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11 cool school backpacks for teenage boys and girls

Essential school bags from the prettiest to the most practical

Backpacks for teens
Carla Challis
Carla ChallisCommerce Partnerships Editor
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A decent school bag is high on the agenda for teens at secondary school – and durability, comfort, size, and style are all factors to consider when hunting online. There's still time to shop their new term backpack, with plenty of deals available for school essentials including school uniform offers, stationery for less, and of course, that all-important backpack.

A backpack is, of course, not just a fashion item but good for their back health too. Celebrity osteopath Nadia Alibhai, who has almost 20 years of experience, comments on the importance of finding the right school bag: "A backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of the child’s weight. Anything heavier will cause the child to lean forward and cause strains and pain in the upper back and also won’t help with their posture."

What makes a good backpack for school?

 Style aside, choosing the right backpack for your teenager is as important for their health and posture as it is their cool. Our expert Nadia shares her tips to try and help you find the best backpack for your teen (which we appreciate isn't always easy!)

  •  It should be sturdy and the bit that sits against their back should be firm and hard to give support to the spine. 
  • The backpack shouldn’t be any wider than their chest.
  • Both arm straps should be used as opposed to slinging to one side because that means they'll be carrying all the weight to one side. 
  • The straps should be wide and padded for comfort.
  • It shouldn’t sit any more than 10cm from the waist. A backpack that is too low, for example, sits at the buttocks will cause a strain on their shoulders.
  • When packing their backpack, encourage your child to place heavy and firm things, like books and folders, at the back of the backpack so it sits against the spine. 

How we chose the best backpacks for teens

  • Quality: We've read the reviews and picked the best quality backpacks to see them through the school year.
  • Durability: It goes without saying, you don't want to be buying a new backpack for your teen every few weeks. We've tried to find the most durable, by reading online reviews and taking material into account.
  • Expert advice: Using Nadia The Osteopath's advice, we've found as many backpacks that fit her criteria to keep your teen's back and posture in tip top shape.
  • Functionality: No use sending them off to school with a tiny backpack, or one that isn't going to fit all the bits and bobs they need. We've found those with pockets, flaps, hidden charging docks and more.
  • Style: We might not be teens, but we think the backpacks we've highlighted are pretty cool...

Get ready to impress your teen with our edit of the best school bags for teenagers.

  • Best school bags for teenage girls 2023

    Leopard Adidas Backpack

    Adidas Leopard Backpack

    • Dimensions: 43 cm x 35 cm x 15 cm
    • Volume: 23 L
    • Padded and lined

    Leopard never goes out of fashion and this Adidas animal print backpack is as roomy as it is bold, with plenty of pockets too.

    Boasts a front pocket and zipped side pockets, air mesh shoulder straps to stop your teen getting sweaty and a coated bottom - should stop it getting ripped or torn. 

  • American Tourister Backpack

    American Tourister Backpack

    • Dimensions: 42.5 x 29 x 19 cm
    • Volume: 19.5L
    • Ergonomic backpack straps

    As well as the Barbie-inspired colour, the American Tourister backpack hits a lot of the right points as a great all-rounder.

    Firstly, the ergonomic straps will make comfort key and the pockets are aplenty - one big zipped compartment, pen loops, a bottle holder on the side and smaller zipped front pocket.

  • Vans backpack

    Vans Realm Backpack

    • Dimensions: 42.50 H x 32.40 W x 12.40 D cm
    • Volume: 22 L
    • Adjustable, padded straps

    Vans' iconic checkerboard design has been given a lilac makeover for the 22L backpack, big enough for all their school essentials.

    Padded, adjustable straps help to make it a perfect fit.

  • Skinnydip Backpack

    Skinnydip Backpack

    • Dimensions: W25cm x H30cm x D10cm
    • Multiple pockets

    Skinnydip's backpack is crafted from corduroy material and features cute embroidered flowers.

    As well as being able to fit a laptop, it features two internal and one external pocket and adjustable padded shoulder straps measuring 60-95cm.

  • Claire's Accessories backpack

    Claire's Accessories Quilted Backpack

    • Dimensions: 30.48W x 38.10H x 10.16D cm
    • Adjustable padded straps

    This commuter-style backpack is big enough for all the essentials - think a large, secure compartment with two buckle straps for extra security, a small open-top pocket on each side plus a small zippered compartment on the front - and has padded, adjustable straps for pain-free carrying.

    The quilted design will hit the style points too. 

  • Not On The HIgh St backpack

    Tommy & Lottie Recycled Backpack

    • Dimensions: 31 x 42 x 21 cm 
    • Volume: 18L
    • Made from recycled bottles

    For the eco-conscious teen, this rucksack will hit the mark - it's made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and is available in a variety of colours, including this lush sunny yellow. 

    It's a decent size too, for those who don't carry loads to school and has the standard large compartment and small front zipped pocket.

  • Best school bags for teenage boys 2023

    Herschel backpack

    Herschel Backpack

    • Dimensions: H43 x W30.5 x D14.5cm.
    • Volume: 14 L
    • Padded laptop sleeve

    This fully-lined bag features magnetic button-fastening straps for easy access, a reinforced base and a handy padded 15" laptop sleeve.

    Also has adjustable and padded straps, and an external slip pocket for those essentials they need to reach easily.

  • Eastpak Backpack

    Eastpak Backpack

    • Dimensions: 44cm x 29.5cm x 22cm.
    • Volume: 27 L
    • Built-in laptop sleeve

    This backpack gets glowing reviews from online customers, who praise its comfort and size.

    There's plenty of designs and colourways to choose from, including patterned and plain, and it has a handy padded laptop sleeve to keep their tech safe and secure.

  • Smiggle gaming backpack

    Smiggle Virtual Classic Backpack

    • Dimensions: 30cm x 42cm x 19cm
    • Volume: 19.6L
    • 15 inch laptop compartment

    Younger teens will be clued up on Smiggle, and their slightly more mature range includes this 3D style embossed backpack - perfect for gamers.

    It's full of practical elements, like a laptop compartment, drinks pocket and padded adjustable straps, as well as three zipped compartments. 

  • Nike Backpack

    Nike Backpack

    • Dimensions: 48cm H x 33cm W x 20cm 
    • Volume: 26 L
    • Versatile strap system

    Sporty types will reach for a Nike backpack, and this from the sportswear brand is a little different to the norm.

    Firstly, it's big (26 L capacity) and has a padded back panel for extra comfort. There's multiple zipped compartments for storage and the fun part, a versatile strap system to offer different storage options.

  • Amazon Backpack

    DJ Marshmallow Backpack

    • Dimensions: 45cm x 31cm x 16cm.
    • Built-in USB cable

    This is the one for the music-addicts - there's a built-in USB port so they can listen to music on the go. Also has multiple pockets, including a large compartment that fits a laptop and smaller ones too.


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