Last updated: August 4, 2021

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The first day of school is just around the corner and the school bag, sports bag and pencil case have already been bought, but you still need a suitable backpack for your child? Or maybe your child has outgrown his or her first backpack and you're looking for a backpack for high school or university? Then our school bag test 2021 is the right place for you.

Here we provide you with all the important information about the perfect capacity and optimum carrying comfort of a school bag and tell you which accessories are necessary for the bag. Of course, we also tell you which type of school bag is recommended for which stage of life and what makes a perfect ergonomic design.




Summary

  • School bags and backpacks give you the opportunity to transport the materials you need for kindergarten, school, studies and everyday life without any problems.
  • A basic distinction is made between the kindergarten, primary school, high school, university and working years, in which the requirements for a backpack vary.
  • Kindergarten backpacks offer a good introduction to the pre-school years. For secondary school, university and work, a spacious compartment layout is crucial.

The best School Satchel: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a school bag

What are the advantages of a school bag as opposed to a satchel?

As an alternative to a school bag or school backpack, people also like to take a school bag with them to kindergarten, school, university or work. However, there are strong differences in practicality.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages at a glance:

Factors School satchel/backpack School bag
Capacity More capacity and sorted contents due to several inner compartments. Smaller capacity.
Carrying comfort More carrying comfort as the load is distributed over the whole back The uncomfortable, one-sided load can lead to posture problems, which can have serious consequences, especially at a young age.
Wear and tear Less, as there is hardly any friction due to transport on the back A shoulder bag rubs along the body with every step and thus wears out more quickly.

A satchel or backpack usually has more capacity than a bag and is more comfortable to wear.

Whereas a school bag - if it is filled with a laptop, books and writing materials - can quickly become a burden during daily transport, a backpack can easily handle this content.

In addition, the uncomfortable transport of a bag can lead to posture problems, which is prevented by a school backpack. The weight of a full backpack is distributed over the entire back surface and thus heavier documents can be carried well over a longer distance.

Transporting on the back also has the advantage that a satchel is subject to less wear and tear, unlike a shoulder bag, which keeps hitting against the body due to movement and thus wears out quickly.

Did you know that there used to be big differences to today's school satchels?

In the past, schoolchildren could only dream of the modern "high-tech satchels". They were made of simple leather and looked more like a soldier's marching bag. From the 1960s onwards, the design of school satchels became more child-friendly. In 1975, the first coloured and lighter plastic satchels appeared on the market.

A satchel is also ideal under time pressure. If you have to walk a bit because you'd otherwise miss the train, or if you have to reach for your bike to get to your destination on time, the satchel is simply strapped down and you have optimal freedom of movement.

What are the common requirements for a school bag?

As we explained in the decision section, the requirements depend on the stage of life you are in. It is important to remember that a foundation laid at a young age helps determine later development. The regulations for a school bag are stricter and more extensive than those for a backpack for adults.

The requirements for a good school bag are tested by organisations such as TÜV, the DIN standard 58124, Stiftung Warentest, Ökotest and Aktion Gesunder Rücken.

In this section, we present the requirements that a school bag should have.

First, we list the requirements for a satchel that are of particular importance for your little ones, up to the requirements for a backpack in adulthood.

  • The school bag must be made of a sturdy, stable material
  • 20 % of the visible satchel surface must be equipped with an orange or yellow fluorescent material
  • 10% of the front and side surfaces must be covered with reflectors
  • Less than 10 g of water must penetrate the satchel when exposed to rain for ten minutes
  • A satchel weighing 6 kg must be able to withstand a fall from a height of 1 m without damage
  • The satchel must not have any sharp edges
  • The back of the satchel must be padded and must not leave any pressure marks
  • The shoulder straps must be at least 3 cm wide and adjustable in length
  • The shoulder straps must be padded
  • The backpack must be ergonomically designed

What does a school backpack cost?

Backpacks are in a medium to expensive price range. On the one hand, this is due to the specific requirements they have to fulfil and, on the other hand, to personal wishes and demands.

The overall price range is between €20 and €250. Here is an overview of the price range for each age group.

Kindergarten backpacks are priced between 20 and 45 €. For this price range, they offer a capacity of 5 to 12 litres, a lightweight frame with adjustable straps, an ergonomic fit, reflective elements, side pockets and bottle holders, and a colourful design.

The price range for primary school satchels is between €40 and €250. This range offers a capacity of between 17 and 20 litres, a robust outer frame, a large inner pocket with subdivisions, good carrying comfort and safety thanks to fluorescent and reflective materials.

