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Best Middle School Backpack: Essential Guide For Kids

Save yourself the headache of combing through website after website(or store after store) to find the perfect middle school backpack for your middle schooler. Your child is sure to find something they love on this list of the best middle school backpacks!

Choosing the perfect Backpack for Middle School can be a daunting task, especially when you consider the wide array of choices available in the market (have you SEEN all the options lately? 😲). However, it is essential to find a backpack that not only suits your child’s style preferences but provides essential practical needs, such as durability, organization, and comfort.

But choosing the right backpack for middle school students is different than picking one for elementary school students, high school students, or college students because their needs are different.

That’s why I’ve done all the work for you! I recently had to buy a Middle School Backpack for my son, so I’ve logged the hours going through all the options. Ready to see the best of the best backpacks for middle school (and which one I bought)?

Choosing The Right Backpack

There are a few things to look for to ensure you’re meeting your kids’ needs AND providing something they like!

Comfort Features

When selecting a backpack for middle school, comfort should be a priority because it’s the first time your kids will likely be carrying heavy loads. Look for features such as padded shoulder straps and adjustable straps that allow for a proper fit.

Ergonomic padding on the back of the backpack will provide additional support and help alleviate pressure on your child’s shoulders and lower back.

Appropriate Size

A backpack that is too large or too small can cause discomfort – and even lead to back problems long-term. As you think about the size that you need you need to buy, consider the supplies and items your child will need to carry daily, such as:

  • Laptops
  • Textbooks
  • Notebooks
  • Art supplies

Ensure the backpack is spacious enough to accommodate these items, but not so large that it becomes cumbersome.

Organization and Compartments

Middle school is a springboard to high school, which means that middle schoolers are expected to keep track of more items and do it in an organized way. A well-organized backpack can make locating and accessing items easier for your child.

Look for features such as:

  • Laptop compartment: If your child needs to bring a laptop to school, a dedicated, padded laptop compartment will provide added protection.
  • Water bottle pocket: A designated water bottle pocket can keep them hydrated without risking spills on school supplies.
  • Multiple compartments and pockets: Pockets, pockets, pockets! They’re essential! These will help your child keep their belongings organized and easy to find.

Safety Considerations

Safety is important when choosing a backpack. Select a backpack made from water-resistant materials to protect their belongings from unexpected spills or rain.

Additionally, reflective materials or accents can help increase visibility during early morning or evening commutes.

In most areas of my life, I’m not super brand loyal, but when it comes to items like backpacks, I AM because I’ve learned the difference between quality and junk (and I don’t have the budget OR time for junk).

Swiss Gear

When it comes to backpacks for middle school, Swiss Gear is a brand that you can trust. With its HUGE range of designs and colors, there’s something for everyone.

Swiss Gear backpacks are known for their quality, durability, and style. Their bags offer padded straps and backs for comfort, as well as organizational compartments and pockets to keep your things organized.


JanSport is another popular choice (and one of my favs) for middle school backpacks. They have been a household name for years, offering affordable, reliable, and stylish backpacks.

JanSport backpacks come in various sizes, designs, and colors, ensuring that every student finds a backpack that suits their taste. With their sturdy construction and padded straps, JanSport backpacks are practical for daily use.

The North Face

The North Face is a brand synonymous with outdoor gear, and their backpacks are no exception. Designed for durability and function, backpacks from The North Face are perfect for middle school students who need a comfortable bag that can withstand hardcore daily wear and tear.

Aside from ample storage space and compartments, you can count on their backpacks to feature padded shoulder straps and back panels for increased comfort.


L.L.Bean is a well-respected brand known for durable and functional backpacks (and my general TOP choice). Perfect for middle school students, L.L.Bean backpacks come in various sizes, styles, and colors.

Their backpacks offer padded straps and back panels, providing comfort throughout the day. With multiple compartments and rugged materials, these backpacks can handle daily use with ease.

Preparing for the School Year

Middle School Backpack For Packing Essentials

As your child gets ready for the new middle school year, their backpack will be their new appendage. Here’s a list of necessities to include in your backpack:

  • Notebooks or binders for each class
  • Folders for organizing handouts and assignments
  • Pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, etc.
  • Tablet or laptop sleeve
  • A planner or agenda to keep track of assignments, tests, and important dates

Adapting the Backpack for Different Situations

Your child’s middle school backpack should also be adaptable for various situations throughout the year.

