can withstand a winter season full of nasty weather. We found that the water-resistant polyester fabric handles water bottle leaks, rain, and snow—and it still looks as good as new. It also comes in a variety of fun colors.

Beyond being virtually weatherproof, this backpack has several handy pockets. Our 8-year-old tester could fit his lunch bag, folders, gloves, and even a Nerf football in the bag’s main compartment, and there are three more pockets to hold additional belongings. The backpack also has two water bottle holders (but they don’t cinch, so they may not fit slimmer bottles). The shoulder straps are padded and adjustable—the 8-year-old can adjust them by himself—but the bag does bounce around when he runs. (He does prefer a looser fit, though.)

At 1.1 pounds, it feels a little heavy even when it’s not loaded up, so it may not be the best fit for kids with long walks to and from school. But at $30, this is a great deal on a backpack that can withstand the elements and accommodate all of your kiddo’s stuff.

The Takeaway

Lots of pockets and weather resistance, combined with an unbeatable price point, make this bag a great pick for budget-conscious shoppers in climates that see a lot of rain and snow—especially if your child walks to school or has outdoor sports practices.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 5.3 x 16.5 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 4 (exterior), 2 (interior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best Machine Washable

L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4.5/5

  • Design

    4.5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4.5/5

Pros

  • Useful pockets

  • Holds up well

  • Zips smoothly

Cons

  • Straps need breaking in

  • May not be big enough for older kids

Why We Recommend It

This L.L.Bean backpack has been around for years—some of us even owned it as kids—and it stands the test of time. The weatherproof nylon stays impressively clean on the bus and subway, and it even withstands rain and snow in the Northeast. We particularly like that it’s machine washable, so you can toss it in the washer after a particularly messy day at school. (The brand recommends using a mesh garment bag in the wash and then line drying.)

Available in several colors, this bag has reflective lining for safety and fits a folder, lunch box, and books. Plus, once a week, our first grader also totes a towel and bathing suit for swim lessons. The spacious bag, which boasts a large main pocket and two front pockets, is convenient for kids who are out and about all day, from school to the playground to extracurriculars. We also like that the main front pocket has a keychain loop for kiddos who let themselves in after school and a handy organizer for pencils, a phone, and more.

Though the stiffer straps require some breaking in, they’re comfortable enough for kiddos and adults to use. We particularly like that the zippers are simple to manipulate—our child who has some fine motor delays had no problem zipping and unzipping his backpack. The rugged pack comes in a few different colors and can be personalized with the kid’s monogram for an additional fee. At $40, this backpack is a little less pricey than our best overall pick, the Wildkin 17-inch Backpack, which costs $47, and is well worth it for a durable, classic backpack.

The Takeaway

L.L. Bean had stood the test of time for good reason: Classic design and solid construction never go out of style. This backpack is a workhorse; it fits all you need to carry, should last the whole school year and beyond, it's easy to keep organized, and it's machine washable.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 13 x 7.25 x 16 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 2 (interior)
  • Age Range: 6 years old and up
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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The 11 Best Rain Jackets for Kids to Stay Warm and Dry

Best Splurge

State Bags Kane Kids Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Cool look

  • Holds up well

  • Can be personalized

Cons

  • Pricier than other options

  • Could be more spacious

Why We Recommend It

The State Bag Kane Kids Double Pocket backpack is a sleek option that merits the $110 price with its durable, water-resistant material and cool look. (Plus, 45% of the polyester canvas is made from recycled materials.) Water rolls right off this bag, and it still looks brand new after six months of daily use. The lightly padded straps adjust to fit your kiddo’s frame and don’t slip.

We love that this bag is roomy without feeling bulky, and we think that the brand’s recommended age range of third grade and up is appropriate. (We had a younger child test it and it was a bit big on him.) Our first grader carried two folders, a couple of library books, a change of clothes, a soft-sided lunch box, and a water bottle in it. There are two large zippered pockets for books and a lunch box, a smaller outer pocket for pencils, a phone, a baggie with lunch money, or other belongings, and two side water bottle holders.