Some models are already available for this price in a multi-part schoolbag set with pencil case, pencil case, gym bag, chest bag and rain cover.

Satchels for secondary school range in price from €25 to €120. They have a capacity of 20 to 40 litres, two equal-sized main compartments and a small front pocket for valuables, are ergonomically designed and available in many colours.

The prices of backpacks for trainees, students and adults range from 20 to 100 €. They offer a capacity of 20 to 33 litres, a laptop compartment, at least one additional main compartment and a smaller compartment for valuables, an ergonomic design and many different designs

Category price in euros
Kindergarten backpack 20 to 45 €
School backpack 40 to 250 €
School backpack 25 to 120 €
Student and work backpack 20 to 100 €

What accessories make the school bag complete?

A school bag is used to transport something. In addition to all the school books, exercise books and a packed lunch, it also includes a pencil case, umbrella and sports bag.

The accessories help you to structure your documents so that everything doesn't fly around individually in your satchel. Here we have listed the most important equipment for you.

  • Pencil case, pencil case & co.
  • Gym bag and sports bag
  • Wallet and chest pouch
  • Umbrella and rain cover
  • Lunch box and water bottle

Some retailers already offer multi-part satchel sets. We also have some sets on offer for you. Take a look at our comparison table.

With this great equipment, you'll be well prepared for school and work. Have fun and be successful!

Decision: What types of school bags are there and which is the right one for you?

Backpacks and bags accompany us throughout our lives. From the first children's backpack to several school backpacks to the study backpack and the backpack at work. It is therefore all the more important that you know what you should look for when buying these practical and stylish companions.

Basically, there are five stages of life in which the needs for a backpack are different and must be considered individually:

  • Kindergarten time
  • Primary school time
  • High school time
  • Study time
  • Professional time

Depending on the stage you are in, different models are better suited. Take a pen and a piece of paper and answer the following 8 questions:

  1. For which area do I need a backpack?
  2. Should the body be made of firm or soft material?
  3. Is a larger or smaller capacity needed?
  4. Should the satchel be divided into several compartments?
  5. Should the material be waterproof?
  6. Should the backpack have back padding and padded straps?
  7. Does the backpack need reflective strips?
  8. What are my design requirements?

In the following, we will guide you based on the aspects mentioned above and work out the main positive and negative features of a backpack for each area of life.

What distinguishes a good backpack for kindergarten children and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

It is particularly important for kindergarten children to be able to transport their collected treasures. In addition, the cuddly bear must always be with them and food and drink must not be missing either, of course. Both kindergarten backpacks and preschool satchels offer enough space for this.

Whether you prefer a satchel or a backpack for your child depends on individual needs. The main difference lies in the materials used. Whereas a backpack is made of soft material, a satchel is made of strong material.

However, it is important that the material is waterproof, easy to clean and sturdy, because children are often outside and romp around, so that their companion can sometimes get wet or end up in the dirt. For safety reasons, the children's backpack should also have reflectors and signal colours so that your children can be seen in the dark.

A good compartment layout rounds off the capacity. For example, the bottle has its own place and the lunch box can be stored separately from the cuddly toy. A low basic weight is a prerequisite so that the child's back is not strained too much.

Since your little one will be using his or her bag alone in kindergarten or preschool, it is essential that it is easy to open and close. Closure systems such as Velcro or zips are particularly suitable. However, mechanisms such as buttons should be avoided.

It should also be taken into account that the little ones grow up very quickly. Therefore, the children's backpack should definitely have adjustable carrying straps.

Advantages
  • low overall weight
  • ergonomic design, adjustable carrying straps
  • clearly arranged compartments
  • robust, waterproof and easy-to-clean material
  • signal colours and reflectors
  • simple closure mechanisms
Disadvantages
  • small capacity
  • thin, permeable fabric
  • complex closure mechanisms

Choosing a nice kindergarten backpack is not that easy. For this reason, you should involve your offspring in the decision-making process. He or she will certainly have a clear idea of whether the model should have motifs of cars, knights, horses or fairies. That way, they will always enjoy wearing the backpack or satchel.

What should be considered when buying a school bag for primary school and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

From primary school onwards, your child will need a lot of learning materials to work with in class every day. The right school bag should help to transport the materials safely to the educational institution and home.

The question often arises as to whether a school bag or a school backpack is more suitable. From the first to the fourth grade, a satchel or knapsack is better because the kids are still growing a lot.

