How To Choose The Best Kids Hiking Backpacks and Reviews

So my two little brats (they will probably sue me in future for calling them that but hey, I am the father, so that makes me the boss, right?) said they would like to go hiking with me. Little did I know that sooner than later, I would be headed to the stores to look for the best kids hiking backpacks.

About the best hiking and camping backpacks for kids

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And I indulged them. Only to find out that hiking is hungry work for grownups and double hungry work for children. I am hungry! This from Vickie, who is 7 and I am thirsty! This from Samie who is 5. Suffice to say that by the end of the hike, I wished I had not brought them along, but only silently, in my mind.

You see, my children have this bad habit of taking me on serious guilt trips. If I say they are not coming, their astonishment is out of this world, heart wrenching to watch and comical too.

“So you do not love us anymore”, they will say. And then I will have to embark on a discourse on why leaving them behind does not mean I do not love them.

And so I ended up bringing them along, for the slowest hike of my life. And my hiking backpack, made for one person only, was depleted of all its food, snacks and water before we did the first half of the four miles easy to moderate hike.

That is what prompted me to go hunting for the best backpacks for children. I wanted to teach these two little buccaneers the meaning of self-reliance. From now henceforth, everyone carries their backpack, their food and water, and you are responsible for how you use it. But of course, I will have a hawkish eye over how you consume everything!

And I was pleasantly surprised! The market teems with some of the best camping backpacks for children, and of all ages too. It also has some wonderful baby carriers for hiking, if you would like to bring your toddler along on your hike. I can tell you outright that I bought a Camelbak Trailblazer for Vickie and a Deuter for Samie, and the difference alone was enough to start a third world war in my home.

“Why mine is diffwent?” Asks Samie, pointing at the names, and of course the color since hers is red and her brother’s is green. She is a late speaker this one, but she is catching up fast.

Well, if this is what they call girl power, well, I would rather it was manpower all over. Long story short, I ordered another CamelBak Trailblazer. So now I have a spare hiking and camping backpack for kids.

If you are in the same predicament as I, well, I have made the work easier for you. I have researched a few backpacks for children here, and made short reviews of each. I hope they help you get on the level with your kids.

By the way, when on the hike, children want to be treated like equals, at least mine do and I found that buying them their packs made them feel all-macho and grown up. I am proud for how happy they are when we are outdoors.

Vickie can identify a white tailed kite, a raven, spotted towhee and a few other birds. Samie is still whooping with glee every time we startle a bird on the trails, but soon, she will learn that every bird is unique.


Before I go shooting me mouth off again about my kids, here are a few things that you should always consider when choosing the best kids hiking backpacks.

Kids’ backpack features

Size of the pack

Anything from 10L to 40L is good, Backpack size is measured in volume, liters actually. The smaller the kid, the smaller the backpack they will need. However, I always find it wiser to buy a bigger backpack with compression capability so that I can reduce the size and increase it later when the kid grows. Also, from time to time, I might grab one of my children’s packs (much to their chagrin) in which case I would need to adjust the straps and the torso length.

Color of the pack

Children are more sensitive about color, more than you think. Thus, if you are buying them a pack, ask them which color they would like or better yet, shop online with them.

Compartments

I have found this to be very helpful with my children’s packs as the compartments found in their packs helps them to be more organized. I must admit that my daughter beats my son at this. Her backpack is truly a girl’s pack. It is organized as smartly as a princess’s closet whenever we go out. Thanks to several compartments, she knows where everything is.

Side pockets

Hiking is thirsty work! Thus, I love it when my children carry their water bottles with them, as well as their reservoirs. When we are going camping, I carry our portable water filters so that we can filter water from the source. If you can find a pack with side pockets for water bottles, buy it.

How well can it stand abuse?

From branches to dropping it heavily on pebbles, a children’s camping backpack can really suffer a lot of abuse. Woe unto you if it is too light-duty and is not made of material that can resist scratches. The good thing though is that most of the kids packs are made of rip-stop nylon which resists rips.

Buy a waterproof pack by all means

Who knows when a shower will hit you on the trails? I have found out that buying a rain cover for a pack separately can be tough work and anyway, that is extra weight your child will be carrying along. Thus, just look for a backpack that is waterproof.

Do not buy blindly

Buying a pack is akin to buying hiking shoes. If you buy without reading a few user reviews, you will be buying blindly. Once you buy a pack and it serves you well, or poorly, be kind enough to leave a review so that you can help other parents. You know how hassled we always are, running helter-skelter like headless chicken managing our jobs and homes.

