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Kids BackPack recommendations
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kenneth froese
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/22/2011 13:47:59 MST Print View

I'm looking for a backpack for my 8 year old daughter. We have been doing mostly car camping at Joshua Tree, Sequoia and Yosemite. But as she is getting a little older I would like to introduce carrying a pack and backpacking.

In a few weeks I want to take her snow camping and I would like her to carry a pack.

The one I have been looking at is the osprey jib 35. I do not expect her to carry much, maybe just her sleeping bag and parka (golite, short 20 degree bag and Patagonia Das parka)

The osprey pack is 3lb 3oz Are there other light weight options that I am over looking as the osprey seems to be the lightest of the ones I have found so far.

Thank you

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Lighter Options? on 12/22/2011 15:56:49 MST Print View

I'm not aware of any other packs like that which are lighter. The Dueter Fox 30 is a bit lighter but it doesn't have an actual frame and its smaller. If you want a frame I think the Osprey is about as light as you can get.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/22/2011 16:16:12 MST Print View

Actually, the Deuter Fox 30 does have a good frame and excellent suspension. I tried several different packs on my grandson and he found the Deuter by far the most comfortable. At age 11 he carried total pack weight of 15 lbs. last summer with no complaints. I was the one complaining because he was out-hiking me, which will obviously be a regular complaint from now on!

You can always whack off some of the unnecessary gewgaws and get rid of about half a pound. One problem here is that the kid may object violently, as did my grandson, to having anything removed! You may not want to, either, if you want to sell the pack when it's outgrown (not so much of an issue here because my grandson has two younger siblings to inherit the Deuter Fox).

I'd either take your girl to a good backpacking store to be fitted or else order 2-3 packs at once, try them on and send back the ones not chosen. If you're near an REI you can have them sent to the store and get help trying them on there. (REI has its own brand of children's pack you might want to try, too.) Pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit, and IMHO for children fit is even more important than for adults--especially if we want them to love backpacking!

I personally don't like frameless packs for kids unless the total load is less than 10% of the child's normal body weight. However, MLD has one of their packs (I think the Prophet) in extra small size and one of our BPL members recently developed a couple of really light children's packs:

The problem is what to get my grandson now that he's almost 12 and outgrowing the Deuter Fox. It was adjusted to its maximum last summer. The next size up in Deuter is almost 4 lbs., which is far too heavy. I'm hoping he'll be able to wear a size small in an adult lightweight framed pack, such as a ULA Circuit or the Elemental Horizons Aquilo with the extra stays, or the new smaller pack that Elemental Horizons is developing. We are going to wait until spring and see what size he is then!

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/22/2011 16:30:04 MST.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Packs for Kids on 12/22/2011 16:39:48 MST Print View

I had a very hard time finding a pack to fit my son when he was about 10 years old and ready to carry all his stuff except tent and food.

The biggest issue was finding a pack with a hip belt that was small enough for his waist.

The other thing we learned was that most "adjustable torso" packs towered above his head and felt top heavy / "tippy".

The shoulder straps on women's small packs are perfect (both in strap width, and the spacing between the straps).

The Granite Gear Vapor Trail in the small waist belt and short torso fit him best. The womens hip belt (Vapor Ki) only touched his waist along about 1/2 of the height of the belt since he had straight hips rather than an hour-glass shape the womens hip belt was designed to fit.

Deuter and Osprey were the only 2 other packs with small enough waist belts. The Deuter hip belt fit waists about 2" smaller than the Osprey and Vapor Trail.

For an 8-10 year old child, I'd set a maximum weight of 10 lbs (ie: their clothes, water, mess kit, flashlight, personal items) and get a top-loading day pack that didn't have a hip belt (since you won't find one that will fit anyway). LL Bean makes a top-loading poly canvas rucksack that's just under 2 lbs and $70. It could be 1.5 lbs if you cut off the external pockets.

Good Luck.

Edited by JohnG10 on 12/22/2011 16:41:31 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/22/2011 16:50:12 MST Print View

No problems with waist belt size on the kids' packs I tried--REI, Osprey, Deuter. They are made small enough for kids 7-11, even really skinny ones (like my grandkids). They also have good adjustments for the shoulder straps so you can make the length right for the kid.

The problem is going to be when they have outgrown the kids' packs. The 11 1/2 year old grandson is growing only vertically. I suspect we'll have to get custom alterations on any hip belt!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/22/2011 16:57:12 MST Print View

Until that hit that growth spurt at age 12-13, I figure kids take bulk, not weight. And their school bookbag are so overbuilt and heavy.

I scored a few Caribou brand bookbags of yore. Simple, thinner materials. 8 or 9 ounces, I'd estimate. No padding and it would suck to carry a lot of weight or lumpy items in, but I just have them carrying some clothes and their sleeping bag.

Or one of them uses my frameless, padless Golite while I've got a framed pack because I'm carrying stuff for 3 people.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
First time backpacking with your kid on 12/22/2011 19:28:16 MST Print View

I took my son backpacking for the first time when he was seven. He used his school backpack which worked fine. In it he carried some of his own things (jacket, pajamas, bedtime reading, snack, small water bottle) and something communal which was the kitchen (ti pot and pocket rocket stove). That way he felt like he was carrying his weight and contributing.

