Best Kids Backpacks for Toddlers, Preschoolers and Beyond 2021

It’s one of the most exciting school essentials to buy: your kids’ backpack. Whether they’re heading to preschool with snacks and nap essentials or shaking the halls of elementary school, they need something fun and functional. It’s also good if it lasts longer than a single school year. So how to choose? Well, the best backpacks for kids are big enough to carry all their supplies without weighing them down or making them look like an unsteady turtle.

And since there’s an overwhelming amount of choice, here’s a pro tip: pick a few you like, then let them pick their favorite! (And don’t forget the perfect outfit for the first day of school!)

From toddler backpacks that will last for years to the best kids backpacks for the first day of school, we’ve put together a selection that makes it easy to choose. (Maybe.😉)



Is this the coolest backpack ever? May be. Made from a water-repellent shell, the tot-sized tote might not help them move faster (seriously, does time stop when they’re asked to put on their shoes?), but it seems that it is. And that’s enough for us, TBH.

peppa pig children's backpack



We’re totally in love with this adorable Hunter X Peppa Pig collaboration! The water-resistant backpack is perfectly sized for minis (and looks attractive with the matching rain boots)!

bear shaped backpack with bee pouch



With their European aesthetic and designs that are too adorable for words, we can’t help but fall for all things Coco Village. But this back-to-school season, their Little Bear backpack takes the cake. Not only is it the cutest backpack + pencil case combo ever, it’s also made from durable vegan leather with a top-loading construction that lets little ones store and easy to unpack. (And don’t miss the bee hive matching lunch box!)

navy backpack

Dare to wander


They look simple, but the magic of Dare to Roam’s ethically made backpacks is in the details. The water-resistant nylon features antimicrobial technology to keep them fresh and clean despite your preschooler’s best efforts. At only 15 inches, the mini is perfect for younger kids, but if you’re shopping for an older child, you might want to upgrade to the full size.

backpack with colored stars

western elm


With a design that’s bursting with bright colors they’ll love and a durable coating that’ll keep it looking its best all year round, you can’t go wrong with this basic number. (It also comes in two sizes!)

pink blue and white backpack



We’ve always loved Swedish Fjällraven’s iconic Kanken backpacks for toddlers. The square design fits just enough to be useful but not too much to weigh them down and they last FOREVER. And even better, the brand has been working to advance climate change initiatives since 1994 with their Arctic Fox Initiative. This year’s ocean-inspired collection, designed by Swedish artist Linn Fritz, benefits 2 Minute Foundation and Leave no traceworking to raise awareness of the growing problem of plastics littering the oceans.

gray backpack



Designed for the smallest school children, Mcubed backpacks are large enough to hold files and essentials, but not so large that they will overwhelm your little one. We love their simple patterns and soft colors that you don’t always find when it comes to kids’ backpacks. They also offer matching lunch boxes and pencil cases!

black quilted backpack



Soft, lightweight, and water-resistant, this quilted backpack is perfectly sized for little scholars (and comes in a variety of colors if leopard print isn’t their thing!) Even better? It also enters mom size for a really adorable (and organized) pairing.

floral backpack



The “OG” of backpack brands, Jansport offers durable classic designs that can withstand the wear and tear of the school year. A front panel with a built-in organizer will keep elementary and middle schoolers organized, while padded shoulder straps will keep them comfortable. The best part? The prize (and some super fun patterns)!

coral metallic backpack

State bags


Roomy enough to carry your child through elementary school and durable enough to last well beyond, State Bags Kiddo backpacks are a great investment. They also come in tons of awesome colors and designs and can be personalized with their initials and/or their choice of emoji-esque symbols like a rocket, banana, or lightning bolt. This society was founded to help local children in need. So for every bag purchased, STATE will support an American child in need in the way they need it most.



Made from 24 standard-sized water bottles, this fun tie-dye number is tall enough to carry the essentials but also slim enough not to tip over.

red backpack

lands end


This classic bag is ideal for preschool and elementary school. With padded back panels and shoulder straps, it offers optimal comfort and is water repellent. It has reinforced seams so it holds up very well if your little one tosses or drags it. And we can’t resist personalizing it with a monogram so you always know which bag is your child’s.

llama backpack

Jump the jump


Now, who wouldn’t want a llama backpack? ! We love Skip Hop’s line of toddler backpacks – kids can choose their favorite animal, like a unicorn, ladybug or bee. They’re ideal for preschool, where kids won’t be bringing home a ton of folders or binders. The insulated front pocket is the perfect place to store snacks.

luminous backpack

Herschel Supply


Perfectly sized for kids ages 3-4, Herschel’s smaller version of the popular Herigate backpack comes in a variety of different colorways and features a removable sternum support strap and a limited lifetime warranty . Some even include reflective fabric and a light-up feature to keep kids more visible on their way home.

We independently select and share products we like and may receive a commission if you choose to purchase. You have this.

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