Backpack Buying Guide: How to Find the Best Backpacks for School

With choices galore, how can you help your little guy or girl pick the best backpack? Consider these backpack buying tips.

Picking out a new backpack is an exciting part of back-to-school shopping for many kids.

Sometimes it’s all about the characters, with lots of little ones flocking to Moana and Minions backpacks. For older kids, versatility or cool features might be the top consideration.

But no matter what your child’s top motivation is when searching for a backpack, be sure to keep a few things in mind to make sure the bag that comes home will meet your child’s needs. Here’s a guide for parents on all the important backpack features to consider.

Durability

One of the most important features is durability since kids are “notoriously tough on their bags,” says Syndi Stark, the former vice president for Lands’ End Kids.

Backpacks at Lands’ End are made to withstand many years of use, she says.

“At Lands’ End, we add details such as interior seams that are bound for extra durability so the backpack won’t rip. Reinforced base fabric keeps the backpack upright and adds extra durability and reverse-sewn zippers make for long-lasting performance,” she says.

When you’re out shopping, take a close look at the materials used, the stitching and the overall feel of the bag to decide whether it seems likely to last.

Comfort

As cool as a backpack may look to the child, parents will want to make sure it’s also comfortable. Encourage your child to try on their potential new backpack, put in a couple books for some weight and make sure the straps have enough padding.

Comfort features to look for include padded straps and mesh lining for breathability, she says.

Size

Parents should keep in mind that backpacks now come in a wide range of sizes, so make sure your child’s backpack is large enough to fit everything they’ll need.

If your little one is just starting preschool, check with the school before purchasing a toddler- or preschool-sized backpack as it may not be large enough for the full-sized folders or other items that may be sent home.

Older kids and teenagers will need even more room, especially if they’ll be carrying supplies for sports or other after-school activities.

“It is important to find a bag that fits their needs,” Stark says. Lands’ End offers a “what it fits guide” where customers can view videos demonstrating the different sizes and there’s also a backpack size guide based on the child’s height.

Style

You want your child to love their backpack, so perhaps most important of all is choosing one that fits your child’s personality and makes them excited about wearing it to school.

The options go beyond what you see in the stores, too. At Lands’ End, online shoppers can personalize their backpack with embroideries, monograms or both, Stark says.

Safety

“To address safety concerns, especially for younger kids, look for backpacks that offer reflective trims to help keep kids visible,” Stark says. Also look for adjustable straps that ensure a good fit and minimize stress on the back and spine, she says.

Cool features to look for

  • Padded sleeve for laptops or other devices
  • Extra pockets and clips to help your child stay organized
  • External bungee cord options that help kids carry things like a jacket or even a skateboard
  • Matching lunch box or water bottle. Some backpacks have lunch box options that clip right onto the outside of the backpack for “hands free convenience,” Stark says.

This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.


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