When it comes to family travel, backpacks are the ideal storage option. They allow kids to lug their own items hands-free, making it easy for them to hold your hand in crowded areas. Plus, they’re more lightweight than a typical kids’ luggage set, so you can use them as carry-on bags and save your baggage allowance for checked luggage.

If you’re traveling long distances with your little one or you plan to do lots of outdoor activities, look for a kids backpack made of durable fabric that’s water-resistant and offers plenty of pockets and compartments to hold toys, books, clothes, water bottles and more. Safety features like reflectors and tethers that keep little ones close are great for nighttime activities or in crowded spaces. And, if your child is about to hit a major growth spurt, be sure to choose a backpack with adjustable straps to ensure it will fit your little one as they grow.

Most of all, it’s important to do your research to find the backpack option that’ll work best for your kiddo. Here are 20 of our favorite options with a variety of features and styles for all of your family travels to come.

$31.99 at Amazon

This cool kids backpack has a waterproof outer layer and a tough, roomy interior that helps it stand up to anything — and it even fits a laptop. A breathable back panel helps avoid excessive sweating, which is a big plus if you’re vacationing at a destination that’s warm and humid. The backpack is easy to clean, which also makes this a great all-purpose option to take from your kid’s travels to the classroom and beyond. Perhaps best of all, it’s available in seven bright shades for every style.

$26.99 $24.99 at Amazon

Alaza Toddler Backpack

Made of a lightweight and durable fabric with sufficient storage space inside, this backpack is perfect for messy tots. But that’s not the only reason it’s a standout. One grandparent said, “The zipper is thick and strong, and the pull tab is chunky enough for little fingers to grip easily.” It also has a detachable chest strap if you decide to use it for everyday trips to daycare or around town. Plus, side pockets can perfectly fit sippy cups, and we love that this all-purpose backpack comes in 14 colors and designs.

$59.99 $47.99 at Maisonette

Mimish Sleep 'N' Pack Littles

Ideal for camping trips and weekend getaways, this two-in-one wonder is both a backpack and a sleeping bag. When it’s time to snooze, just unbuckle the backpack, release the toggle and the sleeping bag rolls right out. The outer shell is a soft, cozy fabric designed for comfort. Three back pockets can accommodate coloring books, toys and trinkets, while the sleeping bag itself also has several zipper pockets. This version is made for children from 3 years to 6 years old, and there’s also a Big Kids version available for children aged 6 and older.

$26.99 at Amazon

Mountaintop Kids Backpack

Made for day trippers and hikers between 3 and 6 years old, this water-resistant travel backpack is designed to stay dry during spills or rain showers. A mesh backside promotes air circulation — a must when you’re exploring out in the wild. Padded, mesh shoulder straps can be adjusted to fit your kiddo while front and side pockets provide easy access to travel snacks and water bottles. One mom said her 6-year-old hiked through Rocky Mountain National Park with it and it was “super sturdy and holds a lot while remaining lightweight!” We love that this versatile backpack is available in 14 different colors so your little one can pick their favorite color to match their personal style.

$104 at Kipling

Kipling Xavi Laptop Backpack

Ideal for big kids, this Kipling backpack can fit a laptop, making it all-purpose from the classroom to the airplane. “I like Kipling because they are durable,” says fashion stylist Victoria Sanchez Lincoln. “The brand’s laptop backpack has a protective insert, which is great for keeping my daughter’s laptop from moving around too much when we travel.” The backpack can fit up to a 15-inch laptop and also offers two zippered compartments, top carry handle and padded backpack straps. “It also has many pockets and a spot for her water bottle,” says Sanchez Lincoln.

$44.99 $39.99 at Amazon

High Sierra Loop Backpack

This backpack is all layers, offering plenty of nooks and crannies for storage and making it a great option for both travel and school. Weighing in at just less than 2 pounds when empty, the amount of storage space is even more impressive. In addition to the large, zippered compartment in the middle, there are secondary pockets designed to accommodate a tablet or laptop, plus there are accessory compartments for all the small stuff. A comfortable suspension system blunts the shock of weight transfer when hauling heavier gear, and adjustable side compression straps secure items in place. Webbing straps underneath are great for carrying sleeping bags. It comes in a whopping 26 colors and patterns, too, making it easy for kids to express their individuality.

From $19 at Skip Hop

Skip Hop Kids Zoo Backpacks

Preschoolers love the colorful range of animal backpacks by Skip Hop, one of the most popular modern children’s brands. The backpacks are ideal for a quick change of clothes, a water bottle tucked into the mesh side pocket and a few small toys, which is the most you can expect a kid this age to carry. A chest strap ensures a snug, comfy fit. Skip Hop has backpacks in Mini, Little Kid and Big Kid sizes, too, so you can find one that fits your kiddo no matter how big or small they are.

$69 at Neiman Marcus

JetKids by Stokke Crew Backpack

What sets this sleek backpack apart is how it expands to accommodate an additional 2 pounds of gear, so you can customize it to your child’s needs as you travel. Outdoorsy families will love the reflective details for added safety, the pull-out seat pad so they never have to sit on the muddy ground or a dirty floor again and the water-repellant fabrics that are easy to wipe clean. It’s perfect for kids aged 2 to 7 years. While it’s on the pricier end of the spectrum, we love how versatile it is and that it can be used for years before your child will outgrow it.

$34.93 at Amazon

North Face Kids Sprout Backpack

This sturdy option is designed for kids aged 2 to 4 years. (When they’re ready, North Face has youth Mini Explorer backpacks, the Jester for middle schoolers and more for teens). Plenty of external zippered pockets ensure little ones don’t have to tear the backpack open anytime they need something, making it a great option for travel when you need to grab something mid-flight from the overhead bin. A reflective bike-light loop adds a layer of safety when exploring at night. It’s available in four different colors for every style.

