In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Best Kids Backpack

Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Molly Bradac ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday May 26, 2021
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Which kids' backpack is the best? To find out, we've researched the market and took 8 of the most popular kids' backpacks of 2021 to assess how they compared side-by-side. We believe a top-notch pack should offer the capacity and features your child needs, plus quality to withstand frequent use, and we kept these factors in mind while hands-on testing and evaluating the competition. So, whether you're sending your child off to school, daycare, or a day adventure, we are confident there is a backpack in our lineup that will meet your needs and budget.


1

Best Overall Kids' Backpack


VASCHY Preschool Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 11x4.3x14.6/11.5L
Two side pockets
Chest strap
Write-on nametag
Quality
Too small for older children

Not only does the VASCHY Preschool Backpack meet our backpack expectations, but the bag is downright cute (bring on the compliments!). The bag feels sturdy, and the fabric feels durable, making the bag's overall quality satisfactory for most needs. Besides one large compartment, it has an easy-access front pocket for smaller items like snacks. The zippers are a breeze to open and close, and the bag features two elastic side pockets to stash a water bottle and another item. Inside the big compartment, there's a write-on nametag, and this contender is the only one in our lineup with a chest strap, which helps stabilize the backpack and improve wearing comfort.

This bag has one large compartment, which we prefer for younger children who don't need to organize items like older students. But if a bag with multiple storage pockets is a better fit for your child's organizational style, you may not like this contender as much. Also, this backpack comes in two sizes: small and large. We tested the small size for our review, which we think meets the needs of a preschooler or kindergartener. We suggest moving up to the large size (11W x 5.5D x 15.7 H and 15.69L capacity) for older children as they will likely carry more items.

We consider the VASCHY is an all-around winner as it sports features...
We consider the VASCHY is an all-around winner as it sports features that make this bag high-quality and comfortable to wear.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

2

Best Bang for the Buck


Everest Basic Backpack


Side Pocket(s): No | Size/Capacity: 11x5x15/13.9L
Inexpensive
Simple
Low quality
No side pockets

The Everest Basic Backpack is minimal in design with no bells or whistles. It offers one main compartment that is spacious for books and folders, plus a front pocket that is easy to access for smaller items like a snack, calculator, or writing utensil. With a selection of available colors, kids can choose one that fits their style.

The product's low price point is applause-worthy, especially for those on a budget, but the bag's design and quality are minimal, making us question the bag's durability and longevity. The shoulder straps have some padding, but the bag's backside does not. When carrying heavier loads, decent padding on both the back of the pack and shoulder straps can make the task more comfortable, so this may be a no-go for older kids with a heavier load. Also, the fabric is thin, increasing the chance of holes, and the bag has no side pockets for a water bottle. However, if the product's cost and bare minimum design meet your needs, we think this option is worth considering if your budget is tight.

The Everest Basic Backpack may appeal to someone willing to trade...
The Everest Basic Backpack may appeal to someone willing to trade quality and some features for a low-price tag.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

3

Best Rolling Backpack


J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 18x13x9/34.5L
Adjustable handle
Versatile
Lots of extras
Expensive

Lighten the load with the J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack. This contender is loaded with features, such as wheels, organization, and versatility like no other contender in our review. If you prefer to take a break from rolling, clip the padded shoulder straps into place and wear it backpack-style. The main compartment is roomy, and the front pocket is overflowing with extras. The adjustable handle extends to 34 or 39 inches to accommodate a variety of user heights.

The cost of this contender is a factor to consider, as it is higher than most of the competition. However, the standout features and quality seem to justify the added cost. We think the J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack is best for an older kid who has a homework-filled day and will value this option to make to journey to and from school more comfortable.

