When traveling, every little thing that can make your trip easier helps. If you’re traveling with kids, setting them up with the best travel backpack can (literally) take a load off of you. Not only can it help you pack easier, your kid(s) will also be able to bring along their accessories, snacks and toys, without taking up too much space. Plus you may even get your bag back all to yourself (or at least most of it).
But, how do you know which travel backpack to get?
To help make this process easier for you, I have put together 12 of the best travel backpacks for kids and toddlers into our favourites list.
Why does my kid need a backpack while traveling?
With so many choices for travel luggage out there, you may be wondering if my kid really needs something extra to lug around and if so why a pack?
Although your child may not need a backpack while traveling, it can definitely come in handy.
If you set your child up with a sturdy travel bag, they will be able to carry what they want and need themselves. That means that you can use your own bags to carry what you want, rather than having your bag overflowing with everyone elses gear.
Backpacks are versatile, lightweight and leave your child’s hands free. They can be used for hikes, as a daybag or overnight bag and even as a school bag. This gives you more for your money.
Not only does putting a backpack on your little one significantly help you out, it can also teach them self-sufficiency. By helping them decide what to (and what not to) pack, they’ll begin understanding needs versus wants.
Also, since they will be in charge of carrying and keeping up with it throughout your adventures, they can learn the importance of their belongings, as well as responsibility.
While this may be more of a childhood long goal rather than an instant fix, it can help starting them off early. We’ve been doing this with our daughter since she was 18 months old, and she loves picking out what should go in there. True there are times we have to say, no you can’t bring all your lego, stuffies,
We’ve broken our choices down into the best kids travel backpacks for older kids 4 and up and the best travel backpacks for toddlers.
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8 of the Best Kids Travel Backpacks (for Kids 4+)
Deuter Junior Kid’s Backpack – Top Pick
Top Pick For The “Best Travel Backpack For Kids”
If you don’t have time to read the rest of the reviews, look no further. Coming in as my top pick is the Junior Kid’s Backpack by Deuter.
Whether your child is using their bag as a carry-on, an overnight bag or a day bag out at Disney or on a hiking adventure, this durable traveling backpack for kids will be well used and loved.
Why this is our top pick:
A comfortable backpack will ensure that your kids are happier and less likely to complain, or leave you to carry all their stuff. Happy kids = Happy parents.
Its S-shaped shoulder straps are made to prevent neck and shoulder pain by evenly distributing the weight of the bag.
Another important aspect of this bag are the buckles on both the front and backside of the Deuter backpack. Not only will they keep their items safe, it will also help distribute weight even more so to help alleviate back pain.
2. Storage & Size
The Deuter Junior Kids Backpack is 18L, a versatile size for different lengths of trips, and is suitable for kids 5+. It could even be used for carry-on travel for a week or more, if strategic with your packing list. Fit a tablet, a weekend’s worth of clothes, some toys, books, toiletries and other small items.
As far as storage goes, they will have many different options. There are side and front pockets, as well as the huge main compartment that’s secured with a cinch. Kids will like being able to store all their special gear in the various pockets.
3. Extra Features & Quality
The Deuter Junior Backpack is durable, as are all Deuter bags (going on 8 years with my adult bag now), which is an important consideration, when paying a little bit more for quality.
Extra features include a name tag within the bag so you don’t have to worry about it being accidentally claimed by another family (or family member). Plus it’s available in a variety of colors to suit your child’s personality.
For the younger kids, check out the super sweet Deuter Kikki Kid’s Backpack below.
- Ergonomic houlder straps & chest strap
- Ventilated back
- Side pockets – Fits water bottles
- 2 front zip pockets
- Water Resistant
- Versatile for hiking, traveling or school
- Will likely be too big for kids younger than 5
- Not waterproof, (but is water resistant, like most backpacks)
- The side pockets are not mesh, and you can’t tighten them, so a water bottle may fall out when leaning over too far.
Size: 18 Litres / 4.7 gallons
Weight: 14.8 ounces
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 3 inches
REI Co-op Tarn 18 Pack – Kids’– Top Pick
Top Pick for 8-12 yr olds & Perfect for: Outdoor Adventures & Full days Sightseeing
REI’s Tarn 18 Pack for kids comes in as the top choice for 8-12 year olds. While it’s made for 8-12, many parents have raved about this durable, well made pack for 6 & 7 year olds as well (and younger).
This is the perfect pack for a day hike, a day at a theme park or out at the beach, as there is plenty of room for all their gear, plus space for a hydration reservoir.
At 18L, this also can fit enough clothes for a weekend getaway as well.
There are so many features, I don’t know where to start. This kids pack has a large main zippered compartment, a zippered front pocket, a front stuff pocket, plus a zippered internal pocket to store items more securely.