This bag has gotten wet several times during the testing period and each time it’s dried well and looks as good as new with no fraying or fading. We also like that it comes in several color combinations, so your kiddo can pick their favorite. The bag can be personalized with initials for an additional $20 if you purchase it from the company website. You can also choose to add a charm for $24 (19 options) or a chest strap for $18 (six colors).

The Takeaway

While this State Bags backpack is a splurge, we feel confident it will hold up and last for several years. It's not as big as other options on our list, but we still feel it's a great pick for older elementary kids and above given its high quality, water-resistance, and handy pocket set-up.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11.25 x 4.75 x 15.75 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior), 3 (interior)
  • Age Range: 3rd grade and up
  • Weight: 0.99 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes
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Best Cool

Light + Nine Kids Starter Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    4/5

  • Value

    4.5/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Designed to be personalized

  • Sturdy construction

  • Unzips most of the way for cleaning

Cons

  • Pricier than other options

Why We Recommend It

This backpack from Light + Nine is a great option for kids who want to showcase their personal style. We love that the perforated material is designed to be customized with the brand’s Nimix charms (sold separately) so your little one can show off their personality.

This water-resistant backpack has two side bottle holders and an inner pocket for additional organization. We also appreciate that the sturdier construction makes it easy to take things in and out and prevents the contents from shifting around a lot. Though the padded straps are on the slimmer side, they fit the bag’s intended age range of 3 to 6 years old. The bag unzips nearly all the way so it’s accessible to clean if their snacks or markers spill.

Since the material is firm, it’s great for taking to sports practice or other activities. And since it cleans up nicely, feels durable, and can be customized, we think the $70 price tag is justified—particularly if your little one is rough on bags or prioritizes style. Please note that this bag will not fit a binder.

The Takeaway

While this is a pricey pick for a small child's bag, it's built to last. Kids will love that the backpack is essentially a canvas to decorate with charms of their choosing. Parents will appreciate that it's sturdy enough to stand up to whatever their kids throw at it.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 4 x 14 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior), 1 (interior)
  • Age Range: 3 to 6 years old
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: No
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Best Eco-Friendly

Athleta Limitless Backpack

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    4.5/5

  • Design

    4/5

  • Durability

    4.5/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

Pros

  • Sleek look

  • Withstands regular wear and tear

  • Made from recycled bottles

Cons

  • Adjustable straps loosen by themselves

Why We Recommend It

The Athleta Girl Limitless Backpack is constructed from recycled polyester made from used plastic bottles to help decrease its environmental impact. (This provides a great opportunity to discuss sustainability with your kid.) Our fourth grader used this daily to transport two folders, two notebooks, a pencil case, jazz shoes, a lunch box, and a 20-ounce water bottle—though it was a little tight, the essentials all managed to fit in. Plus, a front pocket can hold sticky notes, glue, and other small school supplies, and it also has an interior laptop sleeve.

Our 10-year-old tester loves the aesthetic of this backpack, which she uses for school and dance class. Its padded straps are comfortable and adjustable, but we found that they frequently loosen when a kid is wearing the bag. Luckily, they’re simple to readjust, but this isn’t ideal.

This durable bag hasn’t faded in the sun or shown any signs of wear and tear, which is impressive since our kids were a little rough on the backpack. In case of a spill, it wipes clean with water.

The Takeaway

If your kiddo is old enough to adjust their straps by themselves, then we think this bag’s durable (and sustainable) construction and attractive look make it well worth the price.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: Not listed
  • Number of Pockets: 2 (exterior)
  • Age Range: Not listed
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Water Bottle Holders: 2
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

The 25 Best Homeschool Supplies

Best for Bringing Lunch

Bentgo Kids Prints 2-in-1 Backpack & Insulated Lunch Bag

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Our Ratings

  • Design

    3/5

  • Capacity

    3/5

  • Durability

    4.1/5

  • Value

    4/5

  • Comfort

    4.2/5

Pros

  • Designated lunch box pocket

  • Fun patterns

  • Easy to spot clean

Cons

  • Mesh water bottle holder may rip

Why We Recommend It

If your kiddo brings their lunch to school, you’ll need an option that can fit their lunch box without squishing their food. The Bentgo 2-in-1 has a handy insulated pocket at the bottom of the bag designed specifically to hold a Bentgo lunch box (sold separately) or a similarly sized container. It also has two other zippered pockets that fit our third grader’s headphones, a few books, a snack, and various papers.

