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Light Packs for 11-year-olds
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Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
14" Torsos on 03/12/2009 08:29:43 MDT Print View

If you look deep you can find 14" womens torsos - which is also a benefit due to the pack being narrow cut.

Ford wears a narrow cut pack due to being SO skinny (he is 11 as well). His current day pack is a 2008 REI Jet. He can overnight in it but it is pretty crammed.

He had a Dueter Fox until he was 10 when he outgrew it.

I am thinking this year I will pick him up another Dueter - the torso goes small enough. Most likely I will get him what I use, a Deuter Zero Futura SL 40. It is the ladies cut and their lighter one. Heavier than some might like but hauls well.

It fits him perfectly as well. If he grows (again) in the next month or two I will just get him the mens version (in blue, womens is red).

Awesome what you are doing with your kids! It is nice having built in hiking partners ;-)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Osprey on 03/12/2009 09:01:34 MDT Print View

I think a good frame is important for kids. Having been in Scouts and retail, I've been able to play with a lot of kids packs, and I have to say that I'm really impressed with the Osprey packs. The Jib 35 is 2# 15oz, the Ace 48 is 3# 12oz. Yes, they're a little heavy by BPL standards--but provide great support that can grow with the kids. Most important is a pack that allows the kids to enjoy themselves, and I think these really do the trick.

There was a thread a month or two ago about youth packs; the gentleman there ultimately decided on an altered Deuter Fox 30 (the hipbelt on them is quite large for a kids pack). I don't remember other particulars.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
437 miles? on 03/12/2009 09:03:52 MDT Print View

This thread caught my interest because I am planning to hike a few sections of the Colorado Trail with my 10 year old this summer and need a good pack for him.

Did you say you all hiked over 400 miles on that trip? I am interested in your daily mileages and distances between resupply.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
gg packs on 03/12/2009 09:45:57 MDT Print View

by gg, i mean granite gear. seems they might fit your young'uns in the size small. the vapor ki may be a good fit for the daughter. i know of a partner that uses the 'virga' in small, with a 14" torso it seems (if i recall) that there was a little room for downsizing. i think the waist size would be more of an issue than torso?

at least they are carried by many retailers so you could try before you buy

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 03/12/2009 09:46:35 MDT.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
MLD on 03/12/2009 10:50:46 MDT Print View

Laurel Designs looks similar to the Gossamer pack. pricy when you start adding options. no word on back support, so I assume that at the weight indicated, there's zero support without stuffing a pad inside. The Mountainsmith looks interesting but is definitely discontinued, even at outlets like Sierra Trading Post.

Going to wait for the G4 before making further decisions. If the G4 works out or at least is close to what we need, their pack weights will almost be cut in half, given how much their Keltys weigh.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Pack load for 11-year-olds. on 03/12/2009 11:25:51 MDT Print View


I don't want to get you in trouble with Social Services, but how much were your kids carrying last year, what did they weigh, and how happy were they with the loads?

This summer I'm aiming to have my kids, ages 6 & 8, carry no more than 15% of their body weight. Of that I hope to have a fair amount be food so the load drops off quickly. We're planning on a weeklong trip but may do a resupply to avoid daddy and mommy having to carry two bear cans each.

I started backpacking at age 13 and carried 25-30 pounds that first summer. I was 15 or 16 when I went on a 16 day trip where I weighed 130 and started with a 60+ pound pack. My typical pack for a 10-day trip was 40+ I spent several weeks each summer and many (most?) weekends through the year backpacking between age 13 and 18. A spinal X-ray a couple years back when I was 40 showed some rather pronounced erosion of my lumbar vertebrae which might be related to carrying heavy loads during those growing years.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
weight on 03/12/2009 11:42:06 MDT Print View

they carried their packs, a sub kilo sleeping bag, change of clothes, ground pads, water bottles.

no idea what that adds up to, but it was around 10-12 pounds (he had ot bring a fishing rod...)

they weighed proabably around 65 (her) and 85 (him) pounds. It wasn't too heavy, but it was on the edge early in the hike. By Muir Pass, we did 19.5 miles, all uphill, in one day, even stopped for 2 hours at Evolution Lake fishing.

