Back-to-school shopping always sneaks up on us just as we’re enjoying the full swing of summer, doesn’t it? No worries – in typical Smarty fashion, we’ve scoured the web and the QC for some of the coolest finds so your little bookworm will be decked out. FYI, don’t be surprised if every single item has gone up anywhere from $1 to $14 from last year’s model, even the same patterns. So annoying, but what can we do?!
Backpack & Lunchpack Guide:
Pottery Barn Kids – PBK is again top of my list with durability and fashion in one fell shopping swoop. For girls and boys alike, the Mackenzie Collection delivers. I’m really digging the Boys Mackenzie collection with all of the camos that you won’t outgrow. I would recommend the small backpack ($39.50) for kindergartners and the large backpack ($45.50) for 2nd grade and up. Don’t even bother with a preschool backpack because most preschools in Charlotte provide their own bags. FYI, their lunchbags are $22.50.
Check out PBTeen for 5th grade and up (personally, I think this is more for girls – for boys I would stick to mainstream LL Bean). This is my first year shopping at PBTeen since Ansley’s backpack had a blowout last year and I want this one to at least get her to middle school. PBK & PB Teen are both offering free shipping & 20% off select patterns right now.
Garnet Hill Signature Backpack Collection has very fun backpacks and they tend to be made of lightweight material. I would highly recommend the Backpack Junior ($29.95) for kindergartners since it fits a standard folder and you don’t want it too heavy on their backs. The Backpack collection for $39.95 is designed for ages 7 and up. I LOVE their Klean Kanteen personalized water bottles – KK is my fave since you can fit ice through the large opening. Garnet Hill is offering a free lunch pack with the purchase of a patterned backpack or backpack Jr thru Sept 6th (retail for $19.95) and free shipping through today.
L.L.Bean has had super cool backpacks for as long as I can remember. I personally think this is the go-to stop for boys with many understated patterns to choose from. The Junior Original Book Pack for $24.95 will not disappoint and this bag is perfect for K-2. The Original Book Pack for $29.95 is perfect for ages 7 and up and the Deluxe Book Pack for $44.95 is good for 10 and up.
Lands End has been the backpack headquarters for some time now too, rivaling that of L.L.Bean. After doing this research and comparing prices from last year, Lands End is the only line that has LOWERED their prices. So they get my top vote! Their ClassMate line is what I would look at for elementary school kids. The ClassMate SmallHaul backpack for $23.50 is perfect for K-2. You can promote your kids to the ClassMate StudyHaul backpack for grades 3 and up. By this age, your kids will want to throw everything they can in their backpacks so it’s important to have a little extra room. Lands End lunch boxes range from $11.50 to $15.50 (WAY lower than last year). I tend to think Lands End and L.L.Bean have a good boy backpack selection.
Kelty Kids: Kelty definitely includes a cool factor like no other brand and they have a great size for kids, the Kelty Grommet Kids’ Backpack for $31.95.
JanSport was the ticket back in my day and I think they are making a strong comeback with a zillion patterns to choose from. These packs are sturdy and are made to last.
My new favorite lunch bag is by Lilly Pulitzer, of course:-) The Lunch Tote is presh, BPA & Lead free and retails for $19.95. You can score this locally at our favorite monogram one-stop shop, Alphabet Soup in Morrocroft Shopping Center.
The Dottie Rockin’ Alarm clock from PBTeen is an honorable mention for sure. Rise & shine – such a fun way to motivate your tween to get out of bed. Mono’s make this item and it’s a perfect fit for all of your Apple-tronics.
Go Green and Reuse:
Pottery Barn Kids & PB Teen also has Klean Kanteen water bottles to match their backpack patterns. I bought these last year and they held up great, no need to buy more yet. They also have cool Hot-Cold food containers, storage containers and more, all of which you can get monogrammed so they don’t end up in lost and found.
Happy shopping, Smarties and please, please, share your back-to-school tips!