What Is the Best Backpack for Middle School? 

 March 10, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

With all the things students need to bring with them to middle school daily, the right backpack is essential. However, there are so many backpacks out there that it can get confusing to find one that’s suitable for middle school.

A backpack that’s best for middle school has several compartments in varying sizes. The ideal capacity is from 21 to 30 liters without being bigger than your back. It should be comfortable, of good quality, and ergonomic.

There are other factors to consider to help you determine the best backpack for use during middle school. Read on below to learn more.

What Is the Best Type of Backpack for Middle School?

Backpacks are one of the most important items for any middle school student.

It’s where they store all of their essentials and rely on it to safely keep all their belongings before, during, and after class. But how do you find the most appropriate middle school backpack? They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Here’s a guide on how to find one that suits your child’s needs.


A backpack that can accommodate 21 to 30 liters is the ideal size. This is also the most common capacity for many school backpacks, providing students with ample space without being too big or too small. When students enter middle school, they have to carry significantly larger and heavier books as well as other learning tools, so ample space is necessary.

In addition, the backpack shouldn’t be larger than your child’s back. A bag that is too big or too heavy can cause back pain and discomfort. Ideally, the pack is centered between shoulder blades when worn with all the school gear. 


The best backpacks for middle school have adequate compartments in different sizes. This feature makes it easy for students to locate what they need quickly within the pack, without having to spend time unnecessarily searching for items.

Many school backpacks are already equipped with pockets, but it’s best to choose one that has the pockets for precisely what you need in school. For example, a padded laptop or tablet compartment, smaller exterior compartment, water bottle holder, or smaller pockets for pens, keys, USB drives, and other small items. A pouch specifically for snacks and lunch is a great feature too, though this can also be placed in the main compartment.

The main compartment of the backpack should also be roomy enough to carry their textbooks and notebooks neatly. Secret RFID pockets are an optional feature which can be beneficial for prevention of theft and pickpocketing.

Compartments in varying sizes don’t just aid with organization, but also help with efficiently spreading weight around the bag.


Several factors impact how comfortable a backpack is when worn:

  1. 1
    Wide, padded shoulder straps: Good backpacks will have broad padded shoulder straps which make carrying even heavier weights more bearable. Meanwhile, poor quality backpacks don’t have padded shoulder straps and are narrow, causing the straps to dig into the skin and are extremely uncomfortable to wear.
  2. 2
    Adjustable shoulder straps: Being able to adjust shoulder straps is beneficial for proper weight distribution. For example, a middle school student may have to pack extra clothes for physical education classes a few times a week and thus would have to carry more weight compared to other days. In these situations, they would benefit from quickly and easily adjusting the strap length as needed.
  3. 3
    Hip and/or chest belts: The use of adjustable hip and/or chest belts is a great feature that reduces discomfort and pressure from carrying the backpack on your shoulders. It also assists in improving overall balance.

Look for bags made with ergonomic design for added comfort, such as flexible shoulder straps, airmesh back panels for better airflow, and strategic pockets for efficient weight distribution.

Good Quality

Inexpensive school backpacks will not last a long time. They can cause problems for kids, such as the bottom fabric tearing out from the heavy weight of textbooks while in school. Avoid these problems by going for good quality backpacks for middle school, and the good news is that quality doesn’t have to be expensive.

Additional Considerations When Choosing the Best Middle School Backpacks


Quality zippers don’t get tangled on fabrics easily, are made with metal, and run smoothly. YKK is a renowned zipper brand and is widely used by trusted backpack manufacturers.


Backpacks are made by stitching fabrics together, and how well stitching is done will tell you a lot about the quality (or lack thereof) in a backpack. The stitching should be precise, clean and not have any messy overlaps. Some superior quality backpacks have high-density stitches to strengthen several areas of the pack, ensuring that they don’t break easily even when they are subject to heavy weight.

Avoid backpacks that have loose or uneven stitches and frayed fabric edges.


When a backpack comes with a warranty from its manufacturer, it’s their way of telling you that they are confident in the durability of their product. Research on bag warranty before you purchase it, so that if it doesn’t last as long or it has any issues when delivered, you have peace of mind that you’ll be able to return it. Generally speaking, the longer warranties are, the better for you – and there are many backpack brands that come with a lifetime warranty.


Durable materials will increase the lifespan of a backpack. Look for packs made from nylon, polyester, or a blend of these materials. Canvas backpacks are also another popular material of choice; leather school backpacks also work though they are on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Waterproof or water-resistant material is optional though it’s helpful for extra protection.

Optional Features to Consider


Rolling backpacks, or backpacks that can be converted into strollers or backpacks, are a great choice for middle school students. Shifting from backpack to stroller is beneficial for days when they need to bring extra weight (such as for extracurricular activities, sports, textbooks, or other gear), without being forced to carry it on their back.

Reflective tape

Reflective tape is a security feature that ensures you can be seen by cars when walking to and from school. This can also be helpful during the winter months when daylight hours are shorter.

Personal Style

Last but not least, a good backpack for middle school should match your child’s personal style. Given the availability of many stylish school bags out there, you can easily find one that meets your child’s needs as well as their style, all while being within your budget.

Best Backpack for Middle School

There are many excellent backpacks that are perfect for middle school. You can also find them on our website:

-   Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack
-   High Sierra Loop Backpack
-   JanSport SuperBreak Backpack

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a backpack for middle school?

Backpacks are the most popular choice of bag for all school levels.

However, there are many other styles that may suit students depending on their lifestyle and school needs. Other options include messenger bag, stroller, duffel bag, laptop bag,

What to keep in your backpack for middle school?

Having everything you need in your backpack helps you stay prepared for school. Here are essentials that you should keep in your backpack:

  • Calculator
  • Notebooks, planner
  • Writing tools (pens, pencils, sharpener, highlighter)
  • Binder
  • Laptop/tablet
  • USB flash drive
  • Combination lock
  • Lunch box and snacks
About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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