In middle school, your kiddo will likely be carrying several books to and from class, so ensuring the backpack has strong straps and a comfortable, padded back panel may also help distribute the weight evenly, reducing the risk of strain or injury.

Weather and Durability

Consider the weather and durability of the bag. If you live in a zone with frequent rainy or stormy weather, look for a backpack with a water-resistant design to help to protect belongings from getting wet and ensure that they stay safe during your commute to school.

Lightweight, water-resistant materials, such as polyester and nylon, are commonly used in backpacks because they’re durable and protective.

Here are some key features to consider for weather resistance and durability:

  • Water-resistant fabric: Look for materials like polyester or nylon that can withstand a light drizzle or some splashes without getting soaked through.
  • Protected zippers: Ensure the backpack’s zippers are covered or use waterproof material to prevent water penetration.
  • Water-resistant base: A reinforced base made of water-resistant materials can help prevent water from seeping into the bottom of the bag when you set it down.

Backpacks made with strong stitching, reinforced seams, and sturdy straps can hold up better under the weight of schoolbooks and supplies. Durability is essential in a middle school backpack, as replacing them frequently can be a hassle and cost more in the long run.

Adding a Personal Touch

When it comes to choosing a middle school backpack, adding a personal touch can really help your child express their unique style. There are plenty of ways to personalize a backpack, and here are a few ideas to consider.

One popular option is to select a bag with a variety of color options. Picking your child’s favorite color, or a combination of colors, can make their backpack stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, they’ll be more likely to enjoy using the bag if it reflects their preferred aesthetic.

Another great way to make a backpack truly unique is by choosing themed backpacks. These backpacks can feature sports or even characters from their favorite movies, TV shows, or even books. Themed backpacks not only offer a personal touch but also serve as conversation starters among new classmates.

Additional ways to add a personal touch to your backpack include:

  • Decorative keychains or charms: Attaching small, eye-catching accessories to the bag’s zippers or handle can showcase personality and interests.
  • Personalized patches or pins: Adding patches representing hobbies, favorite bands, or sports teams can help reflect your child’s passions.
  • DIY customization: Encourage your child to paint or draw their own designs directly onto the backpack, or consider using fabric markers, paint pens, or iron-on decals to add distinctive artwork.

Top Middle School Backpack Options

Are you looking for some specific backpacks that middle schoolers will love? Check out these proven and durable middle school backpacks.

1. L.L. Bean Explorer Backpack

Aptly named, the Explorer backpack is a super versatile pack for school and all the other places kids are headed! It includes weatherproof nylon and adjustable shoulder straps.

You’ll also find a front organizer pocket with pencil slots and a key clip to keep important items in easy reach and help your middle schooler stay organized.

Here are other features I like:

  • Cost: $49.95
  • Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.
  • Dimensions: 16½ x 12¼ x 8 inches
  • Separate laptop compartment
  • Dual mesh water-bottle pockets
  • Rugged, reliable YKK zippers

2. Eastsport Oversized Expandable Backpack

This is the ultimate multi-purpose backpack for superior organization. Zip-around expandability up to 2.5″ makes fitting all your essentials easier, and a 15″ laptop/tablet interior secure sleeve protects your devices on the go.

Plus, the Eastsport Limited Lifetime Guarantee lets you rest safe knowing we stand behind the quality of our products for life. Here are other great features:

  • 4.5 stars with 1100+ reviews
  • Cost: $34.99
  • Dimensions: 18 x 13.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • 6 separate compartments and 3 interior pockets allow for ultimate organization
  • HeatEscape padded mesh back ventilation system your child stays cool
  • Base zip compartment with removable EasyWash bag lets you separate the smart way

3. Asge Middle School Backpack

This fun backpack is perfect for those middle schoolers who want to add a touch of personalization. It’s water-resistant, doesn’t fade, and has an ergonomic design. Here are features that make this one of my top middle school backpacks:

  • 4.6 stars with 16K reviews
  • Cost: $24.99
  • Dimensions: 2.48 x 4.65 x 6.51 inches
  • Weight: 1.32 pounds
  • Large multi-compartment design with dedicated tech spot tablet sleeve and mesh beverage pockets
  • Premium organizer with multiple pockets and key fob
  • Yoke-style, S-shaped mesh padded shoulder straps with Suspension System
  • Adjustable side compression straps

4. HIDDS Laptop Backpack

Here’s another fun option that has built-in personalization. It’s available in several colors and offers waterproof protection and lightweight nylon fabric. It also has a fluffy ball key pendant and personality badge.

