The 10 Best School Backpacks

Updated February 07, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best School Backpacks
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. It's practically impossible to get a good education without a quality book bag. The backpacks on this list include models boasting a ton of space, a variety of pockets, and/or an attractive design. They'll put everything your kids need to succeed in the classroom right at their fingertips, without being too much of a burden to carry. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best school backpack on Amazon.

10. Star Wars Boba Fett

The Star Wars Boba Fett takes its design elements from one of the most popular villains in the galaxy far, far away. It's got plenty of padding, and the surprisingly strong polyester is durable enough to survive a dip in a sarlacc pit.
  • multitude of pockets
  • d-rings for attaching it to a bike
  • may be too big for smaller kids
Brand Star Wars
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

9. North Face Borealis

Not everyone gets to go to school in sunny southern California. For those who have classes in extreme weather, the North Face Borealis is great for protecting your laptop and books from snow, rain, and sleet, while also distributing weight equally to protect your spine.
  • good for carrying around tablets
  • durable and won't sag
  • tends to be a little stiff
Brand The North Face
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Dakine Mission

The Dakine Mission has both waist and chest straps, so you won't have to deal with the annoying bouncing that makes you look ridiculous when you have to run with a bag. Anyone who walks to school will appreciate how comfortable this one can be.
  • fleece-lined glasses pocket
  • waist belt can stow away
  • gloves compartment is a little small
Brand Dakine
Model 8100610-Augusta
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Speedo Teamster

Given that their swimsuits are notorious for being tiny, it's ironic that the Speedo Teamster should have so much room for your junk. The bottom is water-resistant, so if you accidentally set it down in a puddle, your laptop won't get ruined.
  • abrasion-resistant shell
  • comes in 30 different styles
  • won't stand up on its own
Brand Speedo
Model 7520115-Black/Black-35-
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Adidas Stadium Team

The athlete in your family will certainly appreciate the sporty style of the Adidas Stadium Team, while you're sure to thank the heavens for its separate laundry compartment into which your young Olympian can shove his or her most offensive threads.
  • special pocket for shoes
  • quilted back panel
  • shoulder straps are a little thin
Brand adidas
Model 104390
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Vaschy Floral

Carrying around all your stuff shouldn't mean that you're saddled with a drab bag. The Vaschy Floral offers a vibrant alternative to generic navy blue and black options, so you'll stand out in a crowd — and you'll always be able to find it when you need it.
  • includes a headphone port
  • internal mesh pocket for pens
  • smaller than some other models
Brand Vaschy
Model BP161110NY
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Beyle Laptop

You can keep your computer or other media devices fully-charged with the USB opening on the Beyle Laptop. It's a great way to discreetly juice up your phone in the middle of class without alerting your teacher to the fact that your attention is elsewhere.
  • anti-theft front and side buckles
  • comfortable shoulder straps
  • fashionable gray color
Brand Beyle
Model N/A
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Fallout Vault Tec 111

Gamers of all ages will enjoy the Fallout Vault Tec 111. It's durable enough to help you survive the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, and it can protect your laptop in the meantime — not to mention saving your shoulders, thanks to the padded straps.
  • generously-sized side pouches
  • good for transporting electronics
  • high-quality stitching
Brand Fallout
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. 5.11 Tactical Rush

Designed by a special operations combat veteran, the 5.11 Tactical Rush makes good use of just about every square inch in its build. It features convenient eyeglass and administrative compartments for quick access to important items, like pens and erasers.
  • internal frame support
  • also great for hiking
  • hydration pocket with bladder hanger
Brand 5.11
Model 5-58602-026-1SZ-P
Weight pending
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. ArcEnCiel Kid's

Elementary school-aged tykes will flip for the ArcEnCiel Kid's, as it comes in three different fun robot designs that offer a fresh alternative to boring old knapsacks. The polyester is easy to clean as well, so they don't have to treat it with kids' gloves.
  • able to hold a large lunchbox
  • heavy-duty zipper pulls
  • can last for several grades
Brand ArcEnCiel
Model D1013-01-01US
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Compartmentalize Your Life

A backpack is a simple thing. It's got zippers, pockets, a main compartment, straps, etc. Each one is like a canvas for manufacturers to try to capture a potential aspect of personality, something that will resonate with a buyer either for aesthetic or practical reasons.

Since they are often designed around carrying books and school supplies, the first consideration in building a backpack should be the size of the main compartment. Sometimes that compartment will be subdivided for organizational purposes or to hold an electronic device like a laptop or tablet. After that, anything is possible.

Over the years, more attention has been paid to the negative effects a heavy backpack can have on a kid that has to haul it back and forth to school every day. This is why so many bags for kids and adults nowadays have front straps that go across the chest and/or the waist.

Those extra straps came to school bags from the hiking packs worn by those crazy people that want to live outdoors a few weeks each year. When properly adjusted, the horizontal straps take the weight of the bag off of your shoulders and back, and place it squarely on the top of your hips, allowing your core and your legs to do the heavy carrying.

If you've never had the pleasure of reorienting your bag weight to your hips, do yourself that favor.

Put Your Back Into It

Full disclosure: My sister designs children's backpacks and school accessories as a career, but none of her designs made into our top five list or our top ten video. Better luck next year, sis.

I also bring that up because she's spoken to me at length about the practical sacrifices that manufacturers often make in the name of a look they think will sell. It's a competitive marketplace, and kids stand a significant chance of being bullied for having the wrong bag.

While adults don't necessarily have to fear that kind of bullying landscape, we do have to contend with all the fashion and beauty demands our media place on us, along with their attendant social anxieties.

That's why it's important to teach your kids, or to teach yourself, the most important rule of fashion: Be you.

Choose your bag with your heart, not your head. Don't worry about what other people are going to think. If you love how you look in whatever you're wearing, it'll look good on you, and people will take notice. That is, I guarantee, how it works.

A Storied Way To Carry Books (While We Still Have Books)

In the early parts of the 20th century, kids carried their books bound up in leather belts, generally called book straps. The straps turned a stack of books into a single mass that could be swung over the shoulder with relative security.

This was particularly useful in those days, since kids had to walk to an average of 10 miles to school in up to five feet of snow. Uphill. Both ways. You know, "Back in the day."

Then came the canvas backpacks of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, which had zippers on them pretty much from the outset. This make was the standard until nylon was introduced in the 60s. The material changed then, but the design was much the same.

I grew up in the 90s, when the only backpacks anybody wore were Jansports. If you didn't have that brand, you were weird. It was plain as day. Little did we know that the company reached back to the late 60s, when two outdoors enthusiasts wanted to make professional packs, but they didn't own a sewing machine.

The story goes that one of the men offered to bring a woman named Jan on board and he fell in love with her, eventually offering to name the company after her if she'd marry him.

It wasn't until the 70s that anyone thought a book bag should be cut and shaped to fit books. I guess sales were good enough up until then that nobody cared to innovate. But those square shapes persist in a major part of the industry today.

In recent years, as more classrooms have converted to digital technology, and as that tech gets smaller and more interconnected, backpacks have begun to shrink. In time, their era will come to an end, and we'll be the ones out on the porch with mason jars full of freshly squeezed lemonade telling stories of the good old days.

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Last updated on February 07, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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