What is the best backpack for Walt Disney World? Or the best backpack for any theme park for that matter? We review the essential features and recommend the best of the (back) pack. Pun intended.
I will start with the basics of a good Disney World Backpack. There are key features to consider. Then, I will compare several bags, and crown our winner.
What type of bag should I carry?
Being prepared for Walt Disney World means having your essential supplies with you. But how do you carry them? There are lots of options to consider in addition to backpacks. Totes, cinch backpacks, messenger bags can all do the job, depending on just how much you want to carry. My preference is a good old fashioned backpack, because it can be worn comfortably even when carrying a decent sized load, and keeps your hands free. However, a crossbody bag or a tote are also good choices. We are going to focus on backpacks and crossbody bags here.
Can I bring a backpack into Disney World?
Yes, you can bring any backpack into any Walt Disney World park, but it will be searched at the entrance of Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
If you are getting to Magic Kingdom from the monorail, you will go through security prior to getting on the train. If not, you will go through security at Magic Kingdom.
This means you will wait in line a bit longer as security checks your bag. In some places, if you do not have a bag to search, you can walk directly through the metal detectors and bypass the bag check, but you may still be waiting in line behind those that do require bag check. Also, chances are someone else in your party will be carrying a bag (a purse, for example), so you’ll wait through this process anyways. Keep in mind, each pocket of the backpack will be individually searched (more on this later).
What do I do with my backpack on rides?
You may bring your backpack with you on any ride at any of the Disney World Resorts, except for water slides in the water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). There, you can bring your bag but you will want to rent a locker to keep it in. By the way, you can get quick answers to quick questions like this.
Key Features for the Best Disney World Backpack
Let’s start by looking at the key features any backpack will need in order to receive our best for Disney World rating. This includes are features that are true for any theme park, and also features that are specifically best for Disney World.
Comfort is certainly a key factor for a full day in the parks. I’m looking at shoulder padding and how these bags feel after several hours. Breathability of the fabric and weight comes in to play here.
Size & Capacity
I think a medium sized bag is best for a day at Disney World (or another theme park). You don’t need a 3 night hiking bag. But you do need enough space for snacks, water, ponchos, sunscreen and a few other essentials. So, not too big, and not too small.
Internal Pockets & Organization
This is another ‘not-too-much/not-too-little category.’ Some internal organization is helpful to find things easily. On the other hand, EVERY pocket will be searched on the way in. The guard will need to reach his or her hand all the way to the bottom of each pocket. So if your bag has 12 internal compartments, you are gonna be in the security line a lot longer (and the people behind you are going to be giving you stink eye and wishing they took another line).
External Pockets & Organization
I am a big fan of external pockets. These are pockets that are not contained on the inside of the bag. Ideally, a good Disney World or theme park bag will have 2 or so elastic mesh type external pockets. These don’t require searching, as you can clearly see their contents, and they are great for keeping a water bottle and some sunscreen easily accessible. Note: I don’t recommend putting anything valuable in any external pocket, including park tickets or wallets, as they are more vulnerable to theft.
Of course you want your bag to stand up to use. It’s going to get a little beat up in a theme park like Disney World. We are looking for stain resistance as well as durability of materials.
Rain is common in Orlando, especially in the afternoons. And when it rains, it pours. Let’s keep the contents of your bag dry.
Admittedly, this is the most subjective feature, but I am going to give my opinion anyways! I prefer a simple look, but I will give preference to bags that come in multiple color options. This way, more readers will be able to find a version they like.
In the end, I’m just one guy with an opinion. So, let’s factor in Amazon reviews.
I think this one is self explanatory, but lower is not always better. You get what you pay for. On the other hand, I don’t see much wisdom in carrying a $500 backpack around Disney World.
Table of Finalists
I considered dozens of bags. To make our table of finalists, backpacks needed to be from a well known brand with better than 4 star rating on Amazon. We also excluded bags that were lacking in the features above, for example having too many interior zip pockets. I did include one cross body bag, that I think will work well for a theme park.
(warning: the table isn’t very mobile friendly)
|Backpack||Price||Reviews||Comfort||Size & Capacity||Internal Pockets||External Pockets||Durability||Water Resistance|
|Under Armour Storm Hustle II||$55||4.6 out of 5 stars|
Shoulder straps well padded, won't cut into shoulders
Probably a little larger than needed for a day in the park
|3, including laptop sleeve||5, including 3 zip and 2 mesh||Excellent|
You can feel the quality construction. Many reviews report years of abuse.
|Under Armour Unisex Undeniable Sackpack||$25||4.4 out of 5 stars|
Sling straps are thicker than most, but can still cut in
Good size for a park day
|1||3, including 1 zip and 2 mesh||Average|
Some users report tearing
|Herschel Supply Co. Heritage||$60||4.5 out 5 stars|
Material is a little scratchy
|Medium to Large||1 with laptop sleeve||1 zip, no mesh, no open||Good||Good|
|The North Face Vault Backpack||$45||4.5 out of 5 stars|
Well padded straps won't cut in
|Medium to Large||2 with laptop sleeve||2 mesh||Excellent||Good|
|Jansport Superbreak Backpack||$25||4.5 out of 4 stars|
|Good||Medium||1 with laptop sleeve||1 zip||Good||Great|
|The North Face Jester Backpack||$50||4.6 out of 5 stars|
Padded straps won't cut in, but material is a little scratchy
|Medium||1 with laptop sleeve||3, including 1 zip, and 2 mesh||Excellent||Great|
|Under Armour Compel Sling 2.0||$45||4.6 out of 5 stars|
|Excellent||Medium to Small||1 with laptop sleeve||3 including 2 zip, 1 mesh||Excellent||Great|
Our Recommendation: the best backpack for Disney World is …
The North Face Jester
This bag marries all of the features I was looking for. It’s pocket layout is simple enough to allow it to be easily searched, but will keep your sunscreen out of your sandwiches. It has exterior mesh pockets for water bottles. It is light weight and breathable with padded shoulder straps and a durable build. And at around $50 (at the time of publishing), it’s reasonably priced.
The only reservation I have is that the material is somewhat scratchy in contact with skin. If a backpack isn’t your thing, stay tuned for future reviews of other types of bags.
Do you have a favorite backpack for Disney World that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.