Hydration sleeve

This is a great feature as it allows your children to drink straight from their reservoir without any hindrances.

A few best kids hiking backpacks

Deuter 40-L Fox Kids’ Hiking Backpack

The full name for this backpack is Deuter Fox 40 Children’s Hiking Backpack where 40 stands for the volume of the pack. It is one of the most popular backpacks for children in the market today. Here are some of its features:

It comes with VariQuick technology for back adjustment. That means that your kids can cut their teeth on it and will continue to use it as they grow up. Call it a scalable backpack for camping and hiking if you like! The chest strap has a whistle for emergencies, just in case you and junior are separated on the trails. The compression straps work like magic, reducing this backpack into a small, compact and manageable size to suit the age and size of your child.

It has many compartments, but the most important one is a lockable compartment where you can keep your child’s electronics and other important personal items safe. You even have a space to keep wet items away from the dry ones. The main compartment can be accessed via an opening at the bottom.

This hiking backpack also comes with polyurethane coating which makes it totally waterproof. Other features include attachments for hiking pole and ice axe. You can also loop gear on the hip belt and the lid too, as it has loops to attach several items. The soft-edge shoulder straps can hold 2 or 3-liter hydration systems.

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Snowhale Kid’s Backpack

This is not just a hiking and camping backpack, but it is also a school backpack for children. It is a unisex pack and is made of tear-resist and waterproof nylon material. With adjustable straps for the shoulders, simplistic in design and easy to access, this camping backpack for children is just perfect for your day or overnight trips.

It is made with two zippers, one that lets you open the whole pack and another one that opens a smaller compartment. It has just two compartments allowing your child to separate his or her items as he wishes.

The capacity is 10 liters volume, has pockets for holding water or soft drink bottles on both sides and when it is empty, it weighs just 0.25 kg. The shoulder straps are perforated for proper ventilation. There is no need to sweat unnecessarily when out there on the trails.

NOTE – This is a simplistic backpack. It can be used for school or for cycling, hiking and backpacking experiences. Do not expect too much from it. It lacks things like lockable pockets.

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Sunhiker backpacking, cycling and hiking backpack

When looking for information about the Sunhiker backpack for kids, you may be confused because it is used both by adults and children. However, we admit it is too big for your kid if he or she is in kindergarten. However, if they are in, say, Grade 2 to 8, they can use this backpack for different types of outdoor adventures.

It is made of waterproof and tear resistant nylon, has volume control straps and adjustable straps for the shoulders for size. The straps are made of breathable mesh to control sweating. It is sold in different colors and therefore you can ask your child to choose the favorite. Among the most common colors include gray, green, purple, black and blue.

It is easy to maintain. In the case of stains, just wipe with a damp piece of cloth but do not dip it in water. It should also be dried naturally, it dries fast.

Great for you if: you are looking for a cheap backpack that can fit snacks, water, a pair of hiking boots maybe and a few other items for day hiking, this is the one to buy. You will save money and have a good pack at the same time.

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Deuter Kids 30-L Fox Backpack

Another Deuter makes it to this list, and it is a great backpack for camping as you will see in its features. If you are looking for a backpack that can grow with your child, this is it for you. It can be compressed to a small sized and compact backpack for kids depending on their size.

With a full volume of 30 liters, it can also be used by adults who are going for outdoor fun like camping, hiking, cycling, mountaineering and backpacking. It can fit everything that you may need to make your stay outdoors as comfortable as possible.

It has been made with the advanced ALPINE BACK technology that ensures balance, comfort and ventilation for the back panel. It will rest on your back snugly, ergonomically yet it will not make you sweat. Other wonderful features you can expect from this pack include hiking poles and ice axe attachments. The shoulder straps are made with Soft-Edge technology and are made to be attachable to 2 or 3-liter bottles for hydration.

In every aspect except the size, this backpack is just like its sister backpack which we reviewed earlier – the Deuter 40-L Fox Kid’s Hiking Backpack.

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Osprey Youth Jet 18-L Back pack

Osprey is a well known name in the sports and outdoors genre. It has a wonderful product for children. My choice for the best Osprey best back pack for children is Osprey Youth Jet 18 Liter Volume. It is perfect for kids even as young as five years old.

It is small though and therefore it is only suitable for kids who are at least 5 years old. Any older than 8 years and you may have to get them a bigger backpack.

