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Youth Scout Packs?
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Dan Smith
Youth Scout Packs? on 07/10/2012 10:49:38 MDT Print View


I'm at a crossroads trying to find a pack for my 8 year old. My 11 year old has an Osprey Ace 48 and loves the pack.

However, my 8 year old son is already 5' tall and weighs 90lbs and is the same size as my 11 year old. He's already has a 16.5" torso height and a 25" waist.

The majority of hiking will be short trips and various Scout outings and I'm not overly worried about UL for these packs.

I need a 40-50L pack that we can get at least 3-4 years out of. My 8 year old is very active in athletics and when we were at Mount Evans National Forest last week, he hiked circles around all of us in the group on the ascents with this Deuter Fox 30 that was way too small for him. I'll have that for sale shortly in the classifieds.

Besides the Osprey Ace 48 and the Deuter Fox 40, what are your thoughts on the Deuter ACT Lite 40 + 10 for youth?

What other youth packs with adjustable torsos can you recommend in the 40-50L size? He's going into 3rd grade and by 6th grade, he'll most likely be close to 6' tall. I don't want to purchase 2-3 packs during this time frame and want an adjustable torso pack.

Osprey Ace 48 14-19 inch torso, 25-29 inch waist
Deuter ACT Light 14-19.5 inch torso, 22 - 46 inch waist
Deuter Fox 40 - 11-18 inch torso, 24-36" waist

Would the ACT light have shoulder straps that are wider? Or what about this women's pack:

I want to get at least 3 years out of this, but if he stays the course, he's going to be 9" to 12" taller in the next 3 years. It's ridiculous keeping up with his growth.

I could go with the ACE 48 and call it a day, but I want him to get more than 2 years out of this thing, but have it fit him correctly so he can carry 15+ lbs on hikes since he's a horse.

Thanks for your responses.


Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
pack for an 8 year old on 07/11/2012 12:26:35 MDT Print View

when my 11 year was 8 he used a Kelty Jr. Tioga. i carried the tent, food, and stove, he carried his sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, clothes, and a headlamp. he still uses it for Scouts, but those days are numbered since he'll be doing longer backpacking trips this fall and will need to carry patrol gear and his gear.

Edited by asciibaron on 07/11/2012 12:27:56 MDT.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Try the day packs on 07/11/2012 17:11:58 MDT Print View

I also am hiking with my 12 year old son who comes in around 70 lbs. We have settled on the frameless day packs at REI. Soft back padding, great shoulder straps, lots of pockets, but just a simple waist belt, similar to GG. The problem with the big packs shrunk down for kids is they still come in at 3 lbs and my son will only be carrying about 10 lbs. So I like the 10-14 oz highly adjustable day packs. And oh yeah, he can use it for years as a day pack once he graduates into a true backpack.

Jeffrey Windsor
(jeffreywindsor) - F
WalMart packs on 07/11/2012 17:35:48 MDT Print View

For my 10 year old son, I just purchased an Outdoor Products Arrowhead 8.0 from WalMart for $30. It weighs in at 34 oz, which should be very reducible (cut 2 oz by removing the dopey handle off the front for starters...). It won't last very long, I expect, but it will last $30 long and it was easy to acquire. It has two removable, internal, aluminum stays that are probably best removed, but I might make sure that my son knows how to pack his pack correctly before they are entirely eliminated.

It's not a terrible pack, actually. I inspected the stitching pretty thoroughly and it seems sound enough, though I expect the foam in the shoulder straps and hip belt to compress pretty quickly. For a growing boy who will need another pack in a couple of seasons, I'd rather buy a workable cheap pack now that try to find an adjustable pack that works well enough.

Of course, my two other sons still use beautiful old Kelty external frame packs which are marvelously adjustable. The eldest still uses the pack I myself used as a scout some 30 years ago, and it still does the job beautifully. It is heavier than my current pack, but less than the 7 lb. monstrosity I bought in the 1990s: them were bad years.

In short, my recommendation is to either find a nice old external frame pack (I saw three of them at the thrift store a couple of months ago for $5 each, and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't pick them up), or buy something essentially disposable after a couple of seasons.

Dan Smith
Need a serious pack... on 07/12/2012 10:31:13 MDT Print View

Let me rephrase my original question. My 8 year old can carry 15-20 pounds and not complain. He was carrying 10 in his too-small fox 30 and was running circles around our entire group. He's the size of a 12 year old kid and just as strong.
5', 90lbs, 16-17" torso, 25" waist. Shop measured him at 17" torso, but my measurements show 16".

We go on some long trips and he doesn't mind carrying a bigger load and wants to haul his own gear. However, I need the pack to fit and want to get at least 3 years out of it and can resell (at a loss) and upgrade when he grows out of it.

My concern is the current batch of kids packs will fit him for another year or 2 at the most, so I want to find something that his current size is at the lowest adjustment on the pack.

The Osprey Ace 48 fits him now, but won't in 2 years. Deuter Fox 40 runs smaller. Have any of you bought your 12 year old boys women's packs that give them more room to grow?

I'm looking for legitimate backpack options, not daypack or Walmart options.



Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

ULA Circuit "Kids" on 07/12/2012 18:13:03 MDT Print View

You could try the much loved ULA Circuit pack in the "kids" size (12-18" torso). Probably get a good resale if and when he outgrows it.

Gordon Forrest
It will never work on 07/13/2012 09:12:13 MDT Print View

As the father of twin almost 16-year old boys, who now stand 6'4" and 6'2" and are still growing, I'll just say that it is not realistic to try and get that long a span of use out of packs for your kids; they just grow too much.

