by | Jul 27, 2021 | School, Z

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2021 @ 10:40 am.

What's the best mesh backpack? To find out, we tried out 9 different brands, comparing weight, comfort and ease of use. Which is best for a kid at school? A day at the beach? Here are the ones we recommend.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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Best Lighweight

Great for the beach
Loved this backpack! At just 13 ounces, it works well at the gym. Also nice: interior pocket for small items, plus exterior for bigger things. Caveat: no water bottle pocket.

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Best Lightweight: JanSport Mesh Pack Backpack

Why get a mesh backpack?

Some schools, businesses and public places (think stadiums) require see-through backpacks as a security precaution. 

Other folks love their mesh backpacks for the gym or beach, to help keep air circulating around wet or sweaty clothes. 

Another advantage to a mesh backpack you might not have thought of: mesh stretches! That means you can fit in more stuff compared to a fabric backpack.

After trying out several brands of mesh backpacks, we liked JanSport’s Mesh Pack as the best lightweight option. At 13 ounces, it was anywhere from one to four ounces less than others we tried.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Great for the beach.

• Square design works well for adults.

• Exterior pocket.

• Variety of colors in case you don’t like black.

• Adjustable shoulder straps are comfy.

• Interior small pocket. We loved this small pocket that can hold a phone, keys or other items you don’t want to sink to the bottom of the pack:

Best Mesh Backpack interior pocket of Jansport


What Needs Work

• No water bottle pocket.

• Not ideal for smaller kids or adults, thanks to odd squarish-shape. This isn’t a big deal for adults, but we think other mesh backpacks would be better when it comes to smaller kiddos.

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Best Budget-Friendly

Excellent for books
The two side-pockets for a water bottle or other container are the star here—and the padded straps are quite comfy. The curved top makes it a good choice for a school bag.

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Best Budget Friendly: Heavy Duty Semi-Transparent Mesh Backpack

There are several reasons why this backpack rose to the top. The curved or tapered top makes it better for kids than the Jansport above. And the water bottle pockets are most appreciated . . . at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

What We Liked

 2 side water bottle pockets.

• Good job at holding books, school supplies.

• Tapered top better for kids or smaller adults.

• Easy to see inside.

• Padded straps are comfortable.

• Affordable.

• Lightweight at 12.8 ounces.

What Needs Work

• Too small for bigger folks.

• Front pocket is rather small.

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Best Tried & True Brand

Perfect for school
Great, durable bag that impressed us in testing—two water bottle pockets and padded straps that were easy to adjust. At 14.4 ounces, we liked the light weight.

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Best Tried & True Brand: adidas Unisex Hermosa II Mesh Backpack

When we try products like mesh backpacks, we always include a few better-known name brands. Why? We know some folks prefer a tried and true brand for durability and features.

If that is you, we think adidas Unisex Hermosa II is the best bet among the brands we tried. It had the best overall quality construction and features—note the internal pocket that is often missing on cheaper no-name brands.

What We Liked

• Durable.

• Strong mesh quality.

• Internal pocket.

• Side water bottle pockets.

• Nice color variety in case you don’t like black.

• Padded straps are easy to adjust.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

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Best For Kids

Great for smaller kids
Easy on the wallet and more compact in size, this backpack is our pick for kids or smaller teens. Yes, there are two water bottle pockets. We thought the straps were easy to adjust.

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Best For Kids: Eastsport Active Mesh Backpack

This bag is more compact and tapered, compared to others we tested—as such, it is probably best suited for kids who need a see-through bag for school. We liked the overall quality and design (yes, there are two water bottle pockets).

What We Liked

• Lightweight at 12.8 ounces.

• Variety of colors in case you don’t want pink.

• Front pocket is zippered the full length of bag.

• Comfy straps.

What Needs Work

• Small overall size may not be best choice for adults.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability. When we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

About the Authors: Denise & Alan Fields

Denise & Alan Fields have made a career out of chronicling life’s milestones: getting married, buying a home and raising kids.

As best-selling authors, the Fields have written a series of best-selling consumer guides, including Baby Bargains (over two million copies in print).Baby Bargains 14e Best Selling Guide to Baby Gear
With detailed reviews and recommendations of cribs, strollers and car seats, Baby Bargains has helped multiple generations of parents pick out the best gear for baby since 1994

Inside, Baby Bargains, you’ll find:

CHEAT SHEETS for your baby registry―create a baby registry in minutes with our good, better, best ideas.

SEVEN THINGS no one tells you about baby gear, from nursery furniture to feeding baby.

• Dozens of SAFETY TIPS to keep baby safe and affordably
baby proof your home.

Co-author Denise Fields is one half of the team that wrote the beloved baby care series, Baby 411.

Baby 411 9e

Covering pregnancy, baby and toddler years, the Baby 411 series is both fun to read and informative—the inside scoop on your child’s growth, development and health.

Think of it as the ultimate FAQ for new parents:

• Sleep. The best way to get your baby to sleep through the night.

