20 of the Best Backpacks for Kids of All Ages
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?) So we’ve rounded up some top picks with rave reviews from parents and the kids alike. All of them have been put to put to the test, vetted for comfort, measured for durability... and are cute to boot.
Whether your kiddo is heading into their first day of kindergarten or off to the halls of high school, here are 20 backpacks sure to deliver.
1. Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack
This puppy has it all. Coming in three different sizes with adjustable straps, as well as a rolling option, you’ll easily find the best fit. 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 20 patterns, so your kiddo can head off with their favorite pattern in tow..
- Different sizes
- Personalization available
- Many patterns
- Sizes intended for kids in elementary school and below
2. Obersee Preschool All-in-One Backpack
Best for Kindergartners
This little guy is so versatile. With multiple pockets and a thermos holder, it also has a built-in lunch box so you won’t need to worry about your kindergartner misplacing their snacks during breaks and lunchtime. And its compact size is extra cozy for their tiny frames. “I absolutely love the size,” writes one mom. ‘It’s hard to find backpacks that fit right between preschool sizes and that of much bigger children.” Just pick their favorite pattern and they’re first day ready!
- Built-in lunchbox
- Fun colors and design
- Comfortable straps
- Only suitable for children aged three to seven
3. State Kane Kids Color Block 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
4. Fjällräven Kånken Water Resistant Backpack
Best for Middle Schoolers
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 that’s easy to clean and water-resistant
- Sleek design in playful colors
- Limited storage compartments
5. 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’s 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
6. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
Best for College Students
You’ve probably seen this puppy before, since it’s on the back of every hipster and cool kid in town. This style is 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
7. 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.
- Comfortable shoulder straps and back panel
- Identification label
- Mesh water bottle side pockets
- Only one color option
8. Everest Luggage Backpack
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 her 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.
- Affordable price point
- Easy to clean
- Lots of different colors
- Minimal storage space
- Not the most durable option
9. Wayb Ready To Roam Backpack
This number 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 supples
- Not as kid friendly
- A higher price tag
10. Fuel Backpack and Lunch Box 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 2 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 Rebirth 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.” Even better, 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 Book Bag
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.
- Simple designs with a good amount of storage space
- Bold colors
- Personalization available
- Only one sizing option
13. Le Vasty Sequin School 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?)
- 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 5-by-12-by-6-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 guy 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 Double Handle Rolling Backpack
Best Backpack with Wheels
Have them spin into school with style. (Get it?) This water resistant bag has raked in over 5,000 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 Kids’ Little Youthquake Backpack
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. The front compartment provides extra organization to help keep all his post-its, pens and erasers straight and cushy straps and back inserts ensures he’ll be cozy. 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
- Only one color option
17. SkipHop Toddler Backpack
With different animal designs including a monkey, narwhal, puppy and a shark, 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 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 for Kids
Best Back Support
This 17-liter one is about half the size of the popular adult Recon backpack, making it ideal for elementary school-aged kids. Besides being equipped with cushioned back panels that mold to their back, the thick, padded straps won’t cut into their shoulders and neck. 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 day camp.
- Uber comfortable
- Bright and bold colors
- Plenty of storage compartments
- No chest strap
19. JetKids by Stokke Crew Expandable 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 from younger ages
- One color to choose from
20. Osprey Kids Daylite 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 leave comfort no matter the occasion. Happy exploring!
- Adjustable shoulder and chest straps
- Water repellent and super sturdy
- Only one color