Backpacks “Without The Girly”

Need a backpack for a girl who isn’t all that girly? Then this shopping guide is perfect for you!

Picking out a backpack can be THE most important part of back-to-school shopping. Kids want to find their favorite colors and something they absolutely love, love, love! Because they’ll carry it every single day. It’s one way they can express who they are and what they like.

If your girl is anything like my daughter, she is not interested in the sea of pink and lavender options found in the girls department. Or the ones adorned with flowers, hearts, butterflies, ponies, and the like. She prefers backpacks “without the girly” and we’ve found some great options for her. Not a touch of pink. Some with themes that break gender stereotypes. And some that are just plain cool.

On a side note, we were glad to see that many retailers moved away from labeling their backpacks for boys or girls, instead calling them “kids’ backpacks.” However, the overwhelming use of pink, as well as how the backpacks are grouped for display, still conveys very clear messages about which ones they think are for which gender. We just ignore all those explicit and implicit gender labels because we know girls like so many different things!

Here are our favorite backpacks “without the girly” from preschool through pre-teen. You can find even more choices on our “So Cool For School” Pinterest board, which has 40 backpacks (and counting!), many of which come in multiple colors and themes.


We love backpacks for little kids that boldly proclaim their passion for dinosaurs or cars or monkeys or some other super fun thing! These four brands consistently deliver great designs, sized primarily for the preschool and kindergarten crowd (dimensions around 11” W x 12-15” H x 5” D). If the specific theme your girl loves isn’t pictured here, you can find a ton more options on each of their websites.

Skip Hop is another favorite brand of ours for pre-school kids.  Their Zoo Packs are super adorable, with 16 different animals to pick from and a variety of bright colors (only the cat and ladybug have pink). Sized just right for little ones at 10.5"w x 12"h x 5"dFrom O.R.E., a fun little brand with great designs!  Definitely for the pre-school crowd (sized at just 11.5" x 15" x 5").  They have a great range of backpacks, lunchboxes, and accessories in themes like robots, skulls, transportation, bottle caps, rulers, pencils, and more.Robot Backpack pictureAnother fun brand for the younger kids is Beatrix New York.  Their backpacks are sized for ages 5-10 (with similar designs available in smaller packs for ages 2-5).  Their other non-pink, non-girly designs are a blue whale, green frog, orange & brown monkey, green dinosaur, blue robot, and red ladybug.  Not cheap at $52, but a brand of the stars...if you care about stuff like that :)
Dog, from Skip Hop, $20 | Bugs, from O.R.E., $25 | Robot, from Crocodile Creek, $29.99 | 
Shark, from Beatrix NY
, $52


For older kids who want graphics of something they love, here are our top picks (some come in smaller sizes too). Our biggest surprise was finding this awesome skateboard design at Garnet Hill, a brand known for their girly-girl clothes (they don’t even sell boys clothes). Not sure whether they intended it to be for girls or for the brothers of girls who wear their clothes? But either way, we love it!

Garnet Hill Kids' clothes are typically quite girly, so you may not think to look there for a backpack for your non-girly girl.  But you don't want to miss this skateboard backpack in bright colors.  Available in two sizes (4+ or 7+).  Matching lunch packs and accessories too.By now you probably know we are partial to sharks around here!  From L.L.Bean, designed for ages 7+.  Also available in solid blue, red, green or pink.Another great shark option from L.L.Bean.  Designed for ages 6 and up.  Other options are lizard (green), butterfly (purple), and dragonfly (blue).

I really like the active themes on L.L.Bean's line of Discovery backpacks - mountain biking (yellow), snowboarding (blue), rock climbing (brown).  We think they work great for any kid that likes adventure.....boy or girl.  Designed for ages 6 and up.For you baseball loving girl (or boy)!  From Pottery Barn Kids, in three sizes plus a rolling option.Mackenzie Blue Dino Large Backpack

Skateboards, from Garnet Hill, $44.95 [two sizes]
Sharks (blue), from L.L. Bean, $34.95 [7+ only]
Shark (red), from L.L. Bean, $39.95 [6+ only; also lizard or dragonfly]
Mountain biker, from L.L. Bean, $39.95 [6+ only; also snowboarder or rock climber]
Baseball, from Pottery Barn Kids, $45.50 [four sizes]
Dinos, from Pottery Barn Kids, $45.50 [four sizes; also snakes, snakeskin, spiders, sharks, camo]


My daughter just turned 8, and this is the first year she no longer wants a theme on her backpack (she had baseball in kindergarten, and sharks the last two years). It makes me a little sad, because it’s yet another sign that my little girl is growing up fast. This year she wants something sporty and outdoorsy, which is no surprise to anyone who knows her. There are lots of brands and options in this category (and we looked through almost all of them!), but our top pick is definitely Under Armour. We both loved their bold colors, and this is just one of their many great styles.

