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With students heading back to class within the next few weeks, time is running out to tackle your back to school shopping list. Whether you're heading to high school or college 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 Nike backpack has you covered. The backpack features several zipped pockets and compartments to keep you organized throughout your day. Plus, you can feel good about your purchase as at least 65 per cent of the bag is made from recycled polyester fibres.
SHOP IT: Nike, $48
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.
SHOP IT: Lululemon, $98
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 17 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 2021.
Get your little ones excited for school with this cute monogrammed set from Etsy. Parents can't stop raving about the personalized backpack, writing, "My 2.5 year old [...] won't stop wearing it around the house since school hasn't started yet."
SHOP IT: Etsy, starting from $26
The best backpacks for elementary school
Get home safe with the innovative Day/Night Herschel Heritage Youth backpack. Designed for children ages five and up, this backpack features a rubber diamond that doubles as a light. Simply press the diamond once to turn on a steady red light and twice for it to flash. The kid-friendly style is available in six colours.
SHOP IT: Herschel, $80
Get your little one back-to-school-ready with this personalized backpack. With near-perfect ratings, moms call the dinosaur backpack "perfect" for children.
SHOP IT: Etsy, starting from $24
This 10-litre kids backpack is designed with comfortable youth-specific shoulder straps and a Velcro sternum strap. The kid-friendly knapsack is available in five colours and features a lifetime warranty, perfect for little ones prone to wears and tears.
SHOP IT: The North Face, $45
Your kids will be counting down the days back to school thanks to this Blue Jays-themed backpack. The sporty style has the capacity for books, notebooks and other essentials.
SHOP IT: Indigo, $60
With an average rating of 4.7 out of five stars, moms 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."
SHOP IT: L.L.Bean, $59
The best backpacks for middle and high school
This classic Fjällräven backpack is designed with durable, dirt and water-resistant fabric and features a spacious main compartment with two flat side pockets and a zipped pocket on the front. The VSCO-inspired backpack is available in 10 cool colours, including these intricate designs.
SHOP IT: Urban Outfitters, $100
This classic knapsack is available in 12 colours and prints to match your every mood. The backpack features an exterior zip pocket and interior wall pocket that can fit most 13-inch laptops.
This top-rated backpack has earned an average rating of 4.6 out of five stars from over 4,800 reviews. Crafted from high-quality water-resistant fabric, the Vaschy backpack features several interior and exterior pockets to keep all of your belongings safe.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $53
This relaxed cotton backpack features a cute all-over embroidered print and a hidden back pocket to keep your valuables out of sight. The on-sale bag is available in three cool designs.
The best backpacks for college and university
With more than 23,000 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 11 colours.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $39
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. Right now, Nordstrom shoppers can save up to 40 per cent on the style.
Perfect for commuter students or those with a lot to carry, this extra-large backpack comfortably fits a 16-inch laptop and has more than enough room for all of your books, snacks, and stationary. The bag is available in three colours and is crafted from water-repellent fabric.
SHOP IT: Lululemon, $128
With an average customer rating of 92 per cent, shoppers say The North Face backpack "is perfect for so many reasons." There are "great storage spaces, a lot of different pockets, [a] pocket for laptops and secure pocket for important items." The commuter-friendly style is available in two colours: black and green.
SHOP IT: The North Face, $110
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 more than 15,000 reviews.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $57