A backpack for your preschooler is a practical way to give your little one a sense of independence — whether they’re carrying it to school or simply stuffing it with their favorite toys and knick-knacks to take on the go. The best preschool backpacks are compact in size to suit small frames yet still have enough room to fit children’s school supplies, snacks, and/or toys. They are easy to clean when accidental spills and unwanted odors occur, too.
When shopping for a pre-K backpack, you’ll want to think about how your little one is going to use it most. If they’ll be taking it to daycare or preschool, look for options that have easily accessible exterior pockets or interior compartments that can house their various supplies, drinks, and/or lunch boxes. In need of a bag they can use for travel? Consider getting a rolling backpack that can double as a suitcase.
It’s also hugely important to keep their safety and comfort in mind when shopping for a backpack. Opt for lightweight models that will weigh less than 20% your child’s weight when filled, and look for wide padded straps and/or chest straps to help ease the tension on their little backs and shoulders. Optional safety features include detachable leashes to keep your child close in public areas and name tags that are inconspicuous. While name tags are helpful for differentiating bags in group settings like preschool, avoid making them visible to strangers, as children tend to be more likely to trust adults who know their names.
Finally, easy cleanup is an important consideration for a lunch box because spills and food crumbs are inevitable at this age. All the options on this list are made with wipeable materials or are machine washable to minimize the hassle.
Keep reading to see which preschool backpack is the best fit for your little one.
1. A Budget-Friendly Preschool Backpack In Solid Colors
This mini backpack by Everest has been described by one reviewer as “the exact size you need” for a toddler. The quality is also a big win for parents, especially since the price is one of the lowest on the list. One reviewer noted that it’s made from a “high quality material that should not discolor or rip easily.” The bag features padded shoulder straps that are easily adjustable for adults to carry if children get tired of wearing it. While it doesn’t have a beverage pocket, the bag comes with one zipper pouch in the front and a main compartment that has enough room to hold a change of clothes, snacks, and/or a small blanket. Shoppers have confirmed that a standard-size folder can fit inside it, too.
There’s no mention of washing instructions from the manufacturer, but reviewers have claimed that it’s “easy to clean” and machine washable. One reviewer wrote, “I've washed mine on [a] cold/gentle cycle, and let it hang to dry. It's good as new.”
- Size: 10 x 3.5 x 13 inches (length x depth x height)
- Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Available styles: 8
Promising Amazon review: “Perfect size for Pre-K. We needed one small enough for our 4 year-old but big enough to fit a folder. This fits a small snack cooler, a folder, a hoodie, a Ziploc with a complete change of clothes and what ever art work she brings home easily. We love it. Would buy again. This should last for a few years as long as we don't over load it, which [shouldn’t] be an issue in the early school years.”
2. The Fan-Favorite Backpack With A Cute Unicorn Theme
Boasting more than 4,200 Amazon ratings and an overall 4.8 stars, this whimsical toddler backpack is a proven hit with kids, according to reviewers. It comes with a mesh pocket on one side to carry a water bottle, a zip-up front pouch, and a main compartment that’s large enough to pack a lunch box (like this matching unicorn one). While spacious, it’s still appropriate for little kids. “It's not too big for my 4 year old to carry herself,” a reviewer wrote. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it’s too small to carry a standard-size folder. If you know your child will be carrying folders to and from school, another option may be a better fit.
The adjustable shoulder straps are wide and padded, making it lightweight and comfortable to wear, and it’s made from a polyester blend that’s easy to wipe up if any spills land on the outside or inner lining. You can write your child’s name on the name tag affixed inside the bag. Plus, the backpack comes in other cute designs, including dinosaur, butterfly, and puppy versions.
- Size: 11 x 5 x 12 inches (length x depth x height)
- Weight: 11 ounces
- Available styles: 1 unicorn version, but you can find a variety of Skip Hop backpacks here
Promising Amazon review: “My 3 year old got it for daycare/preschool. Its great. Snack in the front pouch. Change of clothes and whatnot in her bag with plenty of room for random arts and crafts to come home.”
3. This Matching Backpack & Lunchbox Set
This backpack and lunchbox combo comes in a variety of prints that feature everything from cars and planes to dinosaurs. The backpack has padded shoulder straps and a chest strap in the front to help evenly distribute the bag’s weight. The straps are adjustable so you can get the right fit. The size of the backpack is “not too bulky for your little one to carry independently,” according to one reviewer. The main compartment even comes with large and small divider pockets to help keep pens and other accessories organized. A shopper confirmed that the inside has “plenty of room for the packed lunchbox and a couple of folders.” On the exterior, you’ll find two side pockets for easy access to water bottles.
