With students heading back to the classroom in a matter of weeks, it's time to tackle your back-to-school shopping list. Whether you're heading to high school or university or sending your kids off to elementary school or pre-K, there are a few important things to keep in mind when shopping for a backpack.
What to look for in a school backpack
Comfort and support
Finding a comfortable and supportive backpack should be at the top of your list, along with size. Look for a bag with wide shoulder straps and a padded back panel with proper ventilation. For those carrying heavy loads, it helps to have a sternum strap to relieve stress from your shoulders.
From workouts to school, this adidas backpack has you covered. The backpack has a roomy main pocket and front and side pockets to keep you organized throughout your day. Plus, you can feel good about your purchase as the bag is made in part with high-performance recycled materials.
While it may seem obvious, it's important to keep in mind what items you'll be hauling around in your backpack. If you plan on carrying a laptop, how large is it? While most standard backpacks can fit 13-to-15-inch computers, if your laptop is larger than 17 inches or more, you'll want to double-check the measurements of your bag before you buy.
What about textbooks, lunch boxes and other on-the-go essentials? For students heading to university, some labs or classes will require you to keep a textbook on hand, which can be a cumbersome thing to carry in addition to your other supplies.
A larger weekend-style backpack may be suited to your needs if you plan on carrying your laptop, textbooks and notebooks with you to class. Look for roomier styles between 30 and 50 litres to ensure you have enough room for the essentials, plus other things you'll need throughout the day, like snacks and a water bottle.
This cute Lululemon backpack features plenty of pockets and compartments to keep you organized during your day. It has a padded pocket that fits a 16-inch laptop, several interior pockets and is designed using water-repellant fabric. Like what you see? Check out more Lululemon backpacks here.
Organization and features
Organization is known as the key to success for a good reason. While it's an imperative skill to learn for school, a good backpack should contain several interior and exterior pockets to keep your belongings organized.
When shopping for a bag, make sure it includes features like zippered pockets, a laptop sleeve and interior sections to keep your essentials, like your wallet and keys, separate from the rest of your belongings.
To help make your life easier as you head back to school this fall, we've rounded up 15 highly rated and reviewed backpacks that are perfect for students from elementary school to university. With all kinds of needs and budgets in mind, these are the best backpacks for students in 2023.
The best backpacks for elementary school
Designed for children between 8-12, this backpack is a stylish playground staple with functional storage features. The backpack is available in 12 colours and prints, including a zoo print and camo.
Get ready for the new school year with this cute Roots Backpack. The kid-sized backpack features adjustable padded shoulder straps and multiple compartments and pockets for storing every pencil, snack and scrunched up piece of paper.
Get your little one back-to-school-ready with this personalizable backpack. The top-rated Kane Kids backpack is available several sizes to match the age of your child. It's made of 90 per cent recycled materials and fits a surprising amount of items, including a 13-inch laptop, lunchbox and water bottle.
This 20-litre backpack is made of durable, water-resistant fabric and has a padded back and adjustable shoulder straps for comfort. The kid-friendly book bag is available in 22 colours and prints, including daisy, rockets and a fun dinosaur print.
With an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars, shoppers call the L.L.Bean Original Book Pack the "best backpack ever!" According to one parent, the famous L.L.Bean quality provides for "years of wear and tear! These backpacks hold up! Lots of space and compartments for all your school necessities."
The best backpacks for middle and high school
This classic Fjällräven backpack is designed with durable, dirt and moisture-resistant fabric and features a spacious main compartment with two flat side pockets and a zipped pocket on the front.
This reviewer-loved Patagonia bag has a dedicated Desk Caddy compartment, a large main compartment and a front-panel pocket to help keep your day organized. One shopper writes they "love it so much" that it's "become an appendage."
This top-rated backpack has earned an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 5,700 reviews. Crafted from high-quality water-resistant fabric, the Vaschy backpack features several interior and exterior pockets to keep all of your belongings safe.
This roomy 22-litre backpack from Lululemon comes with dedicated compartments for your laptop, workout gear and water bottle. The water-repellent bag is available in six colours, including blue, grey and black.
The best backpacks for college and university
The perfect backpack for when you don't want the look of a backpack, this Ucon Acrobatics bag has a minimalist rectangular design and a padded laptop compartment.
With nearly 43,000 reviews backing it, this budget-friendly backpack features a USB charging port and an innovative anti-theft design via a fixed password lock and durable metal zippers. The backpack's laptop compartment holds devices up to 15.6 inches and is available in a variety of colours.
This sleek waterproof backpack is a modern and stylish alternative to traditional backpack styles. The Rains backpack fits most 13-inch laptops and has plenty of room for all of your documents and must-haves.
Everlane shoppers "love everything about this backpack!" It fits a 15-inch laptop, two water bottle holders, a slip pocket for magazines and notebooks, and a handy pass-through strap that attaches to rolling luggage, making it perfect for travel too.
With an average customer rating of 73 per cent, shoppers say The North Face backpack is a "great backpack for all occasions." The bag has a separate section for a 15-inch laptop and several pockets for everything you need.
Perfect students who need to pack everything and more, this jumbo backpack fits a 17-inch laptop and has more than enough room for everything else you need to tag along. The bag conveniently features a USB port and charging cable and is backed by 29,000 reviews.