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Best School Backpacks

Updated March 2024
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Best of the Best
The North Face Vault Backpack
Vault Backpack
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Bottom Line

This backpack has plenty of room to store items safely and is designed for comfort while wearing.


Available in multiple color options. Has a spacious main compartment with a padded laptop sleeve. Front compartment has room for keeping other items organized. The 2 side pockets are large enough to hold water bottles. The back is padded and breathable, and the shoulder straps are adjustable.


This option is expensive.

Best Bang for the Buck
PUMA Evercat Contender Backpack
Evercat Contender Backpack
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Bargain Pick
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This bag is lightweight with a roomy design to fit many items at once.


Straps are wide, comfortable, and adjustable. Has a main compartment, front pocket, 2 side pockets in a mesh design, and a padded sleeve for larger electronics. Comes in a few color choices.


The zippers are not that durable, and the exterior material tends to rip.

adidas Striker 2 Backpack
Striker 2 Backpack
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Customer Favorite
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Works great for school and sporting activities with its multiple compartments and pockets to hold all the necessary items.


Backpack has 3 compartments, a front pocket, and 2 side pockets. Back and shoulder straps are padded. Comes with a laptop sleeve. Holds up well over time. Several color options are available.


Material was thinner than expected, and color was different in person than online image, according to a few reviews.

HotStyle TRENDYMAX Backpack
TrendyMax Backpack
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Most Fashionable
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To those searching for a backpack for school, this pick arrives in a variety of colors and patterns.


Shoulder straps can be adjusted to suit your build. Feels comfortable on the shoulders while leaving enough room to hold textbooks and binders. Offers several fun themes, including galaxies, foods, and animals.


Not as long-lasting as some of the other models on the market.

L.L.Bean Original Book Pack
Original Book Pack
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Trusted Brand
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If you are looking for a well-made yet simple design, our team found this to be the perfect choice for students.


The zipper design made it simple to remove bigger items. During trials, we found the padded shoulders and backing to be comfortable to wear even when the backpack was filled with heavier books. Durable and weather-resistant nylon allows it to hold up over the course of a school year.


We wish there was a separate internal pocket for laptops and tablets.

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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 all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
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.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best school backpacks

When it's time for your kids to head back to school, you'll find yourself on the business end of a long list of supplies. A school backpack might just be one item to check off, but your child will be carrying it around all year, so it needs to be both sturdy and stylish.

Choose the wrong school backpack and you'll have one disappointed kiddo on your hands, but equally, you need to make sure your choice is based on the quality and features of the backpack, not just what style your child likes.

If you're starting to feel overwhelmed, you're not alone! We at BestReviews have put together this shopping guide so you can find the information you need to pick the right school backpack and get on with the important task of parenting.

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School backpacks come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Some even feature cartoon characters, which might appeal to younger wearers.

Types of school backpacks


Most school backpacks fit into this category. Unless your child has any specific wants or needs, you'll probably end up getting a standard school backpack.


These backpacks are much like standard backpacks, but these feature one padded compartment large enough to fit a laptop. If your child needs to take a laptop or other fragile electronic device to school, a laptop backpack will help to protect it, as well as provide enough space for other necessary gear.


Some school backpacks are convertible so they can also be used as a shoulder bag or messenger bag. Two-in-one school backpacks are ideal for kids who like a change now and again. That said, it might not be good for your child to carry a very heavy school bag over the shoulder, so you do need to be cautious.


You can find school backpacks with wheels and an extendable handle that can be pulled along much like a wheeled suitcase. While these backpacks are great for kids who can't carry a backpack (either at all or for extended periods) due to medical conditions, many schools ban them, so check before buying.

School backpack features to consider

External size

Look at the external size of any backpack you're considering and make sure it isn’t too large for your child. You can find smaller models suitable for younger kids who would be swamped by a full-size backpack.

Internal capacity

Along with the external size, you should consider the size and capacity of the backpack's interior. Find out what your child needs to take to school each day and make sure there's enough room for everything. Factor in books, lunch, and any special projects that need to fit in there. If your kid has a locker at school, you can probably get away with buying a slightly smaller bag since your child won’t have to carry everything around all the time.


