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Kids BackPack recommendations
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Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
Kids Packs on 12/25/2011 21:28:01 MST Print View

I'm really suprised that no one has mentioned Rod Rod's line of Little Light Gear packs! Although I'm not sure if he is still working under the LLG name, his newest project seems to be Bespoke Gear, but you can contact him at:

I have NO affiliation to Ron, but I am really suprised to see that NO ONE has mentioned an actual cottage manufacturer who was SPECIALIZING in kids' packs. Anyway, I hope this helps =D!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kids BackPack recommendations on 12/25/2011 22:40:44 MST Print View

Clint, I did link in my post (the third one) to the forum thread in which these were announced! I didn't have time to go to the website, but I figured the OP could do that.

I have found from experience with my grandkids that they need a supportive frame, well padded hip belt and load lifters. Like me, all three seem to have very pressure-sensitive shoulders.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Little Light Gear on 12/25/2011 23:59:55 MST Print View

Little Light Gear seems to be out of business, their website is down. Sarah is right in that most kids are probably better with the support of a frame. I've had frameless packs work but its not for everyone. At any rate its really a moot point since the only source of frameless packs for smaller kids are MYOG projects or paying a chunk of money for something they'll outgrow. Kid sized internal frame packs are cheap, rugged, and they do a good job if they fit right. My little brother liked his a lot when he was 9.

kenneth froese
Deuter Climber on 12/26/2011 01:19:54 MST Print View

I ended up ordering this pack At 1 lb 12 oz and a Volume: 1350 cubic in, it should work out perfectly. I have an email into light little gear and bespoke gear as well.

Emily Marriott
Re: UL Kids Packs on 01/19/2014 19:58:34 MST Print View

Hi, I realize your post is a couple years old, but I'm wondering if you could point me in the right direction for the plans you used to make the UL packs for your kids. My kids are 6 and 8. FIguring out a truly light option for them relative to the weight they can carry would be great. Thanks!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
UL Kids Packs on 01/19/2014 20:38:13 MST Print View

Best bet would be to carefully read the "Five Yards to SUL-Pack" article. I used their basic plans to make a number of packs both for me and for my younger brother.

Lance Stalnaker
UL kids pack on 01/19/2014 22:35:54 MST Print View

I think this mostly depends on their size and capabilities. I will be taking 4 of my kids on several trips this summer. My 12, 13, and 15 year old boys, I can manage fairly well. My 9 year old daughter had me looking around at gear, she istall for her age 4'5" and is an athletic built 69#. My goal is to keep her around the 12# mark total weight.

One item I am surprised no one mention is golite. with my daughters measurements 26" waist and 15.5" torso, the golite jam small will fit her well with room to grow. ( I had her try on my wife's medium to see how big the bag itself was (50 L). I will get her the 35L, should be the perfect size for her. With only a 12# (or even 15#) load I am not concerned about the frameless pack, with the hip belt it still beats a rucksack and it is reasonable at $100, she can use it a couple years and then my youngest son can inherit it.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Jam 35 on 01/20/2014 13:14:02 MST Print View

I'd sort of forgotten about the Jam 35, I remember a while back someone else posted pictures of kids using the Golite Jam 35.

It helps to know your kids too. Motivation will play a big role, if they love what they are doing they may surprise you. However on first trips I always err on the side of keeping things light. The idea is to "hook" them by making it fun so they'll be motivated to come back next time even if their pack is heavier.

Another factor to consider is some kids don't really get how to wear a pack properly. Even if you teach them some kids just don't understand how to adjust their pack and make it comfortable. So its good if shoulder straps are generously padded and loads are light.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Jam is a good choice on 01/20/2014 13:19:40 MST Print View

I thought about the Jam a few years back and decided it was worth a try for my daughter. She was 7 at the time and the 35L didn't exist, but I went with the Jam (50L) in size Small and with the compressor straps at the bottom it worked like a champ. Now she's 10 and the Small still fits well and with the sub 10 lb loads I have her carry it's a fantastic pack, and affordable, for kids.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Jam 35, Jam 50, etc on 01/20/2014 13:31:51 MST Print View

I keep a Jam 35, two Jam 50s and two Jam 70s around for

- semi-UL backpacking trips or when I want a little tougher pack

- day hikes when there is one pack mule (often me) for the picnic lunch, extra layers, or empty containers that come back full of berries.

