My very strong opinions about kids’ backpacks

by Heather Flett on August 1, 2013

in Flippin' awesome (For Boys),Flippin' Sweet (For Girls)

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, 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.

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 examples 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 used this Tarn pack all last year 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!!

rei tarn backpack The Tarn backpack is about $40

In order to mix things up, Holden switched to this big school backpack for 2nd grade and beyond because he liked all the extra pouches. It was terrific and will be making another appearance in 3rd grade. Now it comes in black/red and crazy purple.

rei big school backpack The big school backpack is $45

Lands’ End Backpacks. I bought Milo the Featherlight (because it sounded like it wouldn’t be too heavy). It was perfect throughout kindergarten and will also be making another run at first grade.

lands end featherlight back pack Featherlight pack is $45

After purchasing one Lands’ End pack I received this comic strip classmate pack free by trading something else to a friend at BlogHer. I like it for me or them, but the zipper doesn’t stay UP as well as I’d like.

lands end comic theme backpack Comic pack was $39

JanSport packs available on Amazon in different sizes and a gajillion colors. Truly, I lost count.

purple backpack The half pint size is $20

This bigger size ranges from about $20 to $50 depending on which color combo you choose.

jansport backpack Classic SuperBreak, prices vary ($20+)

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.

The following two tabs change content below.
RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

Previous post:

Next post: