Photo of Christopher Van Tilburg

Christopher Van Tilburg

Professional Wilderness Expert

Backpacks for Girls

Featured On:

  • NationalGeographic
Every girl needs a backpack for school or girlfriend sleepovers. But it’s tough to choose among hundreds of hip-colored, highly functional ones. Don’t just plunk down around $50-100 without reviewing the best here.

Durability is key; sturdy zippers and quality fabric should make the pack last a couple school years. Size is important too. A backpack should be big enough to carry schoolbooks and a change of clothes for PE. But, it shouldn’t be bulky or ill-fitting on a girl’s torso. Most packs should be around 1500 cubic inches (or 25 liters). Color is paramount. Young girls will love fuchsia and lavender; but a fashionista teen might want chocolate brown or paisley.

Girls love to accessorize:
- A laptop sleeve is great for toting a computer
- Side holders are super handy for water, flip-flops or an umbrella
- A music player or cell phone pouch keeps electronics from being buried under books
- Consider a hydration sleeve — a separate holder for a vinyl water bladder — if the pack pulls double-duty for hiking and mountain biking
- I love bungee cords or pouches on the front to stuff a last minute jacket or wet beach towel
- Reflective strips are key for safety at dawn or dusk

Best Girls Backpacks by Christopher Van Tilburg

The Best You Can Get

  • Dakine Wonder

    Christopher says: Dakine makes a ton of girl’s packs: all functional and wildly colorful. The Wonder can truck around books and a skateboard; choose from ten trick colors and patterns. It has water bottle holder and fleece-lined sunglass/music player/cell phone pouch. But the best part is the straps for a skateboard or rolled beach towel as well as a bungee for a spare jacket. For smaller girls, this is a great pack cruise to the pool.

    • 1300 cu. in./21 Liters
    • Skateboard carrier
    • Bungee cord
  • Jansport Air Revolt

    Christopher says: Legendary Jansport has made packs for climbing to the top of Mount Rainier. I like Air Revolt in Luscious Lavender or Thai Redpepper for girls. It is big enough for a big weekend, and is loaded with accessories geared for big loads: compression straps to pull the pack closer to a girls body, padded shoulder straps, water bottle holders, a front bungee cord, and a sleeve that will accommodate a large hydration bladder or a fifteen-inch laptop. Plus, it has reflective zipper pulls for night safety.

    • 2000 cu. in./33 L
    • Laptop sleeve
    • Bungee cord
  • Osprey Helix

    Christopher says: The Osprey Helix is part of the ReSource series of recycled materials. This compact pack is excellent for smaller girls or for those who are minimalists. The internal organizer keeps electronics and school stuff handy. The side mesh pouches are large enough to fit water bottles or a wet swimsuit; the front bungee holds extra gear. It comes in muted earth tones for a timeless, eco-friendly look like Redwood, Glacier, Panda, or Rainforest.

    • 1000 cu. in./17 L
    • Small, light
    • Front bungee
  • Kelty Redwing

    Christopher says: Kelty is an old and trusted name in backpacking. From their women’s series, the Redwing is a true blue suspension pack, large enough for weeklong trips to summer camp, family travel, or an overnight backpack in the forest. It has accessories you find on climbing backpacks like ice ax loops, lash tabs for extra gear, a hydration bladder sleeve, and aluminum stays to keep the pack rigid. It comes with nice accessories for modern life, like electronic pockets. The suspension is where it really adds up. Designed for the small build of females, it has a waist belt, padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap and load-compression cinches.

    • 2500 cu. in./41 L
    • Big enough for summer camp
    • Worthy of a backpack trip
  • Timbuk2 Lex Pac

    Christopher says: Timbuk2 is known for their custom messenger bags. Now you can build a custom pack designed by professional bike messengers. Choose from tons of bright and bold colors and cool patterns, from rugged ballistic nylon to flowery fabrics. Yes, they are more expensive. But this pack will last well into college. The Lex Pak is geared for girls on the move: it has internal organizer pouches, but no outside straps or pockets making this a clean, trim look.

    • Three sizes
    • Custom colors
    • Custom fabrics

You will be happy with any of these

  • The North Face Ingrid

    Christopher says: The North Face is known for their climbing pursuits, but they have a line of travel packs for girls. The Ingrid has a girl’s profile: sleek and sporty. A large compartment houses a laptop and a secondary pouch has an internal organizer. It’s bare of accessories except for an external water bottle pocket. The unique quilted pattern gives a look that’s both feminine and athletic.

    • 1460 cu. in./24 L
    • Girls’ shoulder harness
    • Unique quilted styling
  • High Sierra Curve

    Christopher says: High Sierra’s quality and reasonably priced packs are difficult to choose from: there are so many great ones. For girls, the Curve comes in smooth lines that complement a small frame. It has a large front pocket, with the usual small electronics pouch with a headphone port. Huge side pockets hold H2O, flip flops, or an umbrella. A shoulder strap pouch keeps the cell phone handy without removing the pack so she can quickly call Dad for a ride home.

    • 1710 cu. in./28 L
    • Cell phone pouch in shoulder strap
  • Columbia Hood River

    Christopher says: One of the simplest packs is surprisingly well made and affordable. The classic design comes in classic girl colors, like Beet. It has all the key ingredients for a great school pack: main compartment, school supply organizer, industrial-strength side water bottle pockets, reflector accents, and a music holder with a hole for headphones. It doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, but most kids will appreciate the light weight. Parents love the price and Columbia’s reputation for durability.

    • 2040 cu. in./33 L
    • Light and durable
    • No frills
  • Jansport Half Pint

    Christopher says: For small girls or those who want to use a backpack as a purse, check out the Half Pint. One main compartment houses a few books. A front panel keeps essentials like cell phone, MP3 player, and sunglasses. A small stash holds a wallet. It comes in ten hip colors like Pink Daiquiri Patchwork and Dragonfly Blue Baby Stripe.

    • 625 cu. in./10 L
    • Small and light
    • Cool colors
  • Kelty Itty

    Christopher says: The smallest pack in this review, Kelty has a long history of encouraging family adventures. Geared to preschool girls, the Itty comes in patterns and colors like Cherry and Grape Butterflies, Peppermint, and Watermelon Flowers. It is just right for a few school supplies, a lunch, and a cell phone. The best part: it’s small enough to stuff in a parent’s pack when Dad’s girl needs a shoulder ride from the zoo back to the car.

    • 600 cu. in./12 L
    • Tiny pack for tots

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