Me on the other hand, I carried everything else which was far more than I normally carried as I had lots of just in case stuff for my sons first outing.
We went all of two miles to our camp spot and had a blast. On subsequent trips my son carried more, and I carried less, but it was a gradual process.

All I'm trying to say is don't worry about the gear, just take your kid out on a first backpacking trip. If she likes it and wants to go again then its time to involve her in picking the backpack. A pack that she and daddy went to the store and got fitted for her will be far more special.

Robert Connor
(bplnole) - F

Locale: N E Fl
used on 12/22/2011 19:47:12 MST Print View

Consider getting a good lightweight pack off the swap or even ebay. I found a used GG Mariposa Plus in small for my son. The weight of the empty pack is even more critical for a kid and at 22 oz., the MP allows him to carry more of his stuff. It is also one he will grow with for a while. I also like that it teaches taking care of his gear.

The hipbelts can be a challenge, but don't rule out having someone make some adjustments to it. A good seamstress can do wonders that might even be able to be returned to original when they grow.

Chad Eagle

Locale: SoCal
Kids pack on 12/22/2011 20:35:58 MST Print View

I just bought my three year old daughter an REI Tarn 18. It is just big enough for her Integral Designs sleeping bag, some clothes, and a small toy. That still leaves the side, hipbelt, lid, and mesh back pockets open. It weighs 1lb 3oz and the hipbelt and shoulder straps cinch down just enough to fit her and she is petite. Having high volume, low weight items in the pack seems to help the fit. Taking her overnight next week. I'll post some pics and feedback after the trip.

Edited by Eaglesd on 12/23/2011 07:45:31 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Lighter Options? on 12/23/2011 07:14:34 MST Print View

As mentioned, the Deuter DOES have a full suspension and frame - it is a well made pack. When my oldest outgrew his I sold it for about 75% of retail - even though he had used it for many, many bag nights. It still looked in new shape - it is that well built. Deuter isn't the lightest but it is about the only brand I buy now.
When kids get older and hit the 10-13 age bracket and get taller consider womens models - it works well as a gap between kids and adult sizes.

But at 8, going for the lightest pack isn't always the best solution. A child must have a well fitting pack first. You simply make sure everything else is UL!

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/23/2011 09:15:37 MST Print View

circuit on 12/23/2011 13:50:40 MST Print View

The ULA circuit with adjustable straps and x-small belt goes down to 26" waist and about 13" torso length.

The shoulder straps are mounted to a sheet which adjusts with velcro in about a 5" range or so. So it can grow with the kids. The belt can also be replaced as needed as they grow.

Not on the website, have to ask Chris about it. They make them all the time, my 12yo son has one. I expect him to be able to use it for several yrs, his torso length is about 14.5" right now. It will max at 18 ". You really dont want to move the belt up on a pack to adjust fit, it is more comfortable all way at the bottom where the pack can pull into the lower back.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2011 13:54:12 MST.

kenneth froese
Thank you on 12/24/2011 08:23:57 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for taking the time to write out such great responses.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
belt adjustment on 12/24/2011 08:54:03 MST Print View

You might be able to adjust the belt better if you take off the clasp/buckle and put velcro on the waist strap.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/24/2011 10:12:43 MST Print View

26 inches is about 2-3 inches too big for my grandson! His mom and dad are both skinny, and he is, too. We'll definitely have somehow to shorten the hip belt!

packs on 12/24/2011 14:17:38 MST Print View

The cottage vendors that make their packs in-house will likely be more than happy to modify a belt, etc if necessary to fit a small waist.

Rebecca Canode
(bcanode) - F
UL Kids Packs on 12/24/2011 16:29:20 MST Print View

We toyeed with the idea of getting comercial kids packs but were disapointed by how heavy they were. Kids can't carry much so when the empty pack takes up 25-30% of what they can carry, there isn't much room left for actual gear.

With advice from the MYOG forum, I've been able to adapt some of the MYOG plans to create UL packs for my boys. Their packs are only about 8-10oz. Having such a light pack allows them to safely carry quite a bit of their light weight, bulky stuff and keeps it out of my pack! The other advantage is that it only cost about $20-25 each to make. So, when they out grow them, I'm not out much money. If you have a sweing machine, its worth considering.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/24/2011 17:14:43 MST Print View

That's the problem, I'm a really lousy sewer. Otherwise I'd buy a couple of kids packs on sale, cut off the super heavy pack bag with all the pockets and gewgaws, and sew a simple pack bag of Dyneema or similar fabric onto the frame. That way the kid would have the best of both worlds, probably with a 1 1/2 lb. pack instead of 3 lbs.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Kids UL Packs on 12/25/2011 15:11:10 MST Print View

One possiblity would be just a large bookbag to carry a sleeping bag in. That should be light enough she won't need a facy pack and you can haul the rest. If she likes backpacking you can upgrade.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re Kids UL Packs on 12/25/2011 19:11:11 MST Print View

Fair warning....that is really uncomfortable for kids. I did that with my oldest on his first trip and the sleeping bag made the pack SO stiff it rode weird. We never did that again!! (And it was when he was around 5 or 6 and he hiked around 14 miles total in 2 days....)