Backpacks for Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
What/Where to Buy >
Backpacks for Kids
Mom of a rising k here with what I'm sure will be the first
of many questions as we get ready for school! I see many
recommendations in the archives for LLBean & Lands End
backpacks, but I checked their websites and neither company
recommends machine-washing. I feel like my lovable little
space cadet will leave smelly things in his backpack for
months on end, not to mention dropping it in every puddle in
the East Bay, so I would really like a washable brand. Any
ideas? Also durable (so he can hand it down to a younger
sibling in a couple years), with a good return policy in
case of defects (so, not from Target), and I'm willing to
pay up to $50. REI doesn't seem to make kids packs for the
school market, and I'm at a loss now. Thanks! So Much to
I've bought backpacks for my 3 kids (ages 8-13) from all
kinds of places: WalMart, Target, Costco, LL Bean...and have
machine-washed all of them. I don't DRY them in the dryer
though. I hang them to dry, and it works fine. Kids are
hard on backpacks, but young kids should be able to make one
last for two or three years, because they aren't carrying
heavy books. But daily wear and tear will take a toll. If
you want it to last more than a year, LL Bean is a good bet.
We bought this one for our kindergartner last year, The
North Face Recon Squash Backpack:
I think we ordered it from Zappos.
I would buy it again. Good features:
- Holds up well to being dragged across playgrounds and
thrown through the air.
- We never had to wash it because we always put his snack in
a lunch box first (the soft cloth kind with a zipper
closure) before putting the lunch box into the backpack. We
did spill water in the pack and it dried out nicely. You
could probably machine wash it in cold and then air dry it.
- Zippers are easy to pull and run smoothly.
- Homework folder fits in nicely.
- Adjustable straps and a chest strap keeps pack in place,
also fits the 5-6 year old body well
- To be honest, the bag still looks new, despite a years'
worth of use
Highly recommend this pack for many of these reasons. I'm
sure my kid will be able to use it throughout grade school.
My daughter, now going into the 8th grade, has had several
models of Jansport
(http://www.jansport.com/shop/en/jansport-us). They hold up
well and are machine washable. She had different models
depending on whatever she needs to carry on which days, but
the original, simple model is fine for a kindergartener.
P.S. Don't buy any school supplies until you get a list from
the teacher on what the kids will actually need. been
around the block on kindergarten
I have to give a shout-out to Pottery Barn Kids. I'm not
usually a huge fan, but I ended up getting my K son one of
their backpacks bc their smallest size was the only one that
made sense given his Kindergartner size. But - he's entering
2nd grade now, and that backpack still looks AMAZING. Has
totally held its shape, colors are close to perfect, and
there is no reason to replace it. He's dragged this thing on
camping trips, on 2 international adventures, to camps, to
school every day, and so on - the quality has impressed me!
I'm probably too late in responding, but I think you are
overthinking this. And I think $50 is way too much to spend
for a kindergartener's backpack. We do throw our Land's End
and LL Bean packs into the washing machine (you are
right--they get filthy! I recommend avoiding light colors).
I prefer to buy lunchboxes and backpacks on sale and would
never spend more than $30 or so (less for a lunchbox). You
can try Hanna Anderson (sale only), Office Max/Depot, Toys R
Us, and even Target (though I agree, their return policy is
not good). Also, my kids (3 of them) use their backpacks
for multiple years, so it's not wise to buy something with
Disney characters (for example) that he will outgrow by 1st
grade. My rising kindergartener will inherit her big
sister's Hello Kitty backpack, my rising 4th-grader will
continue to use her Land's End pack that she's had for over
a year, and my rising 6th grader will get a new pack for
middle school, only because his existing LL Bean pack is too
small. Never thought I had so much advice about backpacks!
I would like to hear of any recommendations for backpacks for school
kids. Ideally I would like something that will last for a few
years, has a side pocket or two for a water bottle, has an extra
pocket or two on the outside and/or inside, and can fit a 5 year old
comfortably (not too big). Also, I would love it if I could find a
water-proof one (we walk to school often and it would be nice to
take camping as well).
