The Ten Best Kids Backpacks

Best Kids Backpack

From the youngest toddlers to children in elementary school, middle school and beyond, kids need a backpack that will hold everything they need on the go. Choosing that backpack isn’t easy. The eye-catching options you find in retail stores may not offer the quality and durability you want, but when parents switch to online shopping, where they can do more extensive research, the sheer amount of backpack options can be overwhelming.

As we narrowed down the very best backpacks on the market for kids, we factored in the concerns you care about most. Our number-one concern is comfort, because we know that an uncomfortable child is an unhappy child. As a parent, protecting your child – even from the seemingly minor strain of an uncomfortable backpack – is paramount. Our list of the ten best kids’ backpacks is full of options that feature padded or ergonomically contoured shoulder straps, comfortably cushioned back panels and more.

Quality is another big concern. You want your kid’s backpack to be durable enough to last – not just for the school year but, ideally, for much longer. We evaluated the quality of the materials, the construction, the straps, the zippers and everything in between.

When it comes to features, some bags are more robust than others. While not every bookbag on our list has a full array of features to brag about – and there’s certainly something to be said for the value of simplicity – you will find that many of our top choices have numerous pockets and compartments for organization, as well as extra features like reflective details for safety.

The first thing your child will notice about the backpack is its appearance. Although you shouldn’t judge a bookbag solely on its cover, we awarded points for style, because it’s the bag’s look that kids are likely to grow most attached to. Some kids’ backpacks are clearly made for little ones, in cute styles of animals or dinosaurs, while others have a more grown-up look but come in vibrant colors and patterns.

Finally, cost matters. Our list includes options at every price point, from $10 to $80, so there’s an option that’s sure to meet every family’s budget. In addition to the dollar amount of the cost, we also considered how much value the bag provides, considering points such as whether a pricier bag’s offer long-term warranty, extra features or environmentally conscious manufacturing process is worth the cost.

Looking for your child’s next backpack? These ten bookbags are sure to be winners.

1. LEGO Bags

LEGO Backpack

The LEGO bags from Carry Gear Solutions aren’t just full-featured backpacks, they’re also eco-friendly. Available in a classic backpack silhouette or in a fun LEGO brick design, every bag in this product line boasts great features like numerous pockets, ergonomic padded straps, reflective detailing for visibility in the dark and the ability to buckle coordinating lunch bags and backpacks to free up space in the bag. One particularly appealing aspect of the LEGO backpack line is its use of post-consumer recycled water bottles to create a sustainable and durable woven fabric. By using this recycled material over traditional new polyester, the manufacturer says that it is able to decrease air pollution, water use and energy use significantly. As parents, we’re often concerned about the state of the natural world in which our children grow up. Choosing a backpack made with environmentally conscious materials and practices is one way we can help care for the environment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The brick and traditional silhouette backpacks are both large capacity, with the brick design measuring 16 inches x 10 inches by 6 inches and the classic backpack design measuring 16 inches x 11 inches x 6.5 inches.
  • A fully functional design includes a large-capacity double-zippered main compartment complete with an interior slip pocket and a side mesh water bottle pocket in either model. The brick backpack includes handy two zippered front pockets, while the traditional backpack has one large front zipper pocket with a built-in organizer.
  • Padded, ergonomically contoured adjustable shoulder straps, a padded back panel and an adjustable front sternum strap allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children, teens and even adults.
  • For better night visibility, the bags incorporate 360-degree reflective detailing, so your child can be seen in the dark from any angle.
  • The D-ring smart buckle system allows kids to easily attach a coordinating LEGO lunch bag to the backpack’s exterior.
  • The durable, sustainable and eco-friendly recycled materials used in the backpack’s construction are also lead-free, PVC-free and phthalate-free.
  • Whether you choose the whimsical LEGO brick design or a classic design, the touch of LEGO detailing, such as the zipper pulls, make for a stylish choice for kids of all ages.
  • Each bag includes an interior name tag that allows for easy and safe labeling.
  • The LEGO brick backpack has a 4.5-star rating out of more than 80 customer reviews on Amazon.

Cons

  • This backpack line has a smaller number of reviews than many of the more popular bags on our list, although the star rating is good.
  • Kids who opt for the LEGO brick backpack may outgrow the style earlier than a more classic backpack look.
  • The somewhat higher price point may put the LEGO line of backpacks out of reach for some families on a budget.

