Ultimate Kids' Backpack Shopping Guide

Back to school shopping season is creeping up slowly and that means shopping for supplies and backpacks that did not survive the last school year (or your child has simply outgrown the character on their backpack).  Back to school season may cause some anxiety out there for parents - so we're here to help ease some tension and provide you with an easy to follow backpack shopping guide.

First and foremost, shopping for a backpack should be fun! With your guidance let your little one help you pick out which is their favorite (after you narrow down which size you're looking for). Kids love to wear the characters that they know - it's a simple way of expression!  If they're a Mickey or Paw Patrol fan, they will proudly wear that backpack every day!

Just remember - backpacks are not created equal. They may serve the same purpose to carry things but each one is different from the next. You may be asking:  What size would work for my child?  What is the difference between a 12" backpack and a 15" backpack?  What features in this backpack does my child need? How many pockets should I care about? See below for our best attempt to answer these questions and more!

Here is our official Kidsntoddler.com guide to backpacks.  Enjoy!

10" or 12" Mini Backpacks:

  • Perfect for Toddlers and Pre-School aged children
  • Typical dimensions are 10"H x 8"W x 4"D or 12"H x 10"W x 3"D
  • Straps are adjustable, but not typically padded (not really an issue because the bags are small and usually can't be packed too heavy)
  • Mini backpacks typically do not include many pockets and rarely have side drink holders. Although some 12" Cargo backpacks might have mesh side pockets and bigger front pocket (see our TMNT Leonardo backpack below)
  • Can hold a water bottle, a small book, and a small stuffed animal friend.
  • These give younger children a chance to carry their own things, be responsible for their item and have a bag of their very own (just like their big brother or sister)
  • Characters for these are geared towards younger kids - Cars, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, TMNT, Paw Patrol, Lion Guard, Star Wars, etc..
Leonardo 12" Cargo Backpack

15" and 16" Full Size Backpacks:

  • Most common full-sized backpack for kids
  • Typical dimensions 16"H x10"W x 4"D
  • Straps are adjustable and are typically padded
  • Pockets may vary to just one main opening, to a few on the outside and sides.  Bottle holders on the sides are common, but check the specifics to the backpack you are looking at.
  • These backpacks can fit several books, folders and a lunch box.  For traveling, these make great carry-on bags and can hold plenty of toys to keep your little one busy.
  • Characters for these bags are a for a little bit older children - Marvel Avengers, DC Comics, Mickey Mouse and friends, Spiderman, Paw Patrol, Jojo Siwa, Moana, Finding Dory or you may find a simple pattern print!

Disney Cars BackpackPaw Patrol Girls Backpack

Backpacks with Detachable Lunch Bags: 

  • Typical dimensions of backpack is 16"H x 12"W x 5"D and Lunch Bag is: 8"H x 10"W x 2.5"D
  • Backpack straps are adjustable and are typically padded.  Lunch bags usually just have a handle on top (no shoulder strap)
  • Pockets may vary but it is typical, because of the placement of the lunch bag when attached, that there are no front pockets.  There is usually just one main opening.  Bottle holders are usually included on both sides.
  • Pay attention to the included lunch bag to see if it is insulated or not.  That may or may not affect your buying decision.
  • These backpacks can fit several books, folders and school supplies.  You don't have to worry about the lunch bag going inside the backpack as it securely attaches to the outside, so that frees up some space!
  • Characters for these bags are also aimed at older elementary school-aged children - Marvel Avengers, DC Comics, Mickey Mouse and friends, Cars, Paw Patrol, Moana, Finding Dory and more!

Cars Backpack with detachable lunch bagLion Guard Backpack with detachable lunchbag

Sling Bags:

  • Typical dimensions of sling bag (measured flat) is 11"W x 14"L
  • The draw string acts as the straps and are not padded, this limits the weight of the bag and how much you can put in it.
  • Typically there is just one large compartment with no extra pockets or bottle holders
  • Perfect for all ages of kids!
  • These backpacks easily fit an extra change of clothes, a few small items and essentials.
  • Great for visits to a friend's house, hike, amusement parks, vacations, etc. 
  • Allows your little one to be responsible for their own things.  
  • Characters for these bags range but you can usually find your favorite characters ranging from Mickey and Minnie to JoJo Siwa

Special Exclusive Backpack and Lunch Bag Sets!

If you're shopping for backpacks and supplies look around for special multi-piece sets!

We offer great sets that include with your backpack:

  • Water bottles
  • Food Containers
  • Pencil Cases
  • Kid-Sized Bifold Wallets
  • Pencil Sets
  • Markers

Buying these together with the backpack or lunch bag will help you save some dough, plus the accessories are also officially licensed!

All-In-One Backpack Sets:

Want to just get everything you need in one single stop? We recommend looking for "Deluxe" Backpack combos/bundles. It may sound over the top or even a bit pretentious at first but it's actually quite the deluxe package. Some of these come in five pieces and mainly contains: a full sized 16" backpack, a lunch bag, water bottle, pencil case, and a miscellaneous item (carabiner clip or pencils). Deluxe packages carry along the same theme so the aesthetic matches all the accessories.

Spiderman 5 piece backpack setJojo Siwa 5 piece backpack setMinnie 5 piece backpack set

Kids Duffel bags:
  • Typical dimensions: 18"W x 10.5"H x 10"D
  • The bags have one large main compartment with a zippered closure with two side mesh pockets.
  • Long adjustable shoulder strap is included (usually not padded) along with the shorter handles to hold.
  • We think these bags would be great for kids 7+.  The bags are a pretty good size and if full, may be too heavy for younger children.
  • These bags easily fit a few days worth of clothing, towels, lunch bag and more. 
  • Great for short vacations, overnights, sports practice, the beach, etc..   
  • Characters for these bags range but you can usually find your favorite characters ranging from Mickey and Minnie to JoJo Siwa

  Minnie Mouse Duffel BagSpiderman Duffel BagDisney Frozen Duffel Bag

Additional/Must have items:

Avengers Backpack and SuppliesDC Superhero Girls Backpack with Folders
Food containers. Plastic containers get the job done and they come in many variations. Bowls, squares, or bread shaped containers are widely available in different colors and characters.  Even better, they're reusable!

Pencil cases. You're going to need something to store all of your writing utensils. There's tin cases, fabric pouches, soft shell cases. They can even have eyelets to be safely stored in a binder.

Pencils. Do you like to have similarly themed pencils to express yourself? If you find your little one using specific pencils, that may mean they're more inclined to do work with their favorite character.

Stickers/Patches. Make your items you. Stickers and adhesive patches allow you to be creative and customize your items. 

Notebooks. Depending on grade you might be looking at college ruled or wide ruled. Once you get that out of the way, you can move on to the fun part of choosing characters or colors to each class or subject.  

Folders. There's really no debating this. Folders are a requirement and the best way to show off your personality.

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