I realize that not all of these expectations can necessarily be met,
but do you have any kinds to recommend that you just love? I'd love
to hear about them if so. Thanks.
Packing for kindergarten now!
You want a backpack from LL Bean or Lands End. Every mom I know
who's ever bought one from either of these companies recommends
it. If your 5yo is not tall enough to wear a standard size
backpack comfortably, get a ''junior'' version -- both LLB and
LE have them -- which is sized for preschoolers through age 7
but is still large enough to put the school folders in without
We bought a series of inexpensive packs from Target and other
local stores when my son entered kindergarten. The zipper
busted on each of them within a couple of months. I finally
ordered one from LL Bean and it's going strong into second grade
-- having easily withstood all of the daily use and abuse to
which a young child can subject it, including outdoor day camps,
airplane flights and machine washing in addition to classroom
I just bought a backpack for my 7-year-old from Lands End. I
really like it! My son likes it too. They had several kids'
styles to choose from, in several different colors. I bought
the ''Featherlight'' which is the most lightweight one. It
looks like it is waterproof. I really recommend getting the
child-sized backpacks rather than the adult size because they
fit the back better and are easier for kids to carry. My child
isn't small - he's the tallest 2nd grader at his school - and
this backpack is the perfect size for him.
Now that my son will be starting kindergarten, I suppose
he'll need a backpack for school, so I'm wondering what
kind of backpack I should get him. It seems that the book
packs that I see out there (Old Navy, Target) are too big for
his 42'' / 40 lb. frame. Do most younger kids use these, or
do most of them go to school with rolling backpacks? What
do kids carry in these things?
And just out of curiousity, do the kids like the rolling
backpacks, or are they (the rolling pack, that is) perceived as
kind of geeky? (which is the impression I got from my
sister-in-law of two pre-teen girls.)
Mystified about backpacks for little kids
No personal experience with these, but the latest Land's End
catalog has a backpack sized for four to seven year olds you
might want to check out. They come in different colors and can
Lands End (www.landsend.com) has great school back packs that
are smaller in size, my daughter's lasted all of Kindergarten
and still looks new.
With two kids in elementary school and the third about to enter
K in the fall, this is what I have noticed about backpacks: The
little tiny ones that seem more appropriate for small (5-6
y.o.s) kids do not fit the folders, art projects, etc. that kids
bring home from school every day. K teachers usually give each
student a folder for homework, notices to parents, etc. and the
backpack should be big enough to fit the folder (and a lunch
box?). They are big, but as long as you don't fill them up,
they stay pretty light. It is also nice for your kid to have
somewhere to put that sweatshirt that might otherwise get left
at school every day... (Re: the rolling backpacks -- it seems
like these are in vogue only for 4th-5th graders. Middle
schoolers seem to associate them with elementary school and
younger kids don't have a need for them. It is totally a niche
market as far as I can tell!)
As a first grade teacher, I see a wide variety -- bright
colors,cartoon characters, etc. The geeky issue doesn't seem to
be a big deal with children in kindergarten and first grade.
Might be nice to get him one he is excited about. But I think
you are right to look for a small one -- So he can carry it,
but also it's hard to fit them in the space allotted a school
if they show up looking like they packed for a month-long
vacation. Some younger kids use the pulling ones, but they are
difficult to stuff in cubbies at school and heavy for times
when they can't be pulled easily, like getting in and out of
the car, going up and down stairs, lifting it to put it in the
storage area, etc. Think about what he will need to carry. Many
kids carry a lunch box (these can get ridiculously large too)
if he will be bringing his own lunch or snack, maybe a folder
and/or pack of papers stappled together, and maybe a library
book or two. Some kids try to stuff their jackets in too. Kids
who go to daycare afterward may want some items for that too.
The school probably will provide the supplies he needs.
You might want to take another look at places like Target.
They're already starting to put out their school supplies and I
think they have kids' backpacks with those. This isn't in the
regular place where they normally have office supplies but in a
special, large area for seasonal items. In El Cerrito it's the
back corner. Whatever store you are in, the little kids'
backpacks may be in a different location from the adult/older
Don't spend a lot of money on this kind of thing. It will make
you crazy when your kids lose them, and both of you will feel
Target has reasonably good, inexpensive backpacks, some with
characters some without. There are often rules about the kind
of backpack that a child can have in public school, so make sure
you check with the school. Wheels are popular with older kids, but
not the younger kids.