I carried about 55-60pounds, two bear cans in the southern half of the trip.

Edited by Fishmonger on 03/12/2009 11:46:24 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/12/2009 21:51:46 MDT Print View

"The six moon designs comet might also be worth looking at."

The Comet pack starts at 15" torso length, so unless your kids already have that long a torso, these packs would be too big.

I have a SMD Comet and absolutely love it. With the optional stays (but only an air pad in the back) I have carried 36-37 lbs. with it. My shoulders, back and hips were very comfortable although my knees and feet were screaming. If SMD made a small size, I'd have bought that for my grandkids instead of the Gossamer Gear Mariposas.

Before you UL folks get all worked up about the weight, I was carrying a relative's ashes (about 8 lbs.) for scattering in a requested spot 3 1/2 days' hike from the trailhead. I have since revised my own funeral plans to request a spot only three miles from the trailhead!

JC Root
(evilroot) - F

Locale: Central Oregon
Osprey Ace might be one on 03/14/2011 16:19:41 MDT Print View

Mill Creek Hike

Having been in Scouts with my older boy for years and current have a 10 and 11 years old in Scouts we have gone through 12 different packs starting with the old Kelty alum frame youth packs to UL Gossamer Gear packs and everything in between. Currently have the boys in the Osprey Ace packs which they love hands down no more complaining about the fit since they are adjustable, lots of pockets and bottom access to the pack. The boys like the hip pockets and the water bladder access and mostly they love all the gear straps. Nice feature is having an integrate rain fly came in handy during a quick moving storm. -----JC My two boys are left and right with there old kelty alum frame packs

Edited by evilroot on 03/14/2011 16:28:32 MDT.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
GG Gorilla on 03/14/2011 16:37:48 MDT Print View

The GG Gorilla has very wide shoulder straps that might not be great for kids. I have just started taking my six year old on short over nighters carrying about 6 percent of his body weight max (including water and stuffed giraffe toy). He is just using a Macpac silnylon sack at the moment, as I figure he is in the SUL zone. Once I move him up to around 10% of his body weight I think getting something fairly supportive is a good idea for kids.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Packs for 11 Year Olds on 03/14/2011 18:34:23 MDT Print View

My son has a 13.5" torso, 20.5" waist and carrys 15.5 lbs (including pack) when hiking in "self supported" mode. (For longer trips, I carry our shared shelter & kitchen to get him to 12-15% of his 80 lbs). We tried all the packs at REI, EMS, and Hudson Trail. The Granite Gear Vapor Trail worked best for my son - by a large margin (short torso, small belt size). The REI womens flash 50 and Osprey talon's were the best runners-up. We didn't try the ULA, SMD, MLD or Golite packs though...

The biggest issue was finding a pack with a short enough waist belt. The GG VT small belt was the ONLY ones that got small enough to work under load. The flash & Osprey talon came close, but slipped when loaded after a little while. Having the belt padding end 1.5 inches farther away from the buckle would have allowed enough tightening to fixed the issue...

We also found that adjustable internal frame packs didn't work for him. The shoulder straps adjust toward the waist belt to account for torso length - but the pack bag is still just as tall - so now it pulls him off balance. Some external frame packs worked - but only the ones where the frame telescoped to get shorter overall, and where you could also move the pack bag down so that the top of the bag was no higher than the top of his neck.

We found 50 liters was the right size to easily hold all his stuff, but not too much to carry. This includes the 48" ridge rest coiled inside the pack during 3 season use, or strapped to the rear during winter to make more room inside for puffy insulation layers. My son said strapping the CCF pad across the top of the pack felt top-heavy and pulled him around slightly when walking up stairs - but that strapping it to the rear was comfortable and didn't feel like it was pulling him backwards or causing him to lean forward any extra amount.

