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Toddlers have favourite things. Whether yours loves a special teddy, a box of raisins or a random plastic figurine, keeping these essential items nearby at all times is a phase so many little ones go through. A toddler-friendly backpack is the perfect thing to let them carry around their best things, while keeping their hands free for exploring.
Also great for nursery and days out, a bright, recognisable backpack that’ll fit lunch, a water bottle, wipes, a couple of nappies and an emergency change of clothes is indispensable. Many also come with added safety features such as high-vis fabrics.
We’ve searched high and low to bring you our pick of the best backpacks for toddlers, based on recommendations from Mumsnetters.
Here are the best toddler backpacks to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall toddler backpack: Skip Hop Zoo Pack
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
"My DD has the skiphop zoo bee one and it's really really cute!" - Dublinmom
"Skiphop owl rucksack is very cute! We've got a monkey design one which was a birthday present" - popcal
With a friendly dragon face and padded straps, kids will love this backpack by Skip Hop. We’ve chosen this as our best overall toddler rucksack for its roomy and easy to clean inner compartment, plenty of pockets and thoughtful details like the built-in name tag.
Available in 11 different animal designs - from a butterfly to a narwhal - there’s a Skip Hop bag for every child. The materials are durable and well-made, there’s room for everything your little one needs for a day at nursery, plus you can get matching snack pots and water bottles for each bag design.
Size/capacity: 27 x 30 x12cm
2. Best budget toddler backpack: Centrix Drawstring Bag
Price: £2 | Buy now from Amazon
"I would just get a little drawstring type bag which won’t take up much space and will fit in a change of clothes, suncream etc"
If value for money is top of your list of priorities, a brightly coloured drawstring backpack comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters. This one by Centrix is a snip at under £2 plus P+P, and it comes in 13 different colours.
Big enough to fit everything your toddler needs for a day out, but with the added bonus of folding flat when not in use, this is a practical choice - especially if your toddler’s not that bothered about what their nursery bag looks like.
Size/capacity: 42 x 34cm
3. Best Lightweight Toddler Backpack: Fjallraven Mini Kanken
Price: £75 | Buy now from Amazon
"Toddler DD takes a Fjallraven Kanken Mini to daycare though. And I have the regular one. They're fab"
Mumsnetters love the adult Kanken by Swedish brand Fjallraven, and the mini version is every bit as practical and stylish. We love the expert craftsmanship and attention to detail, as well as the long, adjustable straps that mean the backpack will grow with your child.
Made of ultra-light polyester, the bag is water resistant and is available on the Fjallraven website in more than 60 different colours. Thanks to the distinctive handles, the kanken backpack can be carried by hand or on your child’s back.
4. Best toddler backpack with reins: LittleLife Animal Toddler Backpack
Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon
“Little life ones are fab and my son loves to wear his dinosaur one. With room for a nappy and a snack.”
“You can put a nappy and a couple of wipes in them too. Get them used to carrying their own bits.”
“The littlelife backpack is brilliant, my 20 month old carries her snacks and drinks in hers (no more loose biscuits or raisins in the bottom of my handbag, yeay).”
If your toddler’s a bit of a flight risk and you’re looking for the peace of mind a set of toddler reins brings, you can’t go wrong with a LittleLife safety backpack. While the backpack itself is a lot smaller than the others on our list, it’s the removable reins designed to keep your toddler from running off that Mumsnetters rate.
LittleLife are so cute kids really want to wear them - the tiger style even has a tail - and they’re a great way of getting your child used to carrying some of their own things around.
Material: Nylon and polyester
Size/capacity: 2 litres
5. Best toddler backpack with a chest strap: Deuter Kikki
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
"Deuter do really nice kids rucksacks with a strap across the front"
To keep your child’s backpack firmly on, opt for one with a chest strap. We love this colourful one by Deuter for the sweet owl character as well as the ingenious details. Kikki’s the owl’s eyes are reflective for night-time wear, and the straps have loads of padding for extra comfort.
Available in green, blue or pink and purple, the Kikki is well-made, durable and fits plenty inside. The only drawback is the dark blue coloured inner lining, which makes digging around for a nappy or a box of raisins that bit more difficult.
