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Backpacks are the number one school staple, but shopping for one among the thousands of options can be overwhelming. (Should I go big or small? Pockets or zippers? Does this need to last for more than one year?) That’s why we rounded up some top picks that have received rave reviews from parents and the kids who are wearing them. Read on for the best backpacks for kids, courtesy of real moms.

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1. Columbia Zig Zag 30L Backpack

Best Overall

This unisex design features a divided main compartment to keep binders and files organized, as well as a fleece-lined padded laptop sleeve and bottom panel, so you can rest assured your kid’s pricey iPad or laptop stays protected. Reviewers say its many pockets and compartments make it ideal for storing an impressive amount of stuff—including the lunch and gym clothes they’re always forgetting.

$41 at Amazon

State Bags

2. State Kane Kids Color Block Backpack


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.

Buy It ($70)


3. Everest Luggage 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 $10 alternative. The mid-size pack has a roomy main compartment and a front zippered pocket, so she can easily grab pens, pencils or their cell. It's simple, sure, but honestly, that’s all she really needs. Plus, it comes in 28 colors, so you’re bound to settle on one you both like.

$10 at Amazon

The North Face

4. 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 one is about half the size of the 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.

Buy It ($50)

5. Fenrici Preschool Backpack (for ages 2 to 5)

Best for Preschoolers

Sometimes it can be hard to find a backpack that’s compact enough to fit a preschooler. But Fenrici’s Preschool Backpack is specifically designed to fit little arms and shoulders so it won’t slip off when your kid takes off like a rocket. But don’t be fooled by the small fit; this carryall can really hold a lot. Its 16 by 11.5 by 4.5 inch dimensions ensure that all those drawings your child made in art class won’t come home crumpled. We appreciate the fact that this company donates a portion of its profits to fund research for childhood diseases, too.

$18 at Amazon


6. Obersee All-in-One Kids’ Preschool Backpack With Integrated Cooler

Best Back Support

If you’re worried about them trekking to and and from the bus stop with their books weighing them down, opt for this backpack, which has an added mesh section for lumbar support. Another cool feature? The front pocket is insulated so it can double as a lunch box. “I absolutely love the size. It’s hard to find backpacks that fit right between preschool sizes and that of much bigger children,” writes one mom. Just note that this style is pretty compact, so it’s probably not suitable past third grade.

$27 at Amazon


7. Shark Sidekick Backpack & Lunch Pal

Best Backpack and Lunchbox Set

With a lunchbox that matches his backpack, he’ll never have to worry about accidentally picking up another kid’s lunch on the way to the cafeteria. Both bags have convenient top handles that make them easy to carry, plus plenty of compartments to store all of the necessities. And the animal designs? So. Cute.

Buy It ($42)

8. Herschel Supply Settlement Mid-Volume Backpack

Most Simple

You’ve probably seen this puppy before, since it’s on the back of every hipster and cool kid in town. What makes it so popular, you ask? That would be its simple, less-is-more appearance. Aka, the ideal camouflage for your middle schooler who just wants to blend in. This style is great for organization too, thanks to a discreet key clip on the single front pouch, an internal media pocket with a headphone port and a 13-inch laptop sleeve.

$50 at Amazon


9. Perry Mackin Charlie Kids’ School Backpack

Most Fashionable

If your child wants to make a fashion statement, opt for this superchic Perry Mackin backpack. The small size is best for elementary school kids, but it does feature two interior pockets, an exterior zippered pocket and two water bottle holders, so it can still carry plenty of supplies. Best of all, the material looks like expensive leather, but it’s not, so you don’t have to worry about what happens when one of those water bottles leaks.

Buy It ($48)


10. J World New York Sunny Rolling Backpack

Best Rolling Backpack

This water resistant bag has a retractable handle and durable wheels for when she’d rather wheel it down the hall instead of hoisting it onto her back. Almost 300 five-star reviews speak to its durability, convenience and spaciousness. Multiple parents point out that it’s great for travel, too.

