The 10 Best Backpacks for Kids of 2021

Keep your children comfortable through the school year

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: L.L. Bean Original Book Pack at llbean.com

This weatherproof backpack is a favorite that has been used by families since 1982.

Best Budget: AmazonBasics Classic School Backpack at Amazon

It has a minimalist design, comes in several color options, and is easy on the wallet.

Best for Elementary School: Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack at hannaandersson.com

Specially designed for little kid hands and shoulders, it features adjustable ergonomic padded straps and comes in fun prints.

Best Design: Wildkin Pack-it-All Kids Backpack at Amazon

Downright adorable and durable, it's designed with a front pocket that’s large enough to hold a bento box with snacks.

Best for Preschool: Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack at Amazon

The main compartment lends plenty of room for a small tablet, book, and some toys.

Best for Middle School: Kane by STATE at Amazon

With more than 10 color and pattern options to choose from, this backpack is both stylish and high-quality.

Best for High School: JanSport Cool Student Backpack at Amazon

It has an internal sleeve that’s large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, and has a fully padded back panel for extra comfort.

Best Rolling: L.L. Rolling Deluxe Book Pack at llbean.com

The pull handle has an ergonomic 'T' shape and the padded adjustable straps can be tucked away when they’re not in use.

Best for Laptops: Kids techPack Large Backpack at landsend.com

There are several zippered pockets and smaller compartments, including a front lined pocket sized just right for a cell phone.

Best Mini: Navy Solar System Glow-In-The-Dark Kids Backpack at potterybarnkids.com

While this backpack is available in several sizes, the mini version is by far the cutest.

Whether it’s just for school or something they bring with them wherever they go, backpacks are essential for kids. Many kids start using a backpack when they’re as young as pre-school age and they’ll continue using them regularly well into their college (and even post-grad) years.

With options in a rainbow of colors and a wide range of sizes, there is no shortage of bags to choose from. When heading out to purchase a backpack, keep in mind your child's stature in relation to the size of the backpack to ensure evenly distributed weight. Moreover, choose an option with plenty of pockets, a laptop sleeve, or other features that are important for your child's needs.

Not every backpack is created equally so we’ve rounded up some of the best ones available to help you pick the right one for your child.

Best Overall: L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

ll-bean-classic-backpack

Courtesy of LL Bean 

What We Like
  • Reflective straps

  • Weather-proof nylon

  • Large

What We Don't Like
  • Plain design

Available in several colors and measuring 16 x 13 x 7.25 inches, this backpack is a favorite that has been used by families since 1982. It’s made from weatherproof nylon and comes equipped with padded adjustable shoulders, a padded back, and reflective materials on the straps so your child will be visible even in the dark.

It has several pockets and compartments, including a water bottle pocket on the side, and a large compartment that can hold notebooks, folders, books, and a lunchbox at once. It’s safe for kids as young as six years old to use and it can be machine washed and line dried.

Best for Elementary School: Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack

Hanna Andersson Classic Backpack

Courtesy of Hanna Andersson

What We Like
  • Stain-resistant

  • Water-resistant

  • Designed for little kids

What We Don't Like
  • Ideal for younger kids only

With several fun print options, this backpack measures 16.25 x 10.5 x 6 inches and features adjustable ergonomic padded straps and a side water bottle pocket. Inside the bag is plenty of space to store books and a lunchbox as well as a built-in organizer to keep everything in place.

The bag is made from heavy-duty materials and has reflective zippers to help with visibility. It’s also stain and water-resistant and specially designed for little kid hands and shoulders.

Best Design: Wildkin Pack-it-All Kids Backpack

What We Like
  • Waterproof liner

  • Matching lunchbox option

What We Don't Like
  • On the smaller side

Aside from being downright adorable, this backpack measures 15 x 11 x 4.7 inches and is specifically designed with a front pocket that’s large enough to hold a bento box with snacks. It also features adjustable padded straps and a padded back for comfort and support, and a side water bottle pocket.

The backpack is made from super heavy-duty materials and has a waterproof interior liner to keep everything safe and dry. Finally, if your kid can’t get enough of the backpack’s cute pattern, you can also purchase a matching lunchbox separately.

Best for Preschool: Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack

What We Like
  • Perfect size for preschoolers

  • Insulated front pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Fabric edges could fray

Intentionally made for preschoolers as young as three years old, this backpack has an adjustable side water bottle pocket and an insulated front pocket that’s just the right size for holding snacks.

The main compartment lends plenty of room for a small tablet, book, and some toys, and there is an interior name label to help your child keep track of it. This backpack has adjustable padded straps, is easy to clean, and measures 11 x 5 x 12 inches.

Best for Middle School: Kane by STATE

What We Like
  • Machine-washable

  • Built-in organizational pocket

  • Large laptop sleeve

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

With more than 10 color and pattern options to choose from, this backpack is both stylish and high-quality. It measures 14.95 x 11.22 x 4.72 inches and features a side water bottle pocket and a main compartment with interior zippered pockets, slip pockets, pen holders, and enough space to hold books, folders, and notebooks with room to spare. The bag is equipped with padded adjustable shoulder straps and a name tag. When it’s dirty, you can toss it into the washer on a gentle cycle and it will come out good as new. 