We like that this backpack has an adjustable chest strap in addition to padded shoulder straps and a padded back, making it comfortable for your kid to carry. (The shoulder straps are tricky to adjust, however). The bag stays nicely in place when kids run with it on, and it’s easy to spot clean if there are spills. Plus, the fun patterns disguise dirt or stains, too.

This backpack is on the smaller side—it doesn’t fit a standard laptop or larger books—so it’s best for younger kids. We also found that the mesh water bottle holder quickly got a hole in it, though the pocket does accommodate a larger bottle, which we appreciate.

The Takeaway

We love that this bag has a dedicated lunch box pocket. It means smells and messes don’t transfer to notebooks or other belongings. It’s particularly useful if your little one packs lunch regularly and/or walks to school since it means they won’t need to lug their lunch box separately.

Key Specs:

  • Dimensions: 11 x 7.5 x 16.5 inches
  • Number of Pockets: 3 (exterior)
  • Age Range: 5 years old and up
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Water Bottle Holders: 1
  • Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Kids’ Backpacks We Also Tested:

  • L.L.Bean Deluxe Book Pack: Initially, we were very impressed by this backpack’s supportive chest strap and ample capacity (it fit a puffy jacket in addition to necessary school supplies). However, after several months of use, the zipper got wedged onto the backpack’s fabric and couldn't be dislodged, rendering the backpack unusable.
  • Fjallraven Kanken 15-Inch Laptop Backpack: We like the trendy look of this bag, and the compact size makes it easy to tote around. However, it doesn’t fit as much as a school bag should, its straps would benefit from more padding, and the $115 price is steep. However, because of its smaller size, we recommend it for a flight.
  • North Face Youth Court Jester: Though the padded, adjustable straps are comfy and there is a chest strap, this backpack only has one main pocket, which makes it tricky to keep belongings organized. Plus, it gets pretty wet in the rain, though the inner contents are protected.
  • JanSport Superbreak: While we like that this bag is partly made out of recycled materials, one editor’s light blue backpack arrived already dirty, and the stains did not come out. The thinly padded straps weren’t too comfortable either.

How We Tested Backpacks for Kids


To find the best backpacks for kids of all ages, we sent 50 backpacks to editors' kids to use at school, sports practice, and beyond for at least six months. We tested them in three categories: preschool through fourth grade, fifth grade through eighth grade, and high school and beyond. Ultimately, we’ve spent more than 8,480 hours testing these kids’ backpacks.

  • Quality and durability: Prior to use, we inspected the bags, evaluating features like fabric quality, loose threads, stitching, zippers, and strap padding. We then assessed how they held up after six months of regular use.
  • Features: We took note of water bottle holders, pockets, laptop sleeves, overall capacity, waterproofing, and other features. Chest straps were always a perk, especially for younger kids to keep the bag in place or for big kids who carry a lot of heavy gear and books.
  • Comfort: The kids wore these backpacks for six months and were asked about how comfortable and easy they were to carry, whether they felt any strain on their neck or back, and how well the bag stayed in place while running or doing other activities.
  • Capacity and ease of use: We considered the recommended age range against what our kids actually needed to tote around. We also asked the kids how well the bags fit their belongings and how easy it was to put things in, take things out, and keep things organized.
  • Ease of cleaning: We cleaned the backpacks as needed—at least once a month—to see how the machine-washable bags held up in the washer. And for the spot-clean-only bags, we examined them to see how well stains and dirt came out after treating them.

Our Experts

We spoke with an expert to discuss what to look for in a child's backpack that is functional, age-appropriate, and developmentally sound for a variety of ages and grades:

  • Brian Reilly, MD, is a sports medicine physician at Akron Children’s Hospital and a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Northeast Ohio Medical University

Additionally, we consulted guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Safety Council. When picking a backpack for your child, we recommend considering its design, material, capacity, age recommendation, durability, value, and size.

