Let the new school year begin! These 13 backpacks will effectively store all of your child's essential back-to-school supplies—and they have adorable designs to boot.

By Nicole Harris
May 26, 2021
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As summer comes to an end, children love stocking up on back-to-school supplies. And while it's hard to resist colorful pens and notebooks, many kids have their sights set on the grand prize: a brand-new backpack. 

There are plenty of backpacks available on the market today. The best ones will effectively store all of your child's supplies (hello, organizational compartments!), and they should have two wide padded shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends backpacks with padded backs, waist straps, and lightweight portability.

An image of a little girl with a backpack on.
Credit: Getty Images.

Fun designs are always a bonus—but avoid backpacks that outwardly display your child's name or initials to strangers. Also, if you're worried about spills, choose a backpack that's machine-washable or easy to wipe clean.

To narrow down the options, we rounded up 13 of the best backpacks for kids of all ages. We included adorable backpacks for preschoolers, toddlers, and kindergarteners—as well as big-kid backpacks for the elementary school years. Get your student ready to head back to class in style!

The Best Backpacks for Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Kindergarteners

While young kids aren't lugging around textbooks and binders, you'll still want to buy a backpack for them. These compact options are perfect for storing snacks and artwork, and they make a sweet fashion statement as well. Just make sure to check with your child's school for any requirements beforehand (such as preferred backpack dimensions).

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Skip Hop Unicorn Backpack
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Skip Hop Toddler Backpack

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Made with durable materials and easy-to-clean linings, Skip Hop backpacks are the perfect accessory for toddlers and preschoolers. Choose between 20 adorable designs, including a butterfly, bulldog, fox, llama, unicorn, and more.

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Paw Patrol Backpack
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Mackenzie PAW Patrol Backpacks

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Calling all PAW Patrol lovers! The Mackenzie backpack from Pottery Barn Kids features your child’s favorite characters. It also has the functional components that parents love, like a sturdy design and impressive storage capacity. It’s definitely near the top of our list for cutest backpacks this year! (Note: For safety reasons, we recommend getting the backpack without the personalization option.)

Vaschy Unicorn Preschool Backpack
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Vaschy Preschool Backpacks

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These back-to-school backpacks for girls and boys have many perks: easy organization, durable water-resistant polyester material, a lightweight design, and adorable pattern options. They're best suited for children ages 4 to 6 years old.

BIXBEE Owl Backpack

Bixbee Animal Pack – Owl Backpack

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Does your toddler need some encouragement to attend daycare or preschool? This cute back-to-school backpack, featuring a wise owl, might get them excited! Plus, parents will love the ergonomic horizontal design.

Wildkin Kids Backpack
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Wildkin Kids Backpack

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Wildkin combines eye-catching patterns with a functional design, giving your child one of the best back-to school backpacks on the market. Plus, each one is accompanied by matching lunch box options (sold separately).

Yisibo Toddler Dinosaur Backpack
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Yisibo Toddler Dinosaur Backpack

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You better believe your kid will be excited to wear this unique dinosaur backpack! It’s made with a 14 inch shoulder drop, waterproof neoprene material, and adjustable padded shoulder straps.

The Best Kids’ Backpacks for Elementary School

During the elementary school years, backpacks double as fashion statements—but don't let a fun design deter you from choosing a safe, well-built backpack. The AAP recommends lightweight options with two wide padded shoulder straps, a padded back, and a waist strap. Rolling backpacks can also help with heavy loads, as long as your child can still carry them up stairs.

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JanSport SuperBreak Backpack
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JanSport SuperBreak Backpack

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Does your child prefer simple, streamlined packs? Consider this classic back-to-school backpack from JanSport. It comes in 30 colors and prints—and customers love the functional design and quality material.

Mackenzie Twilight Ombre Sparkle Glitter Backpacks
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Mackenzie Twilight Ombre Sparkle Glitter Backpacks

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This glittery backpack will surely turn heads in the hallway! Little kids will adore the whimsical ombre pattern, and although they can personalize the spacious backpack with their name, we recommend against doing so. 

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
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Fjällräven Kånken Classic Backpack

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Fjällräven Kånken backpacks have been trending recently—and for good reason. The square-shaped design looks uniquely modern, and the main pocket is roomy enough for most students.

L.L.Bean Back-to-School Backpack
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L.L.Bean Original Book Pack

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L.L.Bean manufactures backpacks made to last, thanks to extra-strong stitching and weatherproof fabric. Smaller kids might like the “Junior” version of the much-loved classic.

J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack
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J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

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Worried that your child’s stuffed backpack is too heavy? Get one with wheels! This option has a locking aluminum handle and durable wheels that withstand shocks and wear. It also has straps, in case your child ever wants to carry it on their back.

Everest Yellow Backpack
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Everest Basic Backpack

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This backpack gets the job done right. It carries everything your kid needs—like homework, a lunchbox, or a change of clothes—with a streamlined silhouette. As a bonus, your child can choose from many different colors to fit their own personal style.

AmazonBasics Navy Backpack
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AmazonBasics Classic School Backpack

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With a 4.6-star rating and over 15,000 reviews, you’d be shocked to learn this AmazonBasics backpack retails for about $19! The simple facade comes in seven colors, making it a perfect minimalistic back-to-school backpack for boys and girls alike.