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Light Packs for 11-year-olds
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Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 11:11:07 MDT Print View

I need to get better/lighter backpacks for my twins this year. Last summer we had to buy what we found at REI, last minute purchase, and the best thing we found in terms of fit were Kelty Coyote adjustable packs. However, even today, a year later, these are still too tall, and mostly they are far too heavy (2550grams). They were also slighty too big for what we need.

So what's out there? At REI onilne I found these three packs:

North Face Youth Terra 55 - fits 15" torso
REI Meteor 50 Fits 14-17"
Osprey Ace 48 Youth - fits 14-17"

we probably would need 14"

There's also the Gossamer Gear G4 in XS - 13" - 17" which beats the others in terms of weight by a mile, however, I have no clue how well this wears. Comfort is important, proabably more so than absolute low weight. I may just get one and see what's up with super light, because saving several pounds is tempting. We have Ridgerest pads for the kids - do they fit in there? Seem to be too wide for the small torso size we need

any others to look at? I have REI ship those three I saw online to the store to try out soon

Edited by Fishmonger on 03/11/2009 11:14:41 MDT.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 11:40:49 MDT Print View


My 8 year old daughter has the REI Comet, which I think is the smaller version of the Meteor. It's heavy- around 2-1/2 pounds. The suspension and frame are very nice and would be able to handle far more weight than she should be carrying. It has lots of pockets, zippers, etc. Knowing what I now know, I wouldn't go with such a fancy pack for her. I want to keep her pack weight down to about 10 pounds, so the empty bag is 1/4 of that.

I suggest first looking at what you hope for the kids to carry- weight, bulk, and character. Hard, dense things like bear cans need a different sort of load transfer than soft, bulky things like sleeping bags and clothes. How much total weight?

It seems that a good pack shouldn't weigh more than 1/10 the load it carries.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Light Packs for Kids on 03/11/2009 11:47:18 MDT Print View

Ron, of MLD, has a kids size in the 09 Prophet. I think this would make about the perfect pack for this use. Well designed, durable and light.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 12:11:31 MDT Print View

Ridgerest pads are too big/bulky for the kids packs. You will do best attaching it on the outside. This is where the Z-Rest pads really shine, being able to flatten them.

Depending on your kids frame/height and hips you may do better to get a ladies pack.

As for weight on kids packs - a suspension is more important than saving weight. Their bones are growing and need to be protected. A kid will do better mile wise with good padding, hip belt, sternum strap and a suspension than to be wearing a frameless bag that digs into them.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Light Packs on 03/11/2009 12:55:36 MDT Print View

I bought the Osprey Imps for my twins. The nice thing about the Osprey kid’s packs is the way that they will adjust as the kids grow. It did take me a while to figure out the hip belt though. (What, read the instructions? No way…)

Nathan Baker
(Slvravn) - MLife

Locale: East Coast - Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 12:56:34 MDT Print View

You may also want to take a look at the REI Flash 50. The womens small fits torsos 15-17 in. and waists 26-31 in. The price is good for the features (framesheet, stays, 3000 cubic inches, etc...) and it seems durable enough. Also, the womens green is good for a boy or girl in my opnion of course.

Edit: I skipped over the part where you need a 14" torso size so this may not be a good idea after all.

Edited by Slvravn on 03/11/2009 12:58:25 MDT.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
little more info on 03/11/2009 13:09:30 MDT Print View

Kids are 11 now - on photo below they were 10. Those are the Kelty Packs that are a bit too large, although this year they will at times carry more gear (their own Bearikade canister).
Kelty Packs at Helen Lake

Gear load is pretty high for their age, but we're out there for a 437 mile hike in the High Sierra and you bring what you gotta bring. yes there were two stuffed animals in the pack, too... Still, the load they carry does not justify the size pack they have in the above image. Half of what they carry there is a loosely stuffed sleeping bag.

Just was at the local REI and I have to order the packs I listed to get a look at them. The REI Meteor is too large.

no issue with bying some z-rest map if that fits the Gossamer G4 better. I'm ordering one now - if it doesn't work out it'll still be a great day pack. $80 right now on sale.