It is made of nylon, waterproof and has several interior and exterior compartment for the storage of small personal items. The top lid has a big compartment that is secured by a zip. You can use it to store any items that lack space elsewhere.

Has a few mesh pockets on the sides for storing water bottles, sunscreen and even snacks. In addition, it has a reservoir sleeve, which allows water to be accessed easily even when the pack is empty. The pack is waterproof, dries quickly when wet since it is made of nylon and it has a sternum strap for more comfort when hiking up a mountain or something.

One disadvantage – Many people say that it is hard for children, and adults too to figure out how the to lock the main compartments as it has a drawstring and a zip. This could be something that you have to help your kid with all the time.

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Osprey ACE 38 Liter Backpack for Kids

This is one of the most popular ultralight hiking and camping backpacks for children and youths. With many admirable features like adjustable hip belt, you will love it and most importantly, your children will love it. It is bigger than its sister backpack which we have reviewed above as it has a volume of 38 liters. It might be a kid’s pack, but it has all the features and the functionality of a grownups backpack.

What you will love most about ACE 38 is its adjustability, something that is found almost everywhere on the pack. From the torso, the shoulder straps, the sternum strap and the hip belt, all of them are adjustable. When your child grows bigger, he or she can still use this backpack.

The hip belt pad extends widely, up to 5 inches. As your child grows taller and thicker around the waist, they will continue using this pack.  You can also attach other gear to the exterior of the pack using the sleeping pad straps. When you are not attaching anything, remove the straps to hike light.

Made of rip-stop double diamond nylon 210D, lightwire interior frame, AirScape back panel that can be adjusted depending on the height of the child, built with a rain cover and with a whistle on the sternum strap, this backpack for hiking leaves nothing to imagination.

The compression side straps can enable you to turn this into a compact travel pack. Your child can also use it as a travel backpack when you are traveling overseas.

Are there any disadvantages to this backpack? Only one, that it is a top lid pack. Many people love a front-loading backpack which gives easier access to the items inside, but apart from that, everything else is a plus for the pack.

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Outlander Light Travel and Hiking Backpack

Well, when looking for information online about this backpack, you will not find much that points to it being a kid’s backpack for hiking. All the same, I did include it here, and for a good reason too.

This back pack is simplistic by design. I mean, it is just something that you would use for a day hike, rather than for hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. It has no internal padding, and as a result, it would make your load keep shifting, which is not a good thing. And that is what makes it good for children, because they do not pack as much weight as adults do.

It has side compression straps that will make it more compact and smaller, to suit a smaller kid. When in storage, just fold it into its zippered pocket. With the ability to carry 35 liters, multiple compartments and with two way metal zipper, no flaps along the zipper so no snagging, there is everything to look forward to in this backpack.

The material is rip resist and waterproof nylon, the straps are breathable to prevent sweating and weighs a mere 0.5 pounds when it is empty. It is truly weightless.

There are enough compartments to keep you organized. You can spread your items to the compartments but be careful not to pack anything sharp into it. If it is not abused, this affordable backpack will last you a long time.

One disadvantage though is that while breathable, the straps are not padded. Also, this is not a heavy duty pack, so only use it for light packing.

It is covered by limited lifetime warranty.

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CamelBak 12.5L Pack With Hydration

This small backpack is designed for minimalist hiking and backpacking. You can see that from the small volume. This pack has many features and the most important of them is that it is expandable and has a central zip for just that task. It has three pockets in the exterior to help you carry any extra stuff that you need.

It is made with reflective material, is waterproof and the tough, polyurethane coated waterproof nylon will withstand a lot of abuse. The antidote reservoir is removable in case you do not need them. This is a high quality yet minimalist pack that is made for a young hiker who just needs to carry the basics.

It is most suitable for kids that are between the ages of 4 and 7. It is sold with a lifetime guarantee and comes in delightful children’s colors. If you are looking for a perfect gift for your grandchild, your niece of son or daughter, this pack will be perfect for that. It can be used straight from the box and because of the simplistic design, your child will not have a hard time figuring it out.

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Conclusion

These are just a few of the best kids hiking backpacks. There are many more. The most important thing that you should consider here is a “scalable” backpack, one that your kid can grow with. Compression straps. Adjustable shoulder straps and many more features determine whether differently aged and sized children can use a pack. Basically, it is better to spend more money and get a better pack with many features. This beats spending less money and getting fewer features. Consider that in your calculations. Do not abuse your child’s hiking pack by carrying heavy items like backpacking and camping stoves.

Happy hiking!

 


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