These Are the Best Kids' Backpacks for All Ages

The JanSport Superbreak Backpack is our top pick

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Giving your child their first backpack signifies that they are old enough to be responsible for their own stuff. 

We researched the best backpacks for kids on the market, considering factors like durability, size, and value. Our top pick, the JanSport Superbreak Backpack, is water-resistant, spacious, and has padded shoulder straps for even weight distribution.

Here are the best kids' backpacks.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: JanSport Superbreak Backpack

4.9
JanSport Superbreak Backpack
What We Like
  • Lightweight but spacious

  • Water-repellant, durable fabric

  • Padded, comfortable straps

  • Available in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Zippers may be tough to use

  • No bottom lining

Who else recommends it? Scary Mommy, Today, and Good Housekeeping also picked the JanSport Superbreak Backpack.

What do buyers say? 93% of 27,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

The JanSport's Superbreak backpack is a solid choice if you're looking for a classic style. It's durable, spacious, and lightweight enough that it won't weigh your little one down. (It's important to note that overloading a backpack can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain, so be sure that the load of the pack is no more than 10-15% of your child's body weight.)

The Superbreak's streamlined design includes a large main compartment for textbooks and folders, a front utility pocket for organizing small items, and a side water bottle pocket. The partially-padded back and fully padded straps make for a comfortable carry, and the 15-inch drop provides an easy, over-the-shoulder fit. 

Tens of thousands of positive customer reviews confirm that the Superbreak is high-quality and the perfect size for elementary or middle schoolers. It's available in a wide variety of colors and has a lifetime warranty, so your kid can use it for years before passing it down to a younger sibling.

Size: 16.7 x 13 x 8.5 inches | Material: Polyester | Capacity: 26 L

Best Budget: Everest Basic Backpack

 Everest Luggage Basic Backpack
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Moisture-resistant fabric

  • Very budget-friendly

  • Available in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Zippers may be tough to use

  • Not as durable as others

  • Not much padding

A classic backpack available at a ridiculously reasonable price point, Everest’s Basic Backpack is basically a dream come true. The backpack boasts a simple design: There's a main compartment for larger essentials and a smaller front pocket for littler must-haves. And though the 11-ounce backpack should be pretty lightweight, it promises to be spacious enough to store all your little one’s stuff.

What's also nice? The bag is designed to be moisture-resistant, and since it’s available in 27 different colors, it shouldn’t be hard for your little one to find an option they love.

Size: 11 x 5 x 15 inches | Material: Polyester | Capacity: 13.9 L

Best Rolling: Rockland 17" Rolling Backpack

Rockland 17" Roadster Rolling Backpack

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Spacious

  • Boasts five different pockets

  • Works as a classic or roller backpack

  • Available in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • May be difficult to handle

Rolling backpacks are a classic option for kids who don’t want their textbooks weighing them down, and Rockland’s Double Handle Rolling Backpack is a solid option that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The backpack is crafted from soft polyester, and its simple design makes it easy for kids to store and organize their stuff.

On the interior you’ll find one large main compartment fit for holding textbooks and folders, and on the exterior you’ll find two small pockets that are great for pencils and notecards. You’ll also find mesh pockets lining the sides of the backpack, which are great for holding umbrellas on rainy days—and for holding water bottles on any day.

Size: 13 x 10 x 17 inches | Material: Polyester, mesh | Capacity: Not listed

Best for Hiking: REI Co-op Tarn 12 Pack - Kids'

REI Co-op Tarn 12 Pack
What We Like
  • Water-repellant

  • Lined with reflective details

  • Lots of pockets

What We Don't Like
  • Only available in two colors

Hiking backpacks aren’t just for adults—and REI Co-op’s Tarn 12 Pack proves it. The compact day pack was crafted with kids in mind—it’s specifically designed to suit kids between the ages of 5 to 8, but there are other sizes available for older kids. And since it’s crafted from durable, water-repellent nylon, it should make a solid companion on all your outdoor adventures.

The backpack boasts a large main compartment, two smaller front pockets, and two side mesh panels—giving your little one plenty of space to store and organize their essentials. Even better: It comes lined with reflective details that should keep your little one visible, even in low-light conditions.

Size: 14 x 10 x 5 inches | Material: Nylon | Capacity: 12 L

Expert Buying Tip

Mesh side panels can be great for holding cups, water bottles, and umbrellas, but in order for them to be useful, they have to be tight enough to keep your stuff in place. That’s why Liana Delucca Johnson, co-founder and head of equipment at Agency Aspect, recommends taking them on a “run to the bus test.”

Put a couple of items in your side mesh panels and then run around with the backpack on. “Did your water bottle fall out?” she says. “If it did, then the backpack was probably not designed with a nice tight material to hold your bottle in.”

Best Toddler: Orezi Dinosaur Toddler Backpack

Orezi Dinosaur Toddler Backpack
What We Like
  • Water-resistant, durable fabric

  • Machine-washable

  • 4 different compartments

  • Available in various patterns

What We Don't Like
  • Mesh panels won't fit all sippy cups

Orezi’s Dinosaur Toddler Backpack is cute, compact, and durable. And since it’s sized to fit both toddlers and preschoolers, your little one can keep it with them, even after a couple of growth spurts. The backpack is crafted from durable, water-resistant polyester, so it promises to hold up to the wear and tear of childhood. And since it’s machine-washable, it shouldn’t be too tough to clean.

