21 of the Best Backpacks for Kids of All Ages

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Backpacks are at the top of everyone's back-to-school list, but shopping for one among the thousands of options can be overwhelming. (Should I go big or small? Clear? Pockets or zippers? Does this need to last for more than one year?) So we’ve rounded up some of the best backpacks for kids, based on rave reviews from parents and kids alike. All of them have been put to put to the test, vetted for comfort, measured for durability...and are cute to boot.

So whether you're shopping for a kindergartener or a high schooler, here are 21 backpacks sure to deliver.

The Best Backpacks for Kids at a Glance

11 Random-but-Useful Things Moms Love to Keep in Their Purse

1. The North Face 'Jester' Backpack

Best Overall

According to more than 4,000 reviews, this roomy polyester backpack lives up to the hype. Buyers can't stop talking about how much their middle schoolers and high schoolers love it. Probably because it's incredibly functional, thanks to its mesh side pocket and interior sleeves to help keep them organized. Plus, the molded straps are supposedly comfy enough for them to carry all day.


  • Expandable interior
  • Adjustable straps, removable sternum strap and hip belt
  • Fits 15-inch laptops


  • Too big for toddlers
  • Limited colors

2. Mackenzie Backpack

Best Variety

This backpack has it all. Coming in three different sizes with adjustable straps, as well as a rolling option, you’ll easily find the best fit. And with multiple pockets and ample storage, they’re going to have plenty of room for their stuff, no matter how much they squash in there. Plus, the water-resistant fabric comes in over 30 patterns, so your kiddo can head off with their favorite pattern in tow.


  • Different sizes
  • Personalization available
  • Durable
  • Many patterns


  • Sizes intended for kids in elementary school and below

3. Bluey Backpack

Best for Kindergarteners

This energetic TV star is the name we keep hearing from the five-year-old set, and this cute version of her as a backpack is going to elicit squeals of delight.


  • Front-zip pocket
  • Stand-up plush ears
  • Padded straps


  • Only suitable for children aged three and up

4. State Kane Backpack

Best for Elementary Schoolers

The color-block pattern of this bag is so cute, we kind of want one for ourselves. It features a main compartment with organizational zip pockets and slots, as well as a smaller zippered front pocket to hold their pens, pencils and erasers. And it’s so well made that your kid can get at least three school years' of wear out of it. You can even have it personalized with their name, initials or a fun symbol for no additional charge.


  • Stylish colorways
  • Free personalization


  • Not all options are easy to clean

5. Fjällräven Kånken Backpack

Best for Middle Schoolers

This bag boasts a simple and practical design that is still stylish enough for your pre-teen to feel like a cool kid. Its main compartment has more than enough room for all of their notebooks and binders, and its foam insert can be taken out and used as a portable seat so they don’t have to sit on hot concrete during P.E. Coming in dozens of bright, fun colors, they’re guaranteed to find one that will fit with whatever phase they’re going through.


  • Durable vinylon material that’s easy to clean and water-resistant
  • Sleek design in playful colors


  • Limited storage compartments

6. JanSport Big Student Backpack

Best for High Schoolers

Equipped with loads of compartments, this pack can be filled to the brim with everything from pencils and paper to your teen’s laptop. Plus, it’s designed to withstand loads of wear and tear so they’ll be able to tag it along with them year after year, to after school practices or SAT study sessions. Plus, its simple, less-is-more colors make it the ideal camouflage for your high schooler who just wants to blend in. But if they want to stand out, there are bright options too.


  • Decent amount of storage pockets
  • Separate compartment that fits up to a 15-inch laptop
  • Easy to clean and super durable
  • Has a lifetime warranty


  • Can get too bulky

7. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack

Best for College Students

You’ve probably seen this backpack on the back of every hipster and cool kid in town. It's great for comfort thanks to its padded back panels, the drawstring closure makes finding the one pencil at the bottom super simple and the cushion laptop compartment keeps electronics safe.


  • Padded back panels
  • Protective 15-inch laptop compartment
  • Sophisticated and sleek design


  • Tricky to clean

8. The North Face Youth Recon Squash Backpack

Most Durable Backpack

The North Face designs hiking gear, so you know even their kids’ backpacks are built to withstand wear and tear. This 17-liter pack is about half the size of the brand's popular adult Recon backpack, making it ideal for elementary school-aged kids. Beyond the standard main pocket, it has two mesh water bottle pockets and a handy sternum strap if they tend to have trouble keeping their backpack on.


  • Comfortable shoulder straps and back panel
  • Identification label
  • Mesh water bottle side pockets


  • Only one color option

9. Wayb Ready to Roam Backpack

Most Splurge-Worthy Option

This style is ideal for your older teen. It couples functional elements with sleek aesthetics for a bag that might make them actually excited to go to classes. (No promises though!) Our favorite part is the vertical zippered side section that works great for easily stashing away your phone and pencil bag without having to unbuckle the bag's top.


  • Cool, modern style
  • Cushion interior storage for supplies


  • Not as kid-friendly
  • A higher price tag

10. Fuel Backpack & Lunch Bag Bundle

Best Set

Both bags have convenient top handles that make them easy to carry, plus plenty of compartments to store all of the necessities. The cherry on top is its water-resistant fabric. “I can't describe well enough how much I love this backpack!” one mom writes. “I wanted something water resistant because my daughter often came home with wet papers from setting her backpack on the playground (in puddles?) after school! She liked the design and I liked the price. She has now been using this for two full years!” We’re sold.


