10 Best Kids Backpacks in 2021
Of all the school supplies you’ll need to buy your child, a backpack just might be the most crucial. Binders and notebooks are important, but if your kid doesn’t have somewhere safe to store those items, you’ve got an issue.
Unfortunately, not all backpacks are created equal. From the pink and the bedazzled to the plain and sturdy, you’ve got endless options to pick from. You’ll want something that’s going to last the entire year, but you’ve also got to find a backpack that your kid won’t mind carrying around either. The good news is that we’ve done a lot of the legwork for you—keep reading to see our top ten recommendations of the best kids backpacks currently on the market.
- 2021’s Kids Backpack Reviews
- Bluefairy Hearts Print School Backpack
- Showudesigns Cool Dinosaur Children Backpack Set
- Willikiva Cute Bear Kids School Backpack
- Champion Kids’ Youthquake Backpack
- KK CRAFTS Toddler Backpack
- JanSport Superbreak One Backpack
- VBIGER School Backpack
- Wraifa Waterproof Outdoor Travel Backpack
- Leaper Canvas School Backpack
- Uideazone School Rucksack and Backpack
- What To Think About When Picking a Kids Backpack
- Pockets and Storage Space
- How Do I Find a Backpack That Won’t Hurt My Kid’s Back?
- Are Rolling Backpacks Safer?
- All in All
2021’s Kids Backpack Reviews
Bluefairy Hearts Print School Backpack
Best Backpack for Girls Under 12
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While some older kids are sure to shy away from a pink backpack patterned with hearts, younger children might just love the Bluefairy Hearts Print School Backpack. Aside from its eye-catching pattern, you’ll notice that this backpack uses nylon lining and durable polyester material. Unlike some backpacks, polyester tends to hold up a little better over time.
Another perk is that this pack is easy to clean. Even the most organized backpacks end up with a little dirt, pencil shavings, or other debris after your kid has worn it for an entire year. Rather than spend hours trying to get all the dirt out, cleaning this backpack should only take minutes.
While the Bluefairy pack has traditional shoulder straps that make it more comfortable to lug around textbooks, there’s also a padded handle at the top too. If your child decides that it’s easier to use the handle, they have that option.
As far as space goes, there are four different compartments to store notebooks and binders in as well as a laptop compartment. This snug pocket can hold most laptops and has enough padding that you don’t need to worry about your pricey technology sustaining damage.
- Enough storage space for your kid’s belongings
- Two mesh pockets on the side for storing drinks or smaller items
- Sturdy construction
- Stylish design and pattern
- Includes a unique compartment to hold a laptop
- Not incredibly lightweight
- Might be a little big for extremely young children
Showudesigns Cool Dinosaur Children Backpack Set
Best Backpack for Boys Under 12
It doesn’t matter if your child is outgoing or shy—the Showudesigns Cool Dinosaur Children Backpack Set is sure to make them roar. What’s unique about this backpack is that it’s more than just a backpack. Along with an attention-grabbing bookbag, you’ll also get a matching lunchbox and pencil case. Since your kid will likely need those items as well, bundling them all together can be convenient for some parents.
The majority of the backpack uses high-quality polyester cloth that’s a little more durable than some other materials. Not only is the construction sturdy, but this bag uses a double zipper enclosure to keep your kid’s belongings even more secure.
Most kids will probably use the adjustable shoulder straps when they wear this pack, but if your kid is in a hurry, they can always grab the added handle on the top for easy access. Besides the backpack, you’ll find that the matching lunchbox is insulated so that it will keep your child’s food warm until lunchtime.
- Vivid design and style
- Sturdy construction with high-quality polyester cloth
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Uses a double zipper
- Comes with a matching lunchbox and pencil case
- The design on the backpack might not be as bright as the picture suggests
- Lunchbox might be a little small
Willikiva Cute Bear Kids School Backpack
Best Unisex Backpack For Kids Under 12
If your child isn’t into pink hearts and roaring dinosaurs, the Willikiva Cute Bear Kids School Backpack is a more neutral option. With brown, red, and blue colors, this backpack is a little more subtle, but it’s bound to stand out in its own way.
While it features a main compartment to store books or binders, there are quite a few extra pockets for your kid to store their pencils, highlighters, or other nicknacks. Not only can all the pockets help your child stay organized, but there should be enough space for elementary school children to house all their stuff without running out of room.
