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Top Backpacks for Daycare, Pre-K and Kindergarten

Depending on your preschool/Kindergarten, your kiddo may be carrying his lunch/snacks, a drink, and some other supplies to school. You want the bag to be small enough for a little body but roomy enough to hold the essential belongings. Here are our top picks in the best backpacks for day care, preschool and kindergarten category: 

Skip Hop 12″ Zoo Collection  ~ $22

Skip Hop makes quintessential toddler backpacks for preschoolers with their signature animal motifs. The options are so adorable — unicorn, dinosaur, koala, and llama… — it can be tough choose. Decisions, decisions! (*Note — we recommend the “little” size, as the mini backpack version doesn’t hold much; the new big kid version of these packs are great for bigger pre-K kiddos and school-aged kids.)

For the price, these are actually pretty darn high quality — ours have held up well over time. Even with daily (ab)use, you can expect at least a couple/few years out of one of these.

Wildkin 12” ~ $27

The Wildkin 12” toddler backpack is one of the most popular on the market for kids 3 to 6 years old. It’s affordable, high quality, CUTE, and the perfect size for littles. 

We love that the front pocket moonlights as a lunch bag. Yes, it’s actually insulated (!), which is perfect storage for snacks or even a lunch (though some say it doesn’t stay cold for very long). It also has a side mesh pocket for a water bottle and reflective tape around the front pocket for those dark winter evenings. Note: they also make a 15” size (~$39), which will hold more, and you may want check out their rolling backpacks with wheels (~$64), which are much larger and perfect for travel. 

Pottery Barn Kids Book Bags ~ $varies

Available in mini, small, and larger sizes, the PBK kid’s backpack is a schoolroom classic. True story: teachers of small kids (especially K teachers) love the monogramming so they can tell whose is whose (allow extra delivery time for monogramming). These backpacks are super durable, cute, and come with (optional) matching lunch boxes and other paraphernalia. Ours have lasted for years.

STATE Kane ~ starting at $75

We love these colorful and stylish backpacks from STATE. They’re classic but playful, and are also the perfect size to fit your day-to-day gear, like school folders, pencil cases, crafts, water bottles and so on. The straps are adjustable and padded for comfort. What’s more, for every pack purchased, STATE supports American children and families in need by donating fully-packed backpacks at signature bag drop rallies.

North Face Youth Sprout ~ $35

The Sprout pack by The North Face is a small backpack designed specifically for tots 2 to 4 years old. It’s sporty and durable, and with multiple compartments, an interior name tag, a foam back panel, padded straps and an added chest strap, it’s also both simple and efficient.

LL Bean Junior Original Book Pack ~ $29

The LL Bean Junior Original backpack is a solid choice all around. Designed for kids between 4 and 7, it has a large main compartment with enough room to fit projects, a lunch box, a few toys and even a change of clothes, plus some extra space for smaller items on the front. It also has a waterproof side pocket for drinks and is available in several vibrant patterns or four classic solids.

7 A.M. Enfant Mini Dino ~ $45

With this Dino toddler backpack by 7 A.M. Enfant, your little one’s obsession with dinosaurs will never go extinct. Compact but mighty, it can fit all of his daily essentials: a lovey, a blanket and food. We love that it’s light and has padded shoulder straps, and the top handle makes it super easy to grab on your way out. Last but not least, it’s machine washable — RAWR-some!

Happy back to school, families! Let’s all hope this year goes better than last year…


  1. I’m a teacher and love the ease of students having monogrammed items, but I’ve also heard the caution that having a student’s name embroidered on their backpack/lunchbox/whatever can make them a potential target for kidnappers – easier for the bad person to say, “Hey, Mackenzie, your mom’s sick and asked me to pick you up” etc. What do you think… legit concern?

    1. Depends on how much you worry about things like that. Personally, I think that’s a page from the book of the “culture of fear” that we’ve been told to live in.

  2. I think that’s called, “better safe than sorry”. Kids should never have their names displayed openly like that, especially not for the preschool age which is what this article’s focus is on.

  3. Another kindergarten teacher opinion here! These backpacks are adorable, but in Canada (kids age 4-6 in kindergarten for two years) I only ever recommend a full size backpack. I like the Roots one from Costco. Your kid may be little, but their “stuff” is not. My students need space for their BIG stuff; library book, their lunch box, and for most of the school year they need to be able to fit their snow pants, extra hats and mits in their bags. They’re big backpacks for their size (my 4 year old is TINY) but they have big “stuff”. I haaaaaaate seeing toddler backpacks in kindergarten because there is no way a kid is going to get all their items into their backpack independently and be able to zip it without adult help. A bigger pack pack allows them much more independence.

    (Also! I agree. No names on the front of backpacks, and initials aren’t always helpful either. I’d skip the monogram!!)

    1. Cynthia, thank you so much for your comment and suggestion. It’s very helpful. Yes, you are right, the things that children have to carry to school are not small. That’s why we also included brands like Parkland and STATE, which have full-sized kids backpack options as well. We will definitely check out the Roots from Costco. Thanks!

  4. Any ideas for kids who have to carry laptops now? Ones to protect against water bottles that aren’t closed!

    1. Hi Kate! Good question 🙂 I would look for a backpack with a water bottle holder on the outside and check for material to ensure it’s splash proof (which I would image most are). Lastly, many backpack brands offer different sizes. Check your laptop/tablet size and measure accordingly. Best of luck!

  5. For kid’s backpacks, I can recommend one more brand, the Tinipak backpack, which I’ve just bought for my two sons. It’s super light and utilized for kids, both go out and to school as well. They need to be comfortable with the light and smart backpack, and Tinipak convinced me as it’s just around 700 grams with modular files for kids to organize their books. Besides their utilized functions of a backpack, the kid’s health angle should be considered. If choosing an unsuitable backpack, their back will be in pain. Tinipak is designed with thick pads and a back panel to make sure their safety. I expect they’ll continue to use it for backpacking for three or four years, at which point it will become a good daypack. If you’re interested, refer to their website: https://bit.ly/First-Modular-Ergonomic-School-Backpack

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