With padded shoulder straps, hip belt and a padded ventilated back, comfort is the word of the day. If they’re complaining, it won’t be about this bag.
- Durable, water repellent material
- Compartments of many sizes
- Sternum strap to keep the shoulder straps in place
- Large mesh waterbottle outside pockets
- Reflective zipper pulls, and lash loops for extra nightime security
- Compatible with a hydration reservoir
- Multipurpose – hiking, walking, traveling, overnight bag & more
- Made with recycled materials, so better for the earth
- The water reservoir is not included, you’ll have to buy separately.
Weight: 17 ounces
Dimensions: 16.5 x 9 x 4.5 inches
Perfect For: Busy, full days & handy hydration
If you struggle to get your kids to drink more water during the day, then this pack is for you.
Another close favorite on our list is the CamelBak Hydration Pack Backpack. This is the perfect bag if you are planning hikes, a lot of walking or sightseeing for the day.
I don’t know about you, but we find it challenging some days to make sure our kids drink enough water. To be honest, I struggle with this myself.
With the CamelBak Scout Hydration Backpack, we like the combo of our kids staying easily hydrated, with enough room to carry everything they need for the day in one bag. For some reason it is more enticing to drink water out of a tube on their back.
It comes with a 1.5 liter water reservoir, reflective material, and even a sternum strap. The sternum strap even includes a safety whistle. All three of these characteristics make it a great choice for travelers that enjoy outdoor activities.
Since it is a high quality and lightweight bag, with various safety features, there are really no obvious reasons not to buy this bag.
- 12L capacity & 1.5L water reservoir
- Water reservoir has an on off lever to prevent leaks
- Breathable, wicking mesh back for comfort in hot weather
- Safety Features: Reflective strips and whistle
- Water Bladder doesn’t come with insulation (to keep water colder, longer on hot days)
Size: 12 L
Weight: 310g / 10 oz
Hydration: 1.5L / 50 oz
Perfect For: Lightweight packable carry-on
The Bago Packable water resistant backpack is another of my top picks for the best travel backpack for kids, especially when traveling on planes.
There are times when you just need a little extra room & a lightweight bag they can pull out, or store easily, depending on their needs. Not only is this bag less than 1lb, it expands to 25L and also folds down in itself into a little pouch.
The Bago packable backpack is so small, you may just want to buy an extra one to throw in your luggage yourself, to save on overweight baggage fees because of all the souvenirs your family bought.
Although a foldable bag is not necessary, it can come in handy when traveling through airports. Since most airlines have size requirements, having the Bago Packable backpack will allow you to always meet the standard size.
Another perk of this bag is that it has a lot of storage in its many different compartments. Help keep your child’s entertainment, snacks, & extra clothes well organized, so there’s less Mom / Dad I can’t find it (said in a whiny voice).
The only real downside of this backpack is that the straps are unpadded so it could potentially be a bit uncomfortable with all day wear.
- Lots of storage – front jacket pocket, two side water bottle pockets, external pocket, inner zip pocket, and large main compartment.
- Water & Tear resistant fabric
- Foldable into a handy pouch
- Breathable mesh shoulder straps
- Straps are not padded, so may be uncomfortable if worn all day, with a heavy load.
Dimensions: 16.5 x 7.1 x 11.8 inches
Perfect for: Budget Friendly Day / Day Hike Bag
If you are looking at going on a day hike, rather than a weekend camping adventure, the Quechua Athletic Bag may be the best backpack for your child. Especially for the under $20 price point.
This is a light, easy to set up bag for kids, so parents don’t have to be on standby.
It is the perfect water resistant backpack for carrying snacks, water bottles, small games, and even a poncho or a change of clothes for a quick getaway trip.
Although this bag can fit a bit of stuff, it unfortunately does not have water bottle side pockets, which might be a deal breaker for some.
- Water and tear resistant
- Fits a 13” laptop, Ipad
- Affordable price
- Great for outdoor activities, longer hikes / walks and daily use
- Light weight fabric – won’t last forever
- No outside water bottle holders
Weight: 5.6 oz / 0.160 kg
Dimensions: 15.7 x 9.1 x 3.9 Inch
Perfect for: Outdoor kids who play rough
The Ladyzone Camo Backpack is a full size bag made of very durable fabric that is tear, scratch, and splash resistant. Being such high quality, it definitely makes this bag great for camping, outdoor activities, or even just for children that like to get a little rough sometimes.
It has adjustable S shaped shoulder straps, with reflective fabric, and is available in multiple different colors.
