Back to school season is pretty much the same year over year. There are a few exceptions, like your kid’s first day or the start of your grade twelve year, but for the most part, each school year is about the same. I always found a lot of comfort in the repetitive nature of back to school season, and little decisions (like choosing a great school backpack) helped get me in the right mindset to tackle a busy schedule starting in September.
Every August until you graduate is pretty much the same. For K-12 students, you clean your backpacks; sort your folders; pick your pens. I remember putting so much thought into which colours would be for which subjects each year in elementary school. My backpacks would last me years, but I struggled for ages between choosing blue or black ink. (I went with blue, but as soon as my favourite Bic Round Stic Grip blue pens were reformulated into a brighter, smoother blue, I was done with blue altogether. Haven’t used it since!)
What to consider in a school backpack for K-12
If your child is still in grade school, there’s a good likelihood that they’ll actually be carrying more than a college student. Without the ability to set their own schedule, they may have more subjects per day, and they’re likely to have more take-home projects to deal with. Add in things like workbooks, dictionaries, and school-issued tablets, and you have one heavy bag!
A really simple day pack like the JanSport Black Label SuperBreak Day Backpack is a great place to start for a younger kid. JanSport’s school backpacks come in a variety of sizes and bold prints, which let your kid stick to one model of bag for a long time. It’s easy to buy a new print or size as their needs change (or their bags get worn out) without changing their entire routine. The SuperBreak basic line doesn’t have a laptop section, so you get more space for large objects inside.
I love a roomy backpack for grade school things because, for the most part, they aren’t going to be carrying a lot of technology to school. Instead, the extra space gets put to good use on a daily basis for lunch bags or snack pouches. Transitioning from a proper, insulated lunch bag is an oddly big deal for some kids—it’s sort of the transition between “I made you lunch!” and “you’re grown up now; it’s your job to make yourself a sandwich.”
(What I wouldn’t give to still have my lunches made for me. Kids really have no idea how good they’ve got it!)
Pick a school backpack technology that works for you
Backpacks haven’t changed a lot over the last 20 years, but a few of their new technologies have been updated. Many designs offer additional pockets, even for basic bags—like the JanSport Big Student 15′ Laptop Day Backpack. The Big Student bag is made with 600 denier polyester, offering more durability and less creasing than an old-style canvas bag. It also offers features like additional front zippered pockets, S-curve shoulder straps for extra comfort, and a super-secure web haul handle.
Your kid growing out of the prints offered in the Big Student or SuperBreak lines is a good indication that it’s time to upgrade to a backpack with a laptop section. Even if your child isn’t using a laptop in school just yet, having the option for one lets them bring their laptop or tablet to a friend’s house to do homework, or transition their school backpack into a college bag in the future.
The JanSport Originals Right Pack 15′ Laptop Day Backpack is an easy way to transition from a basic, big-compartment backpack into something a little more organized. It has the same front-organizer design that you’re used to, with extra padding and a light, nylon separator for a laptop in its case. The prints offered in the Right Pack are a little more “grown up” than what JanSport offers in their SuperBreak school backpacks, with a hefty 31L capacity.
For laptops that double as lunch bags, look to durable fabrics and soft-foam cushioning for a bag that you can wash and hang to dry before each semester. It helps keep any funky smells at bay, and most bags wash easily on the delicate cycle in cold water.
Laptop backpacks for back to school
Once your educational twilight years are upon you, it’s likely that you (or your kid) will have to start taking a laptop to school every day. Stylish models like the Kenneth Cole Silky Poly 15′ Laptop Day Backpack provide a trendy option both inside and out, with a small capacity that helps keep a transit-ready profile.
If you have style concerns or transit size worries, a smaller bag is a great direction to go with: they’re easy to tuck away on your lap during a long train ride, but are still designed to hold the basics. The Silky Poly has the extra benefit of a trolley tunnel—meaning that it’s a breeze to carry through an airport on top of your carry-on luggage. (Even better for regular commuters, or those who travel for school conferences!)
For a little more space, bags like The North Face Vault 15′ Laptop Day Backpack offer comfort in conjunction with a large interior pocket. The Vault collection gives you more space as a student (a must-have if you’re carrying something like a lab coat around), and the extra technology found in their Day Backpack is a removable sternum strap. Anyone who’s carried 15 lbs back and forth on a five block campus will know: sternum straps are the way to go! They’re not as good as sternum straps and waist straps, but they’re definitely a huge step up from just padded shoulder straps.
Double-duty school backpacks for travel
Finally, one last option is something like the Timberland Mendum Pond Large Bungee 15′ Laptop Day Backpack. The Mendum is a roomy 28L—with an integrated TSA lock. Like the Kenneth Cole Silky Poly, the Timberland Mendum is a great pick for travel. Unlike the Silky Poly, however, it’s designed for outdoor use beyond the classroom. Its water-resistant polyester construction helps keep your school notes as dry as possible, and the reflective Timberland logo helps keeps students safe while hiking or while walking home.
School backpacks are a great way to keep your belongings organized, whether or not you’re still in school. A great backpack can take your kid from K-12, and an easy transition to a fresh model can take them to university and beyond.
Shop school backpacks online at Best Buy.