The Best Hiking Backpacks for Children

The Best Hiking Backpacks for Children

With more families looking to rediscover the great outdoors, interest in hiking and backpacking trips with children seems to be growing exponentially. Far beyond the typical, “What is the best backpack for Boy Scouts?” or “What backpack should my daughter wear for Girl Scouts?” type questions, I’m getting more and more requests for recommended hiking backpacks for kids. As a Scout leader and father who backpacks with my own son, here are my top backpack recommendations for children.

 

THE BEST HIKING BACKPACKS FOR CHILDREN

When evaluating the best hiking backpacks for children, I look at several key factors that differentiate the best packs from the rest:  comfort, adjustability, function, warranty, and value.

Sizable hipbelts and adjustable frames are key attributes in children’s backpacks, as they not only allow for proper fit but also ensure that kids are safely supported in their early hiking adventures. Adjustability also ensures value, as the pack can be adapted to support your child for several years to come.

Hiking-specific backpacks should also have key usability features that make the trip more enjoyable and support greater adventure, including hip belt pockets, stretch mesh stash pockets, built-in safety whistles, and attachment systems. I also recommend a separate sleeping bag compartment for children’s backpacks.

Daypacks targeted at children should have hiking backpack style features in a frameless package, including safety whistles, stretch mesh pockets, and attachment systems such as daisy chains.

Lastly, any children’s backpack should have a reliable warranty. While some manufacturers offer only months, many offer lifetime warranties which are really quite valuable in terms of children’s backpacks.

 

 

OSPREY ACE BACKPACK  (38L / 50 L / 75L)

One of the best – if not the best – hiking backpacks for children is the Osprey Ace series. Available in three sizes, the Ace offers five inches of torso adjustment for height as well as a lengthening hipbelt, ensuring this pack will grow with your child well into late teens. (In fact, this pack is a good option for slender adults as well as children.)  Key features include a ventilated suspension to keep your back cooler during hikes, a stretch mesh pocket, a zippered sleeping bag compartment, deep water bottle pockets, ample hipbelt pockets, and an emergency sternum whistle. Borrowing from the brand’s adult packs, the Ace series also includes adjustable load lifter straps and compression straps to help stabilize the pack in all conditions. The pack uses very durable 600D and 400D recycled nylon packcloth to ensure this backpack can withstand years of use. Osprey includes a rain cover with this pack (saving you upwards of $30) as well as the brand’s unlimited LIFETIME WARRANTY.

I like this pack so well, I purchased the 50L model for my son’s Boy Scout backpacking trips.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON   |   OSPREY (Direct)

 

 

GREGORY WANDER BACKPACK  (50L / 70L)

Drawing from the brand’s premiere backpacking series, the WANDER series packs for children are exceptional hiking packs. Featuring adjustable suspension and flexible hipbelt to accomodate growing bodies, the WANDER includes a well-ventilated mesh backpanel, internal hydration resevoir compartment, stresh mesh pocket, mutliple attachment points, large water bottle pockets, large hipbelt pockets, as well as an emergency sternum whistle. Using a combination of 210D ripstop nylon and 420D reinforced nylon, the WANDER balances rugged features and weight savings. The WANDER series includes a pack-specific rain cover and the brand’s lifetime warranty.

A great option for Scout hiking and camping, I would not hesitate to recommend the WANDER series for multi-day backpacking.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON

 

 

 

DEUTER FOX BACKPACK (30L / 40L)

Another top option for children’s backpacks is the Deuter Fox hiking series. Taller and slimmer than the Osprey Ace, the Deuter also offers seven inches of torso adjustment for height to ensure years of reliable service. Key features from the brand’s adult series include chimney-style back ventilation, a mesh stretch pocket, a zippered sleeping bag compartment, a hydration reservoir compartment, side bottle holders with compression, load adjustment straps, and an emergency whistle, making the Fox series a tested value for young backpackers. Like the Osprey, this is not a “kids” model, rather a downsize pack for children that would also be ideal for slender adults.

