Backpacks & Lunchboxes

Updated on July 12, 2010
J.B. asks from Columbus, OH
15 answers

Hi Mamas! I'm trying to get a "jump start" on prepping my DD who will start Kindergarten at the end of August. I wanted to ask your opinions as to whether its worth the extra money to splurge on a nicer backpack from Lands End, LLBean, or something of the like?? I know it won't have all the fun designs such as princesses or tinkerbell, etc on it, but did your kids really care? Do they really hold up better or should I just go with a cheaper, fun one? Also did you go w/ a lunch sack from one of those places or just one from Walmart, Meijer, Target, etc?? Would love to have input on whats held up best, whats your favorite, and been the better buy in your opinions!!

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answers from Columbus on

Hello, I would try- The Lunchbots- to hold the actual food. They are safe unlike some that you would find in stores. You can order them online, or at certain stores depending on where you live. And I would go with a good backpack- we homeschool so I am not the best to ask about backpacks!!! But I would definitely go with the Lunchbots as well!!!!

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answers from Toledo on

I have 2 of my kids in school already...1 going into 4th grade and the other going into 1st grade, so my advice comes from experience. Go with the cheaper ones. They drag them around, toss them over the seats on the bus, drop them countless times, and (in our school anyway) even though each classroom has a designated place for them, they ALWAYS end up on the floor and inevitably stepped on. Yes, the cheaper one will "break down" a little before the end of the year, but it will still likely be usable. We actually usually go to the Disney store in August becuase they have a special when you buy a backpack, you get the matching lunch box for free. We end up spending around $25 for both peices together!



answers from Columbus on

My daughter just finished kindergarten and her Disney Princess backpack will not survive another year as it practically has holes in the bottom. I got it very inexpensively ... but I think it's hard to say what the condition would be on a more expensive one. As for lunch, Tupperware carries a cute kids lunch bag in their full catalog and a special version (in purple!) comes out on Saturday. I'm all about guaranteeing that the food stays fresh and won't spill, so I definitely recommend Tupperware. You can check out my website at ... but remember that the new purple one won't be available for viewing or purchasing until Saturday, July 10th.



answers from San Francisco on

IMO the LL Bean backpacks and lunch boxes do hold up better but it might be worth waiting until your daughter is in 1st grade before investing in one (BTW if you check online in late June you'll probably find great sales on the backpacks and lunch boxes). My girls have LL Bean lunch boxes they've been using since *preschool* (they'll be going in to 3rd grade in the fall). We got them LL Bean back packs for 1st grade and after 2 years they're holding up very well, and I picked up a couple cute appliques from the craft store so they could add a little decoration each year instead of buying a new pack.
But if your DD likes princesses or other designs, get a cheap one for kindy b/c it's quite likely she'll decide that princesses are so "babyish" before she starts 1st grade ;-). At my girls' school, there were a fair number of 'character' backpacks in kindy, a handful in 1st grade, and almost none by second grade, so IMO somewhere around 1st/2nd grade is a logical time to opt for a LLBean/Lands End type of backpack



answers from Atlanta on

I purchased a great backpack and matching lunch box from LL Bean for my oldest 3 years ago to take to preschool. He's used it constantly since then, and it's been on numerous outings and trips with us. It still looks new! The lunchbox/bag has also held up wonderfully. His is olive green with an owl on it and his initials monogrammed on the lunch bag and outside of the backpack. I was going to get him something new if he wanted Spiderman or Toy Story since he's starting all-day 4 year PreK this August, but I asked him yesterday if he wanted a new one, and he said, "NO!" -he really loves it!

I think it depends on the overall quality of any others. If you don't mind getting a new one every year, then letting her have a character one from Target or Walmart is fine. It may last for years or not -I've had both experiences from bags and that sort of thing from those stores. Most likely, she may want a different character every year! I'm prepared for my son to want a character sometime soon, and that's fine because we can still use our LL Bean one for other outings, but I don't think it will wear out for years!