- Tear and water resistant fabric
- Ergonomic shoulder straps
- Reflective fabric for safety
- Durable fabric
- Lots of room
- 4 zippered compartments to store all their gear
- Some buyers noted the zipper broke within 6 months
Dimensions: 17.3″x11.8″x5.9″ (44x30x15cm)
Best for: Durable Pack for school and travel
The Mountaintop Kids School Backpack is a good choice if you are looking for flexibility of use while traveling and at home for your 3 to 6 year old.
There are side pockets to hold water bottles, adjustable shoulder straps, and a padded backside for comfortable wear.
Even though the main compartment is pretty big and can carry just about everything you would need, it has a few other pockets for smaller items as well. Well designed for organizing your kids trinkets, toys, snacks, journal, change of clothes or anything they need for the day.
This backpack is water-resistant and very lightweight, which makes it a great option if you have full-day activities planned for your trip.
I definitely recommend getting this backpack for your child if they will be constantly wearing it.
- Comfortable – S Shaped shoulder straps & Padded back
- Easy to clean
- Good for longer hikes, walks
- Suitable for 3 to 6 yr olds
- Water resistant, durable YKK zippers
- Separate wet laundry compartment & main compartment
- Comes in over 15 colours
- Kids can unbuckle front strap easily
- Can fit A4 paper but not a folder (if also using for school)
- Won’t fit older children 7+
Weight: 0.33 kg
Dimensions: 9.4” x 14.2” x 6.3”
Perfect for: Younger Kids who like to rock n’ roll rather than carry a pack
If you want your child to have a rolling bag for carryon luggage, or an overnight bag, then the Skip Hop Luggage may just be your best option.
This cute luggage with wheels would work well for 3 to 6 years old. It could also be considered a great travel bag for toddlers, but an adult would likely have to carry it or wheel it for the under three crowd.
Plus your kid will love that it comes in fun shapes like a monkey, dog, unicorn, or owl (with matching options for Zoo lunch kit or backpack if that’s your jam!). My daughter had the unicorn backpack and lunch kit for 3 years, and they held up really well to kid wear and tear.
Whether you are sending your kids on vacation with someone else, or taking them yourself, this bag can definitely fit nearly everything that they will need.
- Fun designs for 3-6 year olds
- Front zip pouch, so favourite toys, stuffies can be in reach
- Kids can roll it themselves with a retractable 13” handle
- Mesh Waterbottle pocket.
- Large enough for a weeks worth of clothes
- BPA-free, Phthalate-free
- No adult strap for carrying
- Not suitable size for older, taller kids
Dimensions: 7 x 12.5 x 18 inches
4 Backpacks for Traveling with Toddlers
Traveling with toddlers is a whole other kettle of fish. While your toddler doesn’t need to have their own backpack, our family has found that it is easier to have a separate toddler travel bag just for them. Especially on road trips and airplane travel, (even if we end up carrying it for them half the time).
We usually put a change of clothes or pjs, small toys, crayons and paper and their stuffy.
Deuter Kikki Backpack – Top Pick for Toddler
Top Toddler Choice & Best For: Getting your child to wear their own pack!
Your favourite youngster will love this perfectly sized backpack for 3-5 year olds. These backpacks would also work and be fun for kids younger than 3 as a carry-on for the plane or to hold their stuff in the car. Let’s face it, at that age, it’s usually a parent carrying all the stuff anyways.
The Deuter Kikki Backpacks come shaped like a friendly bear or bird (in blue, pink or green). Traveling just got more exciting.
The straps are padded and adjustable, with a ventilated back for comfort in hot weather.
This kids travel backpack is big enough to store extra clothes, diapers, wipes, a small toy or two, a snack and a water bottle.
- Versatile – can be used for hiking, traveling and school
- Sized with 3-5 year olds in mind
- Adjustable straps, and chest straps for supported wear
- Interior pocket sleeve
- Kids can easily open and shut pack and straps
- Durable fabric
- Water resistant
- Eco-friendly designation
- No place for a hydration pack like a camel back
- Won’t fit a full sized lunch box
- A regular folder doesn’t fit inside
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 3 inches
Best For: Budget Friendly Toddler Backpack
This bag will definitely be the best bang for your buck.
The Mountaintop Kids Backpack has many of the features of a larger bag in a more compact, toddler friendly size.
This kids bag is water resistant, and even has a wet laundry compartment, making it a great bag to have on every trip (especially if you have messy kids or kids still in diapers).
Other perks of this bag include two side mesh compartments, padded straps, sternum straps, and even a name tag.
It is also only 9.9 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest backpacks you can get.
The only con is that it is a very small bag. However this works well for toddlers as they can’t reasonably carry much anyway. Just make sure to consider what will be packed into it before buying.
- Budget Friendly
- Sized well for 2-4 year olds
- Water Resistant
- Padded shoulders & back for comfort
- Chest strap
- Comes in over 20 colours
- Mesh side pockets fits water bottles (or treasures)
- Small & doesn’t fit a regular sized folder for school.