- use by our two kids, depending on the volume I need them to carry and the weight they are able to take easily.

- use by other adults when we've invited them on a BP trip (friends visiting us in Alaska and my wife precepts medical students and residents and we try to get them out into the backcountry if they have any inclination).

They're not as light as some other options, but they don't have to be babied and the Jam 50 and Jam 70 have enough padding that they don't have to packed super carefully.

If the trip includes some airline travel, I'm okay checking the 50 and 70s, but I'd rather protect them in a heavy clear plastic bag or inside a sacrificial duffle bag during transit.

Lance Stalnaker
Jam 35-50 and weight on 01/20/2014 18:23:32 MST Print View

I agree with what has been said about the jams. They are a nice balance of weight and functionality for youth. I will be keeping my kids loads at around:

9 year old girl-10-12# total weight
12 and 13 year old boys-12-15# total weight
15 year old boy-14-16# total weight

This should be the sweet spot for them. They are all experienced in the outdoors, have all hiked and camped often, but only the 15 year old has done extensive backpacking. My next step is the sleeping systems. My daughter will us a HG quilt and sleep in a WB hammock, same with the 15 year old and me. The 12 and 13 year old will share the lunar duo. First trip will be about 20 miles over 3 days and we will build from there with a goal of 100 miles on the AT (Shenandoah NP section). I have summers off so we should have some fun adventures. I may post some questions for further advice on kids and backpacking, although I have found much from searching on here. I prefer to stick to golite jam, sleeping bag in a short adult or women's size, etc. rather than "kids" gear, as they grow fast and the kids stuff is heavier for inferior products from what I have seen.

Lance Stalnaker
Re: Jam is a good choice on 01/20/2014 18:26:48 MST Print View

A quick question, you found the jam 50 to fit your 7 yr old daughter very well? I would prefer the 50, but the thought the 35 would be a better overall fit for her at this young age. I have used the jam 50 in the past and I do remember you can sinch it up pretty well and it does have those compression adjustments. Hmmm...Maybe the 50 would be the better bet.

Lance Stalnaker
GG G4 on 01/20/2014 18:37:26 MST Print View

One other pack I failed to mentioned, but looked at is the Gossamer Gear G4. It comes in the smaller variety as well. While it is a lighter option, I do not find it offers as much support and stability. I have the G4 and rarely use it as I find my mariposa and gorilla offer more comfort carrying my 18-20# total load.

I want my kids to be comfortable, they already love the outdoors and our adventures, and I want to keep it that way. As a long time Scout leader, I have seen more than one ill prepared boy hate backpacking because he showed up at the trailhead with a 35-40# load.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re GG G4 on 01/20/2014 22:21:15 MST Print View

I agree on the G4.

I think the Golites will be a good compromise. One thing I've noticed is some kids don't pack very carefully (yeah shocking isn't it). If their packs aren't comfortable you might want to check their packing to ensure they balanced things right.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Jam is a good choice on 01/21/2014 13:45:42 MST Print View

Lance, my daughter does indeed use a 50L Jam (size small) and it works well. Is it truly fitted to her? If I was planning a thru hike with her, I would take a look at the fit more seriously. But with the shoulder straps tightened up, the hip belt is on her hips. With the loads she carries - under 10 lbs - and that we're typically hiking no more than 5 miles, it works very well for her. I do usually use the pack compression straps to reduce the volume. While the 35L wasn't available at the time, my thinking is that she'll be able to grow into the 50L. For the price, I haven't seen a better option for my kids.

As a side note, I started her off with the REI kid's pack, and while good quality it was just way too heavy for the loads she should be carrying. She likes the Jam a lot better.


Lance Stalnaker
Re: Re: Re: Jam is a good choice on 01/21/2014 14:57:54 MST Print View

Thanks Art. I have experience with the Jams and think it the best compromise. I am leaning towards the 50 now, I am certain we can get it to 35 with compression and this gives her some room to grow.