When you think about it, the backpack is a genius way to get your kids to finally carry their own damn stuff. The key to selling them on the idea that toting heavy books is fun (!), however, is that said book bag needs to stand out and showcase their style. Also, not hurt their tiny backs.
To that end, we’ve put together 10 of the coolest and most comfortable, hippest, and high-tech bags on the market for all age ranges. Bags that can go in the washing machine. Bags emblazoned with their favorite baseball teams. Even bags with built-in art tubes so their unflattering drawings of you can arrive home unscathed. Best yet, they’re all built to last, so you don’t have to go through the selection process again next year.
The cool thing about SoYoung’s line of eco-friendly raw linen backpacks (and lunch boxes) ⏤ other than their crisp iconography ⏤ is that they can get dumped right in the washing machine. No need to spot clean all those Juicy Juice stains. It boasts an internal mesh pocket, room for a full-sized Trapper Keeper, and two water bottle pockets to ensure Junior stays properly hydrated. And while it’s sized for kids aged 6 to 11, a toddler version is also available for pre-schoolers.
Lassig Little One & Me Backpack Small
The Little One & Me is a matching pint-sized version of Lassig’s popular canvas diaper backpack. So plan on you and your elementary school-aged child being twinsies. The kid’s pack features an internal pen pocket, name badge, and a drawstring closure. Plus, the main compartment fits a full-sized lunch box.
Herschel x MLB
It doesn’t matter if your future major leaguer loves the Giants, the Braves, or the Red Sox, Herschel’s new Major League Baseball line covers all 32 teams. The Heritage packs are gloriously streamlined, including a 15-inch laptop sleeve, media pocket with headphone port, and nothing excessive.
Patagonia Kids Bonsai Pack
Patagonia‘s retro-themed Bonsai has enough space for all the books and snack packs, thanks to a bucket-style main compartment and an easy-access external pocket. It’s made from a tough, recycled polyester that handles all the wear and tear a kid can throw at it, and the water-repelling finish ensures books stay dry, even when your kid inevitably leaves the bag out in the rain.
Hudson Steller Lowell Day Pack
A sleek day pack that you’ll debate keeping for yourself, Hudson Steller’s upgraded take on the “1967 classic school book bag” includes a waterproof vinyl bottom, multiple interior pockets, and a dedicated exterior computer sleeve.
Urban Infant Packie Preschool Backpack
As if the subway map print wasn’t enough to showcase your toddler’s hipness, the Packie rocks a patented art silo tube on the side to ensure they can get their art home unscathed. Because nobody wants to fold up that precious hand Turkey . A matching lunch box and pencil pouch are sold separately.
Tea Collection Scott Triangle Backpack
Say what you will about this bag’s bright orange and bold triangle print, but at least you know it’s not going to get lost. Nor is your kid when they’re wearing it. The 16L polyester Scott Triangle has a zip front pocket, adjustable shoulder straps, and is sized for kids five and up.
Skip Hop Panda
The beauty of Skip Hop’s Zoo collection is that it includes a ridiculous number of animals ⏤ 27 to be exact. So if you’re kid’s weirdly got something against this adorable Panda with mesh sippy-cup pocket and insulated snack pouch, they can roll with a shark, chameleon, or leopard instead.
Babymel Zip & Zoe City Print
Zip & Zoe are two fuzzy cartoon characters that lie at the heart of Babymel’s backpack collection, and your kids are going to love them. Maybe. Either way, they’re having a big city adventure on this junior backpack which features a large zipped front pocket, elastic bottle holder, and Zip or Zoe key ring.
Here’s what KidKraft’s pack brings to the table: Two mesh pockets, an interior tablet sleeve, two zippered pockets, and a keychain hook on the outside. Not bad. Plus, it’s rainbow graphic pattern sends a positive message — and is easy to spot on the afterschool pick-up line.