• First aid—when to worry, when not to . . . and what to do when baby gets sick. No-nonsense, down-to-earth advice you can trust.

Fussy baby 411. Is it colic? Acid reflux? Or something else? Discover  the secrets to soothing a fussy baby.

Detailed nutrition info with a step-by-step guide for successful breastfeeding, introducing solid food and the ‘‘new and improved’’ formulas. Plus: simple steps to avoid food allergies!

Denise Fields

Denise Fields

Raised in Loveland, Colorado, Denise Fields caught the writing bug early in life. She won awards for her essays at the tender age of 12, all while tending her family’s pet donkey at a farm in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

Fields received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado before co-founding a publishing company in Austin, Texas in 1988.

As the co-author of 23 books, Fields has written extensively on consumer topics, including real estate, parenting and children’s products.

A frequent guest on television, radio and online, Fields has been cited as an expert source by the New York Times, who hailed her Baby Bargains book as “the Bible of baby gear.”

Fields also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and on TV shows like Good Morning America and the NBC Today Show.

Alan Fields

Alan Fields

Alan Fields grew up in Dallas, Texas before attending the University of Colorado and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree.

Fields worked both in newspapers and radio before launching a career as a book author.

Together with Denise, Fields moved to Austin, Texas where Fields received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Colorado.

Fields co-founded Windsor Peak Press, a boutique publishing company now based in Boulder, CO.

As a consumer advocate and money-saving expert, Fields has been quoted in the Washington Post, New York Times and even People Magazine.

Denise & Alan Fields with Katie Couric

Denise & Alan Fields talking money-saving tips with Katie Couric.

How We Come Up With Recommendations

Let’s talk about how we pick products to recommend.

In a world full of influencers paid to shill a product, you deserve unbiased recommendations based on solid research and testing.

That’s why we are here.

Here’s three reasons why folks trust our recommendations and advice when it comes to selecting products for your home and family:

  1. Experience.
  2. Independence.
  3. Expert.


We have been researching, reviewing and rating products for families and the home since 1994. (Yes, that long!). This is what we do—we obsess about gear so you don’t have to.

We have many fine competitors online but we challenge you to find one who has as much experience in the family category as Baby Bargains. Go ahead, we’ll wait right here.

We do hands-on research.

What does that mean?

How we research varies by the product category. For some products used in a home, we purchase them with our own money (no freebies) and test them in-house.

Example: for a review on the best vanilla bean paste (part of our series on baking products), we compare the thickness of several brands in our test kitchen:

Best Budget Friendly Vanilla Bean Paste Vanilla Bean Kings thickness

For other recommendations, we tap our vast readership (our books have 3 million copies in print) for their feedback. We look for real-world product reports from our readers to narrow down the vast field of choices in many categories.

To keep things fair, we also do blind taste tests when it comes to items like food. We’ll gather a panel of ramen enthusiasts, for example, and then have them chow down on mystery bowls to see which scores best.

To get insights beyond our own testing and reader feedback, we interview industry experts to get the inside scoop on what separates a quality product from an inferior choice.

Finally, we regularly meet one on one with gear companies and even tour manufacturing facilities. On a recent trip to a Ohio, we visited the factory that makes mattresses we review to watch the manufacturing process:

Factory Visit

The result of all this effort: you get the most reliable gear reviews you can find, online or off.

We aim to give you additional insight beyond what you can find yourself via online descriptions and reviews.

How do we get to do this? That brings us to reason number 2 . . .


Let’s do something you won’t hear from our competitors: we’re going to tell you exactly how we make money.

We make a living from sales of our print books and affiliate commissions. What does that mean? When you purchase a recommended product that is linked in an article, we may get a small commission.

Do you see anything missing? That’s right—we do NOT take money from the brands we review. No cash, no free samples, no gift baskets. When we fly to see a manufacturer’s factory, we pay ALL of our travel expenses. The result: we tell you how it really is.

Let’s talk about a dirty secret of influencers who “review” gear. Many take free product to give away in contests. Others accept samples in exchange for a review. Some insist on cash.

That compromises independence, in our opinion.

To keep it real, we insist on being independent from the brands we review.


Want to see something really scary? Take a look at this:

Luggage Scale

Yes, that my friends, is a luggage scale. It strikes fear and terror in the hearts of a certain group of people—baby stroller makers.


That’s because stroller makes often brag about how little their strollers weigh, knowing that’s a key feature consumers look for. Lightweight strollers are preferred over those that weigh more than 25 lbs.

So here’s our secret sauce: we carry a portable luggage scale with us when we evaluate new strollers. And wouldn’t you know it? The ACTUAL weight of strollers is often more than what marketers state. Surprised?

It’s that little bit of fact checking that separates Baby Bargains from other gear review sources. Most simply take the maker’s word on a stroller’s weight. We verify.

We take that same approach to all the products we review, aiming to produce thorough research that goes deeper than our competitors.

So there you have it—who we are, how we got here and how we come up with our recommendations. As always, we value your feedback, so drop us a line via our web page or social media channels. Thanks in advance for your support.

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its related sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.