$18.99 at Amazon

Travel Bug Toddler Safety Backpack Harness with Removable Tether

Toddlers are fast. Before you know it, they’re off and running through crowded airports or unfamiliar streets. For parents who want a little extra security and control, this backpack with a tethered harness in your choice of dinosaur or unicorn design is a great fit. A comfortable wrist strap connects to a 3-foot-long tether that allows your kiddo some level of independence while keeping them close. Inside, two roomy zippered pockets are perfect for snacks and toys. Outside, two adjustable chest straps create an extra layer of security that minimizes the chances they’ll unlatch the backpack on their own.

$39.95 at L.L.Bean

L.L.Bean Kids Stowaway Day Pack

Fans of L.L.Bean’s best-selling Stowaway Pack for adults will love this smaller version for children aged 4 to 10 years. It’s got most of the same features as the adult version, including two water bottle compartments (ideal for outdoor excursions), plus a tucked-away hip strap. The coolest feature that makes this pack a great option for traveling kids is how it packs down into a small stowaway pocket when the bag isn’t in use.

$62.50 $42.95 at Osprey

Osprey Moki 1.5

For active families, the Osprey Moki 1.5 is a perfect match. Made for kids aged 4 to 12 years but with the same pockets and features as the adult models, the Moki 1.5 comes with a water reservoir that makes it easy for your kiddo to stay hydrated on the go. All they have to do is place their mouth on the spout and take a sip as they walk, run, bike or play. The slim profile of this model creates less bulk on their backs as they explore new cities or hit the trails, and a blinker light attachment loop makes it easy to spot them at night.

$29.99 $19.99 at Amazon

Bseash Free Knight Small Size Waterproof Kids Sport Backpack

Made for kids between 3 and 6 years old, this affordable backpack provides great value for everyday travel. But, you’ll want to think of it more as a daypack for trips to see new sights and through the airport than a heavy-duty camping pack or one that can be used for school as well. The drawstring closures make it a cinch for little ones to pack and pull items, and a waterproof coating ensures it can stand up to spills and rainy weather. One parent said, “This is just the right size for a change of clothes, a hat, a water bottle, a flashlight, some snacks and a hoodie rolled up on the outside.”

$119.99 at Delsey

Delsey SecurFlap

This is a great choice for older kids who want a mix of style and substance. A water-resistant exterior protects gear in the rain, side pockets can accommodate everything from water bottles to travel umbrellas and the main compartment includes a padded area specifically for laptops and tablets. The external back pocket morphs into a strap that they can slide over the handles of a rolling suitcase for those moments when their back needs a break. A unique locking system provides an added layer of security, especially when carrying pricey gear.

$45 at Amazon

Deuter Junior Kid's Backpack for School and Hiking

One mom said this backpack has “everything an adult pack has, just shrunk down,” and that pretty much sums up what makes the Deuter Junior a standout. Made for kids aged 5 and older, it has a 3M reflector to make it easy to spot them on cloudy days and dark nights, buckles and zippers made with little hands in mind and compression straps in contrasting colors for kid-friendly style. Plus, it’s made to distribute weight for maximum comfort and maneuverability, a must when you’re traveling.

$98 at Calpak

Calpak Luka Laptop Backpack

Sleek and lightweight with a dedicated hidden sleeve for laptops and another compartment on the bottom for shoes, this backpack has a scratch-resistant exterior and pockets galore. With two main compartments instead of one, it accommodates a slew of books, clothes and gear, expanding to a depth of 7 inches. For stylish teens who want the whole ensemble, it’s made to coordinate with a matching belt bag and duffel.

$25 $18.80 at Amazon

Jansport Half Pint Mini Backpack

This small backpack is one of Jansport’s bestsellers due to its compact — yet roomy — size and incredible durability. One parent called it “the best, most reliable and durable bag on the market,” after his son got a whopping 19 years of use from it. “No holes, rips, or tears in the bag, just faded.” And while it’s not necessarily made for kids, its small size and weight (less than 7 ounces!) make it a perfect fit for kids. It comes in 19 colors, too, so kids can choose their favorite shade.

$40 at Osprey

Osprey Daylite Kids

The neat thing about this compact backpack is that it comes with a rescue whistle in case kids get hurt or lost, which is perfect for long hikes, bike rides and adventures through crowded airports. A ventilated back panel keeps them from getting too sweaty, and two mesh side pockets can hold multiple water bottles at once. The small front pocket comes with a key clip, too. In addition to the main storage compartment and the front zipper pocket, it has a multifunctional interior pocket that can accommodate a hydration reservoir if you choose to add it.

$32.98 $31.98 at Amazon

Vaschy Plush Animal Backpack

Sometimes it’s simply unrealistic to think a child younger than 3 is going to carry much in their backpack. But, if they can carry a few toys, games and puzzles — and maybe even a change of clothes and a sippy cup — what more can you ask for? These adorable 3D plush backpacks double as a lovey with their soft exterior and enough room for books, bottles and more inside. It also comes with a detachable leash that’s almost 4 feet in length, so you can keep track of your tot in crowded areas.

$59.99 at Amazon

J World New York Setbeamer Rolling Backpack & Lunch Bag

One of the best features of this travel backpack is the wheels that are tucked away at the bottom, which allow the bag to convert to a rolling suitcase when your child’s back needs a break. The other standout feature is an insulated lunch bag that keeps travel snacks fresh during long flights. But that’s not all. It also has a molded rubber bottom that ensures it can get dragged across roadways, carpets and dirt without taking a beating. Two mesh side pockets perfectly fit water bottles for hydration on the go, and card slots and an internal zipper help to keep small, important items secure.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.


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