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Best Backpacks for Kids — From Tots to Teens
A backpack can tell a lot about a kid, whether she’s showing off her favorite cartoon character as she heads off to grade school or expressing her personal style as she enters freshman year. So it’s no surprise that backpacks come in every shape, size and color, making it tricky for parents and kids to choose just one. From character-covered and cute to simple and sophisticated, we’ve rounded up the best backpacks for kids that are stylish, sturdy and safe for growing backs. No matter which style you choose, remember to keep in mind the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on backpack safety when shopping.
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JanSport Right Pack Backpack
Let’s cut right to the chase: JanSport makes some of the best backpacks for kids and adults, including the Right Pack Backpack, which combines old school style with a modern twist. The durable bag features the iconic brand’s classic suede leather bottom and Premium Cordura fabric (which comes in so many fun colors) but is now designed to hold a 15-inch laptop. Its large main compartment is perfect for stashing school supplies or overnight essentials, while the utility and front stash pockets offer oodles of options for organization and quick access to school IDs and bike lock keys. And the best part? JanSport’s lifetime warranty guarantees their products will stand the test of time or be fixed or replaced if the going gets tough.
Skip Hop Zoo Owl Safety Mini Backpack
The Skip Hop Zoo Owl Mini Backpack is adorable, kid-size and safe, making it one of the best toddler backpacks on our list. It’s perfect for carrying all of those childhood essentials like small toys, colorful crayons and special snacks, and with a mesh pocket, it can even tote around your child’s favorite water bottle. Bonus: This particular mini backpack is equipped with a removable tether to help you keep an eye on your little one when you’re among crowds. Not wild about owls? The Skip Hop Zoo backpack collection also includes other animals, like a giraffe, monkey, dog, dinosaur and unicorn.
Wildkin Wild Animals Pack 'n Snack Backpack
If your toddler or preschooler is constantly telling you, “I want to carry it myself,” they will delight in doing just that with the Wildkin Wild Animals Pack 'n Snack Backpack. Whether you’re walking hand-in-hand to preschool or heading on the next adventurous trip to the zoo, this 12-inch backpack is large enough to store a few snacks and drink but small enough for petite shoulders and backs. The front of the Wildkin Snack Backpack even features an easy-to-clean, insulated pocket as well as reflective material for increased visibility.
Paw Patrol Kids’ Backpack Set
Looking to pick the right “pup pack” for everything from school supplies to an afternoon playdate? Pint-size Paw Patrol fans will say, “I’m fired up!” when they see this Paw Patrol Backpack Set featuring Chase, Marshall and Rubble. It makes our list of one of the best kindergarten backpacks because it has everything your child will need for whatever the day’s “mission” including a lunch bag, pencil case, water bottle and sling bag. The backpack itself features a handy front pocket as well as two side pockets for drinks — they’ll want to rehydrate after having to save Mayor Goodway’s precious Chickaletta again! With the Kids’ Paw Patrol Backpack Set, “No job is too big, no pup is too small!”
It’s T-minus 9 minutes until takeoff with the best backpack for kindergarten! Roomy enough to carry astronaut essentials or a few favorite children’s books for show-and-tell, the Jetpack Backpack also features some rad red rear pockets that are ready to rocket into the sky. They even kick out some serious flames that wave while walking or biking. Fuel your child up with everything he needs to have a fantastic day!
Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Blue Dino Glow-in-the-Dark Backpack
Let your child dominate his first day of school with the Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Blue Dino Glow-in-the-Dark Backpack. Available in four sizes, including pre-k, small, large and rolling, this bag is perfect for dinosaur devotees of all ages. Made from rugged, water-resistant materials, it features multiple pockets, loops and straps for essentials like lunch boxes and bags and music players (a cutout for headphone cords is available on small, large and rolling options). Bonus: Parents, you even have the option to personalize this backpack with your child’s name or initials!
Mifulgoo Kids Waterproof Backpack with Reflector
Maybe your child loves to jump through every puddle coming home from school. Or perhaps you’re a stickler for safety when she rides home on her bike. Either way, the Mifulgoo Kids Waterproof Backpack is perfect for you and your kiddo. The water-repellent material means it can stand up to the biggest splashes, while the reflective strips on the straps increase visibility at night. Inside the main compartment, there’s space for books and notebooks as well as designated spots for a 15-inch laptop and two small pockets for things like phones and wallets.
Fjallraven Kanken 15-Inch Laptop Backpack
Simple, stylish and functional — that’s what you get with the Fjallraven Kanken Backpack. First made in Sweden in 1978, it was intended to help ease back pain that started plaguing young children in the country. Today, the Fjallraven Kanken 15-inch Laptop Backpack has adapted to the modern world in which students take technology like tablets and computers, everywhere. With one large main compartment, a front pocket and two side pockets, the Fjallraven Kanken Backpack is one of the best backpacks for kids who want a bag with “less fuss” (though we can’t rule out that moms and dads won’t love it too). Bonus: The stylish logo also serves as a reflector for added safety.
Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
The Herschel Little America Backpack is one of the best kids backpacks for sophisticated students who want a timeless bag with a modern flair. The well-padded back and shoulder straps ensure that it’s comfortable, while the sleek shape won’t have your child looking like he's carrying his life on his back (even if he is!). A drawstring top closure and magnetic straps allow for easy access to the interior, which includes a padded and fleece-lined sleeve for holding a 15-inch laptop, plus a media pocket with a discreetly placed headphone port. Young scholars can also securely stash things in a front zipper pocket that features a keyring clip.
Patagonia Chacabuco Backpack 30L
Here’s a bag designed for students with both school journeys and weekend adventures on the brain. The Patagonia Chacabuco Backpack 30L is one of the best backpacks for kids who need a functional and sturdy backpack that can tackle tough afterschool activities or taxing hiking trails. It comes in numerous fun colors, features a large main compartment, designated 15-inch laptop space, stash pocket and two water bottle sleeves. An external bungee cord can be used to secure everything from bike helmets to water toys for an afternoon at the pool. The laptop sleeve can even double as a water bladder holder for those all-day hikes with friends. Bonus: There’s even a women’s version that features a modified harness and comfortable padded back panel.