If your girl is looking for a sporty backpack, we really love Under Armour's styles and colors.  This is our favorite!  It comes in 8 other colors, including bright green, aqua, and an orange/lime combo.  Then they have a number of other styles (different sizes and pockets), all with great color choices, ranging from bold and vibrant to basic (like gray, navy, and red).  Size: 18" x 11" x 8"Got an outdoor adventurer?  This backpack from The North Face can go from classroom to trail.  And it's sized especially for kids.  Also available in solids (bright green or blue), a camo-like print (green/yellow or pink/black) or an aqua plaid.For the active girl, we like this outdoor-inspired backpack that maintains classic school-pack features.  From L.L. Bean, designed for ages 9 and up.  Also in bright blue, orange, a gray-blue, and ash.
White and Orange, from Under Armour, $44.99 | Plaid, from The North Face, $45
Yellow, from L.L. Bean, $49.95


If themes and sporty are not your girl’s thing, here are some other great options. A few of them were actually found in the girls department! We highlighted two options from Pottery Barn Teen, but they have several other designs worth checking out – patterns, animal prints, camo, and even tie-dye. And you can surely find something to like among the 55 color and patterns available in the classic JanSport style.

Love this houndstooth pattern and streamlined design. From Pottery Barn Teen, so sized for the slightly older girl. Other options I like are their aqua/black cheetah, black/white zebra, and red/black/white geometric patterns.  Check them all out!This backpack looks like it's ready for an adventure!  From Gap.   Perfect for any kid ready to explore the world!  This backpack is for kids 6+, and also comes in navy with a yellow camera.  From SoYoung, a very cool Canadian company. This one is not cheap, at $74.99, but it does include a lunch bag.

Great example of a girls backpack "without the girly." One of the few we could find in any girls department without pink or flowers!  From Pottery Barn Teen (so sized for the slightly older girl).Love the bright colors of this girls backpack from Roxy, sized for girls 7-14.  They have some other great patterns, but only in adult-sized versions.Hard to go wrong with JanSport.  They last forever!  In addition to all their classic solids and plaids, you can find neon colors and lots of bold patterns this year.  These super bright squares are my favorite!

Blue/Black Houndstooth, from Pottery Barn Teen, $45.50 | Tan Canvas, from Gap, $39.95
World Map, from SoYoung, $74.99 (on sale for $49.99) | Dots, from Pottery Barn Teen, $45.50
Stripes, from Roxy, $49.50 [comes with detachable lunchbox] | Bright Squares, from JanSport, $35


And last, but not least, we LOVE this super fun new BLOK design from the funky MadPax brand. Perfect for any girl who loves blocks and building! And we’ll always love their original Spiketus Rex packs. All of their designs come in an amazing range of bold, bright colors.

Love this new BLOK style from MadPax™, the company that brought you the Spiketus Rex (you know that backpack with all the spikes sticking out of it?).  Available in wide range of colors: dark blue, bright orange, light gray, olive, black, red, and hot pink.And here is that original design from MadPax™ - the Spiketus Rex.  What an awesome, unique, and fun design for kids!  And it comes in a great range of vibrant colors: purple, orange, light blue, black, hot pink, or multicolor (spikes of all those colors on either a light blue, black, or pink pack).

BLOK (blue), $60 (full, age 4+)
Spiketus Rex (green)
 or  Bubble (yellow), $60 (full, age 4+), $48 (half, under 4)

We hope you and your girl find the perfect backpack this year! If you liked our shopping guide, please share it with other parents you know who have girls that don’t like stereotypical “girly” styles (at least not all of the time!).

And we’d love to help you find clothes and accessories “without the girly” too! For shopping tips and recommendations, browse all 20 of our Pinterest boards, join our community on Facebook, and continue to visit our blog.

And if you haven’t checked out the Girls Will Be clothing line yet, visit us at


  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  2. I have needed this for soooo long. This is perfect for my granddaughter. She hates the girly stuff and we come home empty handed after hours of shopping. There is more then one way to be a girl. Thank goodness you started this line. Is there a catalog we can. Use to order.?

    • Carrie – I’m so glad you found us! I know that empty handed feeling well! We do not have a catalog at this time. Our shirts are available at and our recommendations from other brands can be found here on our blog and on our Pinterest boards ( We hope to expand our product line over time, so be sure to sign up for our email newsletters and/or like us Facebook to be sure to hear about new products.


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