The 11 Best Backpacks for Kids at Every Age

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Best Backpacks for Kids

Verywell Family / Chloe Jeong

Whether it’s strictly for school or something they bring with them wherever they go, backpacks are essential for kids. Many children start using a backpack when they’re as young as preschool 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.

Reviewed & Approved

The L.L. Bean Original Book Pack is a durable backpack kids will love toting around thanks to padded shoulder straps and back panel, and a variety of designs. If you need a backpack for littles, we recommend the Skip Hop Toddler Backpack.

When shopping for a backpack for your little one, consider your child's size in comparison to the backpack to ensure that it is worn properly with the weight evenly distributed. “Students should be encouraged to wear both straps fastened, so the backpack sits close to their back,” Brian Reilly, MD, sports medicine physician at Akron Children’s Hospital tells Verywell Family. “Wearing just one strap can put the spine and neck in an unnatural position. Some backpacks offer waist straps that can be helpful in distributing the weight of heavier backpacks.” Moreover, choose an option with plenty of pockets, a laptop sleeve, or other features that are important for your child's needs. We looked carefully at design, material, age recommendations, durability, value, and sizes when reviewing products.

Not every backpack is created equal. These are the best options for a range of kids' needs.

Best Overall: L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

5
ll-bean-classic-backpack

Courtesy of LL Bean 

Pros
  • Reflective straps

  • Weatherproof nylon

  • Large

Cons
  • Plain design

Who else recommends it? Today and Insider both picked the L.L. Bean Original Book Pack.

What do buyers say? 300+ L.L. Bean reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

We chose the L.L. Bean Original Book Pack as our clear winner because it's available in several colors and has been used by families since 1982. It’s made from weatherproof nylon and comes equipped with padded adjustable shoulder straps, 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 lunch box at once. It’s safe for kids as young as 6 years old to use and it can be machine washed and line dried.

Dimensions: 7.25 x 13 x 16 inches | Number of pockets: 5 | Age range: 6 years old and up | Weight: 1 pound | Water bottle holder: 1 | Price at time of publication: $40

Best Design: Wildkin Pack-It-All Kids Backpack

Wildkin Pack-it-All Kids Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Waterproof liner

  • Matching lunch box option

Cons
  • 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, as well as 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 lunch box separately.

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 4.7 inches | Number of pockets: 2 | Age range: 3 years old and up | Weight: 1.34 pounds | Water bottle holder: 1 | Price at time of publication: $47

Best for Preschool: Skip Hop Toddler Backpack

Skip Hop Toddler Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Perfect size for preschoolers

  • Insulated front pocket

Cons
  • Fabric edges could fray

Intentionally made for preschoolers as young as 3 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 has 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.

Dimensions: 11 x 5 x 12 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: 3 years old and up | Weight: 0.5 pounds | Water bottle holder: 1 | Price at time of publication: $22

Best for Elementary School: State Kane Kid's Backpack

State Kane Kids Backpack

Courtesy of State

Pros
  • Machine-washable

  • Built-in organizational pocket

  • Large laptop sleeve

Cons
  • 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 as 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.

Dimensions: 4.72 x 11.22 x 14.95 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: 4 years old and up | Weight: 1.10 pounds | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $95

Best for High School: JanSport Cool Student Backpack

JanSport Cool Student Backpack
Pros
  • Durable leather bottom

  • 15-inch laptop sleeve

Cons
  • 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.

Dimensions: 17.5 x 13 x 10 inches | Number of pockets: 4 | Age range: Not listed | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Water bottle holder: 1 | Price at time of publication: $55

Best Basic: Binheiyi Lightweight Kids Backpack

Binheiyi Lightweight Kids Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Multiple color options

  • Surface material is waterproof 

  • Adjustable shoulder straps 

Cons
  • Front pocket is small 

  • Could use more internal pockets

If you’re looking for a simple backpack without sacrificing quality, you’ll love this lightweight option that’s available in a variety of colors. The backpack weighs only one pound and measures 13.4 x 17 x 6.6 inches, so kiddos will have plenty of space to pack their stuff.

Two side pockets hold water bottles and a large internal pocket keeps folders and notebooks together. In addition, the backpack’s surface material is waterproof, preventing damage to precious items inside.

Dimensions: 13.4 x 17 x 6.6 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: Youth | Weight: 1.08 pounds | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $32

Best Rolling: L.L. Bean Rolling Deluxe Book Pack

4.9
L.L. Bean Rolling Deluxe Book Pack

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

Pros
  • Dual carrying options

  • Large storage compartments

Cons
  • 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).

Dimensions: 9.5 x 14 x 19 inches | Number of pockets: 5 | Age range: 13 years old and up | Weight: 5 pounds, 3 ounces | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $99

Best for Outdoors: CamelBak Scout Kid's Hike Hydration Backpack With Reservoir

CamelBak Scout Kid's Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Water reservoir

  • Reservoir has leak-proof on/off lever 

  • Safety whistle included on sternum strap

Cons
  • Only two styles available

Adventurous kiddos will love everything this backpack has to offer: a water reservoir, safety whistle, sternum strap, and more. The water reservoir holds up to 50 ounces of water, and features an on-and-off leak-proof lever to prevent messes inside the backpack. With a little more than 3 gallons of space, the backpack provides plenty of room for kids to put their stuff. Plus, an ergonomic handle on the reservoir makes staying hydrated easier while on the go. 

Parents and caregivers will appreciate the backpack’s safety whistle that’s attached to the sternum strap, and reflective accents for visibility. A mesh panel in the back provides a more comfortable fit, while the backpack’s low weight makes it easier to carry for younger members of the family.

