When we put together our picks for the coolest backpacks for preschool and kindergarten each year, we think about how exciting it is for little ones to pick what may likely be their very first school gear ever. They seriously geek out overall school supplies of course, but there’s something extra-special about that backpack — the one piece of gear that really epitomizes “I’m a big kid now.”
For those kids who are headed to preschool or kindergarten for the first time this year, their first backpack is really special. So we’ve worked hard to seek out more than a dozen of the coolest backpacks for preschool and kindergarten — all mall in size, but big on the wow factor.
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Updated for 2022
Related: Which lunch boxes and bags hold up the best? Here’s our five picks.
15 cool backpacks for preschool and kindergarten that we love
Graffiti toddler backpack ($28 on sale, soyoung)
Long one of our favorite back-to-school brands for making sturdy, incredibly well-made, beautifully designed coated canvas bags and backpacks, this print is perfect for the kid who’s destined for skateboarding fame.
PS you can find a selection of SoYoung lunchboxes right on Amazon — we’ve named them one our 5 top, more durable lunchboxes of all time.
Chibi Marvel backpack ($44.90, Hot Topic)
This is such a new style it’s just starting to ship so order quickly! secretly want this Marvel backpack for myself — the cute chibi illustrations of all their favorite Avengers is wonderful. But the fact that it wipes down so easily makes it perfect for your messy littlest kid too.
How to Train Your Dragon mini backpack (544.90, Hot Topic)
How can this backpack for preschool not make you smile? If you have a How to Train Your Dragon fan at home (as do we all), this split backpack is wonderful.
Related: The coolest lunch box accessories, water bottles, and other goodies to make school lunch more fun
Dabbawalla neoprene backpacks
(Each $40, Maisonette)
Dabbawalla makes some of our favorite backpacks for preschool and kindergarten — they’re one of our top rated brands of all the backpacks and lunch boxes we try each year. The size is perfect, and the neoprene can take a beating and then clean up beautifully in the wash. They have lots of fun styles beyond what’s here!
Official Wakanda Forever Black Panther backpack ($29.99, Disney Store)
With this week’s San Diego ComicCon release of the first Wakanda Forever trailer, I imagine this Wakanda Forever backpack is going to be one hot ticket. You want a legit one instead of a knock-off? I’d say grab this stat.
Mini Wings Backpack ($40 on sale, by 7AM Enfant on Amazon)
This cool backpack for preschool and kindergarten is so popular with our team, it’s even one of our list of cool birthday gifts for 4-year-olds.
Star Wars Comic Art Backpack ($29.99, Disney Store)
We’ve seen our share of Star Wars backpacks for little kids over the year, but I think Little Jedis are perfectly suited to this comic art Star Wars backpack for preschool, kindergarten and early grades. Even Darth Vader seems…kind of supportive?
Related: Free printables for kindergarten to help them get started on site words
Small reflective gray camo backpack ($54.50+, Pottery Barn Kids with optional personalization)
Another pick for durability plus coolness, the small backpacks are perfect for kids who need to bring a small lunch, water bottle, maybe a change of shorts. As long as they can find it each morning. (Ha, get it? It’s camouflage!)
Related: 12 smart personalized label ideas for back to school, from a label-obsessed mom
CAMP Core Canvas Backpack ($34.95, Camp)
If you’ve ever spent some time in one of CAMP’s fun little stores, you know how great their products are — and how much our kids love them. This brand new duffel-style canvas bag is durable with loads of retro-fun. What great colors!
Metallic Mini Kane backpacks ($95, State)
I wasted way too much time clicking through all the cool backpacks at State, but ultimately the metallic versions were one of my top choices. Yes it’s expensive, but for stylish kids, it’s a winner and built to last. The mismatched straps are just so fun.
Be sure to poke around for dinosaurs, tie-dye, rainbow hearts and more.
State Bags Wiggly Puffer Backpack ($95, State)
Oh okay, one more from State. I think this modern take on the puffer bag is wonderful — and so will your kids. in Pre-K through third grade.
Kids Shark Checkered Backpack ($60, OMG Accessories at Nordstrom)
If you need backpacks for preschool or kindergarten that get a little bigger than the minis, this style can pack a lot of bite…in the best way. If your kids say not to baby sharks (doo doo doo doo) or baby kittens, this might be more their style.
Related: 7 great books to help your child transition to kindergarten
Skip*Hop Koala Big Kid Backpack ($27.99, Amazon)
We have loved the teensy Skip Hop preschool backpacks for years, but it can be hard to fit in the notebooks and binders a kindergartener may need. This “big kid” version is the perfect size for smaller kids who bringing more than just a tiny water bottle and bag of goldfish to school each day.
Hawlander Little Kids Color Block Backpacks ($25 Amazon)
In 9 super fun color combos — and another 12 combos here in the “girls” section (though of course all colors are gender neutral, sigh) these 12″ and 15″ backpacks offer great, versatile style at a very nice price, especially if you’re holding off on the licensed characters.