Since this bag comes in three different sizes, you’ll need to figure out which size your child will require. While the small size might be perfect for toddlers or infants, the medium or large size could work well for elementary or middle school students.
- Stylish design and bright colors
- Multiple compartments make it easy for your child to learn organizational skills
- Comes in three different sizes
- Durable polyester material
- Includes room for a laptop
- Might not be large enough for older kids or teenagers to fit their stuff in
- Zippers might not be too durable
Champion Kids’ Youthquake Backpack
Best Athletic Backpack for Kids
If your child is an athletic superstar in the making, they might appreciate the Champion Kids’ Youthcake Backpack. Made completely with polyester material, this backpack might be more durable than some other options. After a couple of months, some low-quality packs might begin to wear down and create holes in the fabric. With this durable fabric and lining, that shouldn’t be an issue.
One great perk of this backpack is the multiple storage compartments. Rather than trying to fit everything inside the same main pocket, your kids can organize their items for easier convenience.
While this standard bag comes in black, there is one color option. If your child decides they’d much rather wear pink, you can always pick out the pink and stylish gray design. It has all the same features; it just comes in a different color.
- Uses durable polyester material and lining
- Comes in two different colors
- Multiple pockets on the exterior and interior of the bag
- Might be well-suited for holding athletic gear
- Can work for younger or older kids
- You have to hand wash it if you want to clean it
- Not as stylish as some kids might want
KK CRAFTS Toddler Backpack
Best Backpack for Toddlers
While many manufacturers create backpacks that fit elementary school children or older, not all of them consider creating bags for toddlers or infants. However, even preschoolers or kindergartners are going to need a place to store their school supplies. If you want something that’s going to fit your toddler, the KK CRAFTS Toddler Backpack might be the right choice.
There’s a lot to love about this backpack, starting with its stylish design. This school bag comes in several different variations so that you can pick the one your child will like the best. Depending on preference, you can choose from a unicorn, tiger, or even a green dinosaur.
One interesting thing about the unicorn design is that it also comes with a leash. If you know you’re going somewhere crowded, like an amusement park, you can hold onto your leash and prevent your toddler from wandering off.
The neoprene on this bag also makes it water-resistant. Even if it gets a little wet, you shouldn’t need to worry about any permanent damage. Keep in mind that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has certified this bag as a children’s product.
- Neoprene makes it water-resistant
- Lightweight design
- The unicorn design also comes with an attached leash
- Multiple style variations
- Not all styles come with the attached leash
- Might not be as durable as some backpacks
JanSport Superbreak One Backpack
Best Unisex Backpack for Middle Schoolers
As a brand with a reliable track record, the JanSport Superbreak One Backpack is not an exception to this. With a unique galaxy design, both boys and girls will likely find this bag entrancing.
Unlike some backpacks that have thin straps that dig into your child’s shoulders all day, the padded shoulder straps on this pack are all about comfort. Even if your kid has been wearing it for hours or tugging around heavy textbooks, it’s unlikely to cause discomfort.
Organizing your child’s school supplies is also a breeze. While multiple compartments can be an advantage, having six or seven pockets can also get confusing. Younger children might forget where they’ve put things and lose items they need. The JanSport pack makes it easier by including a spacious main compartment and a front utility pocket that you can zip up.
Keep in mind that this backpack does come with a lifetime warranty. If it breaks or needs repairs down the line, you could be eligible for a replacement or free repair work. Rather than purchasing a backpack that’s only going to last a couple of months, you could be getting one that’s going to last a couple of years or more.
- The shoulder straps are padded
- Easy to organize school supplies
- Includes a lifetime warranty
- Stylish design
- Adjustable straps
- Might not be the right choice for extremely young children or toddlers
- No outside pockets
VBIGER School Backpack
Best Protective Backpack for Kids
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When most people think of a backpack, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t safety. Not a lot of backpack manufacturers worry about safety features either, but for the ones that do, these protection features can be an added bonus.
With the VBIGER School Backpack, safety is a priority. Not only are the straps secure and padded to make sure they don’t cause any discomfort, but there’s also a reflective strip on the backpack as well.