Buy and sell quality gear from ebay, craigslist, this site, your friends, other Scouts, etc. and continue to cycle your kids thru the gear. This is what I have done for the past decade with bikes, skis, ice skates, camping equipment, etc. for my boys. Some times I buy new, some times I buy used, but I know that it is a continuum until they are at a point where they can start buying their own gear or they finally stop growing.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Kelty on 07/16/2012 08:34:04 MDT Print View

The Kelty Yukon and Trekker series both include packs with adjustable frames in more than one size and the new Sanitas is also adjustable. Our son uses a Yukon and several of our Scouts also use Keltys. They adjust, they're reasonably comfortable and they provide a stable platform.

Of course, being a Kelty, they also carry some resale value/can be found used on Craigslist or eBay very easily.

Get one that fits him and, when he outgrows it, sell it to a younger Scout or donate it for use as a loaner.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
Deuter, highly adjustable backpack on 08/08/2012 13:37:36 MDT Print View

My son started with an external frame, and then got a small internal frame, and then a women's internal frame pack, and now has a pack the same size as mine. But I just saw a Deuter pack which is highly adjustable. I think it could replace the last three packs we used for him.

Brian Reyman

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Osprey, ULA or REI Flash on 08/16/2012 20:51:37 MDT Print View

The Osprey Ace really is a solid choice. While heavy, the comfort is top notch, at least for my tall-for-her-age daughter.

I'd also second the ULA Circuit in kids' size, as well as looking at the REI Flash. They come in a variety of Women and Men's sizes, are adjustable, relatively light and not too bad on the wallet.

Ernie Delcher
(EFD57) - F

Locale: Northern New Jersey
Re: Need a serious pack... on 08/28/2012 07:29:32 MDT Print View


I went with Deuter and now have several for my 2 boys and me to use. My youngest was/still is very slim and the ACT LITE 50+10 was able to adjust perfectly for his height. The bigger problem is the waist belt but even here the Deuter was okay (when he was 11/12 the belt was almost as tight as it could be but it worked).

For next years Philmont trip we will be using ACT 70+10's. Not ultralight but in the 3# range and pretty much bomb (and scout) proof.


Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Growth on 09/09/2012 20:24:47 MDT Print View

There's no particular reason to expect him to outgrow a pack that will fit up to 19" any time soon, even in three years. I'm over 6'2", but my torso is 18.5". This is admittedly unusual, but looking at me you'd say I'm a fairly normal build for a gangly youth. I wasn't your son's size at age 8, but I think it's a safe bet to say he won't be more than a 20" torso before high school. Might not ever be.

Go down to your local sporting store and try on a small Talon 44, adjusted down as small as it can go. If it fits, this is a quality pack that will be attractive not only to your son as a 'kids pack', but could easily be worn by an adult (perhaps you, your wife, or a relative) and be a lifelong acquisition rather than a temporary one. I've used this pack, and while it's not ultralight, its very easy to use and only 2.5 lbs. Easy to pack, and more room than your son will know what to do with. If nobody in the family has a use for it, it'll have a high resale value, plus Osprey has that great guarantee.

I'm recommending what I know--I haven't experienced the packs you're suggesting, but they look like quality packs and possibly adjustable down to a smaller size than the Talon. Still, that is a full extra pound to take into consideration--while this isn't a huge factor, its got long term effects in the full lifetime's usability of the pack.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
BACKPACK FOR YOUTH... on 10/01/2012 16:41:49 MDT Print View

My younger son is using a TNF Terra 60L which has an adjustable torso length. I don't think this pack is made any longer but have expanded the line to 45L, 55L and 65L. They aren't particularly light or heavy but are very comfortable. My son is tall and very thin but the adjustable torso and belt have accommodated his bean pole frame. Hope this helps!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Packs on 10/01/2012 17:18:45 MDT Print View

Couple things too keep in mind.

First be a bit cautious about letting him haul too much. Even if he's big and strong for his age he still has 8 year old joints.

Second - I helped a 10 year old boy scout trying on youth packs at REI. They seem solid if somewhat heavy. One thing I noticed though was that there are limits to how far such a pack can be adjusted. For example when the torso was set really low for the boy the load lifters didn't really do their job. I'm not saying they are bad packs just that at the margins they may not be ideal.

I have not done it but I have heard of having kids us women's packs. The problem is most women's packs don't have adjustable torso but some do. I believe a few Granite Gear packs have adjustable torsos for example.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Packs for smaller dudes on 10/02/2012 08:30:15 MDT Print View

All the Kelty adjustable frame packs come in a version that will fit even really little dudes, and the volume capacity of the packs are limited to reduce packbag weight and overloading issues. They can be adjusted for torso length and shoulder width, easily.

It can be a mental hurdle, difficult for some to leap over in order to utilize old-school backpack technology that may involve another 2 pounds of weight over the frameless, soft pack options but that provides a proper fit, safe loading of the hips rather than spine and airflow around the back w/o loss of ability to rain-cover. However, the payoff can be kids without sore backs, who learn to hike erect rather than hunched over like Dr. Frankenstein's assistant and with a backpack that easily "grows with them".

Kelty Yukon 2900, Boy Scout, High Sierra
71 lb. Boy Scout, 17 lb carry weight with 2 liters water, camp stool, camp shoes, camera, playing cards, full-length pad and fishing gear, in a Kelty Yukon 2900, frame adjusted to fit.

packs on 11/21/2012 12:06:31 MST Print View

This is an old thread.
But I just thought Id throw in:

This time last yr my son was 14" torso at 12.5 yo
Now, 1 yr later he is 18.5" torso with size 13 feet, and still growing fast, on his way to 6'2" according to the growth chart at the Dr office.

He completely used up the adjustable range of his Circuit in 1 yr (~13-18").

Dont plan on a single pack lasting too long.