Find the very best tips and tricks for getting your child the perfect back to school backpack.

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Spoiler alert: Choosing the best backpacks for school isn’t always as easy as it sounds. For example, in order to be safe, you need to choose the correct size kids backpack. Depending upon what your child will need to carry, you might want to consider a rolling backpack for school. And so much more! So here are the cool tips for selecting just the right backpack for kids to store the essentials for every age. 

Choosing the best backpacks for your school kids can be challenging. Girls and boys want either cool or cute and you want storage for essentials from laptops to lunch bags. Here are some great tips to help everyone find the best kids backpacks for school - approved by kids and moms alike. Hint: did you know that wheeled and rolling backpacks are the hot new thing? #bestbackpacksforkids #backpack #schoolbackpack

Ugh! It’s almost that time. Back to school. I admit – I’m not the mom who’s all like “Whoo Hoo!!! The kids are back in school!” I’m more like “UGH. Now I have to start waking up at a ridiculous hour and adhering to an equally ridiculous schedule. And I’m really having a great summer at home with my boys. Sniff.” But, one thing we all enjoy before heading back to school is the search for the perfect backpack. Back to school backpacks – let the games begin!

Find the very best tips and tricks for getting your child the perfect back to school backpack.

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As a kid, I remember one of the most exciting things about back to school was searching for the perfect back to school lunch box. When I was young, if your lunch box was chosen correctly, it could make you the cool kid. Ok – that’s slight melodrama. Nevertheless, the lunchbox made a daring statement about who you were, what you liked – and, once picked, it was courageously and proudly shown off to the world. Better make a good choice – lest you be mocked everyday at lunch for an entire year. And that’s no melodrama.

Fill & Donate Your Gently Used Backpack

For the elementary school kids, usually backpacks are still in great condition – pretty new looking. If it’s still in terrific condition, fill it with age appropriate school supplies and DONATE IT! Operation Backpack let you fill the backpack with a printable list of supplies based upon grade level and find donation site close to you. Check in  your local area for donation locations.

Choose Your Style: Old School or On Wheels

It’s easy enough to find both the traditional wearing style backpack as well as a rolling style backpack. If you fancy a rolling style, think about how and where that pack will need to travel – is it feasible to walk it to school in various types of weather, haul onto the school bus, take stairs at school, etc. Also make sure the rolling style is allowed at your school; sometimes they aren’t.

Measure for the Correct Size

Making sure that your child’s back to school backpack fits is key to making sure that your child doesn’t experience any back strain. Measuring your child for her backpack is super simple. Two measurements – back height and back width – are all that’s needed. You can find an easy measuring diagram here.

Determine the Correct Weight

This is definitely a weighty issue; backpacks that are too heavy can be dangerous causing damage to your child’s posture and also causing back, neck and spine pain. Your child’s backpack and its contents should weigh no more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight.

It’s easy to spot symptoms of a backpack that’s too heavy for your child to safely carry. “If kids grunt when putting on or taking off the backpack, have red marks on their shoulders from the straps, or if they complain that their shoulders, arms or fingers are “falling asleep,” those packs might just be too heavy.” – Dr. Rob Danoff, an osteopathic family physician.

As part of limiting the weight of the backpack, you can be miserly about what you put in the backpack. Preschoolers really only need a change of clothes and sometimes a snack or a lovey. Elementary school children typically only carry a lunch, water bottle, and maybe one folder or a small book back and forth. After that, all bets are off; monitor carefully what’s going in the pack and how much it weighs.

Let Your Child Choose the Back to School Backpack

Duh. No. Brainer. Remember when we chose lunch boxes?

How to Pick the Very Best Back to School Backpack


I’m Southern. Down here a monogram isn’t just for your shirt. (All you really need to know about this South: depending on what it is, we will either monogram it or fry it). The best thing, I think about putting your child’s name on the backpack is more for helping teachers easily identify whose items are whose. This is especially true when a particular style or pattern is really popular, a couple of kids may end up with the same one.

Matching Lunch Box or Simple Food Storage?

If your child brings his lunch and uses a lunch box instead of a paper bag, this is a great option. Again, it can help identify whose things are whose at a quick glance. Teachers love you for this. Also, lunch boxes lend themselves to carrying non-disposable containers like these or these, more so than paper lunch bags. I really prefer non-disposable containers from an environmental standpoint. If you opt out of the lunch box, I use these great three compartment boxes for breakfast on the way to school, but they would work equally well for a lunch that doesn’t need to be kept cool.

Maybe a Water Bottle or Thermos

If you child brings a water bottle to school, matching it up can be a lot of fun! Some places can even put your child’s name on their water bottle. But I’ve opted for super simple and super functional. I like cold water and for my ice cubes to stay icy. This one from Thermos absolutely does the trick and it’s our daily go-to. Your ice won’t melt before you can drink the water. And it works for everyone so there’s never a “He’s got my water bottle!” squabble.

If you love to pack a warm entree for your child, wide mouth “funtainer food jars” are easy for you to fill; they keep food warm up to 5 hours; and they come in a ridiculous assortment of colors and characters.

Some Favorite Back to School Backpacks to SpOIL Your Children

I’ve been across the web far and wide and these are my favorite places to find great looks an functionality for the perfect back to school backpack:


Another great pick for the preschool back to school backpack is the Skip Hop Zoo Pack set. With over 20 characters and the ability to choose matching everything (utensils, water bottles, plates, lunch boxes, you name it…), you can’t loose. I got the Zebra for my oldest when my youngest was born. The first day that he came to the hospital to visit, he found the zebra pack waiting for him with a new toy in it. Each day when he would come to the hospital to visit, I would place a new “prize” in the backpack for him. It made such a great memory for him.

Pottery Barn Kids

PBK has a great selection with lots of matching accessories and everything they sell is high quality and very durable.

Lands End

Last year’s back to school backpack for my older son came from here and he loved it. It held up well – and looks almost brand new. It was actually the impetus for my idea to see if you can find a place to donate gently used / almost new backpacks.


Etsy also has a lot of beautiful, great selections. Just be careful to get a proper fit – both weight and size!

Backpack Bling – Charms and Zipper Pulls

I learned this last year – backpack bling (my words) is all the rage. Boys and girls alike. If you haven’t seen them – they are the ultimate in personalization, little clip ons for backpacks and any other zippers. The sky is the limit with the characters that are available: Disney princesses, Spider Man & Batman, Ninja Turtles, Frozen, Paw Patrol, Despicable Me, Hello Kitty, Peter Pan, My Little Pony, Sesame Street, Harry Potter, Snoopy, Cars, and the list goes on and on. This is a really fun way to get in that last little bit of personalization!

So tell me – after you make sure it’s the proper size and weight, what fun things will you search for this year in the way of Back to School Backpacks?