The combination of the GG VT's foam packpad (stiffened a bit with a laminated plastic backing), and the great compression straps on the pack allowed him to cinch the load into 1 solid mass - at least well enough to take ALL the weight off his shoulders and put it on his hips. The shoulder & hip padding on the VT is also lot cushier than the REI Flash, and noticeably cushier than the Osprey talon.

The downsides of the VT were that the torso was not adjustable so you'll be buying another 2 years from now, there was no big mesh rear pocket for wet rain gear, and the extension collar is annoyingly long. The long extension collar can be shortened in 5 minutes using a home sewing machine, rain gear can be stuffed into the side pockets (but then you lose a convenient place to store "small stuff you may want throughout the day"), and trading the rear pocket for straps to attach the pad may be better for many kids anyway.

The 100 denier fabric sides have been durabile enough so far - but it's obvious you have to be careful around tree branches & setting it down on rocks without sliding it (and he is). I'll probably replace it with a pack made of all 210 denier fabric (VT Flash, ULA, SMD, MLD, Golite) when he grows out of it, just so he doesn't have to worry.

ps: For trip planning; I find estimating a 2 mph hiking speed and two 4 hour hiking sessions (with a 1 hour lunch break) is relatively accurate for 11 year olds on rugged trails (lots of up & down along the ridge on trails full of stair-shin high rocks). 1.75 mph on super rugged trails (ie: hills as steep as stairs, and with lots of rocks). 2.35 mph on smooth trails with small rolling hills.

Edited by JohnG10 on 03/14/2011 18:42:48 MDT.

Matt Christensen
(MattC) - F
Golite Peak on 03/14/2011 19:13:37 MDT Print View

You might also check out the Golite Peak pack. It comes in unisex sizes, with a small. It weighs 1# 10 oz.

My youngest is still using an external frame Kelty pack. I just have him pack less to make up for the weight of the pack. It is comfortable for him and is very supportive.


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/14/2011 21:02:54 MDT Print View

Kevin Tjaden
(ktjaden) - F

Locale: West
REI Stoke 19 on 03/15/2011 08:52:35 MDT Print View

I bought my 12 yo this back for Christmas for backpacking. They had it on clearance for $20.00 so you may check if they had any left. We have done one trip with it and it carried very well for him. Stashed most of his trail food in the pockets with easy access. My only complaint would be all of the extra bells-whistles-marketing gimmicks on it and that the side pockets for bottles is a little small. You need to use smaller diameter bottles, but that is okay given his age and size.

One thing is that when I go with the kids I give them all of the lightest/best gear and I take the older heavier stuff. This helps balance out the difference between the volume of the packs. All he carries is his pad/sleeping bag/sleeping pad/clothes/water/food/and personal kit. For us, 19-20 liters is plenty of room fo that.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
couple of notes on 03/15/2011 10:31:57 MDT Print View

Someone recently mentioned to me that the GG Gorilla size small has narrower shoulder straps than the other sizes. I have not confirmed this.

The Granite Gear Vapor Ki in small seems to be smaller than suggested by the specs. My wife is a 16" torso and it was substantially short on her. I would guesstimate the actual range on the torso is more like 13-15".

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Kelty Tioga Jr. on 03/15/2011 12:16:26 MDT Print View

i bought my son (8 at the time) an REI internal frame kids pack. it was just too big. then we tried on a Kelty Tioga Jr. at the attic sale and saw it was adjustable. he really likes the pack and doesn't mind the external frame - i like that it will grow with him and them can be passed down to his brother. a brand new pack (still had the labels on it) for $25.00 plus tax - totally worth it. it's a tad heavy at 3 pounds, but i'm carrying the shelter and food, with him carrying mostly his sleep system, some clothes, and a Frisbee.

Matti West
(Onslow) - F
Re: Re: Light Packs for 11-year-olds on 03/15/2011 16:46:46 MDT Print View

+1 for the Osprey 48. We just purchased 6 for our scout troop. Boys and girls varying sizes and we used 5 on the weekend and after a bit of fiddling no complaints about packs. Really they are the bomb.