Your child will travel in style with this versatile backpack with...
Your child will travel in style with this versatile backpack with lots of features to make the journey to and from school easier.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

4

Most Adorable for Little Ones


Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 11x5x12/10.8L
Write-on nametag
Quality
Large front pocket
Check buttons

There's much to adore about the Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack. It brought smiles to our faces, and we think it will instantly win your little one's heart. Although more petite in size compared to other contenders, this bag is mighty. It feels high-quality and offers a roomy main compartment to hold all sorts of treasures and trinkets. It also features a write-on nametag. For an added dose of cuteness, check out the rainbow zipper pull. We did not experience any zippering issues when opening and closing this bag. To be honest, constant zipper use occurred during testing, thanks to little ones who were busy finding treasures to tote.

This pack is intended for children three years of age and up, and we believe this is due to the animal's eyes being buttons. On the product we purchased for testing, they feel secure, and we did not experience any issue, but it is good to remember that any button can detach. Therefore, we suggest checking them regularly to ensure they are securely attached. We think this adorable backpack is a winner whether your tot needs a light pack or is graduating from a diaper bag.

The Skip Hop is small but mighty. It sports some features that make...
The Skip Hop is small but mighty. It sports some features that make this bag enjoyable to use.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

5

Best for Quality


High Sierra Loop Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 13.5x8.5x19/35.7L
Great organization
Quality
Might be overkill

The High Sierra Loop Backpack may be an exciting option for a middle schooler or older who needs higher capacity for homework-filled days. This pack has ample storage for school essentials, lunch, a water bottle, and more, thanks to its multi-compartment design. Compared to the lineup, this backpack's quality is noticeable and fantastic, making it an option that we believe will likely last longer.

The pack's capacity is overkill for most kids, particularly younger children who don't need the extras. Therefore, we consider it best for a middle schooler going into high school, even travel. So, if you seek capacity and quality, this option is for you.
The High Sierra Loop Backpack is large and great for those who...
The High Sierra Loop Backpack is large and great for those who appreciate multiple pockets for organization.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

6

Best for Early Elementary


Wildkin 15 Inch Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 12x7x15/20.6L
Durable
No front pocket
Too small for multiple big items

The Wildkin 15 Inch Backpack is a mid-sized backpack available in multiple fun designs for children three years old and older. It has two zippered pockets for packing essentials and a mesh side pocket to hold your child's water bottle. This backpack is 600 Denier Polyester, and according to its care instructions, this bag is spot clean only.

Unlike other contenders, this backpack does not have an easy-access front pocket. Although this is not a deal-breaker, a small and easy to access pocket can be handy for items you'd like to grab, such as a snack. Also, if your child carries a heavier load to school (think binders and textbooks, etc.), you may discover the bag's size too small for their needs. We suggest this option for elementary school-aged kids.

Although comfortable to wear, the Wildkin may be too small for big...
Although comfortable to wear, the Wildkin may be too small for big items, like binders and textbooks.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

7

Best for Internal Pockets


Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 12.2x6x15.8/18.9
Decent padding
Better quality
Internal pockets
Velcro closures on side pockets

Although the Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack is basic in design, it still boasts qualities we consider essential for a great kids' backpack. The quality is decent, and there is enough padding to make the bag comfortable to wear. The main compartment is generous in size and features multiple internal pockets for extra storage and organization. We also appreciate the front pocket for items you may need to quickly and easily grab.

We had high hopes for this product, but the Velcro closures on the bag's side pockets lowered its ranking. We consider it a downside because the pockets do not stretch as much as contenders with stretchy elastic side pockets. But, if a basic backpack with some internal pockets works for you, this option is a potential contender.

The Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack is a likable option;...
The Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack is a likable option; however, the side pockets' Velcro closures left us feeling disappointed as they don't offer much stretch.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

8

Best for a Basic Backpack


JanSport SuperBreak


Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 13x8.2x16.5/25L
Minimal in design
No water bottle pocket

The JanSport SuperBreak is like the Everest Basic Backpack, but with some minor differences. For one, this contender has padding on the backside of the pack, and its dimensions are slightly larger. We appreciate that the roomy main compartment opens wide and can hold binders, textbooks, and more, plus the front pocket has some internal organizers.