The backpack boasts one large main compartment, one smaller front pocket, and two side mesh panels. It’s available in seven cute dinosaur prints, so your little one is sure to find an option they'll love.

Size: 10 x 4 x 12 inches | Material: Twill cloth | Capacity: Not listed

Best for Preschool: HawLander Little Kids Backpack

HawLander Little Kids Backpack
What We Like
  • Lightweight but spacious

  • Water-resistant fabric

  • 4 different pockets

  • Available in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Fabric isn't very thick or durable

  • May be big on smaller children

HawLander’s Little Kids Backpack is cute, durable, and lightweight. And even better: It’s the perfect size for kids between the ages of 3 to 6. The bag is crafted from durable, water-resistant polyester, and it promises to be easy to clean. And though the bag is incredibly lightweight—it weighs a mere 10.5 ounces—it should be big enough to hold all your little one’s necessities. There's a spacious main compartment, a smaller front pocket, and two side mesh panels that are perfect for water bottles, sippy cups, and more. Also great? The bag is available in seven versatile color palettes.

Size: 11 x 5 x 15 inches | Material: Polyester | Capacity: 16 L 

Best for Grade School: L.L. Bean Original Book Pack

5
ll-bean-classic-backpack

Courtesy of LL Bean 

What We Like
  • Lightweight but spacious

  • Weatherproof, durable fabric

  • Padded, comfortable back and straps

  • Available in various patterns

What We Don't Like
  • No subtle patterns; very vibrant

L.L. Bean’s Original Book Pack is a classic grade school backpack, and since it comes in 11 vibrant patterns, your little one can pick an option that’s as eye-catching as they want it to be. The backpack is crafted from durable, weatherproof polyester, and its extra-strong stitching and ultra-tough zippers promise to hold up to the wear and tear of grade school.

The back is padded for comfort, and the shoulder straps are adjustable for easy customization. The bag also boasts a spacious main compartment, two smaller front pockets, and two mesh side panels, so they'll have plenty of room to store all their stuff.

Size: 13 x 7.75 x 16 inches | Material: Polyester | Capacity: 24 L

Best Diaper Bag: Ruvalino Diaper Bag Backpack

Diaper Bag Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Compact and lightweight

  • Available in various colors

  • 16 pockets

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Not machine-washable

One of the more important purchases you'll make when you have a baby is a good quality, reliable diaper bag, and this one found on Amazon checks all the boxes. It's compact and surprisingly stylish, yet has 16 pockets and two compartments to fit everything, from diapers and bottles to your wallet and keys, and even your laptop. Not only that, but it's made of a waterproof polyester material and comes in seven stylish colors so you won't feel like you're lugging around diapers.

Size: 11.8 x 7.8 x 16.5 inches | Material: Polyester | Capacity: Not listed

Final Verdict

Overall, our top pick is the JanSport Superbreak (view at Amazon). Its spacious interior makes it easy to keep things organized, and it can handle all the wear and tear your little one might throw at it. However, if you're looking for something more budget-friendly, you can't go wrong with the Everest Basic Backpack (view at Amazon). It's lightweight, moisture-resistant, and comes in a variety of colors.

What to Look for in a Kids' Backpack

Durability

Kids' backpacks tend to get subjected to a lot of wear and tear, so you’ll want to invest in something that’s built to last. Delucca Johnson recommends shopping with the “drag test” in mind.

“Kids are hard on their backpacks, and I’ve seen my kids pull their bags like a tired dog on a leash,” she says. “Make sure the boot (bottom) of the bag is made of a sturdier material than the body of the bag.”

Stick with durable materials (polyester is one great option), and make sure the zipper is of good quality as well.

Size

Kids grow a lot—and fast—so finding a backpack that comfortably fits your little one can be tough. When in doubt, Delucca Johnson recommends buying a bag that your kid can grow into a little bit. That way, you shouldn’t have to buy a brand new bag every year. Younger kids can get away with a smaller size, but as they grow up, you'll want to be sure their backpack can fit iPads and laptops, as well as books and supplies.

Pockets

Your little one should be able to use their bag to store and organize their stuff. Delucca Johnson recommends looking for “some internal pocketing and organization to keep small items, like toys, secure.” Larger mesh panels can also be useful for keeping items like umbrellas and water bottles separate, and front pockets can be great for keeping track of chargers and accessories.

Why Trust The Spruce?

As a seasoned lifestyle writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands what a difference a great product recommendation can make. That’s why she makes sure to recommend products that are sleek, reliable, and well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them. To write this list, she consulted experts and selected backpacks based on durability, features, and customization.

Updated by
Lindsey Lanquist
Lindsey Lanquist The Spruce
Lindsey Lanquist is a Nashville-based writer and product reviewer for The Spruce who covers health, fitness, food, and lifestyle. She has written for MyDomaine since August 2019. And her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, SELF, Byrdie, Verywell, StyleCaster, SheKnows, and NYLON.
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  3. 12 Best Kids' Backpacks for the 2021 School Year. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/childrens-products/kids-backpack-reviews/g149/best-kids-backpacks/