If your child is ever walking at night, the reflective strip will make them more visible to other pedestrians or oncoming vehicles. In addition to the shoulder straps, you’ll also find a chest and sternum strap that you can choose to buckle. Not all kids may want or need to wear these straps, but if they’re carrying a heavy load, this can help distribute the weight more evenly.
- Includes a reflective strap
- Evenly distributes weight with the chest and sternum straps
- Padded shoulder straps
- Comes in multiple colors and designs
- There’s a pocket on the side for water bottles or drinks
- The side pocket might be too small for some water bottles
- The zipper might not be too durable
Wraifa Waterproof Outdoor Travel Backpack
Best Travel Backpack for Kids
Not everyone buys a backpack to haul school books around in. Some parents might be going on a trip or vacation with their kids, and be looking for an easy way to store their supplies. In that case, the Wraifa Waterproof Outdoor Travel Backpack might be the right bag for the job. Once your trip is over, your child can even repurpose this bag into a backpack for the school year.
This heavy-duty pack has all the features you need for navigating the outdoor terrain. Not only is it made with durable polyester and oxford cloth, but it’s also water-resistant as well. On the off chance that the back gets a little wet, it shouldn’t cause long-lasting damage. There’s a large front pocket, but several smaller pockets as well for storing smaller items and gear.
Depending on your child’s preference, you can pick from traditional green and brown camo or blue camo.
- Includes padded shoulder straps
- Durable oxford cloth and polyester lining
- Perfect for storing hiking or travel gear
- Comes in two different sizes
- Zippers might break easily
- The stitching in the creases might start to come out after regular use
Leaper Canvas School Backpack
Best Backpack for High Schoolers and Teens
Although your elementary schooler might beg for a backpack with their favorite characters or colors, a lot of older kids appreciate something more subtle. Without any flashy designs that an older kid might deem “uncool,” the Leaper Canvas School Backpack could be what you’re looking for.
Not only do the solid colors make it a safe choice for many pre-teens and teens, but it also has the storage capacity that many middle schoolers and high schoolers need. The dimensions of this laptop allow it to hold a fourteen-inch laptop as well as most standard binders and notebooks.
There are several smaller pockets for your child to store smaller items. In the zippered pocket, there’s room to securely store a cellphone or keys (rather than letting these valuables get smashed in the main pocket).
- Roomy storage space
- Multiple pockets
- Solid colors make it a “safe” choice for a lot of kids
- There’s a laptop compartment
- High-quality canvas material
- Not as lightweight as some bags
- The thin straps might cause discomfort after a long day
Uideazone School Rucksack and Backpack
Best Backpack for Casual Use
When many people look for a backpack, they’re looking for something that’s heavy-duty enough to last an entire school year or longer. However, some parents might only need something a little more casual. Maybe your child needs something for a trip or just to wear day-to-day for casual use. If that’s the case, there’s no need to look further than the Uideazone School Rucksack and Backpack.
The polyester fabric on this bag makes it more durable, and it’s also water-resistant too. The last thing anyone wants is a leaking water bottle to completely destroy a bag you only bought a couple of weeks ago.
Even if the bag is durable, there’s no guarantee that the zippers are. Many backpacks include flimsy zippers that break easily, but that’s not a concern with this pack. The zippers are a little more sturdy, and there are multiple compartments that you can zip up for better security.
- Includes a key chain
- Interesting colors and designs to pick from
- Padded shoulder straps are more breathable
- Water-resistant and shockproof
- Might not be enough space for older kids
- Might not be perfect for constant, everyday use
What To Think About When Picking a Kids Backpack
There’s more to picking out a backpack for your child than just deciding on the cutest design. If the bag only lasts a couple of months or it can’t hold all your kid’s supplies, you might as well be throwing your money away. Before you buy, here are some of the key features you should look for:
Style might not be the only feature worth considering, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Younger kids might grumble about having to tow around a backpack, but if it’s decorated with their favorite colors, they might change their mind.
While many backpacks for kids include character themes like Marvel superheroes or even pop stars, you might want to avoid those. Your kid’s favorite character might be Spiderman today, but in a couple of months, they might like a different character better and insist on a new bag.
If your child really likes unicorns or dinosaurs, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy your kid a unicorn or dinosaur backpack. However, just keep in mind that their interests could shift, and they might want something completely new next year.