Although we don't mind keeping things simple, we wish this contender's design incorporated at least one side pocket for a water bottle. The lack of this feature is a disappointment. However, if you seek a simple backpack that offers a little more quality, check out this option.

The JanSport SuperBreak is basic yet offers a little more quality.
The JanSport SuperBreak is basic yet offers a little more quality.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Tip: Backpacks tend to collect all sorts of items, including food crumbs and smells. Therefore, it is helpful to clean your child's backpack at least once a week. Involving your child to help complete the task can teach valuable life skills and increase compliance on things like throwing away trash regularly.

Each product in our review has been purchased for hands-on testing...
Each product in our review has been purchased for hands-on testing and side-by-side comparison.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Why You Should Trust Us


The BabyGearLab team has been testing gear since 2013 and holds an incredible amount of experience and knowledge. Leading this review is Molly Bradac, Senior Review Editor, and nanny with over 14 years of experience. Molly has worked with various children and ages, making her the best expert to suggest the perfect kids' backpack for you and your family.

We tested a range of kids' backpacks to provide an overview of the current market. Our hands-on testing involved testers loading and wearing the bags to see which ones are more comfortable and easier to use.

The J World New York has the ability to transform into a backpack by...
The Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack is comfortable to wear and...

Analysis and Test Results


When shopping for a kids' backpack, it is essential to look beyond style and color options and consider important factors like capacity and quality. We kept these metrics in mind while evaluating the competition and took note of user feedback from testers ranging in age from three years to middle school. Collectively, these factors influenced our overall ranking of products and selection of award winners.

Although small in size, the Skip Hop has a roomy main compartment.
Although small in size, the Skip Hop has a roomy main compartment.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Capacity


Our lineup includes products of various capacities. The size you select may depend on your child's needs or their size. The High Sierra Loop Backpack, which is oversized compared to other packs, has the largest capacity in our review. Following close behind is the J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack, one of the tiniest backpacks, with the VASCHY Preschool Backpack being one step up in capacity. Other bags that we consider middle-of-the-road in size include the Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack and the Wildkin 15 Inch Backpack.

Whether you use a backpack as your next stage diaper bag or your child is transporting heavy textbooks to and from school, it is important to consider your needs and your child's overall size when selecting a suitable bag.

It's a miracle if a backpack makes it to the end of the school year...
It's a miracle if a backpack makes it to the end of the school year. Therefore, we recommend selecting a high-quality pack to increase your chances of product longevity.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Quality


There's no doubt that backpacks take a beating. Let's face it, it would be wonderful if a bag can make it to the end of the school year, but this is a far-reaching goal for most kids' backpacks, in our experience. However, selecting a high-quality product up front gives you the best chance of achieving this goal. Therefore, we investigated the quality of each option, including fabric, padding, clasps, and zippers.

Among the competition, we consider the High Sierra Loop Backpack to be the king of quality. This option has heavy-duty fabric, great padding, and zippers that we believe will hold up over time. Runner-up contenders include the VASCHY Preschool Backpack, J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack, and Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack, which also have noteworthy quality compared to some of the competition.

Alternatively, the backpack with the most flimsy and lightweight fabric is the Everest Basic Backpack. Not only does the material make us question its durability, but it also lacks padding down the pack's backside. Since it is one of the most inexpensive packs in our review, this is likely why the quality falls short.

Important: Although it can be tempting to save money by purchasing a backpack for your child to grow into, it is important to select one that fits them now to avoid discomfort and potential injury related to a poor fit or overstuffed (aka heavy) pack.


We greatly appreciate kids' backpacks that offer a stretchy side...
We greatly appreciate kids' backpacks that offer a stretchy side pocket to hold a water bottle, making the task of grabbing a drink of water much easier and accessible.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


From the first day of school to bouncing around from one activity to another, a backpack can be an essential piece of kid gear. Selecting a durable and reliable backpack can make life easier for you and your child. We feel confident you'll find a kids' backpack in our selection that best fits your goals and child's needs.

Molly Bradac