  • 4.7 stars with 3K reviews
  • Cost: $42.98
  • Dimensions: 13.8 x 7.5 x 17.8 inches
  • Weight: 1.65 LB.
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • S-shape shoulder straps for comfort
  • 5 separate different-size pockets and two side pockets
  • Anti-theft back zipper pocket can put phone, wallet, or other important items

5. L.L. Bean Deluxe Backpack

This backpack has everything your middle schooler needs! It’s comfy, roomy, has a laptop sleeve, and has tons of pockets to keep your child organized – plus, the quality is unparalleled! Get your child ready for the new school year (or trip) with this middle school backpack.

It’s loaded – and I do mean loaded. Here are a few of the features I Love:

  • Cost: $54.99
  • Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs 6 oz
  • Internal file divider for easy organization.
  • Fleece-lined interior tech pocket with built-in cord port.
  • Reinforced bottom for extra durability.
  • Padded back panel and lumbar support for all-day comfort.
  • Padded, adjustable, ergonomically curved straps.
  • Dual main compartments with organizer panel that keeps things handy.
  • Storm flaps keep weather out but won’t snag on zippers.
  • Heavy-duty zippers with easy-to-grip pulls.

6. Rcrirth Middle School Backpack

This is a classic backpack with just enough flair to make it stand out in all the right ways.

  • 4.7 stars
  • Cost: $19.99
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 9.8 x 15.7 inches
  • Weight: 1.23 lbs
  • Machine Washable
  • Multiple Compartments & Lightweight
  • Smooth SBS zipper, easy to clean, and anti-friction.
  • A hidden pocket (7 X 5.5 inches) on the back of the mochila para niñas can protect a phone, passport, or bank card from theft.

7. JanSport Backpack

Simple, classic, durable, and reliable. These are staples of the JanSport name and important reasons why this makes my list of the top middle school backpacks. Seriously, this isn’t just a good backpack – it’s a great one!

Here are a few more features I love:

  • 4.8 stars with 2500+ reviews
  • Cost: $59.99
  • Dimensions: 13 x 17.5 x 10 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
  • 2 main compartments for books and supplies
  • Padded 15-inch laptop sleeve
  • Synthetic leather bottom and trim for added detail and elegance
  • Water bottle pocket, a front utility pocket with an organizer, ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps, and a padded back panel.

8. JiaYou Geometric Printed Middle School Backpack

The QUALITY is unmatched by any we have ever owned. The strong fabric, extra cushy padded areas, lots of compartments, and heavy-duty zippers make cute backpacks like this one a no-brainer.

  • 4.6 stars with 4,300+ reviews
  • Cost: $21.80
  • Dimensions: 18.89 x 12.99 x 9.45 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
  • High end and durable water-resistant polyester
  • Main compartment fits standard-size books or folders without bending corners
  • Multiple sizes to find the perfect fit for your child
  • Laptop sleeve

9. Eastsport Heavy Duty Backpack For Middle School

Comfort straps, water-resistant material, large main compartment, and multiple pockets with an ample amount of storage capacity for school essentials are just a few reasons to love this middle school backpack. And if that’s not enough, it’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty

Here’s more to love:

  • 4.6 stars with 1,500+ reviews
  • Cost: $29.99
  • Dimensions: 9 x 14 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
  • Laptop sleeve with quick access Velcro pocket in the front.
  • Dozens of colors and patterns for your child to find the perfect bag!
  • Plenty of pockets in a stylish backpack

10. ProEtrade Middle School Backpack

I love this middle schooler backpack for a lot of reasons! This bag has staying power! It can take a beating and still look great.

  • 4.7 stars with 2,600+ reviews
  • Cost: $29.99
  • Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs
  • Large capacity multiple compartments to keep your middle schooler organized and hold all those school books
  • USB charging port with built-in charging cable
  • Anti-theft hidden back pocket
  • Ergonomic s-curved shoulder straps and breathable mesh
  • Different colors to choose from

11. Paude Middle School Backpack

The Paude name means you can rest assured that this middle school backpack is sturdy, durable, comfortable, and decked out with practical features. Here are a few reasons I love this backpack:

  • 4.6 stars with 2,600+ reviews
  • Cost: $29.99
  • Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs
  • Multiple zipper pockets with plenty of room for everything your kiddo needs during the school day
  • Special pocket for storing powerbank that won’t disconnect on bumps
  • Waterproof polyester, scratch-resistant

12. FLYMEI Anime Luminous Backpack

Does your middle schooler like anime? If so, this high-quality, water-resistant backpack is the perfect fit!

