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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best backpacks for preschoolers

Last Updated October 2019

Preschoolers don’t have to lug textbooks around, but they do have to carry certain items back and forth to their classrooms. That’s why they need backpacks that are made especially for little kids to stash snacks and supplies that they might need while away from home.

Backpacks that are constructed especially for preschoolers accommodate their needs, size, and sense of fun style. Durable materials that are easy to wipe clean and can withstand the wear and tear of being toted around by little hands are essential. Backpacks for children in this age range must also be small enough to be carried comfortably and have strong straps and handles for added stability as well as roomy compartments with closures that are simple for youngsters to operate. In addition to the practical features that appeal to parents, backpack designs with cute characters and bold colors will capture kids’ attention.

We cover the facts, features, and considerations when shopping for preschooler backpacks in our buying guide below. For our five favorite products, see the matrix above.

Backpacks that are designed for preschoolers have similar features to standard backpacks, such as multiple pockets and shoulder straps. These features have practical purposes but also make little kids feel like big kids.

Benefits of backpacks for preschoolers

Though there are other types of bags that you can send with your child to preschool, they don’t have the features or capabilities that backpacks offer. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits a backpack can provide for your preschooler:

  • Keeps items organized with multiple compartments
  • Made of strong materials that resist moisture and are easy to wipe clean
  • Has straps and handles for carrying over the shoulder or by hand
  • Constructed in a scaled-down size that is easy for small children to carry
  • Designed with kids in mind, often featuring fun characters, cute graphics, and bright colors
  • Can fit items that your child may need while at preschool, including a change of clothes, snacks and lunches, toys, cups, and training pants
EXPERT TIP

Make selecting a backpack for your toddler an activity you both share. She’ll appreciate being able to choose the design, color, and characters she likes best.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Material

Little kids can be rough on their school gear. That’s why it’s important to think about the material of a backpack as you shop. Some inexpensive backpacks are made of vinyl, but durability is a concern with this plastic material. Nylon and polyester are two of the most popular materials used to make kids’ backpacks because they are tough and easy to clean. These synthetic materials also resist moisture and stand up well to being handled by youngsters.

Canvas is a natural material derived from cotton that is also extremely tough. Backpacks made of canvas are durable but typically aren’t water-resistant. They aren’t as easy to wipe clean either. However, most canvas backpacks can be immersed in water for thorough cleaning.

Some backpacks designed for small children are made of a plush material that resembles stuffed animals. Many youngsters love these adorable designs. However, they typically aren’t extremely spacious and aren’t as durable as their nylon, polyester, or canvas counterparts.

Compartments and closures

Just like backpacks for big kids, those designed for toddlers have several compartments. In addition to the large main section, most models have a front, side, or interior pocket or a combination of all three. Zippers are the most common closures, though some backpacks have Velcro, snaps, or buckles structured for little hands.

Size

Size is an important consideration for backpacks for small kids because they must be able to carry the backpack without hurting themselves. Backpacks between eight and 14 inches in height are ideal for kids age two to five and a bit older.

Durable construction with kid-friendly features

Urban Infant’s Packie Backpack is built with the needs of preschoolers in mind. Youngsters can be messy, so it’s made with laminated material that’s waterproof and easy to clean. In addition to a generous main compartment, it features a unique “art tube” that can be used to roll up papers and artwork to keep them free from rips and wrinkles. This backpack also comes in several attractive prints that are designed to appeal to small kids.

Shoulder straps

The shoulder straps on backpacks for preschoolers are similar to those on standard models. They are adjustable for a precise fit and typically have foam padding for comfort. Some backpacks also have chest or torso straps for extra stability.

Handles

Little backpacks also have top handles. They are commonly made of nylon, polyester, or another flexible material, and they are designed to be easy to grip when youngsters aren’t carrying their backpacks on their shoulders.

Design

If you ask your little one about her top priority in picking a backpack, she’s likely to mention her favorite character, animal, or color. That’s why backpacks for preschoolers come in a wide range of colorful graphics that are especially enticing for the two-to-five age group.

EXPERT TIP

Most backpacks for preschoolers have zippers, Velcro, buckles, or a combination of closures. Practice opening and closing them with your child before he takes the backpack to preschool, so he knows how to use them when you aren’t there to help.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Stashing certain items in your preschooler’s backpack can make his hours away from you easier as well as serve as helpers for his teacher. Here are some preschool-friendly items that your child is likely to need that will fit nicely into his new backpack.

Travel wipes

It goes without saying that toddlers are messy, so sending them to preschool with travel wipes is a good idea. You can stash quite a few wipes in the OXO Tot On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser, which has a slim design that fits nicely in a backpack. The secure lid and seal will keep the wipes moist and fresh.

