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Crate & Barrel's Crate & Kids backpack review

Our new favorite backpack is from an unlikely retailer, and it checks all the boxes

Two Crate & Barrel Kids' backpacks Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

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  1. Product image of Crate & Barrel Large Kids Backpack

    Crate & Barrel Large Kids Backpack

    Pros

    • Cute designs

    • Excellent design

    • Strong construction

    Cons

    • Lack of mesh airflow on the back

Best known for beautiful baby registry pieces and kids’ furniture, Crate & Barrel's Crate & Kids offshoot has steadily been making a name for itself with well-designed baby and kids’ items. This fall, it debuted a new back-to-school line with backpacks, lunch boxes, and water bottles, and we are impressed.

Quite frankly, it feels like Crate & Kids read our critiques of kids’ water bottles, kids’ backpacks, and kids’ lunchboxes and decided to answer all of our prayers.

Backpacks are the main star of this new collection, and they're what we’ll be focusing on in this review. We tested the large backpack, which is great for kids in third grade and up, but these backpacks also come in size medium, which will take kids from preschool to about second grade.

About Crate & Kids backpacks

Crafted from polyester made from recycled water bottles, these durable backpacks have a roomy interior and an eye-catching exterior. They are comfortably constructed with kids in mind and take into account the wear and tear children put on their school backpacks.

  • Sizes: Medium for preschool to second grade; large for third and up
  • Shell: Water-resistant recycled polyester shell
  • Pockets: Two water pockets, a large exterior pocket, a padded laptop sleeve, and two interior pockets
  • Personalization: Yes
  • Cleaning: Spot clean

Why we like the Crate & Kids backpacks

The padding is fantastic

Inside of a Crate & Barrel Kids' backpack
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

We love the internal padding on these backpacks.

When testing kids’ backpacks for our list of Best Backpacks for Kids, we ran into a handful of frustrations with many of the backpacks we tried. It was hard to find a kids’ backpack that truly takes into consideration how a kid might use a backpack. Many were uncomfortable for kids while others lacked the strength to stand up to more than one year of use.

Padding is a no-brainer for comfort, but it’s also a lifesaver when it comes to protecting items like tablets and Chromebooks. Padding also helps for maintaining the structure of the backpack so that it sits with comfort on a child’s small frame.

We love a sturdy laptop sleeve, and the padding on this one adds extra protection against drops and even liquid spills. It also adds a level of durability through continuous use.

The back and straps have comfort padding, while the bottom has additional padding that helps protect everything inside. What’s brilliant about the padding on the bottom is it coaxes the bag upright when it’s thrown on the ground. What that means is, when it comes time to wash a backpack, the biggest point of stains and wear stays on the bottom—at the same time, the bottom is less prone to holes because of that padding. Brilliant!

The pockets are well thought out

A side shot of bottles in a Crate & Barrel Kids' backpack
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

All of the pockets on this backpack is so well thought out.

Pockets are probably the greatest point of contention for me when shopping for a kids’ backpack. On most other bags, the choice of pockets was either too few pockets or too many deep pockets where things would get lost.

In still other bags, we’d see poor construction and cheap fabrics, or we’d inexplicably see mesh used in some of the most high-traffic areas on the bag. There are either too many and everything gets lost, too few and nothing can be organized, or the pockets are so deep that you find “treasures” in them deep into the next school year.

Crate & Kids built these backpack pockets with a kid’s use in mind. Each comes with a good-sized exterior pocket. Inside is an extra large laptop pocket and then there are two smaller pockets inside that are just the right size for a box of markers or a bunch of pens and pencils. It also velcros shut to keep everything organized.

The water bottle pockets are roomy enough to hold a bottle with some heft to it and deep enough to hold larger-capacity options. It is also made from the same sturdy recycled polyester shell material as the rest of the bag, so it won’t rip easily like lots of mesh options.

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The construction is excellent

An inside shot of a Crate & Barrel Kids' backpack
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

These bags are super roomy without being too big for a kid to manage.

These are some sturdy bags! We’ve been testing ours for two weeks, and in our testing, we have dragged it down our driveway and thrown it down a flight of stairs numerous times. We’ve also allowed our kid’s most destructive friend to have a go at these bags. It's holding up, and it looks terrific.

Time will tell if these bags will take our kid to college but, for now, I can say with complete confidence that he’ll get at least two years out of it.

The prints are great

Four different Crate & Barrel Kids backpacks
Credit: Crate & Barrel Kids / Reviewed

Just look at these adorable designs!

Our child is in the third grade, which is a straddle year where they still like cute designs—but the cute designs should also be cool! It’s a hard age to appease a child’s taste.

The vibrant colors of the bags are gorgeous and the designs are more grow-with-you than most bags for younger kids.

The size is perfect

We tried the large backpack and the size is just right for our third grader. During school, he never struggles with getting any sized lunchbox in there, even with a sweatshirt and school work.

On the weekends it’s a perfect size for a couple of days' clothing, making it an excellent multipurpose backpack.

What we didn’t like about the Crate & Kids backpack

There is a lack of airflow

Two backpacks back to back for comparison.
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

We would have loved to have seen some attention to ventilation on the back of these bags, but it's that's our only complaint.

I polled a few other parents; whether or not this is important to you may very well be based on where you live. My family lives in Los Angeles, and this month our children went to school in record-breaking heat that reached 108°F. For us, airflow is important.

My family favors backpacks that have mesh padding on the back or well-structured air channels, which this bag doesn’t have. For the day-to-day, our third grader says it’s no big deal, but I do worry about it getting too hot when being worn for long periods of time.

Should you buy the Crate & Kids’ backpack?

Yes!

If your child’s backpack could do with a refresh or you want to score a cute new style to gift for the holidays, these bags are terrific. This is a bag that is not only versatile, but we can tell it will last.

Right now most of these new pieces are on sale, so if you want to stock up on that extra water bottle or you aren’t happy with your kids’ current backpack, the deals are amazing, and we suggest you shop now.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

  1. Product image of Crate & Barrel Large Kids Backpack

    Crate & Barrel Large Kids Backpack

    Pros

    • Cute designs

    • Excellent design

    • Strong construction

    Cons

    • Lack of mesh airflow on the back