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Best Backpacks


A student’s backpack may be the most important back-to-school accessory you’ll end up shopping for. Whether for toting books and pencil cases or gym shorts and sneakers, a quality backpack is a must-have, even in the modern digital world. With so many options on the market, sometimes a little help is required to break down exactly which backpack is right for one’s needs. We’ve chosen backpacks that are durable, designed to distribute weight evenly to prevent strain and fatigue, allow for easy organization and are stylish enough to suit even the pickiest of students.

Best for High Schoolers

Jansport Big Student Backpack (Black) (Apparel)

List Price: $49.99 USD
New From: $49.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

JanSport prides itself on producing simple yet functional products, and the Big Student Backpack from this brand is no exception. Its canvas fabric is incredibly durable, allowing it to hold up even after months of wear. Meanwhile, ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps help reduce the strain that can come with carrying a heavy load of books and other supplies. Two large main compartments and a padded laptop compartment make it easy for students to carry and organize everything they may need throughout a typical school day.

Best for Laptops

JanSport JS0A3EN23P0 Digibreak Laptop Backpack, Vivid Lilac (Sports)

List Price: $42.00 USD
New From: $49.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

JanSport’s Digibreak Backpack includes a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve, a lined tablet pocket and a dedicated phone pocket, making it a great choice for tech-savvy high schoolers and college students. Straight-cut, padded shoulder straps along with a fully padded back panel ensure students are able to carry all of their gear in comfort. The many designs and prints range from simple colors to florals, plaids and tribal patterns, making it easy for each student to find a backpack that perfectly suits their personality.

The Wildkin Kids 15-inch backpack is crafted from 600-denier polyester and a moisture-resistant nylon lining, making it durable as well as easy to clean — two things that are especially important for parents of little ones. It includes two zippered compartments with interior utility pockets for optimal organization. Patterns range from cool camo to sports, sharks and colorful cartoon animals, giving growing kids plenty of opportunities for self-expression.

Best for Travel

Herschel Retreat Backpack, Black Crosshatch/Black Rubber, Classic (Apparel)

List Price: $79.99 USD
New From: $79.94 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

The Retreat backpack features a front pocket, laptop sleeve, magnetic closure and internal media pocket with a headphone port. Its larger size and sophisticated style make it ideal for students in middle-school and above. The manufacturer guarantees each backpack is free from manufacturer and material defects and offers a limited lifetime warranty, including coverage for everyday use from the original date of purchase, for the duration of the purchaser’s lifetime.

Most Durable

PUMA Boys’ Little Backpacks and Lunch Boxes, Black/Blue, Youth (Apparel)

List Price: $24.15 USD
New From: $24.14 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

The Evercat Cyclone backpack includes an all-around zipper closure with no cords or pulls, making it safer for younger children. Kids will find this backpack, which prominently features the iconic Puma logo, to be cool, stylish and fun. The backpack has a 14-inch shoulder drop, is 15 inches wide and 11 inches tall, making it a perfect size for pre-kindergarteners or early-elementary students. Five slip pockets and four exterior zipper pockets give kids and parents plenty of space to organize schoolwork and other items.

Expert Commentary 

“Today’s student is expected to carry books, a laptop or tablet and other items for the ever-growing list of extracurricular activities throughout the day,” Emily Watts, a licensed counselor and education specialist, says. “Backpacks should be comfortable to carry, right-sized for the academic environment and durable. Over the years I have seen trendy or super-cute backpacks that do not hold up. JanSport and Wildkin are two brands that stand the test of time and should be on every parent’s back-to-school list.”

Our Expert Consultant

Emily Watts

Emily Watts is a mother of three (she has two adopted children and one foster child). She also is a licensed teacher with experience educating children in complex life situations. Emily has over seven years of experience in alternative education. She is passionate about children and specializes in helping those who may need a little extra attention or special care.