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Back-to-School Backpacks

Our favorite styles for the new school year.

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When it comes to back-to-school shopping, a new backpack is often at the top of the list—and it’s a purchase that requires some serious thought. Parents tend to look for quality, while kids gravitate more towards style. The challenge is finding a balance between both. But with so many options out there, where does one even begin to look? That’s where we come in. We did the research, scoured the stores for the best designs, toted them on our backs, and narrowed down a few options for every age. Here is a roundup of our favorite back-to-school styles.

Built to Last

L.L.Bean’s Discovery Glow Backpack features fun glow-in-the-dark details and is durable enough to last from year to year. $40, llbean.com

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Tiny Tots

Perfect for preschoolers, Skip Hop backpacks come in 23 adorable animal designs and feature an insulated snack pouch. $20, skiphop.com

Best Seller

JanSport backpacks are durable, stylish and guaranteed for life—and we’re giving one lucky reader a chance to win one! Register at ColoradoParent.com. $46, staples.com

Cool Packs

MadPax creates uber cool and funky backpacks with 3D features like spikes and raised details for style that’s one-of-a-kind. $85, madpax.com

Perfectly Sized

Pottery Barn Kids’ backpacks come in four sizes, and fun prints—like this panda design, which supports the World Wildlife Fund. $30-$70 potterybarnkids.com

Multi-use

Older kids will like the style and functionality of the Dakine Mission 25L backpack, which is perfect for both school and mountain adventures. $70, dakine.com

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Game On

Minecraft fanatics will love this Creeper-themed backpack, which features a durable design and plenty of room for school supplies. $30, target.com

Backpack Buying Tips

Choosing the right backpack can be hard, there’s so much to consider—size, comfort, features, safety, style. How do you make sure you’ve found the best fit for your child? We talked to the experts at Denver-based online retailer eBags, who shared the following backpack buying tips.

  1. Look for a backpack with wide padded shoulder straps. This is especially important for kids who lug around a lot of books and binders—when packed full, padded straps are not only more comfortable, they help with circulation in the arms. A padded back will also help with support and ventilation on warm days.
  2. Organization pockets make contents easy to find and help distribute the weight of a backpack more evenly.
  3. Make sure it’s the right size. Your child’s backpack should not be wider than their body or fall below the pant line and should weigh no more than 15 percent of their body weight when full.
  4. If your child leaves early or returns after dark—think about those winter months—a backpack with reflective material will make them more visible in the dark.
  5. Consider buying a backpack with a waist or chest belt if your child will be carrying heavy items on a regular basis. This takes the strain off neck and shoulder muscles and helps distribute the weight across the body.
  6. For younger children, consider buying a rolling backpack if you don’t want them carrying heavy items on their back. Just make sure they don’t have to walk up and down stairs at school, which could be dangerous.
  7. Try to be involved in what your kids pack to school each day to make sure their backpacks don’t get too heavy and cause back pain.

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