Some backpacks have just one large compartment, while others have a range of compartments and pockets. While children in elementary school might be able to manage with just one compartment, middle schoolers and high schoolers will find it a struggle. Having plenty of compartments makes it easier to stay organized because the student can separate laptop or tablet, textbooks, projects, pens, lunch, and other supplies.


It might not matter that much to you, but it’s likely that your child cares a lot about the backpack’s style. While you shouldn't sacrifice substance for style, it should be possible to find a high-quality, functional backpack that's also fashionable. Assuming it's not a surprise or the wearer isn't too young to choose, you should involve your child in picking the backpack style. You might let your kid have free rein, or you could offer a selection that you deem suitable. Otherwise, think about the sorts of things your child likes – favorite colors, personal style, what's in at the moment – in order to help you decide.


Since your child will be wearing this school backpack for fairly long periods of time at least five days a week, you should make sure it's comfortable to wear. As a rule, backpacks with wide, well-padded straps are more comfortable because the straps more evenly distribute the weight of the bag over the wearer's shoulders.

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Expert Tip
Some school backpacks have reflective strips that can help keep the wearer safe if when walking to or from school in the dark.


To get your child ready for school, you may want to add a few more items to your checklist.

Water bottle: Good nutrition and proper hydration are important for learning. Many backpacks come with water bottle pockets.

Pencil case: Keeping pens and pencils together in a case will save your student from needing to dig for a pencil at the bottom of their bag.

School backpack prices

You can find school backpacks in a wide range of price points, from $10 to $100 and up, so you should be able to find something to fit your budget.


School backpacks start at less than $10, but we wouldn't recommend choosing one of the cheapest models because these are unlikely to last more than a couple of months with regular use. Although maybe not flashy, reliable school backpacks priced around $25 to $30 are common.


In the $40 to $100 range, you'll find durable school backpacks from established brands. Backpacks in this range tend to have a more sophisticated style that will likely appeal to older students. 


High-end backpacks could set you back well over $100. If you want a leather backpack or features like built-in laptop charging, expect to look in this range.


  • Choose a durable backpack. Your child will be using it daily and filling it with heavy books, so an insufficiently durable option is unlikely to last the school year.

  • Consider what your kid will be comfortable with and actually use. Sure, you might want to buy a backpack with a waist strap to relieve pressure from the shoulders, but if your child will never use the strap for fear of looking uncool, there's no point pushing for this feature.

  • Think about weather. A good school backpack should be waterproof or at least water resistant to protect the books and homework stowed inside. Avoid models with exposed zippers because water can leak in through them.

  • Follow any school rules. Many schools have some rules about what backpacks are allowed – only plain colors or small enough to fit in a locker, for example. Be sure to consult these rules before buying.

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When choosing a school backpack, it’s great to involve your child in the decision-making process, but you might have to impose some restrictions on budget, size, quality, and comfort.


Q. My child's backpack seems awfully heavy. Should I be concerned?

A. If you're concerned about how heavy your child's backpack is when full, it's worth weighing it to make sure it's of a safe weight. Your child shouldn't be carrying a backpack that weighs any more than 15% of his or her body weight, and even that might be too heavy for some kids. If your child is struggling under the weight of the school backpack, think of some strategies to minimize it, such as leaving books for afternoon classes in the locker and collecting them during lunch break.

Q. Should I buy more than one school backpack?

A. While you might be able to make do with a single school backpack, there's always the risk that you'll be left in an awkward situation if a zipper breaks or a strap snaps. The trouble with having a backup backpack is that it might be deemed "uncool" by the time your child needs to use it. If you do buy a second backpack, it might be worth buying something fairly plain and timeless that isn't likely to go out of fashion within six months or so.

Q. My child wants the latest "on-trend" backpack. Should I buy it for them?

A. Many parents have mixed feelings about buying their kids the latest trends. It's natural for your child to want to fit in, especially if all their friends are sporting the newest trendy backpack. However, you don't want to buy something that won't last. As long as it's of decent quality, has all the features they need, and fits in your budget, there isn’t any harm in making your child happy by purchasing the latest in backpack fads.