By purchasing this backpack, you not only ensure your kid has a high-quality bag for the school year but you also help give back because STATE uses a portion of its profits to provide backpacks and school supplies to kids in need.

Best for High School: JanSport Cool Student Backpack

What We Like
  • Durable leather bottom

  • 15-inch laptop sleeve

What We Don't Like
  • Basic design

Classic and right to the point, this backpack is available in several colors and patterns and features a minimalist design with a large main compartment and three zippered exterior pockets. The padded, adjustable shoulder straps are ergonomically designed and the bag features a leather bottom for both style and durability.

This backpack measures 17.5 x 13 x 10 inches, has an internal sleeve that’s large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, and has a fully padded back panel for extra comfort.

Best Rolling: L.L. Rolling Deluxe Book Pack

L.L. Bean Rolling Deluxe Book Pack

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Dual carrying options

  • Large storage compartments

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

For kids who want the option of either carrying or rolling their backpack, this one is equipped with everything they need. It’s designed for kids as young as 13 years old and measures 19 x 14 x 9.5 inches. The pull handle has an ergonomic “T” shape and the padded adjustable straps can be tucked away when they’re not in use.

The backpack is also equipped with smooth-rolling wheels, reflective materials for visibility, and is made from weatherproof nylon. With several pockets and large compartments, it’s also large enough to carry everything your kid needs for class (and more).

Best for Laptops: Kids techPack Large Backpack

Kids TechPack Large Backpack

Courtesy of Land's End

What We Like
  • Chest strap

  • Ergonomically designed

What We Don't Like
  • No organization pouch in the front

This backpack is ergonomically designed with adjustable padded straps, a front chest strap for weight distribution, and a padded back panel. It’s available in several fun colors and patterns and it features a main compartment as well as a padded laptop or tablet compartment.

There are several zippered pockets and smaller compartments, including a front-lined pocket that is sized just right for a cell phone. The bag is made from high-quality durable materials, features reflective trim for visibility, and measures 18 x 12.5 x 9 inches.

Best Mini: Navy Solar System Glow-In-The-Dark Kids Backpack

Mackenzie Navy Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Backpacks

Courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

What We Like
  • Various size options

  • Water-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Monogrammed backpacks can't be returned

While this backpack is available in several sizes, the mini version is by far the cutest. It measures 8.5 x 4 x 10 inches and is perfect for little ones between 36 and 42 inches tall. It has two exterior side pockets as well as one front pocket and the main compartment offers plenty of room for a small tablet, a book, and a few toys.

The bag has adjustable padded straps and a reinforced handle at the top and is made with water-resistant fabric. While you can get this mini backpack in a variety of colors, and get it personalized, the Navy Solar System pattern is among the best because it glows in the dark.

Best Multi Use: Dagne Dover Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

What We Like
  • High-quality neoprene material

  • Multi-use design

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Made with neoprene and high-performance mesh materials, this backpack is great for carrying school supplies, traveling, and general commuting. The small bag measures 9.5 x 5 x 13 inches and features an 8.5 x 7.25-inch mesh laptop sleeve. In addition to the main compartment, there are also two side zippered pockets as well as a front zippered pocket.

Thanks to its high-quality materials both the padded adjustable straps and carrying handle are heavy-duty enough to withstand a year’s (or more) worth of wear and tear. This backpack is available in a variety of colors and in three sizes.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right backpack for your child will depend a lot on their size and needs. However, the one that stands out the most to us is the L.L. Bean Original Book Pack (view at L.L. Bean) because of its overall ergonomic design, high-quality materials, versatility, and longevity.

What to Look for When Buying a Backpack for Kids

Durability

Your child’s backpack will take a beating over the course of a school year, so if you want one that will last them from the fall to the summer (and possibly beyond), look for one that’s made from quality materials. Check the zippers to make sure they’re securely sewn on and make sure the straps are thick and won’t flatten over time.

Also, since your child’s backpack will inevitably get dirty, especially if your child is younger, look for one that can be cleaned in the washing machine. 

Ergonomics and Size

Consider your child’s height and weight when choosing a backpack for them to ensure you’re getting one that is ergonomically appropriate for them. The National Safety Council says a child’s backpack should not be wider than their torso and should hang no lower than four inches below the waist. Additionally, an ideal backpack has adjustable padded straps that help to evenly distribute the weight whether your child is carrying a single book and a lunchbox or several books, a laptop, and notebooks.

Even better, look for a backpack with a padded bag, a waist and/or chest strap, and multiple pockets and compartments to help with weight distribution. 

Functionality

Your child may be focused on the style of their backpack, but you should also pay attention to its general functionality. Make sure it has enough pockets and compartments that are large enough to hold all of their supplies and keep them organized. Also, if you plan to use the bag for more than just school, like for hiking or travel, check the materials it's made out of to ensure it can hold up to the additional activities.  

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products and key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include design, age appropriateness, and user reviews. 

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