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Need a kid-friendly backpack? We've got you covered. Our review ranks the 8 most popular kids' backpacks available today. We researched the market and purchased the most popular and compelling products for hands-on testing to determine the best. We believe a top-notch pack should offer the capacity and features your child needs, plus quality to withstand frequent use. We kept these factors in mind while evaluating the competition. So, whether you're sending your child off to school, daycare, or sports practice, we are confident there is a backpack in our lineup that will meet your needs and budget.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 11x4.3x14.6/11.5L
Two side pockets
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 more. 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.
The Everest Basic Backpack is minimal, with no bells or whistles. It offers one spacious main compartment 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 minimal 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.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 18x13x9/34.5L
Lots of extras
Lighten the load with the J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack. This contender is packed 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.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 11x5x12/10.8L
Write-on name tag
Large front pocket
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 than other contenders, this bag is mighty. It feels high-quality and offers a roomy main compartment to hold treasures and trinkets. It also features a write-on name tag. For an added dose of cuteness, check out the rainbow zipper pull. Pretty cute, right? And with little ones busy finding treasures to tote, the zipper experienced frequent use, and we did not experience any issues.
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.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 13.5x8.5x19/35.7L
Might be overkill
The High Sierra Loop Backpack may be an exciting option for a middle schooler or older who needs a higher capacity for homework-filled days. Thanks to its multi-compartment design, this pack has ample storage for school essentials, lunch, a water bottle, etc. 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 or traveling. So, if you seek capacity and quality, this option is for you.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 12x7x15/20.6L
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 is too small for their needs. We suggest this option for elementary school-aged kids.
Side Pocket(s): Yes | Size/Capacity: 12.2x6x15.8/18.9
Velcro closures on side pockets
Although the Amazon Basics Classic School Backpack is straightforward 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 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.
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. This contender offers padding on the back, and its dimensions are slightly larger. The roomy main compartment opens wide and can hold binders, textbooks, and more, plus the front pocket has some internal organizers for small items.
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, especially for kids toting a bottle to school and need a quick drink. However, check out this option if you seek a simple backpack that offers a little more quality than the bare minimum.
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.
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 were more comfortable and easier to use.
Analysis and Test Results
When shopping for a kids' backpack, it is essential to look beyond style and color options and consider factors like capacity and quality. We kept these metrics in mind while evaluating the competition and noted 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.
Our lineup includes products of various capacities. The size you select may depend on your child's needs or 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.
There's no doubt that backpacks take a beating. Let's face it, it would be wonderful if a bag could 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.
We consider the High Sierra Loop Backpack the king of quality among the competition. It has heavy-duty fabric, great padding, and zippers that we believe will hold up. Runner-up contenders include the VASCHY Preschool Backpack, J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack, and Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack.
Alternatively, the backpack with the most flimsy and lightweight fabric is the Everest Basic Backpack. The material makes 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 you might be tempted to save money by purchasing a larger backpack your child can grow into, it is critical to select one that fits them now. This plan helps them avoid discomfort and potential injury from a poor fit or heavy pack.
A backpack can be an essential piece of kid gear from the first day of school to bouncing around from one activity to another. 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.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.