Material: Polyester and polyamide
Size/capacity: 35 x 20 x16cm
6. Best toddler backpack for nursery: Cath Kidston Mini Rucksack
Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon
“I use them because they cope well with spills, stains etc and long lasting"
"I wouldn’t think them very trendy, but know it’s a brand I can trust"
Cath Kidston divides opinion on Mumsnet, but for those on team Cath, her toddler rucksacks are a no-brainer for nursery.
Made from durable and, crucially, wipe-clean oilcloth, this backpack features a cute retro design and plenty of room for toddler essentials. The straps don’t have padding like other similarly-priced styles, but if you’re looking for a more traditional design this backpack is hard to beat.
Material: PVC coated cotton
Size/capacity: 19 x 23 x 8cm
7. Best Toddler Backpack for Travel: Samsonite Happy Sammies
Price: From £25 | Buy now from Amazon
"Samsonite do some lovely animal ones - my son has one that looks like a tortoise shell but in a really nice, non tacky way iyswim. Has lasted for years and looks good as new!"
"I agree the Samsonite ones are great"
With a fox, koala, duck, raccoon or hedgehog to choose from, all in muted colours, we think Samsonite’s Happy Sammies range is a great choice for toddlers on tour.
Featuring plenty of clever details, including reflective strips and chest straps, this is a really well-made backpack from a reliable luggage brand. You can even get a matching pencil case and suitcase to complete the jet-set look.
Material: Recycled polyester
Size/capacity: 11 litres
8. Best backpack and lunch box set: Paddington Bear
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
While most generously-sized lunchboxes will take up the majority of room in a toddler’s backpack, this Paddington Bear set is different. The lunch box clips onto the front of the backpack, leaving plenty of space inside for other essentials.
A perfect bag for nursery, we love the cute Paddington illustration and the lunch box made to look like an old fashioned suitcase.
Material: not stated
Size/capacity: backpack: 30 x 23cm lunch box: 16 x 21cm
9. Best hi-vis toddler backpack: Trunki Toddlepak
Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon
With high-vis piping around the face, feet and mouth of each animal-shaped backpack, the ToddlePak by Trunki also has fluorescent colours to keep your toddler easy to spot.
With a chest strap and oversized, easy to grab handle this backpack is incredibly safety-conscious. Available in five different colours and animals, this backpack is spacious, eye-catching and we just love the ‘cuddling arms’ designed for keeping cuddly toys or blankets safe and within reach.
Material: not stated
Size/capacity: 4 litres
10. Best personalised toddler backpack: TinyMe
Price: £29 | Buy now from Tinyme
"They do gorgeous personalised bags. I am going to order one for my son for when he starts nursery"
With 370 customisable designs, TinyMe’s range of backpacks can truly be made to suit your child’s unique personality and taste. Featuring six skin tones and hair colours, as well as nine different fabric colours to choose from, we’re really impressed with the possibilities.
Just because they specialise in personalisation doesn’t mean TinyMe scrimp on quality. Their backpacks feature a padded back and straps, a side pocket for a water bottle and internal pocket for keeping things organised.
Size/capacity: 33 x 22 x 10cm
How to choose the best toddler backpack
First, consider what you want the backpack for. If it’s a day at nursery, there will be certain things that need to fit inside. If you’re after a backpack with reins, size and capacity are less important and it’s OK if it’ll just fit a snack and a few toy cars. Look for one that’s big enough for everything you want to put in it, small enough that your toddler can comfortably wear it, and with adjustable straps if you’re likely to end up carrying it yourself some of the time.
What to put in a toddler backpack
Comfort toys they like to bring everywhere, snacks, water, nappies and a change of clothes. While you’ll obviously need other toddler-related things (like wipes, nappy sacks and snacks for you) in your own bag, a backpack is a good way of letting your child get used to carrying around some of their stuff.
Are toddler reins safe?
Toddler reins are a subject of some controversy. While they give some parents peace of mind, experts say they’re no substitute for close supervision and could cause injury if the reins are pulled or get tangled. Look for safety standards if you do decide on reins for your child, and always remove them when not in use.
What is the best toddler backpack to buy?
Skip Hop gets our vote for best toddler backpack - we love the quality and choice of designs.
How we chose our recommendations
Most of our recommendations for toddler backpacks came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which backpacks Mumsnetters bought for their children. We also researched various review sites to find out which toddler backpacks both looked and performed well across the board.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.