***Some of the LL Bean and Land's End ones DO have designs or animals and things on them like our owl one. Also, you may want to look at Pottery Barn and The Company Store. Both places have high-quality and cool-looking backpacks.



answers from Columbus on

In my own experience, I did not purchase an expensive backpack or lunch sack. Here is why...during Kindergarten and even the 1st grade, my son would be dragging his backpack across the ground creating many scuffs and eventually holes in the bottom. I am going to buy yet another cheaper one this year until I see that he can carry it not destroy. Then I will invest in a Jansport as I had one with a leather bottom last from 5th grade thru college. On the lunch sack, you have to remember smaller items tend to get lost or forgotten. I purchased 2 lunch sacks so that if he lost or forgot to bring one home I would have a back up ready to go. Hope this helps. :o)



answers from Cincinnati on

In my experience, a backpack in grade school only lasts a year. You might as well get a cheap one if you're going to have to replace it at the end of the year, anyway. As kids get older, their bags tend to last longer (I had one backpack for 3 years of high school), but at this age, they get tossed around, things get spilled, and I just don't think it's worth the extra money.


answers from New York on

I would buy the luchboxe from Lands End, because when is about keeping food good I rather play safe, besides you can use it later; and I would buy her a cute cheap backpack with her favorite character. Even if I think that the Lands End will hold better, part of the fun think about staring school is shop for her stuff. Besides, every year they hope to have a different one and they do destroy the old one. I would only buy a good one when they go to High school.



answers from Columbus on

You have to be sure any backpack you get is WIDE enough for folders. Some of the character backpacks are too narrow. The better made backpacks do last longer. The cheaper ones may not last a full school year. And its very difficult to find lunch boxes and backpacks after the fall.

Be careful about buying the smaller backpacks from lands end too - may not be wide enough for folders, binders, etc when they get into 1st, 2nd grade.

Lunchboxes - get one which has a separate sandwich compartment so they don't get crushed. I don't want to put the sandwiches in tupperware containers because the kids loose them, or throw them out by mistake. I there is a separate compartment other stuff won't crush the sandwich. Buy at least 2 - they get lost, they forget to bring them home, or food spills inside. Lunch boxes are very hard to find if you need to replace them mid year. I have never bought the lands end lunch boxes. I don't need to buy new ones every year, but I make sure we have 3 at the beginning of the school year. When they are younger, its also good to have a back pack big enough to put the lunch box inside - then the kids are less likely to loose it.



answers from Fresno on

Pottery Barn kids have the cutest personalized backpacks and matching lunchboxes



answers from Chicago on

For kindergarten, I would say just get a small backpack- one with Tinkerbell or something is about the right size. For one, your child really will not need a heavy-duty backpack yet. Believe me, there will be plenty of time for that, coming up!

My son had a Spiderman backpack for pre-school and kindergarten and a Spiderman insulated lunchbox. The lunchbox did not make it through the year, but we ended up passing the backpack on to someone else.

Now he is going into 5th grade. he has been using a heavy-duty backpack since 1st grade, but has requested one with wheels for this coming year, because he has a lot more homework and heavier books to carry now. I am planning to invest on a good quality one from Lands End, which hopefully will see him through high school!

We have been using the same insulated cloth lunchbox with a shoulder carrying strap since about 2nd grade. It came from Target and has worked just fine all this time.

As the kids get older, boys especially don't seem to need as much 'decorated' stuff- my son puts his own stickers, etc. on his backpacks and lunchbox now. Get your kids the silly, little kid stuff now, while its age-appropriate. They will need heavy-duty gear before you know it!



answers from Kansas City on

We did the LL Bean backpack for my daughter when she started preschool. She carried that backpack until she was in third grade. In fourth grade, she decided that she was bored with it and her dad and I felt that she was well within her right to get a new one!

Children's Place sells backpacks that are every bit as sturdy and have matching lunch boxes. Happy shopping!


answers from Dallas on

I see that people are telling you to get a small backpack. Before you do that, make sure that she won't need a full sized for school. My daughters, even at preschoool, have been required to have a regular backpack. Folders don't fit in the small ones.
Just get a cheap one from target with a character that she likes. They get dragged around everywhere! :)



answers from Toledo on

Get the cheap ones on both. They get torn up or lost. A broken zipper, and your expensive one goes in the trash. The girls love their princesses. Get what she wants. She'll love picking one out.



answers from Minneapolis on

My kids always used the "cheap" backpacks until they were in about 5th grade. That way, if they wanted the current "cute one" each year, I didn't mind. Just look for the smaller ones - the "regular sized" ones are so big :)

I did get the nicer lunch sacks and ordered them with their names stiched right on them. The nicer ones tended to be easier to clean and with the names on them, I had no worries that there would be a mix-up (even in my own house!).

Good luck!

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