Buying a New Backpack: How to Buy the Best Bag

Buying a New Backpack: How to Buy the Best Bag

I was ready to head back for my senior year of college, when it finally happened. My backpack broke. This had been my backpack for all of high school and the first 3 years of college. It had held textbooks, notebooks, gym uniforms, and so many lunches. I was bummed.

And then I had to find a new one. Yikes!

Buying a backpack can be bewildering. There are a ton of options, sizes, colors, and purposes for bags. And high price tags that go along with them! It can be overwhelming and you might buy a bag that doesn’t actually work for you.

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Luckily, I’ve watched hundreds of teens use backpacks. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. When it comes to buying a backpack, I’ve learned a few things. Let’s get shopping!

Buying a New Backpack: How to Get the Best Bag

buy backpack

What Do I Need to Carry?

Grab a piece of paper and pen and start thinking. 

  • What do I carry in my bag on a regular basis? 
  • Do I need to carry each item?
  • Are there things I should have in my bag, but currently don’t?

These questions are meant to help you figure out what you will carry in your backpack. If you don’t carry a laptop or tablet daily, you don’t need a laptop sleeve in your backpack. If you bring a water bottle daily, make sure the bag has a pocket on the outside for your bottle.

Do I Need the Bells and Whistles?

Backpacks have gotten way more complicated since I was a kid. They now come with sleeves to protect electronics, USB charging stations and cords, and sunglasses sleeves.

Dude, you don’t need that much stuff in your bag. I recommend that you keep your backpack simple and straightforward. The more complicated the bag, the more likely something will go wrong. It also makes it difficult to wash the bag.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Bigger bag = bigger problems.” quote=”Bigger bag = bigger problems.”]

Many backpacks are also ginormous. Bigger bag = bigger problems. I have found that large bags end up over-stuffed, often with trash. Literally, trash. You need at least 2-3 compartments and that’s about it. And please, pick a smaller bag. Many bags include capacity in liters. Stick to a bag in the 20-30 L range.

Will I be Comfortable Lugging it Around?

Please remember that you will be carrying heavy books around in this bag. It needs to fit you. If you can, go shopping in person and try the bags on. If you are on the shorter side, you will need a smaller bag. A giant bag won’t fit you well and it won’t be comfortable.

Photo by Omar Roque on Unsplash

Is it Washable?

Many teens never wash their backpacks. Yikes! For bags that spend more of their time on the floor, backpacks pick up some nasty things. Look for a bag that can be thrown in the washing machine. The main thing you want to avoid is leather – that’s a no-go in the washing machine. If you MUST have that leather bag, at least wipe it down regularly with sanitizing wipes.

Where Can I Buy the Best Backpack?

You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a quality backpack. If possible, shop in person. Major retailers have tons of backpacks during Back-to-School season. Also, consider discount and warehouse stores. I bought my current Columbia backpack (that I love!) at Ross for half the regular price. Costco usually has good bags at low prices, especially during Back-to-School season.

If you hate walking into a store or bag are out of season, Amazon to the rescue friends! Below are some of the backapcks I’ve found on Amazon that I think would be great!

My recommendations for buying a backpack

  • Smaller bag (20-30 liter capacity)
  • 3 compartments
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Appropriately sized to your body
  • Reflective tape

Keep these tips in mind when you go buy a new backpack! You should be able to buy the *perfect* backpack that will carry you (and your books and laptop and phone) through many years.

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What do you look for in a backpack? Let me know in the comments below.

Related Posts: 5 Steps to an Organized Backpack, 5 School Supplies That Will Get (and Keep) Teens Organized, Back-to-School Shopping for Teens, DIY It This Year: How to Make Your School Supplies Awesome

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