Finally: WRITE YOUR CHILD'S NAME ON THE BACKPACK if you buy it
from a chain store. There will be about 20 similar backpacks
and your kid may have trouble locating his/hers.
First Grade teacher
Hi, I am a K teacher and I am so happy when parents purchase a
regular-sized kid backpack for their K students. By regular-
sized I mean a backpack in which one could put a sheet of paper
8 1/2 by 11 inches without folding. It's important to not buy a
really small one because the poor little guys have to take home
a lot of paperwork with some programs (Open Court Reading
requires mucho parent letters, etc.) and they really struggle
trying to fit it all in to those cute little K-sized packs. You
can get a cheaper one with perhaps a cartoon character on it
that your kid will love at maybe Target or Riteaid.
You can usually find kid size backpacks at Ross and Marshalls.
Kindergarteners don't have to lug alot of heavy books and binders
(just lunch, a homework folder, and maybe a library book) so the
plastic ''kid'' backpacks are usually sturdy enough.
I noticed several posters suggested putting the child's name on
their backpack. I want to suggest otherwise - just use
initials, or some other distinguishing feature on the outside
part that is visible when the backpack is worn. While child
abduction is rare, remember that young children tend to trust
adults who address them by name. They won't realize that
someone has simply read it off their backpack (or sweatshirt,
My son wanted a backpack and school supplies, but all he really
needed was a lunchbox. He could carry his lunchbox in his hand or
in his backpack for hands-free play which he often liked. He
needed no school supplies, and it was better if I bought those
things and donated them to the classroom, as they always seemed to
need new markers, and in public school needed basic things like
drawing paper, stickers, paper towels, new hula hoops and
Can anyone recommend a good place to buy cute child size backpacks
without Disney characters or Pokemon or any other character? I want to
take my daughter to pick one out for kindergarten with options that don't
include Barbie and Arthur, if possible! Thanks again for all your help!
You may want to check out the Sweet Potatoes store on 4th street for kids'
backpacks. My mother-in-law found a very cute selection there. LL Bean also
has some for kids, but you can't touch them and try them on. Good luck! -
I like you would rather my children not have any "Pokemon, Barbie, Nascar, etc."
backpacks for school.aa Eddie Bauer has some real nice child size backpacks
that have great colors andacan be monogrammed.a Check out their website @
ebbiebauer.com.a In addition, I just received the Lands End catalog and they
have some child size backpacks as well.aa What I am going to suggest to my
kids is that they can hang key chains of their favorite "subject" on their nice
colorful backpacks with their initials on.a This should look cool - don't you think!!
For a plain sturdy backpack for kids I recommend Jansport. (About $25.00)
They come with a lifetime guaranatee! You child will lose it before a seam
ever breaks. I regularly use one also. On mine the Zipper broke. I mailed
it in and withing four weeks it came back reparied.
For cute child size backpacks
without Disney characters or Pokemon or any other characters try REI
(Eagle's Creek makes a nice one that comes in fun colors including purple.
They have multiple pockets) or Lands' End.
REI makes a great kids backpack, the little Teton, that is perfectly designed for small
peoples' needs. It has a large outer pocket that has a quick-release snap for easy entry,
and it's made partly of cloth mesh so you can see what's inside. It's bright yellow (only
comes in the one color). In my opinion, REI backpacks are by far the sturdiest and best
designed packs on the market. We've tried many. Spohr
Kid-sized backpacks are available at both REI and Copeland's -- they
resemble adult-sized backpacks waterproof vinyl in various colors. The
ones at Copeland's are less expensive but the ones at REI are better quality.
We found a nice, child-size backpack, sans cartoon characters at REI. I
think it was around $20. We've had it for about a year now, it seems to be
very sturdy. We just throw it in the washing machine when it gets dirty,
and it seems to be holding up well.
this page was last updated: Nov 3, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network