When you’re shopping for a backpack, you’ll probably notice that a lot of products include the dimensions of the bag. These numbers might look like gibberish at first glance, but they can make all the difference when it comes to storing school supplies.
Even first-graders will probably have to tow around a couple of notebooks, and the bag will need to be bigger than whatever they’re holding. If you can, try to find a backpack that’s at least 9 by 12 inches. Most standard backpacks will fit the bill, but “infant” or “toddler” backpacks might not. These bags are usually much smaller, and they’re not always as sturdy. Trying to fit several binders into a toddler backpack probably won’t end well for you (or the bag).
With size, there’s nothing wrong with rounding up. Extremely young kids might not need a large backpack, but if your child is in middle school or high school, they’re going to need storage space. Keep in mind that as your kid gets older, the more school supplies they’ll need to store. If you plan on buying a backpack to last them more than one school year, you might want to find something with plenty of room.
Some backpacks are one-size-fits-all, and that isn’t always a good thing. Kids come in all sizes, and if your child is shorter or taller than average, the pack might not fit them correctly. This is where adjustable straps can come in handy.
Pockets and Storage Space
Backpacks might all share the same basic design, but some of them come with a lot more bells and whistles. While some packs only have one main compartment, others come with multiple pockets, a keychain, and a spot for your water bottle.
Unless you’re only planning to use the backpack once and awhile, it’s a good idea to find something with lots of pockets. Even younger kids that are just starting school might need to organize their supplies. If there’s only one compartment, smaller items like pencils or pens can get lost beneath binders and books.
For older kids that may have cell phones or laptops, you probably want to protect these valuables. A backpack that includes a zippered utility pocket is great for storing a cell phone, while any bag that has a laptop compartment is ideal for storing a computer or tablet.
Not to mention, backpacks might be a great way to start teaching your small children about organization. Rather than lumping everything together into one pile, the different compartments of a backpack allow kids to develop their organizational system.
How Do I Find a Backpack That Won’t Hurt My Kid’s Back?
If your child regularly comes home and complains about aching shoulders and back muscles, it might be time to look for a safer bookbag. When your child has to tug around heavy textbooks and full binders, the straps on the backpack can dig into your child’s shoulders and strain muscles.
Not to mention, if your kid wears the backpack incorrectly, the force of the weight can pull them backward and force your child to bend forward. As a result, their spine compresses unnaturally, and it can cause soreness in the neck, back, and hips.
A lot of kids also just wear one strap rather than two. Even if this style is convenient, it can make their body lean toward one side to deal with all the extra weight.
Ultimately, wearing a backpack incorrectly is the culprit for a lot of these issues, but in some cases, it could also be the backpack itself. If the straps on the bag are thinner and offer a little padding, they’re likely to dig into your kid’s shoulder muscles.
To make sure your kid is as safe as they can be while they’re at school, here are a couple of tips to help you find the safest pack possible:
Lighter is better: Textbooks, notebooks, and binders are already going to add on a few pounds, so it’s smart to start off with a backpack that isn’t already heavy. For example, a leather backpack might look stylish, but it tends to wear quite a bit more than a polyester or canvas backpack.
A padded back covering: You’ll probably notice that a lot of backpacks have padded backs, and there’s a reason for this. Besides making it a little comfier to wear, this padded covering also prevents sharp objects, like pencils, from poking your kid.
Waist belt: Some backpacks include an optional waist strap that you can buckle around your child’s torso. Even if it might look a little silly, this can help distribute the weight better, so there’s less stress on the back and spine.
Padded, wide shoulder straps: Thin straps can leave indentation marks in your child’s shoulders. If you can, try opting for wider, padded straps that are adjustable and have a mesh lining.
Are Rolling Backpacks Safer?
While they aren’t quite as popular as they once were, some backpacks come with wheels that allow you to roll them around like luggage. The major benefit of a rolling pack is that your child doesn’t have to carry the heavy load on their back and shoulders.
However, the downside is that these backpacks aren’t always convenient to wheel around, and your child will have to be careful not to bump into anyone else.
All in All
There’s plenty of backpacks to pick from, but finding the best one for your child can depend on their age as well as what they need it for. A backpack that has to last the entire school year will need ample space, durable material, and be comfy enough for your kid to wear. A travel backpack for your kid, however, might need to be more waterproof than spacious.