Both bags are also made with water-resistant polyester to help protect against spills, and they easily wipe clean. Plus, the lunch box is insulated and has space to store a bento box, snacks, drinks, and more.
- Size: 15 x 5.1 x 11.8 inches (length x depth x height of backpack only)
- Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Available styles: 8
Promising Amazon review: “We have had this backpack lunch box combo for the last 4 weeks and it is holding up nicely. It is durable, and the lunchbox stays cold all day with ice packs. My son loves design and I love how it fits his lunch box, thermos, school folders, and water bottle. He has no trouble carrying it on his back with or without [a] chest clip and he is almost four.”
4. A Small Machine-Washable Backpack With A Plush Toy
This plush backpack is not only soft and fluffy, but also comes with a plush toy your child will be proud to show off. Simply attach the stuffed doll or animal to the back of the bag using the harness snaps and voilà: Your child has a new friend to travel with. This bag is lightweight and more compact than the other options on this list, and it doesn’t have pockets — but the main compartment has enough room for items like snacks and small toys. One reviewer explained that while it doesn’t fit a standard folder, “your child will probably adore it and be obsessed with it like ours.” The adjustable shoulder straps are lightly padded with plush fabric for extra comfort. And one huge perk of this one? The backpack is completely machine washable for easy cleanup.
- Size: 9 x 6.5 x 4.5 inches (length x depth x height of interior compartment)
- Weight: 9 ounces
- Available styles: 6
Promising Amazon review: “Got it for my toddler granddaughter and it [was] exactly what I expected. Fits her tiny frame yet holds her stuff. The bunny is a cute bonus!”
5. This Astronaut-Themed Backpack With A Detachable Leash
If your toddler is a runner, this astronaut backpack is the accessory you didn’t know you needed. Its design includes a detachable leash that clips to the bottom of the bag to give parents peace of mind when the time comes for public outings with big crowds. A chest strap helps to keep the backpack secure and the weight distributed, and one reviewer noted that the straps and mesh backing have “excellent padding [so it] won’t hurt your child’s neck or shoulders.” The inside has one large compartment that fits things like snacks and water bottles (it doesn’t feature a beverage pocket), and there’s a smaller transparent pocket in the front for storing smaller items like crayons and stuffed animals.
It’s made with a waterproof neoprene material you can easily wipe clean with a wet cloth. Choose this version or an even smaller style that has the same astronaut design — just keep in mind that neither option will fit a flat sheet of standard-size paper or folder, according to shoppers.
- Size: 8.7 x 4.5 x 10.8 inches (length x depth x height)
- Weight: Approximately 9.7 ounces (275 grams)
- Available styles: 2 (one for ages 1-3 and one for ages 3-6)
Promising Amazon review: “I purchased it for my toddler and he loves it. It is super cute, comfortable for him to wear with or without the harness. Perfect size to carry his own snacks, bottle and toys on the go.”
6. A Rolling Backpack That Doubles As A Suitcase
This rolling backpack for kids can be used as a backpack or suitcase, and it is “big enough to fit a lunchbox and a regular size folder inside of it,” according to one reviewer. It also includes two mesh side pockets for drinks, an inner pocket in the main compartment, and an easy-access pouch in the front for housing crayons, toys, and other travel necessities. The backpack comes in a variety of animal designs and in two sizes, small (featured) and medium.
The rear panel of the backpack is made with soft padding and includes a name tag that sits under the straps and out of view from strangers when it’s worn. The manufacturer recommends hand-washing the bag — which one reviewer described as “made from tough material” — with warm water and soap. The wide, padded straps can be tucked into the back of the bag and a fabric flap can be pulled over the wheels, which helps prevent mud or wet grass from transferring to your child’s clothes whenever they transition it from a rolling bag to a backpack. It is one of the heavier options on this list, but a good choice if your kid needs an option they can wheel around.
- Size: 9.5 x 4.5 x 14.5 inches (length x depth x height of small backpack)
- Weight: Approximately 38.4 ounces (2.4 pounds)
- Available styles: 8
Promising Amazon review: “LOVED THIS! My son loved it too! It’s handle is adjustable and locks in the height you want to keep it [which] is perfect because not every child is the same height. Colors are beautiful. Material is amazing. Rolls so smoothly. Totally worth the buy! Good price! Happy costumer for sure.”