Plan ahead for back-to-school

By Mir
June 9, 2006

I know… I know. For most of you, school just got out. Heck, in my part of the woods, we’re not done for another couple of weeks. I understand not wanting to think about the next school year yet. I do. But thinking ahead is what saves the bucks.

There are two philosophies on backpacks for your children. One philosophy says to buy a new, cheap bag every year, let them wear it out; lather, rinse, and repeat. Lord knows I have been buying cheapie backpacks during Target’s back-to-school clearance ever since my oldest was in diapers. At $5/pop, it’s not hard to justify.

The second philosophy is to buy quality and plan to use the same bag for many years. My friends, I’m beginning to see the light. This light, it tends to come on strongest when the crappy backpack’s zipper gives up the ghost three months before the school year ends, if you catch my drift.

If you purchase from a store like LL Bean or Lands’ End, your merchandise comes with an unconditional guarantee and helpful customer service that will soften the heart of even the most hardened shopping cynic. If the zipper breaks, they’ll fix it. If it gets a hole, they’ll replace it. If you say, “Hey, I think this is an unreasonable amount of wear on this bag even though you and I both know that my kid probably used the bag as a sled through a mudpuddle,” they’ll help you out. No questions asked. Worth the money, yes?

Even better is if you can snag one of those great products at a reduced price. They give you the warranty whether or not you pay full price, ya know! It’s the best of both worlds! LL Bean is having their Summer Sale, and many of their book packs are marked down, including a full 50% off their adorable Patch Pack. And you can use coupon code 2301100 for free shipping. (Note: If you have a Bean Visa, you always get free shipping and free monogramming, too. Also I’m pretty sure that when you go to the actual store, the customer service people make you a throne out of kayaks and rub your feet.)


  1. Although I usually give in to the begging for the Power Rangers or Star Wars backpacks, I bought a small Coleman backpack from the Camping section of Target for Ryan when he was in Preschool 5 years ago. It cost maybe $20.00, and still looks brand new. It’s been used for sleepovers and taken on airpplanes and shows no wear. So that’s my suggestion-try backpacks made for hiking and camping.

  2. Oh this is great! I found this through busymom. I don’t know that Mr. Belle will be as excited as I am! I will make sure to link you tomorrow.

  3. I LOVE my kids’ LL Bean backpacks. Going strong 3 years now.

  4. I was going to weakly protest, because realistically, I probably wouldn’t send my kid’s backpack back to have them fix it, or get a replacement. Honestly, I’m just not that diligent. But these backpacks are the same price as I’d pay for a SpongeBob backpack at Target, so even if I didn’t take advantage of the guarantee, it would still be worth it.

  5. I did the new-backpack-a-year for some years, in part because I can be a sap when it comes to the thrill of NEW STUFF FOR SCHOOL!! My kids can talk me into a lot of crap when the fever hits. They know it, and are shameless. (Well, the older two are. My youngest has a conscience. Not sure where it came from, but bless her sweet little heart.)

    Anyway. When my kids hit grade nine, I take them to Mountain Equipment, an upscale hiking and camping type store here in town. I told them I’d pay as much as $80 for a really good backpack, but once purchased, that was it. No more backpacks from mom, for the rest of their lives. If they lost it, broke it (which would take some doing; these are WELL MADE items), or even if it got stolen, they’d have to replace it with their own money.

    My oldest daughter’s is going strong seven years later. My youngest hasn’t hit grade nine yet. My son? Took him three months to lose his… *sigh* He went for months without a backpack, hauling his stuff around in various and sundry containers, periodically asking if I would buy him another. (Nope. Not the deal. Besides, the boy had a part-time job.) Eventually he cracked, and got himself a big sturdy item at the local army surplus store – another good source of cheap, durable stuff.

  6. I already have next year’s school supplies in my closet. I buy them through the year…whenever I see a deal or I have a coupon for something. I buy the cheap backpacks because my kids change their preferences way too often!

  7. LL Bean is the BEST!

    You can return anything at anytime for any reason.

    Their bookbags can’t be beat.

  8. Thanks so much for the great tip! I bought one for my son, who is entering kindergarten. He wasn’t too keen on it at first, because Scooby-Doo wasn’t pictured on it, but he got over it.

  9. Great idea. Just wanted to let you know, too, that the top of the page is all wonky for me (I’m on Firefox)

  10. I know you posted this awhile back, but I wanted to add that JanSport bags also have a lifetime warranty. I’d had mine for about 2 years when a buckle on the strap gave out (the result of lugging around a million pounds of textbooks)… all you have to do is mail it in, and they either fix or replace it (in my experience, it’s cheaper for them to just replace)… The model I had wasn’t being made anymore, so I ended up getting a nicer (ie more expensive) bag out of it!
    I’ve moved on to other bags, but my older brother used it through Grad school and now uses it as a briefcase for work.

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