A backpack can reflect a child's hobbies and personality, but it should be comfortable and also have plenty of room for school supplies. Whatever the style, look for a well-made product with wide, padded straps. Also choose comfortable, padded back panels and a finished interior lining. Sturdy, working zippers and buckles are important, too. Styles to avoid -- especially for small children -- include single-strap backpacks, which put too much pressure on one shoulder, and wheeled book bags, which may be bulky and hard to maneuver. Here are 16 good options for kids of all ages.
16 Budget-Friendly Backpacks for the New School Year
This ladybug backpack from Walmart offers storage in the main compartment and a zip pouch on the front, as well as adjustable shoulder straps -- and two cute antennae on top. Some kids may prefer a shark version for the same price. Reviewers, who give the backpack an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars, see the 12-inch size as just right for a starter backpack.
For schools that require transparent backpacks, this Eastsport model fills the bill. Clear with pink, blue, green, or black trim, this backpack makes organization easy with a 17.5-inch main compartment and three pockets. The backpack has padded, adjustable straps, and many consumers posting reviews on the Walmart website give it a thumbs-up for sturdiness and value.
Zoo Packs put a cartoonish spin on animals such as a hippo, owl, and unicorn. The playful backpacks from Skip Hop, available at Target, measure 12 x 10.5 x 5 inches and feature an insulated pocket for snacks and an adjustable mesh pouch for a water bottle. A child's information can be written on the interior name tag, too.
Wildkin's playful, whimsical designs are available at Target and Kohl's, but Cheapism found one wild pack at the Jungle Store for less than $21. This 12-inch model comes in nearly two dozen all-over prints. The backpack has an insulated front pocket for snacks or even a lunch, a mesh side pocket, and a reflective strip for safety.
This classic, lightweight backpack from Amazon has padded, adjustable shoulder straps and is available in seven colors. A double zipper closure, small internal pocket, padded laptop pocket, and front zipper pocket make this backpack roomy enough for big kids, and the lack of goofy graphics should appeal to them too.
With the release of the wildly popular Pokémon Go mobile game this summer, kids may be clamoring for all things Pokémon-themed. Satisfy them with a Pokémon backpack from Target, featuring a zippered front pocket in the shape of a giant Poké Ball and four original Pokémon creatures. There are also dual side mesh pockets and adjustable, padded straps.
For kids who love colorful prints, Ropper backpacks available on Amazon come in 10 adorable patterns, including cats, flowers, and owls. They're made of high-quality canvas and organizes school supplies in two main compartments, a front-zip pocket, and side pockets. Shoulder straps are adjustable and padded.
This product is tied to "Despicable Me 2," but the movie characters are still popular, thanks to last year's spinoff, "Minions." The 16-inch backpack is designed for a toddler, and user reviews on the Target website mention buying it for children heading to preschool or kindergarten. It comes with padded, adjustable straps and a zip pocket for more storage.
For teens or college students looking for a laptop compartment and more subtle designs than those found on typical kid backpacks, this Hynes Eagle backpack has the bases covered. There are side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas, a front zip compartment, and an internal laptop pocket. If solid gray, blue, or black is too basic, choose a pink dog design.
Disney, Nickelodeon, and Marvel backpacks sold on Amazon appeal to junior movie buffs. Choose among favorite characters from "Frozen," the TV series "Paw Patrol," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and more. The main compartment offers plenty of room, along with the side mesh pockets and front zip pocket.
For spunky children, this Accessory Innovations backpack from Target is adorned with a pastel leopard print and features a sunglasses-wearing kitten. There's a loop for hanging, padded shoulder straps, and a padded interior laptop pocket.
Dory won't be too hard to find on this "Just Keep Swimming" backpack with detachable lunchbox. For less than $20 on Amazon, it includes a large main compartment, side mesh pockets, a front pocket, and a matching lunch bag. Reviewers give the set raves for sturdiness and recommend it for elementary schoolers.
Fans of 3D movies may enjoy the unique Yisibo 3D animal backpacks available on Amazon. Choose from a shark, crab, penguin, dinosaur, and more with "pop-out" eyes, paws, fins, and other features. The bags are made of waterproof neoprene, and sport a main compartment along with front and side pockets. Shoulder straps are well-padded and adjustable. Yisibo also offers a money-back guarantee.
For kids obsessed with Disney, a Disney Princess emoji backpack from Target puts a high-tech spin on the classics. Emojis of princesses such as Ariel, Jasmine, and Cinderella decorate the backpack, and there's a spacious main compartment and zippered front pocket for school supplies.