The 9 Best Backpacks for Kids at Every Age

Keep your kiddos comfortable with the L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

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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 kids 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.

Reviewed & Approved

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

With options in a rainbow of colors and a wide range of sizes, there is no shortage of bags to choose from. When purchasing 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. We looked carefully over 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


Courtesy of LL Bean 

What We Like
  • Reflective straps

  • Weather-proof nylon

  • Large

What We Don't Like
  • Plain design

We chose the L.L. Bean Original Book Pack as our clear winner because it's available 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 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 Design: Wildkin Pack-it-All Kids Backpack

Wildkin Pack-it-All Kids Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

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 Toddler Backpack

Skip Hop Toddler Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

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: STATE Kane Kid's Backpack

STATE Kane Kid's Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

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

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. Bean 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: Lands' End Kid's 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: 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

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 Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Dakota Neoprene Backpack

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 in a Backpack for Kids


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 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 back, a waist and/or chest strap, and multiple pockets and compartments to help with weight distribution. 


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 additional activities.  

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 and 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, plusorganizers 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 and homework folders.

    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 their backpack comfortably and easily. 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.

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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