Score

Comfort: 99/100

Quality: 99/100

Features: 98/100

Style: 97/100

Cost:89/100

Overall score: 96.4/100

2. Skip Hop Zoo Backpack

Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack

The Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack isn’t just shrunk down to a kid-friendly size. Everything about the design and construction is made with little ones in mind, down to the themed, easy-to-hold zipper pulls. With 17 adorable animal themes, one is sure to please your toddler or preschooler. Measuring at 11 inches x 5 inches x 12 inches, this miniature backpack is a great choice for carrying supplies for daycare or overnight trip to grandma’s, although parents report that it’s not large enough to easily hold folders once kids start school. As a result, it’s a better choice for toddlers and perhaps preschoolers than for kids moving up into elementary school. The main top-load zippered pocket is spacious enough to hold diapers, wipes, extra clothes and toys. An insulated, zippered front pouch is ideal for keeping snacks safe and accessible, and the outside mesh pocket adjusts to securely hold water bottles or juice boxes. Parents felt favorably about the bag’s appearance, durability and comfort.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Style is the biggest selling point of this popular toddler bag. Fun animal designs include a dog, bat, bee, butterfly, cat, dinosaur, dragon, fox, giraffe, lady bug, leopard, llama, monkey, narwhal, owl, shark and unicorn.
  • A large main compartment, front insulated pocket and side mesh bottle pocket make organization easy.
  • The bag’s small size is just right for toddlers and preschoolers who aren’t lugging around folder and notebooks just yet.
  • Padded, adjustable straps allow for a comfortable, customized fit for little shoulders.
  • External canvas material keeps the bag lightweight. Inside, a wipe-off, easy-to-clean lining helps minimize messes and damage to the inside of the bag.
  • The animal characters represented in these bags are also available in Skip Hop’s other Zoo product lines, so parents can likely find matching lunch bags, harness bags, drinking bottles, snack containers, toys and more.
  • The wildly popular bag has more than 900 reviews on the manufacturer’s website and, on Amazon, a 4.8-star rating out of more than 3,350 customer reviews.

Cons

  • The canvas exterior can be hard to get fully clean.
  • Some parents expected the bag to hold more than it does for the cost.
  • Although most parents found the bag well-made, there are some reports of issues with zippers breaking.

Score

Comfort: 96/100

Quality: 93/100

Features: 97/100

Style: 99/100

Cost: 96/100

Overall score: 96.2/100

3. JanSport Superbreak Backpack

JanSport SUPERBREAK BACKPACK

One of the biggest names in backpacks, JanSport consistently delivers on durability. The company’s Superbreak Backpack is a great choice that blends the classic JanSport silhouette with a lightweight design. Measuring 16.7 inches x 13 inches x 8.5 inches, the bookbag is large enough to accommodate the loads of middle school, high school and even college students, but some parents report purchasing them for kids as young as kindergarten. The stylish but timeless look is just one of the reasons JanSport backpacks have achieved such long-lasting popularity, and this model, available in more than different colors encompassing both solids and prints, doesn’t disappoint.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The large main compartment and zippered front utility pocket, complete with built-in organizer, hold 25 liters of contents.
  • Padded, adjustable straps and a padded back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children, teens and even adults.
  • The 600-denier polyester material is durable and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
  • Available in every imaginable color and more than two dozen prints, this bag is appealing without looking childish.
  • JanSport offers a lifetime warranty, so it’s no surprise that the company itself and parents who’ve purchased the backpack praise its durability – often, saying the backpack “will last forever.”
  • The wildly popular bag has a 4.5-star rating out of more than 970 reviews on the manufacturer’s website and, on Amazon, a 4.3-star rating out of more than 750 customer reviews.

Cons

  • JanSport warns against machine-washing its bags out of concern that the backpack could lose its shape.
  • Although a great choice for older kids, some parents felt that the bag is too large for little ones.
  • The bag is stylish but doesn’t offer the cutesy fun designs you often find in bags designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. Parents more interested in the cute design than in the bag’s longevity might be disappointed by this.
  • Despite its suitability for teens and adults, the bag isn’t designed with extra cushion and organization for laptop computers. It also doesn’t include a mesh water bottle compartment.

