Best Backpacks for Back to School

Published April 29, 2010 | Updated August 7, 2015

Buying a new backpack is one of the best parts of back-to-school shopping. A backpack can show off your personal interests or act as a fashion statement. It can house a collection of new school supplies, hold a stash of snacks, and maybe even keep homework organized. Before you choose a new backpack for the beginning of the school year, learn more about the options available.

Backpacks for School:

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  • Traditional Backpack

    There's a reason traditional double-strap backpacks are so popular. They have plenty of space for school supplies, textbooks, and equipment you may need for extracurricular activities; plus, they're comfortable and hassle-free. Traditional backpacks will let you stay on campus for studying, club meetings, and late classes with all the things you need to make it through a long school day. Backpacks like these are also popular because they are versatile. You can use one for a day hike or an overnighter as well as for school. Traditional backpacks come in many different materials, from nylon to leather.

  • Messenger Bag

    Messenger bags aren't just trendy, they're convenient as well. Messenger bags are perfect if you pack light around campus. These bags pack quickly and are easily slung over your shoulder as you hurry to class. The only downside to messenger bags is that they put all the weight on one shoulder rather than distributing it evenly like a traditional backpack. They may not be the best option if you need to carry several large textbooks or other heavy items.

  • Rolling Backpack

    Rolling backpacks are gaining popularity on campuses due largely to the convenience they provide. For students with large amounts of supplies and a number of heavy books, there's no better type of backpack. Like wheeled luggage, rolling backpacks allow you to pull your stuff behind you, reducing the strain in your shoulders and back. Many rolling backpacks have handles that can be retracted into the frame so you can carry your rolling backpack like a traditional one. This is handy when the bag is light or when rolling would not be convenient.

  • Sling Bag

    A smaller version of a messenger bag, a sling bag will let you carry a smaller load of supplies and books with a strap that angles across your body. Like messenger bags, these are excellent for people who ride bikes, skateboards, or scooters to school. If you only have a couple classes to pack for each day, for example, you can give your back a break and choose a smaller bag like this one.

  • Drawstring Backpack

    A soft drawstring backpack may not be large enough to hold your binder, pencil case, and textbooks all at once, but it's the perfect size for bringing your athletic clothes for an after-school sport. They're often styled with sports themes, although they come in all kinds of fashionable patterns and colors. This is another bag that's great for days when you don't have many classes.