Dimensions: 14.96 x 10.24 x 2.56 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: Not listed (youth) | Weight: 11 ounces | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $60

Best for Laptops: Lands' End Kid's TechPack Large Backpack

Kids TechPack Large Backpack

Courtesy of Land's End

Pros
  • Chest strap

  • Ergonomically designed

Cons
  • 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.

Dimensions: 9 x 12.5 x 19 inches | Number of pockets: 7 | Age range: Not listed | Weight: Not listed | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $55

Best Mini: Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Navy Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Backpacks

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

Courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

Pros
  • Various size options

  • Water-resistant

Cons
  • 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 most popular because it glows in the dark.

Dimensions: 4.5 x 10 x 12.5 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: Not listed (Fits children 36 to 42 inches tall) | Weight: Not listed | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $55

Early Deal

Best Multi-Use: Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

dagne-dover-dakota-neoprene-backpack

Saks Fifth Avenue

Pros
  • High-quality neoprene material

  • Multi-use design

Cons
  • 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.

Dimensions: 9.5 x 5 x 13 inches | Number of pockets: 3 | Age range: Not listed | Weight: 1.8 pounds | Water bottle holder: 2 | Price at time of publication: $155

How We Selected the Best Backpacks for Kids 

We chose the best backpacks for kids by studying the features of more than 30 products on the market and researching reviews from customers and competitors. We considered design, size, features, age recommendations, and ease of cleaning when deciding our picks. We also considered guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on backpack safety and consulted with Brian Reilly, MD, sports medicine physician at Akron Children’s Hospital, for any considerations or product recommendations.

What to Look for in 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 or fray 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 to ensure you’re getting one that is ergonomically appropriate. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's backpack weigh no more than 10% to 20% of their body weight,” says Dr. Reilly. “This is typically less than 10 pounds for the average elementary school student, 15 pounds for the average middle school student, and 20 pounds for the average high school student. Students often get an influx of homework and textbooks at the start of middle school, making them increasingly likely to overload their backpacks.” Additionally, the National Safety Council says a child’s backpack should not be wider than their torso and should hang no lower than 4 inches below the waist.

An ideal backpack has adjustable padded straps that help to distribute the weight evenly, whether your child is carrying a single book and a lunch box or several books, a laptop, and notebooks. However, this may change if a child is injured. “If your child has an injury or back pain, they may be encouraged by their doctor to get a rolling backpack, have an extra set of books at home to avoid having to carry books from school to home, and/or ask their teacher for extra time to drop off and collect their books from their lockers or classrooms,” Dr. Reilly tells Verywell Family.

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 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 of to ensure it can hold up to additional activities.  

Overall, you want the backpack to support your kiddo during any part of their day. “It is best to buy lightweight backpacks with two wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back for comfort,” Dr. Reily says. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a JanSport backpack good for kids?

    JanSport backpacks are a product most of us are familiar with—after all, the brand has been around for over 50 years. Known for simplicity, reliability, and durability, JanSport is so confident in the quality of their backpacks that they offer a limited lifetime warranty. This is a good feature in a backpack for a child, because spills, rips, and tumbles definitely happen.

    JanSport backpacks come in many styles and colors, along with sizes that work for smaller bodies. Your child may be able to keep their backpack for a few years before needing a bigger size.

    JanSport offers several backpack options for bigger kids as well. And the company's backpacks have helpful features like roomy compartments for carrying extra clothes and snacks, plus organizers for school supplies.

  • Does my kid need a backpack in kindergarten?

    When your child is in daycare and preschool, they don’t need a backpack, just a place for you to pack their lunch and other essentials. However, when they start kindergarten, a backpack is appropriate. Kindergartners need not only a place to pack their lunch, but also other school basics like notebooks, homework folders, and an extra change of clothes.

    Besides the practical aspects, sending your child into kindergarten with a backpack is a meaningful gesture. It shows them that they are a “real” school kid, and it’s the first step in them learning to take responsibility for their belongings.

  • What type of backpack does my kindergartener need?

    Most kindergarteners will need a backpack to carry their lunch, school supplies, and extras like gym shoes or library books. Understanding what they are expected to bring to school and take home can help you pick the best backpack for them. For example, if they are going to need to bring notebooks or a homework folder, it can be helpful to have a backpack with compartments so that you can separate their lunch and water bottle from their homework.

    You’ll want to pick a backpack that fits your kindergartner’s body. A backpack that is too large can make it difficult for your child to wear it comfortably. A backpack that has adjustable straps is essential since you want their backpack to grow with them as much as possible. Selecting a backpack that is machine washable is very helpful as well, as you can expect lots of messes in those early years.

  • How much does a quality backpack for kids cost?

    Generally, high-quality kids' backpacks cost between $20 and $150 depending on the style, features, and size. The cheapest backpack on our list, the Skip Hop Toddler Backpack, is $22 and is made for younger kids. At $155 for the smallest size, the Dagne Dover is the priciest bag we selected; it's great not only for school but for traveling, commuting, going to the gym, and more, so your family is sure to get good use out of it.

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. 

Katrina Cossey is a commerce writer for Verywell Family with nearly eight years of experience under her belt. Katrina’s background in journalism began at an Emmy award-winning news station in Oklahoma before she obtained her B.A. in professional media. Her love for service journalism, and helping others led to her commerce writing role, which allows her to research and recommend the best products for families, pregnant people, and kids of all ages. When she’s not writing and researching, you’ll likely find her outdoors with her husband and their thrill-seeking toddler son.  

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. From Nike to L.L. Bean, 21 budget-friendly backpacks for every student. Today. https://www.today.com/shop/best-backpacks-t189437

  2. The 5 best backpacks for students in 2022. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/parenting/best-backpack-students

  3. Backpack safety. HealthyChildren.org.

  4. Backpack safety. - National Safety Council.