Score

Comfort: 98/100

Quality: 99/100

Features: 93/100

Style: 97/100

Cost: 93/100

Overall score: 96.0/100

4. Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpacks

Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack

Pottery Barn’s Mackenzie Collection includes stylish backpacks and so much more. There’s a whole system of coordinating bags and containers, ranging from lunch bags and water bottles to gym bags and rolling duffle bags. The Mackenzie line offers style in spades, with cool and unexpected detailing like glitter, gold foil detailing and glow-in-the-dark sharks, dinosaur skeletons and unicorns. The backpacks themselves come in four sizes: mini, small, large and a rolling large. The mini size measures 8.5 inches x 4 inches x 10 inches and is ideal for children standing 36 inches to 42 inches tall. The small Mackenzie backpack measures 12 inches x 6 inches x 15 inches and is best for children in the 43 to 49-inch height range. Both the large backpack, measuring at 13.75 inches x 7.5 inches x 17 inches, and the rolling backpack, measuring 13 inches x 7 inches x 18 inches, are designed to fit kids 48 inches and taller. Plenty of comfort padding, pockets and extras make this a fun, functional and comfortable bag.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • In addition to the large main compartment, the small and large sizes of Mackenzie backpacks have a second large zippered compartment, plus a zippered front pocket and two partially-mesh adjustable side water bottle pockets.
  • Padded, contoured adjustable straps and a padded back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children, teens and even adults.
  • Four sizes allow for backpack options available for children from just 36 inches tall – and as young as two years old –to preteens.
  • Constructed out of a durable, water-resistant 600-denier polyester fabric.
  • Kids will love the beautifully-crafted bags in fun patterns that go the extra mile – sparkling, glowing, and incorporating their favorite licensed characters and franchises.
  • Optional personalization available.
  • The robust Mackenzie line includes every product your child needs on-the-go in coordinating designs.
  • The small and large sizes are made with technology in mind, designed with pocket with headphone cutouts to accommodate MP3 or other music players.
  • External straps allow for a seamless, secure hold of a coordinating lunch bag to free up more space within the pack.

Cons

  • Pottery Barn’s Mackenzie line is among the most expensive backpacks on our list. The bookbag itself is likely to be more than many families can fit into their back-to-school budgets, and the costs only grow when you add other pieces of the coordinating sets.
  • Pottery Barn warns against machine-washing its bags.
  • Pottery Barn products aren’t as widely available as many other companies, and the retailer doesn’t allow ratings and reviews on its website, which can limit parents’ abilities to fully research their purchases.

Score

Comfort: 98/100

Quality: 97/100

Features: 99/100

Style: 99/100

Cost: 85/100

Overall score: 95.6/100

5. J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

When it comes to rolling backpacks, J World New York’s Sunrise is our top choice. The bookbag’s high-quality construction includes an imported 600-denier polyester exterior with an interior fabric lining. Reflective tape for safety and extra front and side pockets for added function would make this bag shine even without factoring in the benefits of the rolling design. The wheeled backpack is made with a color-coordinating, shock-absorbing sturdy bottom mold. Soft yet durable wheels make movement a breeze – and silent – and an adjustable telescoping handle makes pulling and steering this bag effortless.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The bag consists of a large main compartment, two mesh side compartments and a zippered front pocket complete with an over-achieving built-in organizer.
  • Measuring at 18 inches x 13 inches x 9 inches, the backpack is listed as “large capacity” – and the rolling function means that, even when completely full, the weight won’t hurt your child’s back.
  • Ergonomic and padded adjustable shoulder straps and an air mesh cushioned back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit when wearing on your back.
  • Easy-rolling durable wheels and a sturdy but adjustable aluminum handle add rolling functionality to what’s already a great backpack.
  • Reflective tape helps keep your child safe when walking in the dark.
  • The 600-denier polyester material is durable and water-resistant.
  • Available in more than 50 fun prints, this bag is stylish without looking childish.
  • The wildly popular bag has a 4.1-star rating out of more than 2,730 reviews on Amazon.

Cons

  • As a rolling backpack, the Sunrise is understandably among the priciest options on our list. Although the list price is high, parents can often find deep discounts on Amazon.
  • When purchasers had issues with durability, they usually had to do with the shoulder straps, which – if not tucked into the back pocket each time your child uses the backpack’s rolling function – can get caught on the wheels and damaged.
  • Although a great choice for older kids, some parents felt that the bag is too large for little ones.
  • The bag is stylish but doesn’t offer the cutesy fun designs you often find in bags designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. Parents more interested in the cute design than in the bag’s longevity might be disappointed by this.
  • Despite its suitability for teens and adults, the bag isn’t designed with extra cushion and organization for laptop computers.
  • There’s no way to detach the fabric portion of the bag from the bottom mold and wheels to clean it in the washing machine.

