Best Back-to-School Backpacks for 2018: From Tots to Teens

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It’s Backpack Time! If you haven’t already checked the status of your kids’ backpacks from last year, stop what you are doing, try to remember where you saw them last, drag them out from the bottom of the closet (or from under the couch covered in dust…where I found ours) and do a check right now. Gross? Rips? Stains? If you answered yes… read on. Or if you just feel like doing some late summer retail therapy with something that is fairly practical…keep reading as well.  

My kids’ old backpacks are scuffed, torn, and don’t smell very good (the two of them are HARD on backpacks). My older son, of course, thinks his backpack from 2 years ago (despite the holes in the bottom and the unraveling straps) is “just fine”, but I ordered him another option (the LL Bean Color Block) for if he changes his mind. My youngest, however, is SUPER-excited about graduating from his Skip Hop Hedgehog pack to a “Big Kid” bag for Kindergarten. I mean…he now has to bring official folders and homework back and forth from school, so he “obviously” needs an upgrade. He is in LOVE with the monster pack that his brother used for travel this summer, so it has been passed down and is now officially his. I’m also really feeling all the unicorn, rainbow, and shiny stuff this year, so maybe my youngest will need another “refresh” mid-year? Probably not, but one can dream, right? 

There are so many good backpacks this year, you guys, with a range of price points.  I divided all my “finds” into 4 categories, but here’s a shopping hint: Look in categories surrounding your kids’ ages as well because many of the bags could work for multiple age groups depending on your child’s size preferences.

  1. Tots : These bags are SMALL and great for pre-schoolers to carry on their own.
  2. Littles: Great for beginning elementary school kids around ages 5-8. These packs are big enough to fit regular size folders, but most are smaller than typical backpacks or have design geared toward the younger crowd.
  3. Bigs: These are your typical “regular” sized backpacks good for middle-school kiddos — big enough to carry homework and books and lunches back-and-forth from school AND with “big kid” style.
  4. Teens: These bags are great for high school- or college-aged kids (or grown-ups too) — regular backpack sizing and with a bit more mature styling.

Here are my favs:

 

It was extremely difficult to pick out just my favorites above, so here are some additional backpacks that I loved from each age group:

BEST Backpacks for “Tots” (ages 2-5)

BEST Backpacks for “Littles” (early elementary school)

BEST Backpacks for “Bigs” (around age 9 and above)

BEST Backpacks for “Teens” (high school or college)

 

After putting together this round-up, I am also completely feeling like I “need” a new backpack as well (could be the fact that I spilled 2 full coffees in my bag at the end of last school year). I will have to wait until my kids are settled, though, to start that search, but stay-tuned for a fall “mom backpack” post. Until then…Happy Back-to-School shopping and hope you are enjoying these last few weeks of summer. 

-Linzi

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    • Lands’ End is also having a huge sale on their packs today! Glad you have had success with them…I love LLBean and Lands’ End guarantee if you aren’t totally satisfied…so good for kids who are hard on packs. I put some of my favs from Lands’ End that are on sale up in the post, but I just found this cool ombre one too. Way to go Lands’End with the updated prints. Lands’ End Ombre Backpack

  1. I love backpacks that have lifetime guarantees! I had an Eddie Bauer in College (20 yrs ago) and just traded it in for one for my 7 year old son. Granted, I didn’t get the “full” price back, but I was amazed that I got most of it!

  2. I bought the “monster pack” on your previous recommendation and my son and I both love it! (Though personally I think it looks like a ninja, and he thinks it looks like a robot. Monster, ninja, robot, whatever–it’s cute!) We fly a lot, so he uses it as a dedicated carry-on bag. The straps and back are nicely padded, and the front and size zip pockets help keep smaller items (ipod, headphones, snacks) organized, rather than having to dig to the bottom of the main compartment.

    For school, my son has a Lands End backpack and lunch box that are on their second year and holding up well. I like that the backpack has a chest clip; it helps with keeping the straps in place and distributing weight on those days when there’s a lot stuffed in there.

    • I love it! It totally could be a ninja or a robot! Funny how our brain sometimes just sees certain things until someone breaks us out of our pattern. So glad you have been enjoying the bag…we have been too.

  3. OH! Just after I posted my first comment, stalker facebook showed me an ad that says today only (August 7th), Lands End has 50% off all backpacks and lunch boxes, plus free shipping. So if anyone is like me and never wants to pay full price for anything, this is a good opportunity. 🙂

    • Thanks Jessica! I am usually a dedicated LLBean gal, but this sale on Lands’ End today is too good! I just updated the post with some of my favorite packs from LLBean that are on sale. They do have some really cool prints this year. Thanks for the pointer!

  4. I just ordered a pink and purple one! Thank you for the recommendation Sarah, I’m so excited. I have a Fjallraven, but I don’t love the lack of pockets since I’m using it as a diaper/toddler/mom bag. Hopefully this one will fit the bill! Thanks again 🙂

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