This is because it is designed to adapt to the child's back and not lead to posture problems, even with increased weight. The back padding and the padded shoulder straps also contribute to this.

It also has a more compact layout, which is advantageous for easy organisation of school documents. Even though the capacity is usually smaller than that of a school backpack, it should encourage you to carry only the materials you need.

Other important aspects of a school bag are the robust and waterproof material. This is neither shaken by a rain shower nor by the hard impact when your offspring throw their satchel into a corner out of sheer excitement to quickly play with their friends in the schoolyard before school starts.

Another important aspect is the warning effect, which is made possible by reflective materials and signal colours, so that your protégé can safely make his way to school.

Advantages
  • Stable basic structure
  • ergonomic design, adjustable carrying straps
  • clearly arranged compartments
  • robust, waterproof material
  • signal colours and reflectors
Disadvantages
  • Low capacity
  • relatively high basic weight
  • lack of signal colours and reflectors
  • high price category

As there are many different colours and designs and the purchase can be expensive, you should involve your child in the selection of the school bag so that he or she will be proud to wear it every day.

Which school bag is suitable for secondary school and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The change of school is imminent - off to secondary school. But like the whole environment, the class size, the teachers and the teaching content, the demands on a satchel change. The classic satchel shape is no longer right for many children and young people. They now want something more modern that also offers more space for the many new school documents. A school backpack offers these options.

Precisely because a backpack offers more capacity for all the school books and exercise books, you should pay particular attention to keeping the basic weight low. Furthermore, a structured compartment layout is essential so that heavy documents can be placed close to the body and light ones further to the front in order not to put too much strain on the child's back.

A good division will also pay off in the higher grades when, for example, a folder is added that needs to be stowed away.

Since a child's journey to school often becomes longer from the new school onwards, it is important that the satchel is made of a robust and waterproof material that can also withstand heavy rain. In addition, comfortable carrying should be ensured by back padding and padding of the carrying straps, as well as supplementary chest and belly straps.

Advantages
  • low basic weight
  • ergonomic design, adjustable carrying straps
  • large capacity, structured compartment division
  • chest strap/belly strap
  • robust, waterproof material
Disadvantages
  • lack of compartment division
  • lack of ergonomic design
  • lack of chest strap or belly strap
  • thin, permeable material

In high school, kids take another important step in their development. Not only mentally, but also physically, a great maturation process takes place. That's why it makes sense to choose a school bag that grows with your child.

What should you look out for in a school bag and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The wild campus years begin? But apart from the pleasant activities, such as student parties and activities with friends, there is still a lot of school work to be done. College notebooks, folders, books and laptops are daily companions and often have to cover long distances between the various university buildings. A comfortable and stylish means of transport is therefore particularly important.

Even though most universities are located in larger cities with a good infrastructure, it is still important that the backpack is light and comfortable. Then it's still easy to carry when you switch to a bike or walk.

Since you will often be using a notebook after graduation, you should make sure that your university backpack has a laptop compartment. It should also have two compartments for additional study materials and smaller pockets for your mobile phone and wallet.

Advantages
  • low basic weight
  • ergonomic design
  • large capacity, structured compartment division
  • robust, waterproof material
  • modern design
Disadvantages
  • low capacity, lack of compartment division
  • lack of ergonomic design
  • thin, permeable material

The material of the backpack should be waterproof on the one hand so that your study materials are not damaged in a sudden downpour, and on the other hand it should match your personal style so that you enjoy wearing your university backpack.

Which backpack is suitable for work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In professional life, a work backpack can be an important companion, especially if the transport of documents and laptops is a prerequisite for daily business. Of course, the backpack should not only be practical, but also meet the requirements of classic elegance.

It is important that the backpack has a low basic weight and is ergonomically designed so that longer distances can be mastered without discomfort.

When dividing the compartments, make sure there is a laptop compartment and enough space for your documents.

Advantages
  • low basic weight
  • ergonomic design
  • structured compartment division
  • classic, chic design
Disadvantages
  • no compartment division
  • lack of ergonomic design

Both design and material can be selected individually according to your needs.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate school bags

In this section we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate school bags and backpacks. This should help you decide which model is best for you.

In summary, these are:

  • Dimensions, volume and empty weight
  • Age group
  • Compartment layout
  • Ergonomic design
  • Design and colour
  • Material
  • Safety criteria
  • Accessories

In the following, you can find out about the importance of the purchase criteria and classify their relevance for you.