Edited by Fishmonger on 03/11/2009 13:12:37 MDT.

Henry Blake
(Dragon) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Light Packs for Youngsters on 03/11/2009 13:12:44 MDT Print View

Perhaps I can offer my observations and save you some money. As young as your boys are, I wouldn't get too big a volume pack. For lightweight but volumous items, you can use a compression bag. And assuming you go together, you can adjust their packweights as needed by loading yours with the compact heavier items.

Three years ago I bought my 2 boys (10 and 12 at the time), my wife and myself new packs. I got the boys each a REI UL30 pack (30 liter, 2# 7 oz, 15-17" torso, recommended carrying weight 24-28#) and a REI UL45 (45 liter, 2# 12 oz) for my wife and myself. We have camped since then, but I am the only one that has used my pack, backpacking or otherwise. The other three packs still have tags on them. None of my family seems to be into it, so I've gone without them.

I have been very happy with my UL45 pack. When I bought that pack, an employee expressed the idea to me that he wished he had the smaller REI UL30 (30 liter). I expressed surprise that it would hold his necessary gear.

I was reading on BPL prior to that time, and continue to do so daily. So, of course, my equipment has lightened and takes up less volume. I've been testing various pack volumes for different length and time of year trips.

Today I wish one of my UL30's was a medium so that I could use it myself. However, unfortunately, they are both smalls. Also today, among my other packs, I have an Ion which is about 24 liters. I haven't yet tested it to determine whether the size is sufficient for my needs.

It may be a long shot to get packs that work throughout all their teenage years. Then again, it may work out well for you with your choices. I just know that my own evolution has gone through many phases of trying out and lightening up.

Good luck.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
the use on 03/11/2009 13:21:12 MDT Print View

just to clarify - these kids (girl and boy) will be hiking the John Muir Trail Yo-Yo with a few off trail excursions this summer (part of the High Sierra Route around Dusy Basin, etc) and we were there for the normal Muir Trail last year, so we do need some significant packs. I can't carry all their stuff and all the food :-)

If the packs are too small in a year, they go up for sale and we get different gear. In teh big picture and compared to the two Bearikade Weekender canisters I am getting for them, new packs are cheap. However, they are very critcal items to make the hike enjoyable/comfortable.

The Kelty packs we have are simply too heavy, too large and not very well adjustable. At least at their current size, they are still a bit too large. Once they grow, these packs will fit fine, but this summer we have to shave weight off and go with something that fits well and weights less than 5 lbs 9 oz (Kelty baseline).

Edited by Fishmonger on 03/11/2009 13:25:12 MDT.

Michael Williams
(mlebwill) - F

Locale: Colorado
Check out the Deuter Fox 30 on 03/11/2009 13:30:34 MDT Print View

Check out the Deuter Fox 30 - I believe it is 2# 7oz and is a great and durable pack. Also it is very adjustable; my little guy (7yr) got his last year and loves it. The harness is fully adjustable; he is 10" and can go up to 17", so it should last him a while.

It has good compression straps, a centered hydration system that the REI Comet doesn’t and nice side pockets that are expandable. Also, it is a relatively inexpensive pack.


Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
suspension versus weight on 03/11/2009 13:33:52 MDT Print View

    "a suspension is more important than saving weight. Their bones are growing and need to be protected. A kid will do better mile wise with good padding, hip belt, sternum strap and a suspension than to be wearing a frameless bag that digs into them."

    Good point - that's really why the Gossamer Gear may not be the best choice for this. I've checked the torso size for women's packs on just about anything that looked about the right size, but virtually all of them begin at 15" which at least compared to the Kelty, which rates at 15" would be too large. Also not sure about the hip belt meant for adults. Very possible, though, that the Kelty is really not the best yardstick for any of this. We'll be trying out a few women's packs at REI when we check out the Osprey and North Face packs I mentioned above.

    Joe Clement
    (skinewmexico) - MLife

    Locale: Southwest
    Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 13:56:20 MDT Print View

    How about one of these?

