Best Back to School Backpacks from Preschool to College



So I was flipping through channels and came upon a charming show called “Don’t be Tardy” starring an ex-‘Real Housewife’, but which could in fact be the theme song for my life recently. (Facebook told me it’s my 8th wedding anniversary today, which totally didn’t register until my hubs rolled over bright & early and confirmed – um, whoops? I have no grounds for getting mad about his lack of planning for special events for the foreseeable future.) Also, suprise – I’m behind on back to school shopping. Most importantly, for a backpack. I realize many of your kids have started the school year already but in my state we don’t go back until after Labor Day so there’s still time! If your brain’s still on summer vacation like mine, I rounded up the coolest backpacks for toddlers through teens that have fast shipping (and many are on sale since it’s so late!) Off to have that recurring stress dream about forgetting it’s the 1st day of school…



Best Backpacks for Pre-K & Toddlers

I want you to know how much I restrained edited myself in including non-animal theme backpacks here, but rest assured they represent hard in the boutique below. Just. so. cute. And at 5, my rising kindergartener deemed them “babyish” so seize the opportunity for maximum backpack adorability while you can, mamas.

Deuter Kikki Bird Backpack: A friend’s kid has this and it’s so well made and cool in person. Not to mention adorable. 3 colors, pink, blue & green.

Star Wars Preschool Backpack: Perfect size for little Jedis.

Nohoo Animal Shaped Backpack: I can’t describe the cuteness and breadth of the animal selection for these backpacks, you just have to see for yourself.

Striped Critter Bunny Backpack: I’m in love with this bag, especially the gold embroidery. Great quality from PBK.

State Mini Kane Backpack: So many reasons to love this bag – the unique & gorgeous swan print, cool design accents, and the fact that State gives a fully-loaded backpack to an American school kid in need when you purchase one of their bags. <3

Obersee Preschool Backpack with Integrated Lunch Cooler: You read that right – the lunch cooler is the front pocket of the bag! Perfect size for preschool snacks & lunch and you only have to remember one bag.

Dwell Studio for Thermos Insulated Backpack: Or you can forget the lunch bag all together, the whole backpack’s insulated! Tasteful design-y prints and a smaller size are just bonuses.

Chooze Reversible Backpack: Tired of looking at the same backpack halfway through the school year? Flip it inside out! Great prints on both sides & water resistant for the win.

Urban Toddler Packie Backpack: Man, I wish I knew about these backpacks when my kid was in daycare & pre-school! So many cute prints to choose from, and that side pocket is GENIUS for all. the. papers. that come home every day that are annoying to stuff into an already full pack. Top pick.




Best Backpacks for Elementary & Middle School

(Every state/school seems to categorize these grades differently, so for this purpose I’m thinking grades 1-6.) It can be hard to guess what these kids think is cool since it’s a moving target, but these backpacks should cover all the bases.

Lego Brick Backpack: This age group is the sweet spot for Lego fans – the circle pockets in front are functional! In blue or pink.

State Kane Backpack: This pack’s classic good looks won’t go out of style, interesting color combos are killing it. Great charity cause behind the brand, too.

J World Cornelia Backpack: Tons of bright patterns and laptop-friendly, plus under $25.

Jansport Big Student Backpack: Classic pack design, supercool prints. If you look very closely at this plaid one, there are tiny 80s-style arcade icons.

Madpax Warp Speed Surfaces Fullpack: How cool is this textured surface pack? So unique.

Galaxy Pattern Backpack: Resist making a dad joke about how this pattern is out of this world.

State Kane Backpack: Love the classic design of these packs so much, this one has a holographic spin.

Skip Hop Forget-Me-Not Backpack & Lunch Bag: See the transparent window on the front? If the glasses are still orange, you forgot to pack the lunch bag. I want to personally thank the product designer.





Best Backpacks for High School & College

More sophisticated options for ‘big kids’ that can take them to college and beyond.

Herschel Parker Laptop Backpack: Streamlined design from arbiters of hip.

Segundo Commuter Laptop Backpack: Stylish gray linen color + massive amounts of storage for laptops, college textbooks, water bottles & snacks but doesn’t look big & unwieldy.

Splendid Ashton Vegan Leather Backpack: Uber-sophisticated but still functional in soft vegan leather, also in gorgeous merlot. Stylish enough to double as a work/commuter bag for internships or *gasp* the “real world”.

Jansport Houston Laptop Backpack: Tons of prints, but I fell in love with this hashtag-like design on blue chambray.

Herschel Little America Laptop Bag: I’m (very) done with schooling but this jumped right into my cart. Weird. Anyway, love love loving the fresh stripes on this black bag, wine & navy stripes available too plus a million other under-the-radar cool combos, including one with tortoise shell print straps.

Fjallraven 28L Laptop Backpack: Scandinavian good looks in a clean minimal design that’s grown-up enough for work, too. 5 colors, I’m partial to olive & navy.

Asos New Look Utility Backpack: Functional storage + pretty olive color with a subtle sheen that goes with everything, great price!

Girl’s Herschel Heritage Backpack: Scaled-down version for petite frames, the metallic front pocket is amazing.

Dakine Prom Pack: Cool pattern combos, plush lined sunglasses pocket & laptop sleeve & expanding water bottle pocket. Perfect for travel, hikes and days off, too.








  1. I’m always on the lookout for products that support fair-trade practices, give back, or carry the ‘made-in-america’ label to support domestic production, set environmental standards, and higher standards of compensation and safety for their employees. Every dollar we moms spend can support other woman around the world! In addition to this awesome list (especially the State bags who are giving fully loaded bags to kids in need) I would also suggest tough traveler, little packrats on etsy (search CBH studio and others who make kids backpacks), TIMBUK2, BAGSUSA, and Duluth Packs (available on Amazon). Patagonia is always awesome for their straight-forward and transparent production process, but also check out Taaluma totes, whose bags are made by adults with disabilities and 20% of profits are given back to support micro-loans in the countries where their fabrics are sourced. I would always be interested to learn about smaller companies that are doing great work in textiles as this list is so short and time is short…..Thanks for your help and stylish advice for my littles:)

  2. Ordered the lego backpack for my kinder! Wasn’t going to buy him a new backpack this year but it was too perfect for him! Thanks for the great round up!

    • Glad our article helped! The front pockets look perfect for transporting the tinier Lego pieces when you’re traveling.

  3. I love hiking with my Deuter bag, so had to get the green Kikki for my son…it’s been passed on to his little sister and still looks brand new!

    • Ah, Nicole – you’re enabling me! We’ve got a million silly little Disney etc. character backpacks around from my big kid, but thinking should donate those and buy the Deuter bird pack for my toddler! If I’ve got to see it (and pick it up off the floor) all the time, might as well be something I like! 🙂

      • We just bought our Preschooler a blue Deuter Kiki and it really is sooo well made, I like the drawstring for closure instead of a zipper for little hands. Our only problem is that it doesn’t fit a full size folder height wise, and our girl brings home a travel folder back and forth, so its made it a bit cumbersome/close to impossible to close for her. Ultimately it has become her hiking backpack for snacks. 🙂

        • Hey Amanda – good to know! My daughter’s daycare/preschool didn’t use folders regularly but good to keep in mind. Probably better for younger kids & daycare.

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