Dimensions, volume and empty weight

Dimensions, volume and empty weight are the three basic pieces of information when buying a school bag. Perhaps you have already asked yourself why these criteria are usually mentioned first? These details provide you with an overview of whether a backpack is right for you or not.

The measurements are essential for assessing whether the satchel fits your body size. Especially for petite bodies, the shape should not be too bulky. Some manufacturers therefore offer models in S, M or L or with a height-adjustable back section.

Furthermore, the dimensions determine how large the contents to be transported may be. From primary school onwards, for example, it is important to ensure that DIN A4 documents can be accommodated.

Make sure that the backpack is only as big and as heavy as necessary to relieve your child if possible.

The volume refers to the capacity of the backpack. Here, too, it is important to think about everything that needs to be transported in order to have the required space available.

From primary school onwards, a satchel should be able to hold an average of 19 litres. For secondary school, university and professional life, 20 to 35 litres are needed.

The empty weight of a school or work backpack should not exceed 1500 g, otherwise it will be too heavy for longer transport when full. Especially for children, a rather light satchel is appropriate so that their growth is not negatively affected.

Age group

As we explained in the introduction, there are different backpacks for different stages of life. Therefore, you should consider for which period the satchel or backpack should be.

Whereas from secondary school onwards you can plan for a longer period of time, with young children you have to consider the stage of development. There are already kindergarten children who can keep up with the physique of a first-grader and carry a larger backpack. On the other hand, petite primary school children tend to need a smaller satchel model.

In principle, however, the model should be chosen so that the relevant utensils can be accommodated. Only the material needed for the current day should be packed so as not to carry unnecessary ballast. For example, it can be helpful to pack the satchel every evening for the requirements of the following day.

Compartmentalisation

Compartmentalisation is important for two reasons. On the one hand, it helps to structure documents, and on the other hand, it helps to distribute weight evenly. Therefore, it makes sense to make sure that the backpack is divided into several sections.

The essential ones are:

  • Main compartment with subdivision
  • Front compartment/Oragnizer compartment
  • Side pockets

The division helps to increase comfort when carrying. Make sure that heavy items are placed in the area near the back, with lighter documents in front and valuables in the front compartment.

You can read more about how to pack your backpack in our step-by-step guide "How to pack a school bag or backpack properly".

Furthermore, the organisation of the compartments helps to keep track of your own documents. Schoolchildren already learn which compartments are available for books, exercise books, lunch boxes and drinks. This helps them to have direct access to the materials they need and to store their documents carefully.

But a good structure is also important in professional life. In addition to the files, the college notebook and the pencil case, the laptop should not be missing. An integrated laptop compartment ensures gentle and safe transport of the technical device. Other documents can be optimally stored in separate compartments.

Ergonomic design

Ergonomic design describes the wearing comfort and the individual adjustment of the backpack to your own body. This is a very important aspect that helps to prevent posture problems.

The basic principle is the individual adjustment of the backpack to one's own body through adjustable carrying straps (and a height-adjustable back).

The ergonomic design of a school backpack is crucial for its comfort. (Image source: 123rf.com / 73466986)

Furthermore, the back section and carrying straps should be comfortably padded to cushion the load. A special extra are ventilation options in the padding that allow a little air to reach the body in hot temperatures.

Relief for the shoulders is provided by an additional chest strap and for the back by a pelvic strap. These should also be individually adjustable to the body proportions and padded.

These aspects are especially important if you have to transport your companion for a longer period of time on weekdays.

Attention! A backpack should not pinch anywhere when worn. That's why you should try it out beforehand.

Design and colour

Colourful, fashionable, classic. The appearance of a school bag or backpack offers everything you can imagine. On the one hand, you must personally enjoy your own model, on the other hand, an individual design has recognition value.

Especially for the school years, satchels are produced in many different shapes, colours and motifs so that every child has the opportunity to have an individual model. The advantage of this is that confusion is less likely and the children wear their new companion with enthusiasm.

But even later it is important to have a lot of choice in terms of design and colour. Whereas a more modern look is preferred from secondary school to university, classic chic is in demand in professional life.

There is a wide range of colours, motifs and designs for school bags and backpacks. Tastes and needs change over the course of a lifetime - in old age, people usually want simpler and more practical backpacks.

Material

The material should have the following properties:

  • Stability
  • Durability
  • Water resistance

Most backpacks are made of polyester. This is a synthetic fabric that is very easy to care for and clean. In addition to its high durability, tear resistance and dimensional stability, polyester is also water-repellent or waterproof for outdoor products. All these conditions stand for the durability of a backpack.

