If “backpack” is on your school shopping list, then this post just might save you some time and money. I have tried quite a few of the backpacks out there, and after testing them, I have the skinny that will tell you which ones hold up and which ones don’t. And, good news! Today a lot of backpacks went on sale for Labor Day Weekend. All the prices below reflect the sale prices.
Skip*Hop, known for its stylish and practical diaper bags, has a line of “ZOO Packs” ($20) which are witty takes on some of your kids’ favorite animals and insects. Some of the animals are pictured above, though they have 14 designs in total which include a giraffe, cat and hippo (not pictured.) The designs are thoughtful: the penguin pack has a fish shaped pull on the zipper and a shiny stiff beak, the fox has a furry red tail and the dog has a bone for its zipper pull and each pack has a writable name tag inside. The packs are the right size for small backs but carry quite a bit; the main cavity is large enough for clothes, toys, books and a lunch. The front pocket has a inner mesh pocket that holds pens and small items in place.We have had our dog pack for 4 years and when it gets dirty or sticky with old lollipops, I throw it in the wash and it looks as good as new. The other features I like: they are BPA-Free, Phthalate-free and have padded, adjustable straps so my kids can share one. What I don’t like: the side mesh pocket is not deep enough to take the weight of a full stainless water bottle; the bottle just flips out of the pocket. Surprisingly, the high quality ZOO Packs are the least expensive pack I have found. Though I have never seen the packs on sale, their regular price at $20 even beats out Lands’ Ends sale prices for their sturdy backpacks! This is my favorite kids’ backpack because of its clever designs and sturdiness.
Hanna Andersson has a wide selection of kids’ backpacks and their line of Be Right Backpacks (on sale for $15-20) are adorable and have a variety of designs from icons to animals. We have a Hanna Andersson backpack from two seasons ago and although we loved the look and sturdiness of it, the zipper broke after a year. On their site, I see that others have complained about the stiffness of the zipper too, so I don’t think we are the only ones. This pack can carry a lot and has a nicely sized front pocket that can carry small books and pencils. The straps are easily adjustable and padded. I do love the deep and wide mesh pockets on this backpack: it is the only one that held up with weighted water bottles over time. (We continued to use our pack even after the zipper broke.) At their current sale price, the Hanna Andersson packs are a good buy.
This small backpack from Land’s End is perfect for a preschooler or toddler and it’s appropriately named, “My First Gadgets Backpack” (on sale at $26.99). It is lightweight and small enough that a younger child won’t feel overburdened by it. It will hold a change of clothes, some toys and a book (and of course the Ugly doll that comes with it), but not much else.
If you want a bigger backpack…..try Land’s End Comic Strip Classmate backpacks (on sale at $26.99) in either small, medium or large. The advantage of these packs is that you can really size them according to your child’s height. The designs will appeal to small and big kids also. These backpacks hold a lot, including tall folders, books, clothes and water bottle. There is an external lash strap for tying items to the outside- like a shirt. An adjustable sternum strap helps keep shoulder straps in place and a little mesh pocket on the straps is great for any electronic devices or just a favorite small toy. The shoulder straps are padded and adjustable too. The mesh pockets do rip easily with heavily weighted objects. If you are looking for a pack for the smallest of your bunch, “My First Gadgets Backpack” is a good bet and for your older kids, I do like the Classmate backpack for its design and sizing.