Packing It Up: The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Bags for Kids

As kids head back to school, one essential purchase on every parent’s list is new bags. Whether it’s their first backpack for kindergarten or selecting a stylish messenger bag for middle school, having a quality, well-fitted bag is critical for kids to comfortably transport their school books, electronics, sports gear and other daily necessities.

With so many kids’ bag styles and features available today, it can be tricky to choose the right backpack, messenger bag, lunch box or diaper bag for your child. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover recommended bag types by age, what to look for when selecting kids’ bags, safety tips, and frequently asked questions. Let’s delve into how to pick the perfect kids’ bags for every stage!

Popular Types of Bags for Kids

Here is an overview of the main categories of bags and carrying cases for children:


The quintessential school bag, backpacks are the most common type of carry case for kids. Available in different sizes, they distribute weight across both shoulders for comfort. Standard backpacks work well for elementary aged students, while more stylish and technical versions appeal to teens.

Messenger Bags

Messenger bags are carried across the body by one strap, ideal for middle school and high school students lugging heavier books and gear. They offer quick access to items and reflect more adult, sophisticated style.

Wheeled Backpacks

Wheeled backpacks can be rolled behind on wheels to avoid carrying weight on shoulders. They work best for bigger kids dealing with very heavy loads. Wheeled bags still have backpack straps for maneuvering stairs.

Totes and Drawstring Bags

Casual tote bags that carry by hand or a shoulder strap are good for pool trips, sleepovers, or lighter loads. Drawstring bags are sporty and cinch closed. Totes suit younger kids under age 8.

Lunch Boxes

To transport their midday meal, kids need a roomy lunch box or bag with sections to separate food. Insulated boxes keep items cool and many have matching water bottles. Soft lunch bags are lighter.

Diaper Bags

Specially designed diaper bags hold all a baby’s needs – diapers, wipes, bottles, changes of clothes, toys, etc. They have individual compartments and pockets for organization. Backpack-style diaper bags allow hands-free carrying.

Consider your child’s age, use cases and school requirements when choosing which type of bag suits them best. Keep reading for tips on selecting the most appropriate kids’ bags by age group.

How to Choose the Right Backpack for Your Child

For most elementary and middle school kids, a well-fitting backpack is the best choice for transporting school items. Follow these tips for picking the optimal backpack:

  • Measure torso – Have child stand straight against a wall and measure from neck to waist. Compare to backpack size charts to get ideal height.
  • Determine capacity – Estimate what they will carry – lunch, school supplies, electronics, gear, etc. Choose a backpack that holds contents without overstuffing.
  • Select preferences – Involve kids in picking colors, patterns and character prints they love to promote pride in their bag.
  • Consider weight – Fully packed, backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s body weight. Scale up to larger sizes if needed to avoid overweighting small frames.
  • Padded straps – Cushioned shoulder straps prevent digging and rubbing for comfortable carrying.
  • Waist and sternum straps – Stabilizing straps distribute weight across shoulders, back and hips when cinched.
  • Breathable back panel – Allows airflow to prevent perspiration buildup when pressed against back.
  • Compartments – Separate sections keep gear organized. Quick stash pockets are useful too.

Backpacks come in both youth and adult sizing. Measure your growing child against size charts each year to ensure a supportive bag that distributes weight properly without being overlarge.

Must-Have Features for All Kids’ Bags

When evaluating any type of bag for your kids from backpacks to totes, look for these ideal features:

  • Durable yet lightweight materials – Bags made of ripstop polyester or nylon withstand daily use while keeping weight manageable when carried. Reinforced bottoms add longevity.
  • Water-resistant coating – Helps repel light rain or spills to keep kids’ belongings protected inside their bag.
  • Reflective elements – Reflective strips, zippers or patches improve visibility in low light conditions. Safety first!
  • External attachment points – Allows bags to clip on things like water bottles, keys or helmet. Eliminates handling multiple loose items.
  • Reinforced seams – Double stitching along stress points makes bags more tear-resistant when loaded up and toted around.
  • Adjustable straps – Shoulder, sternum and waist straps that can be tightened or loosened accommodate growing kids. Ensure proper fit.
  • Interior organization – Pockets and compartments keep gear tidy so kids can easily locate items. Labels helpidentify sections.

By evaluating quality of materials, construction and smart features when purchasing kids’ bags, you ensure they have carry cases built to last through every school year.

Safety Tips for Outfitting Kids with Bags

While bags are indispensable for students, be sure to keep safety in mind with these practices:

  • Select bright colors – Bags in hues like yellow or orange have high visibility. Add reflectors too.
  • Use sternum strap – Clip together the chest strap on backpacks to stabilize the load.
  • Don’t overstuff – Bag should close easily without bulging to keep weight reasonable.
  • Pack thoughtfully – Heaviest items go next to back. Lunch boxes/water bottles in exterior pockets.
  • Supervise wearing – Help younger kids get arms properly through straps and lift/wear correctly. Tighten straps for a snug fit against the back.
  • Check positioning – Ensuring backpack doesn’t block view allows kids to see their surroundings.
  • Replace worn bags – Inspect bags for damage regularly and obtain new ones if overly worn out. Fraying straps need prompt replacement for safety.

With close supervision and safe backpack habits instilled early, you’ll keep your child comfortable and injury-free even when loaded down with their daily gear.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kids’ Bags

Here are some commonly asked questions about selecting and using bags for children:

How heavy should a child’s loaded backpack be?
Aim for less than 10% of their body weight. So a 60 pound child should carry no more than a 6 pound loaded bag.

What age are messenger bags appropriate for?
Messenger bags work well for ages 11+ when kids are more independent and dealing with heavier middle/high school loads.

Should preschool kids have backpacks with straps or backpack totes?
Small backpack totes without shoulder straps are best for ages 3-5. Introduce small, light backpacks around age 6 once independent enough to wear straps properly.

How do I clean kids’ bags and lunch boxes?
Wipe exterior with mild soap and water. For lunch boxes, remove liner and wash separately with warm soapy water. Air dry bags thoroughly.

When should I transition from an infant diaper bag to a toddler backpack?
Around 18-24 months, a child has enough independence to carry a small toddler backpack. Diaper bags work better for babies under 1.

Should students carry backpacks over one or two shoulders?
Two shoulder straps properly distributes weight across back and shoulders. One shoulder causes muscle strain. Enforce use of both straps.

How often should I replace worn kids’ bags and lunch boxes?
Plan to purchase updated school bags and lunch boxes about every 2 years as kids grow and bags show wear. Replace immediately if damaged.

Outfit Your Child for School Success

I hope this comprehensive guide has helped illustrate the range of excellent kids’ bags available today and how to select the most appropriate backpack, messenger bag, lunch box or diaper bag to match your child’s unique needs.

As they say, the right tool for the job makes all the difference. Ensure your student has a properly fitted quality bag to comfortably transport their classroom necessities, healthy lunch, sports equipment and other daily essentials. A bag that’s sized right, durable, comfortable to carry and organized enables kids to focus on what matters – learning and fun!

Some key takeaways for picking perfect kids’ bags:

  • Involve your child in choosing stylish bags they love
  • Measure your growing child against sizing charts yearly for ideal fit
  • Select bags with padded straps, ventilation and multiple compartments
  • Keep safety top of mind by not overloading bags and reinforcing use of chest clips
  • Practice proper lifting, wearing and loading of school bags

With the backpack prepared and lunch box packed, you’ve done your part in setting your kid up for success. Here’s to a productive year ahead!

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