Apart from the material, the workmanship should be taken into account. The material should be homogeneous and the seams evenly finished so that nothing tears during the first transport.

Furthermore, it is important that fasteners are sturdy and neatly sewn into the backpack fabric.

Before buying your favourite, you should pay attention to the above-mentioned features so that you have a stable means of transport for a long time.

Did you know that sustainability is a major issue with school backpacks?

The problem is that most school bags are made of plastic and synthetic fibres. Sustainability is out of the question. Ecological satchels made of vegetable leather are recommended, but a used satchel also contributes a lot to environmental protection.

Safety criteria

Safety criteria refer to all aspects that contribute to being seen in road traffic. Especially for school bags, this is an important quality criterion that is tested by organisations such as Stiftung Warentest, Ökotest and TÜV.

To be as visible as possible, the luminous materials should be distributed on all sides of the school backpack. This is an assortment of reflectors as well as luminous materials in yellow and organs that create a warning effect so that the little ones are always recognised in road traffic.

If your backpack does not have the above-mentioned reflectors, it is possible to purchase additional reflectors and attach them to the backpack. Please note that only yellow and organs of the fluorescent colours are considered roadworthy.

Everything from a single source! You've already found your favourite in a great colour and impressive design and now all you need are the appropriate accessories? No problem, because some manufacturers also offer the corresponding extras for the respective backpack model.

  • Pencil box or pencil case
  • Sports bag or gym bag
  • Wallet or chest pouch

Which accessories are right for you or your offspring has to be decided on the basis of your personal wishes and needs. Ultimately, you should choose the products that suit you best. Alternatively, some retailers offer promotions where you can buy a complete school backpack set.

The fact is that with a smart complete package, all situations in life - be it the start of school, the upcoming studies or the start of a career - can be mastered well.

Facts worth knowing about school satchels

How did the school bag come into being?

Backpacks were first produced at the beginning of the 19th century and were known as school satchels or knapsacks.

At that time, the satchels consisted of a wooden frame which was covered with fur, leather or linen. As the manufacturing process was very time-consuming, only individual pieces were made. The choice of materials also served to protect the then very expensive and valuable school documents from the weather.

From the mid-1970s onwards, school satchels were increasingly made of textiles and plastics. Thus, the heavy basic weight was replaced by lighter processing. In addition, there was a better ergonomic design and safety criteria through the use of luminous and reflective materials.

The traditional look of boys' and girls' school backpacks was also replaced by a modern design with friendly colours and child-friendly motifs.

What is the best way to clean a backpack?

Sometimes a backpack gets dirty. This can happen, especially with children. They want to play with their friends and in their exuberance they drop the backpack into the dirt. But that is not a bad thing. Backpacks are made of robust material that is easy to clean. We show you how to combat the little stain monsters and what you need to bear in mind.

First of all, it is important to know that a backpack should not be put in the washing machine or dryer, nor should it be ironed. This is due to the material consisting of impregnated synthetic fibres, which can be damaged by detergents, the cleaning process and the heat when ironing. Therefore, please proceed as follows:

  1. Allow coarse dirt to dry and brush out afterwards
  2. Soak the rucksack in a tub of PH-neutral soap for about 20 minutes
  3. Wash out the dirt with a soft sponge or by hand
  4. Clean the fasteners very carefully
  5. Finally, rinse the rucksack under clean water and hang to dry

When the backpack is dry again, you should check its functionality. Check that all fasteners are in good order and that there are no signs of wear in the fabric. Closures are usually easy to replace. However, if the fabric is damaged, you should consider replacing it.

How do you pack a school bag or backpack properly?

A satchel has to carry a lot of things. Sometimes it can be quite heavy. That's why it's important to pack it properly from the beginning. While your child is still small, he or she will need support during this learning process.

Therefore, we have come up with 5 tips on how to pack your backpack correctly so that it does not become a burden even with a lot of contents.

  1. Stow heavy books, laptops and exercise books in the compartment near the back
  2. Place bread boxes in the front compartment
  3. The water bottle can be stored in one of the side pockets
  4. Valuables should be kept in the organiser compartment
  5. Carry only those documents that are needed on the current day
  6. If possible, rent a locker and store additional materials there

Have fun with your backpack in everyday life, in education and at work!

Photo source: 123rf.com / 65048489

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