  • Water-resistant and really durable
  • Loads of different colors and patterns
  • Matching lunchbox


  • Not small enough for younger kids

11. DeMarini Voodoo OG Backpack

Best for Athletes

Got a lot of extracurricular sports lined up? This is the backpack for your little athlete. “My daughter is a softball pitcher and loves her bag,” says one five-star reviewer. “It has been everywhere with no problems and it fits what she needs to carry: helmet, glove, cleats, balls, bat and batting gloves with room to spare.” More impressively, the padded shoulder straps and back panels offer an answer to your kid’s question, “How on earth am I supposed to carry all this equipment?”


  • XL main compartment to fit all their gear
  • Has neoprene sleeves to help carry bats (if baseball is their sport)
  • Special compartment for phone storage
  • Vented shoe storage


  • Can get too bulky

12. L.L.Bean Original Backpack

Most Classic

L.L. Bean’s Original bookbag has been around since 1982 for a reason. Each one is constructed from weatherproof nylon material and extra-strong stitching and tough zippers to withstand years of use. According to the brand, it’s best for ages 6 and up. Choose their color, and add a monogram for $8 if you want to give their bag a more personalized touch.


  • Simple designs with a good amount of storage space
  • Bold colors
  • Personalization available
  • Waterproof


  • Only one sizing option

13. Le Vasty Sequin Backpack

Most Glam

It doesn’t get jazzier than this glitter backpack that boasts reversible sequins, but this bag offers way more than just sparkles. Parents and kids alike love it for its large dimensions, spacious, pocket-filled interior and easy-to-wipe material. (Because who hasn’t endured a yogurt explosion?)


  • Glam design in vibrant colors
  • Separate laptop compartment
  • Heavy duty stitching to prevent rips and tears


  • Interior fabric isn’t the most durable

14. Vorspack Clear Backpack

Best Clear Backpack

Thanks to this bag, she’ll never have to rifle through papers and folders to find her missing homework assignment again. Instead, she can see its entire contents through the clear PVC. And the 5x12-inch dimensions make it big enough to fit a textbook and a laptop without issue. Plus, if she’s hoping for a clear bag that still has a pop of color, this backpack comes in different options like orange and purple.


  • Easy to clean up messes and spills
  • The PVC won’t crack during cold weather months
  • Multiple color options available


  • Some reviewers report the straps being uneven

15. Rockland Rolling Backpack

Best Backpack with Wheels

Have them spin into school with style. (Get it?) This water-resistant bag has raked in over 3,000 five-star reviews with parents loving the retractable handle and lightweight frame. They especially appreciate its durable wheels for when their student would rather roll it down the hall instead of hoisting it onto their back.


  • One zippered compartment acts as a built-in organizer
  • Mesh water bottle holders
  • Sturdy inline wheels


  • The fabric rips easier than other options

16. Champion Youthquake Backpack

Sleekest Design

Champion’s classic sleek design will make him look street style-ready, even if he’s really on his way to the playground. This backpack is full-size, but it isn't so bulky that it'll cause elementary schoolers to topple over when they tote it (plus, it has cozy straps that won't dig into their shoulders). Best of all, strong zippers and high-quality construction ensure that this favorite will last no matter how much wear and tear it goes through on the playground.


  • Stylish yet sporty vibe
  • Polyester fabric that’s not tough to clean


  • Not roomy enough for hauling several textbooks

17. Skip Hop Zoo Pack Backpack

Cutest Design

With different animal designs including a monkey, narwhal, puppy and a shark, Skip Hop’s backpacks are by far the cutest. But their 11x12x5-inch dimensions are pretty small, so they’re best for little ones heading into their first official year of school. Parents rave about the canvas material, which is ultra durable and doesn’t tear or scuff, as well as the easy-to-clean lining.


  • Cute as a button designs
  • Not difficult to clean
  • Comes with a side pocket for extra storage


  • Only comes in one size

18. MountainTop Backpack

Best Back Support

Besides being equipped with cushioned back panels that mold to their back, the thick, padded straps won’t cut into their shoulders and neck. Not to mention, the attached sternum strap provides extra support, which is great if you've got a kid toting lots back and forth—say a towel, suit and change of clothes for after school activities.


  • Uber comfortable
  • Bright and bold colors
  • Plenty of storage compartments


  • No chest strap

19. JetKids by Stokke Crew Backpack

Best for Travel

If you’re in the market for a kid’s carry-on bag, your search ends here. Specifically designed with travel in mind, this pack has elements that will make your trip so much easier: a spacious main compartment, suitcase over-the-handle strap and a back cushion that can be removed to use as a seat or pillow for those extra long layovers. It has a zippered expandable panel that can be easily adjusted in size, so you won’t have to worry about your adventure buddy growing out of it.


  • Cushioned interior pockets keeps everything organized
  • Can adjust its size as kids grow


  • Its small size only works for younger ages
  • One color to choose from

20. Osprey Daylite Kids' Backpack

Best for the Outdoors

Whether your future adventurer drops her backpack into puddles or leaves it in the dust after kickball, this workhorse can handle it all. Rip-free fabric that’s water-resistant keeps their homework nice and dry, side mesh pockets fit snacks, water bottles and toys and cushioned panels and straps provide peak comfort no matter the occasion.


  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable shoulder and chest straps
  • Water repellent and super sturdy


  • Limited colors to choose from

21. Everest Classic Backpack

Best Value

If your child is known to be a little messy or her style is constantly changing, it’s really not worth spending big bucks on a backpack you know won’t last long. Luckily, there’s this $14 alternative. The mid-size pack has a roomy main compartment and a front zippered pocket, so she can easily grab pens, pencils or her cell. It's simple, sure, but honestly, that’s all she really needs. Plus, it comes in 20 colors, so you’re bound to settle on one you both like.


  • Affordable price point
  • Easy to clean
  • Lots of different colors


  • Minimal storage space
  • Not the most durable option

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...