Training pants

Accidents happen, so stashing a few training pants in your preschooler’s backpack is a must. Kids love these Pull-Ups Learning Designs Potty Training Pants because they are easy to use and come adorned with some of their favorite characters. They are also available in several sizes to fit youngsters of various ages.

Spill-proof cups

Your child’s teacher will probably appreciate you sending a spill-proof cup to preschool. The Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup has a 360-degree drinking edge that eliminates spills and dull handles that are easy for little hands to grip. Plus, you get two brightly colored cups for one affordable price.

EXPERT TIP

Backpack straps are important for your child’s comfort. The best straps have padding and adjustable closures. Straps that are too thin can put added pressure on a small child’s chest and shoulders, while wider straps do a better job distributing weight.


Staff  | BestReviews

Backpacks for preschoolers prices

You’ll be pleased to find that backpacks made for preschoolers are less pricey than those designed for older kids, ranging from $8 to $35.

If you don’t want to spend more than $8 to $15, you’ll find quite a selection of affordable options, including some backpacks with adorable character themes. At this price, however, durability can be a concern.

Most parents find backpacks to fit their children’s needs between $15 and $25. Durable materials, roomy compartments, and cute designs all fall into this price category.

If you don’t mind spending $25 to $35 or a bit more, you’ll find backpacks for little kids that are made of tough, stain-resistant materials with ample pockets and extras like separate lunch packs. Another selling point of high-end preschooler backpacks is that they are built for longevity and can easily be used throughout kindergarten and beyond.

Tips

  • Look for a toddler backpack that has padded straps for optimal comfort. The extra cushioning will prevent the strap material from feeling heavy or uncomfortable on little shoulders.
  • Don’t forget to stow one of your child’s favorite toys in her backpack when she heads to school. This will be a comfort during nap or playtime, especially if she’s a bit apprehensive about spending time away from home.
  • Follow the cleaning instructions that come with the backpack you choose. Most models can be wiped down in between thorough cleanings but may require washing by hand when they get extremely dirty. Machine-washing isn’t recommended for most backpacks because it can damage the material, with the exception of some plush or canvas models that can be washed in the gentle cycle.
  • Keep in mind that a preschool backpack can be used for other purposes besides carrying items to and from school. Your child can use the backpack when traveling, going to overnight stays, and for play.

Adorable design, budget-friendly price

Saving money is a top priority for many parents, and fortunately, the Kids Preferred World of Eric Carle Backpack offers both affordability and a cute, practical design. This backpack is made of strong canvas and has a large main compartment plus an exterior zippered pocket and side drink holder. It’s available in a choice of several characters from Eric Carle’s popular children’s books.

Other products we considered

There are a lot of features that are important to parents when it comes to choosing a backpack that will meet the needs of their preschool-bound children, but if you ask the kiddos, it’s all about fun graphics. The Little JJ Cole Toddler Backpack comes in six adorable designs, each with a matching folder. Your child can choose from a train, dragon, butterfly, robot, unicorn, or ballerina slippers. With the OREZI Toddler Backpack, choose from three different dinosaur themes or a colorful unicorn, all made from a durable twill material that’s easy to clean. The ZHUANNIAN Kids’ Dinosaur Backpack sports scales and a tail in a 10-inch size that works well for small preschoolers. Youngsters can choose from blue, green, yellow, or pink. The Abshoo Zoo Toddler Backpack comes in 13 cute animal themes, including a shark, giraffe, lion, and more, and it’s made of plush material that preschoolers will appreciate.

Some backpacks that are designed for little kids come with bonus features, like lunch bags, folders, and pencil holders. Look for these extras if you expect your child to continue using the new backpack in kindergarten and elementary school.

FAQ

Q. Is a chest strap really necessary on a preschooler’s backpack?
A.
No, but it does help to make the fit of the backpack more secure when your child is carrying it as well as distribute the weight of the contents. This additional strap is also useful for newbies who are getting used to carrying a pack on their backs. Consider a model with a chest strap if you think your child would benefit from a little extra help balancing the new backpack.

Q. What is the best way to clean the interior of a child’s backpack?
A
. Open the closures and dump out any crumbs or dirt that have accumulated in the compartments. Use a wet wipe or damp cloth with mild soap to wipe the interior material. Keep zippers and other closures open until the backpack has dried completely. For a more thorough cleaning, follow the instructions that come with the backpack you chose.

Q. My child only has one more year of preschool. Will he be able to use his preschool backpack when he goes to kindergarten?
A.
Yes, but make sure you choose a preschool backpack that offers enough space to transition to the next level of schooling. Opt for one that is around 13 to 15 inches in height. This size will provide extra space for carrying small books, assignments, and other supplies to and from school. In addition, features like additional pockets will come in handy for carrying crayons, lunch items, and more.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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