    And both my GG G4 and Mariposa are very, very comfortable. Grant at GG has always been exceptional to work with, and I'm sure you could work out a trial fitting. If the shoulder straps and hip belt have to look like they're better suited to a Laz-e-boy recliner to be comfortable, you're carrying too much weight. I would also think something like a GoLite Jam2 or Ion would work, especially with a z-rest flattened in the back.

    Edited by skinewmexico on 03/11/2009 14:18:09 MDT.

    Jim W.
    (jimqpublic) - MLife

    Locale: So-Cal
    REI Comet on 03/11/2009 13:58:06 MDT Print View

    "The REI Meteor is too large."

    Then consider the Comet. It's for 11.5"-15.5" torso. Volume is quite a bit lower too. I don't think it would fit my Garcia bear can.

    I think the G4 sounds promising and you'll just have to try it out at home. No number of online posts will really tell you how it will fit your kids.

    Peter Burke
    (Fishmonger) - F

    Locale: Midwest
    G4 in the mail on 03/11/2009 14:53:33 MDT Print View

    I ordered a GG G4 and we'll see how that works soon. Nothing beats a test hike with the gear they will carry in summer.

    If they prefer a beefier pack with more support, then we'll visit REI and try out the North Face and Osprey youth packs and the women's Gregory Jade 50 (14-16" torso and less than 3 pounds).

    That scout pack at campmor is a pretty cool deal, I just doubt they will want to walk around with a frame pack as long as I don't use one myself. I had one in the early 80s and pretty much hated it. Went internal frame in '84 and never looked back.

    Joe Clement
    (skinewmexico) - MLife

    Locale: Southwest
    Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 15:04:39 MDT Print View

    I'd probably have them throw a sitlight pad in with your order, I don't think it comes with one.

    Mary D
    (hikinggranny) - MLife
    Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 15:05:37 MDT Print View

    I would check out the new Gossamer Gear Gorilla, which has a lot more structure and support than do the frameless G4 or the MLD Prophet. I bought Mariposas for my two grandkids (now 9 and 7, but the 7-year-old is as big as the 9-year-old) last summer (when they were on sale) and am considering having them converted for the aluminum stay. However, with the carbon fiber stays and the stiff, thick sit pad they worked just fine with 8 lb. loads. It is possible to have the necessary support without going to a 2.5 lb. pack!

    Edited by hikinggranny on 03/11/2009 15:36:40 MDT.

    Peter Burke
    (Fishmonger) - F

    Locale: Midwest
    Re: Gorilla on 03/11/2009 15:23:57 MDT Print View

    yes, that Gorilla looks pretty sweet. I have to add that to the list of options. Looks a bit small but if you can really strap a bear canister to the top like on one of the photos, this may work.

    Kevin Egelhoff
    (kegelhoff) - F

    Locale: Southern Cal
    Re: Re: Gorilla on 03/11/2009 15:27:35 MDT Print View

    I JUST got my Gorilla in the mail last night and I can take a couple photos of it with a bear canister and see how they match up on top with the strap or in the pack. The gorilla looks really tough and the straps look slightly wider and more comfy.


    Joe Clement
    (skinewmexico) - MLife

    Locale: Southwest
    Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 15:35:44 MDT Print View

    MaryD - Grant retrofitted my Mariposa with the new aluminum stay for $20, and had it back in a week. More than worth it. Sorry for the hijack.

    Mark Verber
    (verber) - MLife

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
    Re: Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/11/2009 22:32:12 MDT Print View

    My daughter loves her Mountainsmith Seraph which is discontinued but you might find used somewhere (it's the smaller version of the Ghost). We have a prototype of the kids size MLD prophet which has been quite popular with a number of my daughter's friends (it's used primarily as a loaner). With a good foam pad, light load, and proper packing it's worked well.

    LuxuryLite seems to have it's fans though it did nothing for my family. I understand toughtraveler makes some kids packs but we don't have any experience with them. The six moon designs comet might also be worth looking at.