My very strong opinions about kids’ backpacks

Back to school shopping. Ugh. As I walk through Target and see the many character-themed backpacks trying into leap in my shopping cart, I remember why I must make this journey alone. Back-to-school shopping is no place for kids. Alluring as my sons might find these school bags, they will never come home with us.

I insist on purchasing high quality backpacks only. REI, Lands’ End, Eastpak, L.L. Bean, Jansport, I’m looking at you.

Buying a sturdy back pack means two important things.

  1. It will last longer. Duh.
  2. But if it doesn’t, it will be repaired or replaced for the lifetime of the backpack. As in, never buy another backpack again!!

So the $30 to $50 you spend on a good strong pack will more than make up for the annual purchase of a $20 crappy-zipper, break-before-the-year-is-out school bag. Though my cheap gene shudders at paying nearly $50 for a kid’s backpack, I know it will withstand many years worth of aggressive treatment.

My kids are going into fourth and second grades this year and their backpacks are not being replaced. That’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell you.

Sounds too boring? If your child still wants to personalize, there are many ways to make a plain pack seem more childish childlike: glowing zipper jewelry, mini-me felt patches, labels and stickers, dogtags, printable star wars tags (free from Amy Locurto), or all of the above.

Here are a few picks of high-quality backpacks (that I hope do not fall victim to the blogging curse of breaking because I said nice things about them).

REI Backpacks.
Holden picked a big school backpack for 2nd grade and beyond because he liked all the extra pouches. After two years, it still looks nearly new. It will be making another appearance in 4th grade. It comes in a few fun colors and patterns. The big school backpack is $45


REI sells this cute little North Face Sprout with a smaller capacity for smaller torsos.

Very strong opinions about backpacks: this small one from North Face

Holden used his Tarn for first grade with great success; it easily fit his folder and lunchbox. The only problem was that the whistle fell off (I suspect user error), and this is where I reaffirmed my very strong opinions. REI attempted to repair this backpack free of charge. When they couldn’t, they offered to return or exchange it. That’s what I’m talking about. Thank you!!

Lands’ End Backpacks. I bought Milo the Featherlight (because it sounded like it wouldn’t be too heavy) for kindergarten. It is also going strong for a third year. Truthfully, it is showing some slight wear along the bottom where he drags it along the sidewalk and jumps on it. Featherlight pack is $44 to $54 depending on colors, patterns, monograms. Ooh, 25% off on Lands’ End kid packs right now right here.

Very strong opinions about backpacks: this one from Lands End

LL Bean Packs. In a similar class is the LL Bean Deluxe backpack. It might also be the only backpack you ever need to buy. Some flavor styles are on sale for about $25 but it usually runs about $40. Jump into the world of quality packs from LL Bean here.

Very strong opinions about backpacks: this one from LL Bean

JanSport packs available on Amazon in different sizes and a gajillion colors. The Classic SuperBreak is good for your grade schooler, while I’d suggest a Half Pint for your preschooler. This bigger size ranges from about $20 to $40 depending on which color combo you choose. So many colors!! Classic SuperBreak, prices vary ($20+)

Very strong opinions about backpacks: this one from Jansport

If you have a top notch bag with a broken zipper floating around your house from childhood, you should see if the good folks will fix it for you. My now-husband had his old high school backpack shipped off to “camp” for zipper repair and now it’s good as new.


Note: This post was not sponsored, I just thought you ought to know my very strong feelings before you lay out your own hard-earned money. You’re welcome.