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What to Look for in Backpacks for Kids

  • Durability: Your child’s backpack will take a beating over the course of a school year, so if you want an option that will last from fall to summer (and possibly beyond), look for one that’s well-constructed from quality materials. If you plan to use the bag for more than just school, like for hiking or travel, check the materials it's made of to ensure it can hold up to additional activities. More durable options like the JanSport Cool Student Backpack, which boasts a sturdy synthetic leather bottom, are ideal for more rigorous activities.
  • Weather-proofing: If you live in a climate that’s prone to rain or snow, or if your kid regularly walks to school, you’ll want to look for a material that is water-resistant or weatherproof, too. We're particularly impressed by the L.L.Bean Original Book Pack’s weatherproof nylon and the Abshoo Classical Basic Travel Backpack’s water-resistant polyester.
  • Cleaning: Your child’s backpack will inevitably get dirty—especially if your child is younger—look for one that can be cleaned in the washing machine, like the L.L.Bean Original Book Pack, or one that’s easy to spot clean or wipe down, like the Bentgo 2-in-1 and the Adidas Prime Backpack.
  • Ergonomics and Size: Consider your child’s size when choosing a backpack to ensure it's developmentally appropriate. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says a child’s backpack shouldn't be wider than their torso or hang more than 4 inches below the waist. A chest strap and padded, adjustable shoulder straps are ideal for evenly distributing the backpack’s weight. A poor-fitting backpack can lead to poor posture and neck and back pain.
  • Functionality: Some kids may be focused on the style of their backpack—the Light + Nine Starter Backpack and Athleta Limitless Backpack are very cool—but you should also pay attention to the bag’s functionality and capacity. Make sure it has enough pockets and that the compartments are large enough to hold all their supplies and keep them organized.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does my kid need a backpack in kindergarten?

    When your child starts kindergarten, a backpack is appropriate. Kindergartners need a place to pack their lunch and school basics like notebooks, homework folders, and potentially a blanket or lovey for naptime. Besides the practical aspects, sending your child to kindergarten with a backpack is a meaningful gesture. It shows them that they are a “real” school kid, and it’s the first step in learning to take responsibility for their belongings.

  • What type of backpack does my kindergartner need?

    Understanding what your child needs to bring to and from school can help you pick the right backpack for them. For example, if they will be toting homework, it's best to have a backpack with compartments that can separate their lunch from their papers. Make sure the backpack fits your child’s body; one that's too large can make it difficult for your child to wear it comfortably. Look for adjustable straps so the backpack can grow with them. A backpack that's easy to clean is useful, as you can expect lots of messes.

  • How much does a quality backpack for kids cost?

    Generally, high-quality kids' backpacks cost between $30 and $150 depending on the style, features, size, and intended age range. When picking a backpack, consider the overall value for money, not just the price. Consider what your child will be using the bag for, how long you'd like it to last them, and if there are younger siblings who could get some additional use out of it.

  • How do you know if a backpack is too heavy?

    The AAP recommends that a child's backpack weigh no more than 10% to 20% of their body weight. Dr. Reilly says this is typically less than 10 pounds for elementary school students, 15 pounds for middle schoolers, and 20 pounds for the average high school student. If your child has to lean forward to accommodate the weight of their backpack, then it’s too heavy, according to the AAP.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Phoebe Sklansky is Verywell Family’s Associate Commerce Editor. As a commerce writer and avid shopper herself, she enjoys helping readers find the best products for their unique needs. She’s researched hundreds of baby and child products and has tested dozens in our lab, from strollers to baby swings to diaper bags. Phoebe owned the long-lasting L.L.Bean Original Book Pack in Royal Blue as an elementary schooler and felt super cool having her initials stitched onto the bag.

Additional reporting by:

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products. Key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include design, age appropriateness, and user reviews.

Katrina Cossey is an Oklahoma-based commerce writer and devoted mom specializing in parenting, family, and pregnancy content. She has nearly eight years of service journalism experience under her belt and loves to research and recommend the best products for families, pregnant people, and kids of all ages. She has researched thousands of baby products, toys, gifts, and more and personally tested many of them to find the most reliable product recommendations. When she’s not writing and researching, you’ll likely find her outdoors with her husband and their thrill-seeking toddler son.

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