I’m going to lead with my favorite backpack, and in fact you could suspect me of writing this entire post as an excuse to show it to you:
L.L. Bean Jr. Backpack in Blue Woodland Critter (photo from LLBean.com). Look at the little owls! The sweet baby deer! I’m so sorry it’s in a junior size and that it’s not available until late September and that none of my kids need backpacks this year anyway.
They do have good prints in the regular-size backpacks, too: here’s a shark one (photo from LLBean.com) I would be tempted to get for Henry, if he didn’t already have the next backpack I’m going to show you.
This Crocodile Creek Jouster backpack (photo from Amazon.com) went on sale or clearance or something late last fall for $13, and Henry is in a knights phase, so I bought it for him for Christmas. Because the kids’ interests can be fleeting, it’s harder to spend money on a themed backpack—but I really LIKE to, so it’s nice when price and theme are both acceptable. And Crocodile Creek has a lot of good themes: Henry had the stegosaurus one before the knight one, and there’s also a solar system one, a robot one, a pirate one, a ballerina, a fire truck, a race car, princess, horses…
What I like to do is buy a basic sturdy solid-color backpack, and then ALSO get a theme one if it goes on a good price, and/or if the child really wants it and I can get it for Christmas or birthday. Then if the theme one isn’t very durable, or if the craze passes, or if the theme one doesn’t go on a good sale until long after school starts, we’re covered. But you know what’s kind of weird? I was looking for an example of such a pack, and we always buy from either L.L. Bean or Lands’ End—and neither place had very many solid-color regular backpacks. L.L. Bean had some solid colors in deluxe, super-deluxe, and junior, and just four colors in regular/original (photo above right from them)—which I had to specifically search for, because they didn’t show up when I just clicked on the “backpacks” category. And Lands’ End has just three non-patterned choices, each a multi-color (photo above left from them). Well, considering how many such backpacks I’ve bought from both places at severely reduced prices ($11.99 sometimes, or last year I got some for under $9 with a percentage-discount coupon), they must not sell very well, and perhaps switching to mostly patterns and themes is a wise choice!
If you are looking for a good-quality backpack but you need a good price and aren’t picky about what it looks like, L.L. Bean has this blue-wave batik one (photo from LLBean.com) at $16.99 down from $39.95.
What is your backpack strategy? Do you look for one durable/expensive/basic one to last for years? A less expensive one that can be tossed at the end of the year? A fun theme one to represent that year’s interest?