Boys and girls run to school with colourful backpacks.

Looking for a backpack your kid will love, that’s also practical, sturdy and within your budget? We hear you.

As we shop for lunch boxes, gear up for morning routines and stock up on school supplies, choosing a new backpack often tops the list of essentials when it comes to our back-to-school checklists.

From important features to look for when buying a new school bag, to the latest trends in design, here’s your guide to choosing the right backpack for back to school 2022.

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1Features to consider when buying backpacks for school

If you want a backpack that will last the entire school year, here are some specific features you’ll want to look for:

Are the materials durable?

A blue and green nylon backpack for school with yellow zippers leans against a boy's feet.

Your kids will be lugging their backpacks to and from school for the entire year, so you want a material that will hold up. Nylon is a solid choice because it makes for a waterproof backpack and can stand up to wear-and-tear better than polyester or PVC.

Does the zipper have an overlay?

The best backpacks for school have a fabric overlay that protects zippers .

The best backpacks for school have a fabric overlay that protects zippers and adds that coveted, extra layer of water-resistance. Exposed zippers are more likely to snag and damage, plus water may seep in when it rains.

Is the size of the backpack comfortable and the right fit?

Girl in a red and pink dress next to a red rolling backpack with wheels.

Does the backpack have wide, adjustable shoulder straps for maximum comfort? And, are they padded? Depending on how big your kid is and how much they need to lug around, you may also want to look for a rolling backpack with wheels or one with a midsection strap for added stability. Select a backpack that’s appropriate for your kid’s size as well—adult-sized backpacks may be too large and can strain smaller backs with prolonged use.

Does the backpack help keep things organized?

A grey and black school backpack with compartments for pens, markers, water bottle keeps school supplies organized.

Kids lose things (it’s a law of nature). Staying organized, however, is a good way to cut down on losses throughout the school year. Are there compartments for shoes, lunches or a change of clothes? What about water bottle pockets, an ID tag slip or a padded laptop sleeve (for older kids)? Consider your needs then look for appropriate, built-in storage options for optimal organization.

Is the backpack easy to clean?

A grey and black backpack is wiped clean with a terry cloth.

It’s no secret backpacks get grimy thanks to spilled lunches, the weather, rain and all-around use. Look for packs that wipe clean or that can be tossed in the wash on a gentle cycle so you can keep it clean and sanitary year-round.

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A quality backpack will last you through the school year. Before purchasing, take a closer look at the seams and avoid anything with loose or uneven stitching that may come apart after prolonged use. Take a pass on backpacks with frayed fabric edges or that don’t have fabric flaps covering the zippers.
A boy wears a trendy green minecraft design backpack for school.

Kids’ backpacks are as important for their durability as they are for being a form of self-expression. (That might explain why, even if last year’s model is still in fairly good shape, a new backpack may still have made its way onto your back-to-school shopping list this year.)

Luckily, there are tons of affordable brands, makes and styles to choose from for every style and preference.

For the adventurer

If you have a curious kid who loves to explore and hit the ground running, consider a backpack that matches their style. A bag with a trendy action hero, like a Spider-Man backpack, is always a fun choice. Or perhaps something more universal and sporty like camouflage prints can go a long way in capturing their adventurous side.

For the video game lover

Let’s face it: Video games will never not be trendy with kids—just look at the ongoing popularity of Super Mario Brothers generation after generation for proof. There’s a rich seletion of options to choose from this year, as well, like Minecraft backpacks or a Pokemon backpack. Sonic the Hedgehog, Animal Crossing, and Roblox are also current popular video game picks with kids.

For the kiddo on the go

If you’ve got a kid with a lot of activities on the go (and therefore, a lot of stuff to pack), you may want to consider a rolling backpack. Kids backpacks with wheels also come with a telescoping handle to save small backs from all that extra weight, and are an increasingly popular option. Or, if you just have a busy preschooler you’re trying to prep with a kindergarten backpack, an on-theme Paw Patrol backpack is always a nice starter bag for kids on the go and “on a roll.”

Shop all trendy backpacks for schood

3How to personalize a backpack

A grey school backpack is personalized with accessories like carabiners.

While trendy backpacks are always fun, there’s something to be said about going with a more basic yet well-built backpack, and adding personalized accessories to create your own sense of style.  Start with quality, solid, bright coloured picks, then add features that express (and identify!) you, like:

Shop accessories for backpacks

4How to pick the right size backpack

Mother and daughter shop for a backpack for school

Whether you pick a small backpack or a big backpack for school, you want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to set your kids up for optimal spinal health. That’s why selecting the right size backpack is so important.[1] Here’s how:

  • Weight distribution: Avoid tote bags, purses and messenger bags that place too much weight on one side of the body. Instead, look for backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps that ensure equal weight distribution throughout. If your kid is carrying a large load, look for a backpack with a waist strap to help ease pressure.
  • Fit: The bottom of the pack should sit at the lowest part of your kid’s back, just above the hips. The top of the backpack should fit just under the top part of their shoulder blades. Then, the straps should also pull until they’re snug, with no gaps.
  • Capacity: Always place heavier items on the bottom of the backpack and lighter items on top in order to center weight close to your kid’s core. As a rule of thumb, filled backpacks should weigh no more than 10-15% of a kid’s bodyweight.

Shop Sizes in Backpacks

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Prefer to try before you buy? Place your order online today and return in store or by mail. See Walmart’s return policy for more details. Or bring your kid with you and try the backpack on for size in store. It’s also a good idea to bring someof the items you plan on packing regularly during the school year in to assess weight distribution and durability.

Our favourite backpacks on a budget

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