Weight: 9.9 ounces
Best for: Flexibility of use for both toddlers, kids and adults
If you have been to any outdoor stores, you have probably seen this brand before.
Although it is a bit pricey, the Fjallraven, Kanken Mini water repellant bags are high quality and very durable.
While originally they were released as a backpack for Swedish school kids, both adults and children can use this pack. Bonus for those times you have to carry your kids pack, or you want to “borrow” it to use as a cute purse. I am eying the lime green version myself. So fun.
The only downside for this bag is that it is a bit small. But, if you are only planning on packing a few small toys, snacks, and possibly a journal, it will be perfect.
With its chic design and many different color options, you can also make sure your child gets the bag they specifically want so that everyone is happy.
If you are looking for a larger size for yourself (because you absolutely deserve it), then you can’t go wrong with the Fjallraven Kanken full size or the Fjallraven Laptop Pack that fits most airlines carry-one requirements.
- 7 Litre capacity
- 3 exterior pockets
- Water repellent – deflects light rain and snow
- Removable seat pad
- Adjustable straps
- Both adults and kids can use
- Pricier for the size
Weight: 7.8 ounces
Dimensions: 11.4 x 7.9 x 5.1 inches
Perfect for: Urban adventures with toddlers
Last but definitely not least, this Urban Toddler Backpack is lightweight and durable backpack is very easy to clean, open, and carry. With many different patterns, including superheros, cars, flowers, polar bears and more, your choice of backpacks for travling with a toddler, just got more fun.
It has a side tube that can carry paper books, mesh water bottle pockets, and even a ‘D’ ring for small attachments.
This is another bag a bit small, but for a toddler, it seems to be a great size for daily wear. If you are worried about the size but love the bag, remember that you could change out what you pack each day, rather than packing everything in it before your trip.
What To Look For When Purchasing a Travel Backpack for Kids
When buying a travel backpack for your child, there are a few things you will want to take into consideration. Since kids are much tinier humans than adults, there are certain questions you should ask yourself before deciding on which backpack will be best.
1. Purpose of the Backpack
One of the first things you should consider is what the backpack will actually be used for. For example, you will need to carry different items when hiking than you would for a stroll through the city. Likewise, they may only need a backpack for carry on luggage, rather than daily use on your trip.
If you know what the purpose of the backpack will be, it will be much easier to determine which option is best for you.
2. Weight – Choose Lightweight Packs
Another thing you will want to ask yourself is how heavy is the empty backpack first, and if it will be okay on your kid’s back. I mean, even as adults, we don’t generally want to carry a heavy bag around all day. So, it’s safe to assume our children don’t either.
When considering the weight, you should also note how much you (or your child) will be packing in the backpack. Since that will add a significant amount of weight, it is important you factor it in when looking for the best travel bag for your kid.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, backpacks should weigh between 10% to 15% of your child’s body weight, never more. A backpack that’s too heavy can lead to shoulder, neck and back pain at any age. Not the best way to start or end a vacation.
3. Shoulder & Sternum Straps
Lastly, I recommend getting a bag with wide shoulder straps and a sternum strap. The wider shoulder strap allows the backpack’s weight to sit nicely on the shoulders, instead of digging into your child’s traps or shoulders.
Similarly, a sternum strap will also help distribute the weight evenly, rather than only pulling on shoulders and weighing down the back.
The more comfortable the travel backpack, the more willing your child will be to wear it.
Final Thoughts on Travel Backpacks for Kids
Finding the best travel backpack for kids does not have to be hard.
Once you have considered the purpose of the backpack, weight, and how the weight will be distributed, it really just comes down to your personal preference.
Whether you choose it based on brand, size, price, or style, you can’t go wrong with any of the travel backpacks listed on this page.
Does my kid need a backpack when traveling?
If you have a backpack for your toddler or child, it will relieve you from having to carry everything yourself. This can also teach them to be slightly self-sufficient, by allowing them to decide what they want to bring and having to carry it around regularly.
What can my kid carry in their backpack when traveling?
When deciding what to pack in your kid’s bag, it depends on what they will want, use, and need. But, the options are pretty endless. Your kid’s backpack can have snacks, toys, tablets, extra clothes, or even souvenirs. You’ll want to keep their backpack light though and pack the main items and heavier items in their suitcase.
What Size Backpack Does My Child Need?
To get an accurate size of backpack, first you must measure your child from their shoulder line, where the straps will rest, to their waistline. Then add 2 inches to the measurement, to get the maximum height of backpack your child should wear. When your child is wearing their pack, the top should sit about 0.78″-2″ below the tops of their shoulders, and rest near the top of their pelvis, or up to 4″ below the waist.
Average child’s back sizes:
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