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Best Backpacks for High School 2023: Stylish, Durable & Not Bulky

by Albert Varkki updated 01-05-2023

liberty leather backpack worn by women

A backpack will help you carry your school essentials with you.

But they need to be durable enough for day-to-day use, as well as being large enough to carry everything you need without looking bulky.

They also need to be fashionable enough to match your personal style.

Read on to see our top picks for 2023:

Best High School Backpacks for 2023

Here we go over the best school backpacks for 2023 by type and size.

Best Small Leather Backpack for School 2023

liberty tan leather backpack for women

Winner: Liberty Leather Backpack

The Liberty is elegant and sophisticated, while still having enough room to carry a laptop, and multiple front pockets for easy access to your essentials. We love the full grain leather, as it's far more fashionable than choosing a canvas bag, and it feels really high quality. Our personal favourite is the red leather version.

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • 14 inch laptop sleeve.
  • Multiple front zipped compartments.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized
  • Available in brown, tan, black, or red leather.

Click here to check the price

Best Laptop Backpack for School 2023

prime large brown leather backpack

Winner: Prime Leather Backpack

The Prime is best for those who need a larger backpack that holds a laptop, but don't want to have a chunky canvas bag that's not fashionable. The full grain leather is really nice, making it look and feel like a high end designer bag. Multiple pockets make it easy to carry school essentials.

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • 14 inch laptop sleeve.
  • Multiple front zipped compartments.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized
  • Available in brown, tan, black, or red leather.

Click here to check the price

Best Mini Backpack for School 2023

bella small leather backpack in tan

Winner: Bella Small Leather Backpack

The Bella is the perfect mini backpack for school, helping you carry a small amount of essentials. It's best for those who don't need to take a lot of items to school. It's made from full grain leather, which looks and feels very good. We love the black leather version.

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Petite and stylish leather backpack.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Multiple internal pockets.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized

Click here to check the price

Best Satchel Backpack for School 2023

minerva leather backpack

Winner: Minerva Leather Backpack Purse

For a more traditional school book bag, the Minerva is ideal. The full grain leather offers classic yet fashionable look. It can fit a 10 inch tablet in the dedicated compartment, and has a purse style cover with a magnetic snap closure. It can be used as both a backpack and a purse.

Pros:

  • Full grain leather
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Magnetic snap closures.
  • 10 inch tablet pocket.
  • Durable cotton lining and YKK zippers.
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Can be personalized
  • Available in tan or black leather.

Click here to check the price

How to Choose a School Backpack

Style

Most kids want a backpack that looks great, but practicality is also important. Details like glitter and sequins don’t tend to withstand regular machine washing, so it’s wise to think carefully before you go ahead and purchase one of these bags. It’s wise to ensure the bag is machine washable, as these bags are often left in somewhat dirty areas.

Backpack Size

The amount of stuff you carry around with you should determine what size of bag you need.

A smaller backpack may be best for you if you tend to carry a laptop, tablet and notebook. Smaller backpacks are generally light, comfortable and affordably priced.

However, it’s essential to check that the backpack can actually accommodate your laptop. Backpacks are available that can cater for laptops as big as 17”, whilst you will struggle to even get a 13” laptop in others.

If you’re a student who needs to carry around several heavy textbooks each day, you will need to choose something very roomy with several spacious compartments. You also need to look for something with robust fabric, and you may require several external pockets.

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Materials

You must opt for something durable when you’re buying a backpack for school. Backpacks tend to be up against a great deal of activity when they are transported around schools. The more you need to carry around, the more durable your backpack needs to be. If you are carrying around heavy books, you’ll need to look for materials such as canvas, reinforced polyester and nylon. These materials don’t tend to get torn easily, and it’s unlikely that they will fall apart at the seams after a few weeks or days.

