You don't have to spend a fortune to outfit your kid with back-to-school gear. But smart shoppers know it's a better value to pay a little more for a quality items that can stand up to a beating all year long. With the huge selection of goods in stores now, we offer the goods that go from ABCs to SATs.

There's nothing worse than a backpack that drops out of school before the end of the year. Land's End backpacks and lunch sacks get straight As in style, quality and durability. There are loads of configurations and colors for boys and girls, big and small. Backpack prices start at $24.50; lunch sacks are $9.50. Get them at Sears stores, or order at and get free monogramming.

Toys R Us is offering a free lunch kit worth $7.99 with the purchase of any backpack $12.99 or over. The whole cast of characters is here, from Toy Story 3 to Pokemon to Strawberry Shortcake. Get them at Toys R Us stores or

Middle and high schoolers are going to need flash drives for easy transfer of homework from home to school. Your 'tween or teen will appreciate these cool, sporty 4GB USB drives disguised as Santa Cruz Surfboards, Tony Hawk Skateboards and Burton Snowboards. You'll appreciate the price: $13.99 at Target and

Old Navy's adorable backpacks got great goods for girls, from Hello Kitty to groovy peace signs for $9. For boys, there's roomy messenger bags in three styles that will hold everything from textbooks to laptops to smelly gym clothes. Made of sturdy nylon, they're a steal at $14.50. They pair well with a matching lunch kit for $7.50. At Old Navy stores and

Tips on buying backpacks, lunch boxes

The 2010 back-to-school survey conducted by Parent's magazine and Land's End showed that 68 percent of moms said durability was the most important thing when buying a backpack. And 27 percent of girls and 33 percent of boys said backpacks were the most important item to buy. Here's a few tips on what to look for.

Size: Fit the pack to the kid. Don't put a giant backpack on a kindergartener. A backpack should weigh less than 10 percent of a child's body weight when fully loaded.

Comfort: Look for padded c-shaped shoulder straps and lumbar panels to help protect young backs, necks and shoulders from strain.

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Construction: Look for heavy, easy-slide zippers and strong bottoms to hold heavy books.

Safety: Keep kids visible when walking to and from school by choosing a pack with reflective materials.

Find more advice for moms at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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