The 9 Best Backpacks for Kids of 2019

Keep your children comfortable through the school year

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

First Look

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

"This bag will hold up through the school year and way beyond with their solid durability."

Best Budget: Wildkin 15 Inch Backpack at Amazon

"Comes in an array of fun patterns, like sharks, camouflage, space, and much more."

Best Design: State Kane Bag at State

"For every purchase, State will make a donation to families in need."

Best for Toddlers: Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack at Amazon

“There’s a front pocket special for snacks, padded straps for comfort, and you can easily clean it after the inevitable food spills."

Best for Elementary: Preppy Monster Backpacks at Pottery Barn Kids

“We love how there are outside straps and pockets for extras like a lunch bag and water bottle.”

Best for Middle School: JanSport Black Label Backpack at Amazon

“It’s lightweight, durable, and water-repellent, so the JanSport backpack delivers on practicality.”

Best for High School: L.L.Bean Super Deluxe Book Pack at L.L. Bean

“Many rave it’s accompanied their kid from middle school to high school and through college.”

Best for Laptops: Herschel Supply Co. Backpack at Amazon

“Thanks to an interior pocket, you can stash a 15” laptop in the bag, while keeping it separate from the rest of your items.”

Best Rolling: High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Backpack at Amazon

"The backpack is made of a ripstop material which will prevent inclement weather from getting through."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: L.L.Bean Original Book Pack

ll-bean-classic-backpack

Courtesy of LL Bean 

Choosing the right backpack can be a tough decision. No backpack list is complete without a choice from our favorite brand L.L. Bean. This classic backpack is great for kids in the 3rd grade and up (they also make a smaller version for younger kids). Its design was made in 1982 and fairly little has changed over the decades because it is just that good.

A reflective strip on the back keeps your kid safe in low light conditions. It is weatherproof so it will keep their homework dry on any walks to school (no excuses!). It also has neatly designed pockets that keep lunch money, key organizers, and more in mind so your child can stay organized. Did we mention you can personalize it? This bag will hold up through the school year and way beyond with their solid durability.

Best Budget: Wildkin 15 Inch Backpack

Backpacks can take a beating over the year so investing in something might not always be a top priority for you and your family. This top choice is great for younger kids because it comes in an array of fun patterns like sharks, space, and camo which make it easy for your child to find their bag. What's more, the back is padded making it comfortable for your little one to tote to and from school. This bag is best suited for preschoolers and elementary children.

Best Design: State Kane Bag

kane-backpack

Courtesy of State 

If looks are the most important to your child when gearing up for back to school you might want to take a look at State bags. These bags have a minimal design but make a big impact. The Kane model comes in gold or silver metallic, five color blocked choices and many more options.

These backpacks have a sleeve that can hold a 13" laptop, a side pocket for a water bottle, and the option to get them personalized. Plus, for every purchase, State will make a donation to families in need.

Check out our guide to the best water bottles for kids you can buy today.

Best for Toddlers: Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack

First, let’s talk practicality. You’d be surprised just how little a backpack has to be to properly fit your toddler without weighing them down or falling off their shoulders. Skip Hop knows this and their backpacks are fitted to be the perfect size. There’s a front pocket for snacks and such, padded straps for comfort, and you can easily clean it after the inevitable food spills or still-wet artwork goes in (or other grosser items, like accidentally peed-on clothes. Hey, it happens). But your toddler doesn’t care about any of that. All they’ll see is how this their Zoo Collection is the cutest. With backpacks in 18 whimsical animal styles, they’ll be able to choose their fave, though we’re partial to Darby Dog and Otis Owl.

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best active toys for toddlers available online.

Best Elementary: Pottery Barn Mackenzie Gray/Blue Preppy Monster Backpacks

Pottery Barn Mackenzie Gray/Blue Preppy Monster Backpacks

Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Available in mini, small, and large sizes, you’ll be able to find the fit that suits your kiddo best. They’ve thought of just about everything to make your kid set for school. We love how in the small, there are outside straps and pockets for extras like a lunch bag and water bottle. The mini doesn’t have these functions, but it’s big enough for a snack, extra clothes, and a toy for show and tell. PB also offers monogramming, if they want to splash their name on the front for some extra flare.

This model comes in a ton of different patterns too so you are sure to find the right fit for your kid.

Best for Middle School: JanSport Black Label Superbreak Backpack

It’s hard not to love this classic backpack—after all, you probably had one as a middle schooler, too. This comes in a bunch of colors and prints (44 to be exact), so one of them will suit your preteen/teen’s style. It’s lightweight, durable, and water-repellent, so the JanSport backpack delivers on practicality. And the reviews are in and they’re good: parents say that their kid takes it everywhere (school, sport, friend’s houses), and they love how much it can hold and how it tends to hold up longer than other backpacks.

Best for High School: L.L.Bean Super Deluxe Book Pack

L.L.Bean Super Deluxe Book Pack

Courtesy of LL Bean

Now that they’re in the big leagues, they need a big backpack. And this one has your 13+-aged kid in mind. It has two large main compartments to keep books, binders, and notebooks organized, a laptop sleeve, and an audio cord port for electronics. What’s more, it’s so durable, it’ll go the distance without ripping or saddling them with zipper breaks. We’re talking years of good use, say reviewers. Many rave it’s accompanied their kid from middle school to high school and through college. For something that’s in play every day, that’s seriously impressive.

Best for Laptops: Herschel Supply Co. Settlement Backpack

Having your kid carry around a laptop can be a drag, but it is quite the norm for older children these days. This favorite from of the moment Herschel let's them carry a 15" laptop in style. It comes in an array of colors and patterns so you can choose something that suits them best. This doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles but for a kid who doesn't need to tote around a lot it does the job.

Shop electronics for kids with our guide to the best tablets.

Best Rolling: High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Laptop Backpack

If you are concerned that your child's' backpack is too heavy you might want to consider a rolling backpack which will take the strain off their back. This top pick can fit everything they need and more with its 15" laptop sleeve, lots of pockets, key fob hook, and more. The backpack is made of a ripstop material which will prevent inclement weather from getting through. It also has a telescoping pole which will adjust accordingly to their size needs. The wheels run smoothly but this also has straps so they can, of course, carry the backpack as needed.

Our Process

Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular backpacks for kids on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered more than 40 backpacks overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 300 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 3 of the backpacks themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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