Price

There are many highly affordable backpacks on the market, but also some rather costly ones. Before you start shopping for backpacks, it’s essential to decide what your budget is. Most people who attend high school aren’t in a position to spend a great deal of money on a backpack without asking their relatives for help. However, if help is available, it makes sense to buy something a little pricier that will get you through several years of education so you’re not looking to replace it just a few months down the line.

It really is worth it to spend a little extra on a backpack for high school if you can so you can carry around heavy books and a laptop without having to prematurely replace it. If you only need a short-term option, a cheap backpack might be okay. However, in most cases, you’ll definitely be better off with a high-quality one. Cheap backpacks tend to be made from poor quality fabrics which simply can’t withstand the weight of heavy books and laptops for very long.

A cheap, lightweight backpack might be okay if you don’t carry heavy items on a regular basis, but most students do. If you do obtain a cheap backpack, try not to overuse it or use it to carry heavier loads than it can realistically handle.

Carrying Comfort

You also need to seek out a backpack that has a padded back as well as wide padded shoulder straps. Narrow straps can cause you serious comfort issues due to the way they tend to dig into your shoulders. They can also restrict circulation and leave you in a great deal of pain. Breathable material is a great feature when you’re looking for a backpack. Older kids can also benefit from shoulder or chest straps as these can remove weight from the shoulders.

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How to Pack Your School Backpack

There are several steps you can take when packing your backpack to stop it from feeling too heavy or uncomfortable:

  • Place the heaviest item closest to the back of the backpack
  • If you’re a parent or guardian, check the bag daily to look for unnecessary items
  • Use compartments to distribute weight evenly
  • Pack the night before school to leave enough time
  • When packing a backpack, do so on a raised surface such as a table. This makes packing and slipping on the backpack easier.
  • If your child says their backpack is too heavy, take a look at what’s inside it and see if anything can be removed. The school may be able to provide digital textbooks or copies of textbooks that can be kept at home.

Alternatives to a High School Backpack

Backpacks are ideal for carrying textbooks and laptops around all day. However, there are many alternatives available if you need another way to transport your goods. The best backpack alternatives are large enough to accommodate your needs and comfortable enough to be used all day long. Let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives to backpacks right now.

Duffel Bag

Duffel bags are lightweight in nature and offer a great deal of interior space. There are many styles and prints to choose from, and it’s generally easy to organise your goods inside a duffel bag. They are sometimes known as a holdall.

Messenger Bag/Shoulder Bag

These bags tend to look more professional than backpacks, and there are various designs, styles and sizes available. Another great reason for investing in a messenger bag is that they are very versatile and can even be used during date nights and other events.

Brownse messenger bags for school here

Shoulder bags are popular for various reasons. It’s easy to carry shoulder bags on buses, trains and aeroplanes. When you put everything you need in your shoulder bag, you can free up your hands for other activities. Shoulder bags tend to be very spacious, and they distribute weight to your shoulder evenly. Shoulder bags are also ideal if you want to purchase something very stylish.

Day Pack

Daypacks are very stylish and have timeless visual appeal. Again, there are many styles available. You can use daypacks when you’re out shopping, during nights out and for travel. If you ever need to quickly pack up and go elsewhere, a day pack can be your perfect partner. Day packs are easy to carry around with you and offer plenty of space for your essentials.

Tote Bags & Handbags

Tote bags are amongst the most popular alternatives to backpacks. They are ideal for anyone seeking something simple and well-built. They can act as office bags, weekender bags and travel bags. Most people can fit everything they need to carry around with them in a tote bag.

Shop leather handbags and purses here

Unstructured Hobo Bags

Hobo bags are similar to large handbags and purses. They normally have a crescent shape as well as a slouchy posture. They tend to come with long straps that are worn over your shoulder. The materials which hobo bags are made from are soft and flexible. This means the bags slouch when you use them so they’re easy to carry.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our post on the best backpacks for high school.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at info@vonbaer.com.

Want to read more? See our our Style pages here.

Author: Albert Varkki
Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you. Connect on Linkedin

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