school bag
Is it time to replace an old school bag? Browse well-known brands in our list and snap up your next backpack. Image Credit: Pexels/JAMAL YAHYAYEV

With a new academic year comes the exciting possibility of splurging on a new backpack. For one, bags worn to school every day naturally sustain a lot of wear and tear, and two, heavier textbooks for the upcoming grade need more room than before. Mums and dads are likely on the lookout for a durable school bag that’s comfortable on their children’s shoulders and has multiple compartments, while university students are mostly concerned about carrying their tablets and laptops securely. Start your search here for the best school backpack, where we feature suggestions for different ages, all boasting a clean silhouette from trusted brands.

If you're looking for back-to-school supplies, don't forget to check out our list of 21 essentials, and pick a school tablet for the new school year. Also, shop smart by reading our nine-step guide on how parents can save money on back-to-school items, and keep yourself apprised of great discounts.

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1. Best Overall: JANSPORT Unisex Big Student Backpack

Most of us know Jansport as a household name when it comes to school bags. Our choice is another popular make by the brand, made of water-repellent, lightweight fabric. The Big Student Backpack is for those who are expecting to attend classes with thick books and a 15-inch or smaller laptop this year. It has two main zipped compartments to help with organising study materials, a padded zipped section for tablets and laptops, three front zipped pockets to fit stationery and lunch, and a side mesh water bottle pocket. Students in the reviews attest to the comfort, quality and roomy capacity with five stars, noting that the backpack serves well on short travel trips, too.

2. Best for High School Students: Herschel Supply Co. Classic XL Backpack

If you prefer a classic backpack silhouette over a boxy look, then consider the Herschel Classic XL bag. We picked a neutral navy blue for high school students that need their daily essentials – textbooks, snacks and water bottle – on them at all times. Reviewers mention how the bag easily fits binders and folders, and a 15-inch laptop if needed, without compromising on style. All zips end in stylish red Prusik cord pulls. Students can also keep their house and locker keys safe inside the front pocket that has a key clip.

3. Best Budget: Himawari School Waterproof Backpack

University students can get particular about backpacks that might clash with their outfits of the day. Because we understand the need for both functionality and style, this vintage-themed school bag comes to mind. Coming in over 40 colours, from all-black to pastels, the Himawari waterproof backpack boasts scratch-resistant nylon fabric and leather accents. Its main compartment with double-zipper closure fits a 13-inch laptop along with books, while the front zipper pocket is spacious enough to accommodate sunglasses, wallet, power bank and more. Two side pockets fit water bottles. According to reviews, it’s on the smaller side so it does pack light.

4. Best Backpack Set: Camtop School Backpack Set

Looking for a reasonably sized, colourful schoolbag? This Camtop backpack set is probably your best bet for a middle schooler. Patterned with green cacti on a white polyester fabric, the book bag comes with two matching accessories – an insulated lunch bag and a pencil case – all with cream canvas handles. Since the backpack easily fits a 17-inch laptop, expect it to store multiple A4 binder and subject textbooks. Browse other colours and patterns tailored to your child’s tastes, like this black-and-white checkered set.

5. Best for University Students: Fjällräven Kånken 15" Backpack

A Fjällräven Kånken bag lasts for years to come, so if you have an adjustable budget, consider investing in this timeless piece. It’s made from Kånken’s defining Vinylon F fabric – a synthetic fibre that makes the bag resilient and durable. The silhouette is rectangular but slim, ideal for laptops up to 15 inches in size. You get a spacious main compartment with an extra zippered pocket inside, a zippered pocket on the front and two open pockets on the side. Due to its petite build, this bag works best for senior students who carry fewer subject books.

6. Best Hybrid Backpack: Kenneth Cole Vegan Leather 15.6” Laptop & Tablet Bookbag

A refined leather backpack is hard to resist, like this Kenneth Cole vegan leather accessory. Unlike our previous picks, this bag has a special compartment for your wallet, reinforced with RFID (radio frequency identification) blocking technology to keep your credit and debit cards safe from data theft. Slip your 15.6-inch laptop into the padded sleeve and books into the main section. Your phone, pens and other trinkets go into the spacious front pocket. A bonus feature is the trolley tunnel on the back, making it the perfect travel companion.

7. Best for Preschool Students: Spring Country Children Casual Daypack Book Bag

If your little one is off to kindergarten this September, the Spring Country book bag for preschoolers should serve well. According to the manufacturer, it fits books, binders, plush toys, stationery supplies and snacks. Inside, there's a personal name card sleeve for your child, while the exterior has night light reflective panels to ensure their safety. Happy mums and dads in the reviews appreciate the build quality and the bag's many compartments for miscellaneous items like masks and sanitiser. It comes in three colours, so your child can choose from dinosaur-, mermaid- and unicorn-themed bags.

8. Best Trolley Bag: J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

Trolley bags give your kids the option to alternate between a backpack and a roller, when the load becomes too heavy for the shoulders. J World New York's rolling backpack runs quietly on sturdy rubber wheels, with a scrape shield at the bottom of the bag to prevent wear and tear from rough terrain. The straps can be quickly tucked away into the back pocket for safe rolling. Pack up to four thick textbooks, a laptop, an A3 sketchpad and lunch bag easily inside the main compartment. The front pocket organiser has pen holders, card slots and a key clip for small items that can easily get lost.

9. Best Trolley Bag Set for Young Students: Meetbelify School Bag for Kids and Students

This rolling backpack is a few inches smaller, and is designed for elementary school students. Your child is all set for the first day of the term with their own matching lunch bag and pencil case that come included. The roller's three zippered compartments offer plenty of space for separating books from craft supplies and stationery. Reviewers also add that the trolley bag is wide enough to fit more items than they expected, including a school sweater.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.