Score

Comfort: 99/100

Quality: 96/100

Features: 100/100

Style: 97/100

Cost 85/100

Overall score: 95.4/100

6. Toddler kids Dinosaur Backpack

Toddler kids Dinosaur Backpack

For the toddler who loves dinosaurs – and don’t they all? – the Toddler Dinosaur Backpack by YuPing might just be the coolest backpack ever. The spiked back and optional tail will make them feel like a dinosaur or dragon. Designed for kids ages one to five, these small backpacks come with a detachable safety rope or “leash” and a chest clip to help keep the bag in place. Although a bit small for kids starting in elementary school, the bag is great for day trips, daycare, preschool, kindergarten or an overnight stay with the grandparents.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Style is the biggest selling point of this toddler bag, which comes in five bright colors, tail or tail-less options and, most importantly, mimics a dinosaur’s appearance with the fun, soft fabric spikes on the back.
  • The bag’s small size is just right for toddlers and preschoolers who aren’t lugging around folder and notebooks just yet.
  • Padded, adjustable straps allow for a comfortable, customized fit for little shoulders, and a chest clip allows parents to buckle the backpack in place to prevent children from taking it off and losing it.
  • Nylon and canvas materials keep the bag lightweight and breathable.
  • The bag includes a detachable leash, so parents have the option to use it or remove it as desired.
  • The bag has a 4.0-star rating out of more than 140 customer reviews on Amazon.

Cons

  • The bag’s only pocket is the large double-zippered main compartment, which can make organization and finding things within the bag a little more challenging.
  • Some parents don’t like the mechanics of how the leash works and where it is attached to the top of the bag.
  • Some parents expected the bag to be larger and were disappointed in its capacity.

Score

Comfort: 95/100

Quality: 92/100

Features: 92/100

Style: 98/100

Cost: 96/100

Overall score: 94.6/100

7. Wildkin Kids 15 Inch Backpack

Wildkin Kids 15 Inch Backpack

A great all-around backpack suitable for kids from preschool through elementary school, Wildkin’s Kids 15 Inch Backpack has a lot to offer. Available in 16 fun prints that coordinate with lunch bags, duffle bags and other Wildkin products, the polyester bags measure 15 inches x 11 inches x 7 inches. Instead of a front pocket, it features two large zippered compartments along with an interior organizer and utility pocket. Parents love the moisture-resistant interior nylon lining that helps minimize messes made inside the bag. At a reasonable price point, it’s no wonder that Wildkin’s backpack is popular with children and parents alike.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The bag consists of two large compartments, a set of interior utility pockets and a mesh side water bottle pocket.
  • Padded, adjustable straps and a padded back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children ages three to 10.
  • The durable 600-denier polyester exterior material and moisture-resistant nylon interior lining are made to last and withstand children’s messes and are BPA-free, lead-safe and phthalate-free.
  • The bag comes in 16 patterns sure to please kids, with options ranging from space to sports equipment and sharks to multicolor monsters.
  • Wildkin offers coordinating sleeping bags, duffle bags, lunch bags and more.
  • The wildly popular bag has a 4.5-star rating out of more than 1,100 reviews on Amazon.
  • Parents praise the bag’s storage capacity.
  • The manufacturer offers a 90-day warranty.

Cons

  • Some parents reported that the bag wasn’t as durable as they expected, and particularly that straps and the top handle would fray or begin to come apart from the bag.

Score

Comfort: 95/100

Quality: 92/100

Features: 94/100

Style: 96/100

Cost: 93/100

Overall score: 94.0/100

8. L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

Durable and versatile, the Original Book Pack line by L.L. Bean is such a crowd-pleaser that the company now makes a junior size in addition to the regular size. Extra front pockets, plenty of comfort padding and the addition of reflective tape for better visibility at night set this backpack apart. The junior size, suitable for kids as young as four, measures 14.5 inches by 11 inches by 6 inches, holding up to 16 liters of contents. The original size measures 16 inches by 13 inches by 7.25 inches, holds 24 liters and is recommended for children 6 and up.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • In addition to the large main compartment, the Original Book Pack features an adjustable non-mesh water bottle side pocket and two zippered front pockets with built-in organization, including a small zippered money pouch and a key clip.
  • Padded, reinforced adjustable straps and a padded back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children, teens and even adults.
  • Two sizes of availability expand the range of the product line to a larger audience and answers the needs of parents whose youngest children inevitably want the same bag their older siblings have.
  • Constructed out of a durable, weatherproof polyester material.
  • Reflective tape on the front and back helps keep your child safe when walking in the dark – whether home from practice or to the neighbor’s slumber party.
  • Available in a few different color and print options, with optional monogramming available.
  • L. Bean offers a one-year, 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on its products, but requires proof of purchase.
  • Items in the Original Book Pack line have a 4.7- to 4.8-star rating on the manufacturer’s website.

