The Best School Backpacks for Students of Every Age

Send your kids and teens back to school with backpacks that can handle everything they throw in it.

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July 13, 2023

Our Top School Backpack Picks

When your kids are carrying their everyday essentials on their backs, a durable, well-organized and stylish bag is key.

Size matters when selecting your kid's backpack. One that's too big or doesn't fit your kid well can cause back or shoulder pain. For the ideal backpack height, measure the distance between your child's shoulders to their belly button and add two inches. The right width across matches the measurement between their shoulder blades with wiggle room of up to two inches wider.

One essential feature for backpacks is wide, padded straps for comfort and to distribute weight evenly. Encourage kids to wear both straps to keep their spine centered and not to cause undue stress to their necks. Also, look for backpacks with plenty of pockets and compartments, which allow kids to disburse their books and supplies throughout.

Keep scrolling to discover the best backpacks, from preschool to college, that are both parent- and kid-approved.

Best Overall Backpack

$55

Send your kid off to school with a backpack that can do it (and hold it) all. The Under Armour Hustle 5.0 Backpack boasts a roomy interior with a soft-lined laptop sleeve, a front valuables pocket, two side water bottle pockets, a large shoe compartment at the bottom of the bag and many more small pockets. Complete with a padded back panel and adjustable straps, the backpack features UA's Storm technology, making it water-resistant and masterful at handling drizzling days waiting for the school bus or walking across campus.

Capacity: 29 Liters | Dimensions: 20.1"H x 12.6"W x 6.3"D | Material: Polyester

Buy It

Best Backpack for Preschool

$19.99

Ideal for your littlest ones, these backpacks are utterly adorable and functional. Let your preschooler pick out their favorite 3D animal — lion, dinosaur, elephant, unicorn, cat and more to bring along with them to school. Big enough to tote all their school needs, they're also small enough for a two-year-old to carry.

Capacity: 0.57 Liters | Dimensions: 10.2"H x 8.3"W x 3.9"D | Material: Neoprene

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Best Backpack for Kindergarten

$39.99

As your kiddo heads into their first year of elementary school, they need a lightweight backpack for hauling their sharpened pencils and composition book. Two zippered compartments, interior pockets and mesh outer pockets make it easy to divvy out their essentials and keep them organized.

Capacity: 12 Liters | Dimensions: 15"H x 11.5"W x 5.25"D | Material: Polyester

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Best Backpack for Early Elementary

$39.99

Ensure your elementary-aged child's backpack has room for all the essentials: school supplies, snacks, water bottle and even their show-and-tell item with the Wildkin 15-Inch Kids' Backpack. Large zippered compartments, padded shoulder straps and back, durable lining and an easy-to-clean exterior mean your kiddo is all set for the year ahead.

Capacity: 8.9 Liters | Dimensions: 15"H x 11"W x 7"D | Material: Polyester

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Best Backpack for Grade School

$54.95

Once your kiddo hits double digits (the big 10!), the L.L.Bean Deluxe Book Pack will last them until they head off to college. With multiple large compartments and tons of pockets, this backpack has major storage and organization and, most importantly, is one of the most durable bags on the market.

Capacity: 32 Liters | Dimensions: 17"H x 13"W x 9.5"D | Material: Nylon

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Best Backpack for Middle School

$59.99

Some brands never go out of style and for more than 40 years, JanSport has been a favorite for kids and parents. With its lifetime warranty, you can feel confident that your tween will still be able to use it long after their school days are over.

Capacity: 34 Liters | Dimensions: 17"H x 12"W x 8"D | Material: Polyester

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Best Backpack for High School

When teens are already lugging heavy books, there's no reason to add any extra weight to their backpacks. This streamlined design from Herschel Supply Co. is super lightweight — no extra bells or whistles needed — but still gets the job done. The bag is available in 19 different colors to best suit your teen's ever-changing style.

Capacity: 30 Liters | Dimensions: 17.5"H x 12.5"W x 6"D | Material: Recycled Polyester

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Best Backpack for College

Send your college freshman off to university with a backpack that keeps a laptop protected and easy to access. Designed as a great travel backpack — which also makes it perfect for coming home over break — it has multiple sections and pockets for stowing away class necessities.

Capacity: 27 Liters | Dimensions: 17.5"H x 12"W x 7.25"D | Material: Recycled Polyester

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Best Backpack for Print Selection

From $54.50

It's hard to beat Pottery Barn Kids' Mackenzie Backpacks, which feature a wide variety of prints for boys and girls. Whether your kids love dinosaurs, sports, fairies or even French bulldogs, they'll find a pattern to match their personality. Multiple straps and pockets ensure that everything has a place, including external straps to hold a lunchbox and two side pockets for water bottles or other get-to-quick items. The smaller size is perfect for your preschooler or kindergartener, while the larger option will last all the way through middle school.

Capacity: 20 Pounds | Dimensions: 17"H x 13.5"W x 7.5"D | Material: Recycled Polyester

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Best Lightweight Backpack

$25.99

When you're filling a backpack up with heavy textbooks, you don't want to add unnecessary extra weight. Water-resistant and durable, this lightweight backpack comes in at only .8 pounds. A fully padded back and padded shoulder straps make it a comfortable fit. Two compartments plus two outside pockets allow for easy storage.

Capacity: 20 Liters | Dimensions: 16.9"H x 12.9"W x 5.5"D | Material: Polyester

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Most Durable Backpack

$98.95

The North Face's Borealis Commuter Backpack has long been a fan favorite and is known for its extreme durability. An updated suspension system is certified by the American Chiropractic Association, ensuring safety and comfort, and multiple compartments provide easy organization, including a protective laptop sleeve.

Capacity: 28 Liters | Dimensions: 19.5"H x 12"W x 6.5"D | Material: Recycled Nylon

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Best Value Backpack

$39.96 $29.99

Not only is the MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack less than $30, but it has more than 70,000 five-star reviews. With a plethora of compartments, there's also plenty of space to tote books, notebooks, binders, a wallet and keys. And since they'll need their cellphone battery at 100 percent (to call home, naturally), the built-in USB charger allows for on-the-go phone charging.

Capacity: 30 Liters | Dimensions: 18"H x 12"W x 7.8"D | Material: Polyester

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