  • 4.6 stars with 3,200+ reviews
  • Cost: $25.99
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 11.8 x 17.7 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • USB charging port
  • Durable and easy to clean
  • Anti-theft lock to protect phone, wallet, or other valuables
  • 2 side mesh pockets for water bottles, etc.

13. Under Armour Unisex Hustle 5.0 Backpack

If you have a middle schooler who is an athlete or sports lover, this backpack will fit their needs for athletic bags. Pack everything they need for school AND sports.

  • 4.8 stars with 14K+ reviews
  • Cost: $41.25
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs
  • 100% Polyester
  • Large, gusseted front laundry/shoe pocket placed at bottom of the bag
  • Two side water bottle pockets
  • Machine Wash

14. Volher Anti-Theft Slim Laptop Backpack For Middle School

If your kiddo doesn’t need a large backpack, this one is a great choice. It has enough room for essentials without being over the top. Plus, there are several colors to choose from as well as 2 size options if your middle schooler needs something bigger.

  • 4.6 stars, 26K+ reviews
  • Cost: $23.83
  • Dimensions: 13 x 18 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Mesh pockets water bottle holder on each side
  • Hidden anti-theft pocket on the back to protect valuables
  • Water-resistant polyester fabric
  • Built-in USB charger and charging cable

15. Della Gao Travel Laptop Backpack

With a simple design and several color options (size options, too!), this is one of the best backpacks for middle school. It’s perfect for kids who tend to get overwhelmed by too many bells and whistles but still has all the practical features they need.

  • 4.6 stars with 16K+ reviews
  • Cost: $34.19
  • Dimensions: ‎12.5 x 19.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Weight: 1.63 lbs
  • Tear and water-resistant polyester fabric
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Theft-proof combination lock
  • Built-in USB charger with charging cable

16. VIDOSCLA Color-blocking Sports Middle School Backpack

This backpack for middle schoolers is simple and also highly packed with all the features that kids need. And it’s got super fun color blocking that middle schoolers (who have outgrown characters and designs) love.

Here are other reasons to love this school bag:

  • 4.5 stars with 2600 reviews
  • Cost: $23.80
  • Dimensions: ‎12.6 x 7.48 x 18.11 inches
  • Weight: 1.43 lbs
  • Water-resistant, environmentally-friendly, stain-resistant, durable nylon material
  • Thick, adjustable shoulder straps for comfort
  • Simple design with enough pockets to stay organized

17. SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Bag

I’m a HUGE SwissGear fan and have had their backpacks before. In fact, I had a backpack similar to this one for more than 10 years. It took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’ with heavy use for a decade! Yeah, I LOVE these backpacks, and the more expensive price is completely worth it if it saves the cost and hassle of buying even 3 backpacks (which it will).

  • 4.7 stars with 2400 reviews
  • Cost: $129.99
  • Dimensions: ‎7 x 11.5 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Effortless organization means a built-in essentials organizer for items like chargers, cords, and everything else.
  • Quick pocket access and organization
  • Roomy main compartment as well as smaller pockets
  • Comfortable design
  • ScanSmart Secure Storage with a TSA-friendly lay-flat, padded compartment  – this is one of the best laptop backpacks!

18. High Sierra Access 2.0 Laptop Backpack

I highly trust High Sierra’s backpacks. We’ve had good experiences with them, and I love not only their durability but also their design. It’s a no-brainer for my middle child because the design practically organizes the unorganizable, and he needs that!

  • 4.5 stars with 1000+ reviews
  • Cost: $64.99
  • Dimensions: ‎20.2 x 15 x 7.6 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Multiple compartments, including a media pocket (with headphone port) for organizing all essentials
  • Smaller front pocket and tons of zip pockets

Which Middle School Backpack Did I Buy?

Well, here’s the thing. With my oldest son, I went with the SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Bag because he needed the space and wanted the tech features. However, for my middle son, I recently bought the High Sierra Access 2.0 Laptop Backpack because he needs that help with organization – and he liked the design better!

And either one of these can carry my kids through high school!

Now that we have our new backpack, we’re just about ready to go back to school! Whew!

Which of these middle school backpacks catches your eye?

More school-related resources you’ll love

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  • Free Back To School Coloring Pages

The post Best Middle School Backpack: Essential Guide For Kids appeared first on Made In A Pinch.

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Best Middle School Backpack: Essential Guide For Kids


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