Cons

  • L. Bean products aren’t as widely available as many other companies.
  • The bag is stylish but doesn’t offer the cutesy fun designs you often find in bags designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. Parents more interested in the cute design than in the bag’s longevity might be disappointed by this.
  • Despite its suitability for teens and adults, the bag isn’t designed with extra cushion and organization for laptop computers.
  • L. Bean warns against machine-washing its bags.
  • Although a few color and style options are available, there aren’t nearly as many choices as competitors like JanSport offer.
  • Some users found the straps and padded back of the bag too stiff and not lightweight enough to be comfortable.
  • Monograms and personalization, available at an extra cost, doesn’t always appear well on certain printed bags.

Score

Comfort 93: /100

Quality 92: /100

Features 98: /100

Style: 93/100

Cost: 93/100

Overall score: 93.8/100

9. Everest Basic Backpack

Everest Basic Backpack

What’s in a name? In the case of the Everest Basic Backpack, a lot of truth. This mid-sized backpack may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but its functionality, durable materials and bargain pricing make it popular especially with families on a budget. Measuring at 11inches x 5 inches x 15 inches, the Everest Basic Backpack holds 13.9 liters of contents in its roomy double-zipper main compartment. The quality is better than you would expect at its affordable price point, with a durable, water-resistant 600 denier polyester fabric.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You can’t beat the value of this reasonably-priced high-quality backpack.
  • The mid-size bag includes a large main compartment and a zippered front pocket.
  • Padded, adjustable straps and a padded back panel allow for a comfortable, customized fit.
  • The 600-denier polyester material is durable and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
  • The Everest Basic Backpack comes in more than 30 colors.
  • The bag has a 4.1-star rating out of more than 940 reviews on Amazon.

Cons

  • True to its name, there aren’t a lot of special features that will make this basic backpack stand out, other than the price. It’s not available in fun prints or cutesy designs for little kids and lacks a separate water bottle compartment.
  • Some parents complained about an initial odor, although many reported success in machine-washing the bag, both in getting rid of this odor and in subsequent cleanings after normal use.

Score

Comfort: 92/100

Quality: 93/100

Features: 85/100

Style: 92/100

Cost: 99/100

Overall score: 92.2/100

10. Trail Maker Clear Backpack With Reinforced Straps

Trail Maker Clear Backpack

Some schools, not to mention stadiums, concert arenas and other destinations, now only permit see-through backpacks and bags for security reasons. Being limited to a clear option doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality backpack. Trail Maker’s Clear Backpack with Reinforce Straps is a great alternative that brings together many of the features parents have come to expect from traditional fabric bookbags. Made of a durable yet lightweight PVC, the 17-inch x 12-inch x 5.5-inch bag hold more than many purchasers expected. The seams, zippers, top handle and shoulder straps are made of durable nylon and padded, reinforced fabrics, just like you would expect from a polyester fabric backpack.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The bag features a large main compartment and zippered front pocket.
  • Padded, adjustable straps and reinforced straps allow for a comfortable, customized fit for children, teens and even adults.
  • The PVC plastic material is durable and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
  • The clear backpack is available in 11 different trim colors, allowing students even in schools that require a transparent bag to find small ways to express their personality.
  • The bag has a 4.1-star rating out of more than 550 reviews on Amazon.
  • The price point is considerably lower than most fabric backpacks, including some that are high on our list.

Cons

  • No comfort padding is integrated into the back panel.
  • The bag isn’t likely to hold up as long as a quality fabric backpack like a JanSport. Purchasers reported that the zippers were likely to break before the sturdy PVC gave way.
  • Although the different color trim options allow children some choice about their bag’s appearance, the clear bag isn’t really stylish.

 Score

Comfort: 90/100

Quality: 90/100

Features: 92/100

Style: 84/100

Cost: 99/100

Overall score: 91.0/100

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