The PSP Shopping List: Backpacks for Little Ones

In the early schooling years, kids need a backpack that can fit schoolwork and snacks without slipping off their little shoulders. Check out PSP member-approved backpacks below—and if you’re not a member of Park Slope Parents, join us to connect with a community that will share their wisdom from the expectant months all the way through the college years!

PSP may receive small amounts of compensation for purchases made through affiliate links in this post. We are a community-supported site, and we include these products because they've received positive reviews from our members.

One parent asked their Pre-K group…

“Curious what types of backpacks people are sending their 4 yr olds to school with next year. At my daughters pre k registration, I was asked to send her with a full sized backpack (not a little kids size). Seems strange to me as she’s not going to be carrying any books, and she is tiny and wouldn’t actually be able to wear a full sized backpack. So, perhaps we need to size up from what she has now, but I’m going to send her with something that fits her body. Would love any recommendations!”


Members recommended…

Opt for a full-size backpack:

“Pre-K teacher here. Cannot stress how important it is to have a full size book bag. Every Friday, the students are going home with a crib sheet and a blanket. Some days they're going home with the change of clothing in there as well. And then there's their folder and their lunch box too. Pre-K kids need the biggest backpacks of all. When the backpack is too small, the stuff cannot fit in it and the belongings  have to be squished in with force by an adult, because it's that small that a child cannot independently pack their own bag. The roomier the bag, the more independent the child can be with packing up their own stuff.”


“They likely want to be able to fit a full size folder to be able to send papers and art back and forth, a lot of the smaller bags don’t fit a regular folder.  Then potentially also a lunch box, water bottle, nap sheets, and a sweatshirt.

A lot of brands make different sizes so you can get a bigger child’s bag that’s smaller than an adult backpack but still fits all the needed supplies.”


L.L. Bean Junior Original Book Pack, 16L (print and solid)

“We’re fans of the LL Bean Original Backpack Junior (16L), which is a great size for our 4 year old twins, lightweight, durable, and comfortable. And it stays on their shoulders, which other backpacks didn’t do.”

“My daughter has been using this one for 3K to bring in a lunch box and water bottle. It’s big, but not too heavy, and I’m hoping we’ll get a few more years out of it!”

"We went with this one from ll bean. He's been using it since 2 and half. It looks a little big but it should last a long while."

"My child used this child's backpack from LL Bean. It held enough stuff but didn't overwhelm my child in terms of size.

Bonus: This backpack lasted many many years!! Several other children's backpacks are poorly made and maybe last a few months."


Wildkin Backpack (12-inch or 15-inch)


“It's because the tiny backpacks don't fit their folders. Definitely don't get a tiny bag. The kids come home every day with notices and things in their folders. They're like little couriers. The Wildkin bookbags fit the folders and aren't too big on the body.”


State Kane Kids Mini

state kane

“Our kiddo has been loving the STATE Kane Kids Mini we purchased for his 3s program--they have tons of fun prints! We'll continue using it through pre-k.”


Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack

pottery barn

“Pottery Barn backpacks have been my go-to for the littles because they have the chest clip and come in a smaller size that's still big enough for a school folder. The "mini" size is too small for PreK, but the "small" size is great. And they are seemingly indestructible. (The Mackenzie style, anyway. We tried another style one year and it wasn't as sturdy.)”


Mountaintop Kids Backpacks

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"We also have the MountainTop for both kids and my daughter’s is still in good shape after wearing it for 2 years and several washes. She’s 4.5 and may need a bigger bag for kindergarten, but it’s the perfect size for many 2 to 4-year-olds."