Back to school time is here and with a new school year, many times comes a new backpack. Here are some of the best for grade schoolers, high schoolers and the college crowd.

There are a few points to look at when selecting a backpack. First, make sure you choose one that’s the right size for your child so it doesn’t overwhelm their body and cause back and neck strain. Next, how accessible are their belongings? Is it so small everything is jammed on top of everything else or is it roomy enough to move things around so you can see what’s in there? Also, look for straps that are wide enough to bear the load and don’t dig in. Make sure the straps are adjustable and cushioned to make the backpack comfortable to wear.

High Sierra

High Sierra brand backpacks showed up several times on many of the best backpack lists. Their Loop style backpack ($35) is modern, sporty and has extra room for your student athlete to stash their workout gear or practice clothes. It also has smaller compartments for cell phones or iPods as well as a durable exterior and cushioned straps. The Swerve style ($50) is good for a high schooler or college kid that carries their laptop with them for every class. It also has smaller compartments for pens, pencils, calculators, keys and mobile phones. The Access style ($40) is good for a young person who is always on the move. With compartments for books, a laptop, your phone, and workout gear, it makes it easy to stash all of your belongings. It also comes with a waterproof rain cover for college kids dashing from building to building.


JanSport is one of the most recognizable names in backpacks. I had a JanSport backpack that I used all through high school and college. I loved that backpack. I still have it. Sure, it cost a little more up front but I used it for years. I’m 16 years post high school and it’s still in good, useable condition. The Classic Super Break style ($35) is your basic backpack that comes 54 different colors and prints. It has one large main compartment and a smaller front zip pocket for keys, pens, pencils, calculator and an iPod or a phone. It’s waterproof and durable with cushy straps and a hanging hook. The Big Student ($45) is a little bigger backpack that can hold text books, notebooks and a laptop. It comes in 38 different colors and prints. There are also front pockets to hold pens, pencils, keys and gadgets. The Wasabi style ($40) comes in nine colors and prints, is cushioned to protect your belongings and your back. Textbooks, notebooks, folders, tablets, laptops and gym clothes can all fit.

Swiss Gear

From the makers of the Swiss Army Knife comes the Swiss Gear SA1923 Scan Smart Backpack. I have a Swiss Army Knife and it’s one of the handiest things in my house, so you can imagine what they came up with for their backpacks. This one is specific for the college kid that carries their laptop everywhere. There are compartments all over for carrying your laptop or tablet, money, keys, books, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, gadgets and charging cords. The main inside compartment even has vertical file compartments to keep everything even more organized. The Swiss Gear SA 1923 Scan Smart comes in black and retails for $50.