$37 at Amazon


11. SkipHop Toddler Backpack

Cutest Design

With 14 animal designs including a monkey, narwhal and a dragon, Skip Hop’s backpacks are by far the cutest. But their 11-by-12-by-5 inch dimensions are pretty small, so they’re best for toddlers. Parents rave about the canvas material, which is ultra durable and doesn’t tear or scuff, as well as the easy-to-clean lining.

$17 at Amazon

L.L. Bean

12. L.L. Bean Original Book Bag

Most Classic

L.L. Bean’s Original Book Bag 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 your color, and add a monogram for $8 if you want to give his bag a more personalized touch.

Buy It ($37)


13. DeMarini Voodoo Rebirth Backpack

Best for Athletes

Got a lot of extracurricular sports lined up? This is the backpack for your little athlete. Sweaty soccer cleats can be tucked into the vented shoe compartment, helmets and gym clothes can be stored in the spacious main compartment, and baseball bats can be slipped into the two neoprene bat sleeves. Padded shoulder straps and back panels offer an answer to the question, “How on earth am I supposed to carry all this equipment?”

$40 at Amazon

Saks Fifth Avenue

14. Stoney Clover Lane Kids Tie-Dye Backpack

Best Tie-Dye Backpack

Tie-dye is everywhere this summer, and we have no doubt the trend will carry over into the fall. With this vibrant nylon backpack, your kid is sure to be fielding compliments left and right. Don’t worry, Mom, it’s functional too, thanks to a roomy interior and padded, adjustable shoulder straps.

Buy It ($128)


15. Dibsies Personalized Disney Frozen 2 Character Backpack

Best 'Frozen'-themed Backpack

Frozen backpacks are a dime a dozen these days, so we figured it’s worth sharing the best of the best. This one from Dibsies is customizable, so none of their classmates will even think about “borrowing” it. “I’m very impressed with this backpack. The color, design and embroidery are all wonderful,” writes one dad. Just note that the interior doesn’t have any additional pockets or slots for organization, if that’s something you’re looking for.

$30 at Amazon

Pottery Barn

16. Monique Lhuillier Rose Gold Metallic Small Backpack

Best Designer Backpack

At just $32, this might be one of the most affordable designer items you ever buy. The rose gold PEVA exterior is waterproof and fade resistant, so it’ll be just as shiny and bright come June. This pack also boasts six interior pockets and three exterior pockets to hold absolutely everything she needs to bring to school.

Buy It ($55; $32)


17. Madison & Dakota Reversible Sequin Glitter Backpack

Best Glitter Backpack

It doesn’t get more glam than this glitter backpack that boasts reversible sequins, but this bag offers way more than just sparkles. Parents and kids alike love it for the large dimensions, spacious pocket-filled interior and easy-to-wipe material. (Because who hasn’t endured a yogurt explosion?) One thing to note? Some reviewers say the exterior isn’t the most durable. But at this price point, we can’t complain.

$17 at Amazon


18. Trail Maker 6-in-1 Boy's Backpack Set

Best Set

Want to knock out all your purchases at once? Go with this six piece set from Trail Maker. It includes a backpack with multiple compartments, plus a lunch bag, reusable water bottle, pencil case, key chain and carabiner clip—aka all the back to school gear they need.

$20 at Amazon

19. Champion Kids’ Little Youthquake Backpack

Most Stylish

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-sized, but still fits young elementary school kids comfortably. Strong zippers and high-quality construction ensure that this favorite will last, so pick a color combo he won’t tire of by January.

$24 at Amazon


20. Clearworld Heavy Duty Clear Backpack

Best Clear Backpack

Thanks to this bag, she’ll never have to riffle papers and folders to find her missing homework assignment again. Instead, she can see its entire contents through the clear PVC. And the 16.5-by-12-by-6-inch dimensions make it big enough to fit a textbook and a laptop without issue.

$11 at Amazon

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