The Best Backpacks for Every School Age

In The Wild

The Best Backpacks for Every School Age

No locker? No problem. Our friend Kyle Snarr tells us how he solved the issue of heavier loads for each of his kids since schools have had to adapt to the realities of the pandemic.

Every fall, we start thinking we’ve got the whole back-to-school thing all figured out. Then, about a month in, we slowly begin to realize we were way off. School kids are required more than ever these days to haul a ton of gear. This has been emphasized even more—both last year and this year—as our district has put the kibosh on lockers to reduce non-social distanced congregating in the halls. So our kids are packing everything on their backs all day long—to, during, and from school.

Between comfort, capacity, and durability—the basic school packs our kids picked out this year just weren’t cutting it. We use Topo packs for hiking, biking, fishing, travel, and work—but we hadn’t thought to use them as textbook haulers. After spotting some recent upgrades to several of their packs, though, it became clear that the solution was staring us right in the face. Here are some of the models that helped us realize these bags were indeed school lockers for your back.

Rover Pack Tech

My son zeroed in on the Rover Pack Tech in black, as it instantly jived with his preferred monochromatic wardrobe. The Tech version of the Rover is a little bigger than the standard edition, making it the ideal size for calculators, computers, and composition notebooks. Our district makes students haul their Chromebooks everywhere, so the external padded laptop sleeve is a perfect new addition. And just in case you weren’t aware—teenage boys can sometimes be on, let’s call it, the sweatier side of things. So the RidgeBack™ panel is a welcome new feature that provides both comfort and molded channels offering that much-needed airflow. Sorry buddy. It’s true.

Daypack Tech

My middle daughter loves ice cold water. If it doesn’t chill you to the bone, then it’s no good. Makes sense that she went with a Daypack Tech in the cold-as-ice Charcoal colorway. And as you can imagine, she packs a seriously insulated bottle. Nowadays, in fact, everyone is also required to pack their own water from class to class. So we were impressed with the new expandable water bottle pockets designed to accommodate bottles sized for a full day’s worth of water. Not to mention, an umbrella can slot perfectly in for a tight fit on the other side for those rainy walks home. No. We’re not gonna pick you up. That’s what the umbrella’s for!

Daypack Classic

My youngest is all about speed, so she needs a streamlined fit. It’s tougher than you think to find functional school bags that can carry a lot, but don’t weigh a little kid down. Next time you see a group of kids walking home from school—take a look at the weight distribution of their bags. They’re typically big and bouncy with all the weight sitting low and far out from the straps. The Daypack Classic is that Goldilocks sized-bag—not too big, not too small. It perfectly suits an adult, yet works great for a 10 year old too. But most importantly it distributes the weight high and against the back. So when an impromptu game of tag goes down, she can bolt.

We’ve been a Topo family for some time now, so it wasn’t too surprising to discover that the style and function we’d grown to love in the Great Outdoors could also take some of the stress out of school for our little crew. Who knew no one even really needs a locker?

The Best Backpacks For Every School Age

The Best Backpacks For Every School Age