Back to School Favorites | Best Backpacks, Lunchboxes, & Water Bottles

It’s Back to School season, which means back to school shopping! There is something about loading up on school supplies and new shoes that brings back all the nostalgia. Of course we love snagging the best school supply sales at Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree – but we also wanted to round up the special items and essentials from our favorite shops and brands. We polled you, our audience, and are sharing the results along with our own personal favorites for those back to school needs. 

Best Backpacks

Mom Tip: We recommend the larger backpack sizes, even for your kindergartners, to make sure 8.5×11 folders fit inside. 

LL Bean Deluxe Backpack: $49.95 Such a classic, the LL Bean Backpacks always come through with quality! These backpacks last for years and come in a variety of designs and colors. *ability to be monogrammed.

Pottery Barn Kids Backpacks: $34.50 – $54.50 These backpacks are a fan favorite and mentioned by the majority in our poll. Again, we recommend the large size backpack to make sure you can include folders so they don’t bend. *ability to be monogrammed. Tip: My daughter has one of the glitter backpacks, and it has not held up as well as a regular canvas. 

Skip Hop Backpack: $22 (or $19 on sale!) *for ages 2-4 Mentioned for toddlers and preschoolers (great for Kids Day Out or Daycare), this little backpack is easy to clean and the perfect size for snacks, water bottle, and other little items.

Best Water Bottles

Our standards are high when it comes to water bottles, and there were a lot of opinions on this one. The features we look for while on the hunt for the perfect water bottle include: little to no sweating, dishwasher safe, leak-proof, durable, and little to no extra pieces. The following were the winners. 

Bubba Kids Flo Water Bottle 16oz: $5.00 A few mentioned various brands at Walmart/Target, and I personally found these gems in desperation a few years ago (I was so tired of losing straws), and I hit the jackpot with these 16 oz. water bottles you can find at Target or Walmart. We love them because they also have a silicon sleeve which sops up any sweat. Biggest win: they don’t have a separate straw, which means no lost pieces in the dishwasher!

Hydro Flask Kids’ Wide Mouth Bottle 12oz: $29.95 These stainless steel cuties are the perfect size, dishwasher safe, have a silicon boot, and keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours. Sometimes, you can find the cheaper off-brand version at Costco – it’s called Thermaflask and only $24.95 for two (and they work just as great…just not as many design/color options). 

Simple Modern Kids Water Bottle Thermos 10oz: $15.99 These have the same durability of Hydro Flasks but a bit cheaper and have dozens of cute designs. This is one of our favorite brands of water bottles and came highly recommended by many Wichita moms.

Best Lunchboxes & Accessories


Pottery Barn: $26.50 – $40.50 Like the backpacks, the PB lunchboxes will last for years. We like the classic size (big enough for containers) but if you prefer a larger Bento Box, you might opt for the cold pack size. *ability to be monogrammed.

Fluf Zipper Lunch Bag: $28.95 Washable, durable, and with water resistant lining on the interior – these are great lunch bags. And they come in so many fun colors and designs (and can arrive in 2 days on Prime)!

Love of Character Confetti Lunch Box: $28 I got this one year for my kindergartner, and it was so much fun, and of course it’s great to support local! *ability to be monogrammed.

Storage Containers: 

The majority polled use some type of container inside the lunchbox. Here are the ones we love:

EasyLunchBoxes Bento Lunch Boxes: $13.95 for 3 I have had this set for three years now. They are dishwasher safe and fit in my daughter’s Pottery Barn Classic Size lunch box. They fit a sandwich and have two smaller compartments for fruit or veggies or crackers, etc.

Cat & Jack Bento Boxes: $7.99 Haven’t tried these, but for the price, they seem to be worth a shot! And they are dishwasher safe. Best part? You can order and pickup same day. 

Pottery Barn Confetti Glitter Box: $18.50 These feel like a bit of a splurge, but they are so cute! And they are great for craft organization too. And I also ordered these smaller sandwich boxes on sale for $12.99. And we love these special ice packs from Pottery Barn. *If you are lucky, you can snag some cute ice pack designs from Target Dollar spot for much cheaper. 

Special Mementos for Kindergartners

Matching Bracelets: There are hundreds of options on Etsy, but this is a sweet little gift for your new kindergartner will remind them that you are thinking of them throughout the day.These are also for sons too! Last year, I purchased from local mama Sweet EK Designs and got 3 matching bracelets for both daughters and me.

The Kissing Hand Book: Not just for kindergartners, this is a favorite book we read just about every night on the first week of school. This mama raccoon shares about “the kissing hand” to ease her son’s fears of going to school. 

Special Notes: These special little lunchbox notes are too sweet and always a hit!

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy:

Free First Day of School Printable

Dear Kindergarten Mama (First Day of K Printable)

6 First Day of School Traditions to Start This Year

Angela Green
Angela is the founder of Wichita Mom, the premier parenting website and digital guide for families as they navigate life in Wichita, KS. She is a wife, business owner, avid reader, proud gymnastics & dance mom, Peloton lover, and is always planning her next trip.