The Deuter Fox series uses 211D ripstop nylon fabric, balancing some durability versus the Osprey in favor of slight weight savings. The Fox Series carries Deuter’s limited lifetime warranty.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON

 

 

 

 

REI TARN BACKPACK   (12L / 15L / 18L / 40L / 65L)

REI’s in-house line of hiking packs designed for children, the REI TARN series, offers multiple sizes designed for day hiking and extended trips. While each has its usefulness, the TARN 40 and TARN 65 are specifically designed for overnight and multi-night backpacking trips. Both the TARN 40 and TARN 65 offer adjustable back panel suspensions to accommodate growing hikers, large stuff mesh front pockets, ample side bottle pockets, hipbelt pockets, and multiple attachment points, while the TARN 65 specifically offers a separate sleeping bag compartment.

Both the TARN 40 and TARN 65 are made from recycled 420D ripstop nylon. Like all REI branded products, the TARN series has a no-questions-asked one-year return satisfaction policy.

*THESE PACKS ARE AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT REI.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP

 

 

Looking for options for shorter hikes or day hikes? Here are the best daypacks for children.

 

THE BEST DAY HIKE BACKPACKS FOR CHILDREN

 

OSPREY JET BACKPACK (18L)

Designed as a full-featured daypack for children, the Osprey JET 18L is highly recommended. The JET features Osprey’s Airscape backpanel ventilation to help kids stay cool while on the move. Multiple attachment points, a stretch mesh stuff pocket, plus dual stretch water bottle pockets make this a great small hauler for day hiking. Add in an airmesh ventilated hipbelt, emergency whistle, water reservoir compartment, and Osprey’s lifetime all-inclusive warranty and you have the makings of one of the best (if not the best) small daypacks available on the market.

SHOP ONLINE:  AMAZON   |   OSPREY (Direct)

 

 

 

 

 

REI TARN BACKPACK   (12L / 15L / 18L / 40L / 65L)

REI’s in-house line of hiking packs designed for children, the REI TARN series, offers multiple sizes designed for day hiking and extended trips. While each has its usefulness, the TARN 12 and TARN 18 are designed for short day hikes. Featuring a frameless design that makes the packs more lightweight, both the TARN 12 and TARN 18 offer adjustable straps, water reservoir compartments, and stretch mesh stuff pockets. The TARN 18 adds greater capacity and hipbelt pockets, making it a serviceable daypack for any outing.

Both the TARN 12 and TARN 18 are made from recycled ripstop nylon. Like all REI branded products, the TARN series has a no-questions-asked one-year return satisfaction policy.

*THESE PACKS ARE AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT REI.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED ONLINE RETAILERS

          

 

NOTE: I purchased the Osprey ACE Series on my own and did not receive any incentive for providing this review. The views expressed regarding this product are mine alone based on my own experience. If you purchase an item linked from this site, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

 

 


The Best Hiking Backpacks for Children

The Best Hiking Backpacks for Children

With more families looking to rediscover the great outdoors, interest in hiking and backpacking trips with children seems to be growing exponentially. Far beyond the typical, “What is the best backpack for Boy Scouts?” or “What backpack should my daughter wear for Girl Scouts?” type questions, I’m getting more and more requests for recommended hiking backpacks for kids. As a Scout leader and father who backpacks with my own son, here are my top backpack recommendations for children.

 

THE BEST HIKING BACKPACKS FOR CHILDREN

When evaluating the best hiking backpacks for children, I look at several key factors that differentiate the best packs from the rest:  comfort, adjustability, function, warranty, and value.

Sizable hipbelts and adjustable frames are key attributes in children’s backpacks, as they not only allow for proper fit but also ensure that kids are safely supported in their early hiking adventures. Adjustability also ensures value, as the pack can be adapted to support your child for several years to come.

Hiking-specific backpacks should also have key usability features that make the trip more enjoyable and support greater adventure, including hip belt pockets, stretch mesh stash pockets, built-in safety whistles, and attachment systems. I also recommend a separate sleeping bag compartment for children’s backpacks.

Daypacks targeted at children should have hiking backpack style features in a frameless package, including safety whistles, stretch mesh pockets, and attachment systems such as daisy chains.

Lastly, any children’s backpack should have a reliable warranty. While some manufacturers offer only months, many offer lifetime warranties which are really quite valuable in terms of children’s backpacks.

 

 

OSPREY ACE BACKPACK  (38L / 50 L / 75L)

One of the best – if not the best – hiking backpacks for children is the Osprey Ace series. Available in three sizes, the Ace offers five inches of torso adjustment for height as well as a lengthening hipbelt, ensuring this pack will grow with your child well into late teens. (In fact, this pack is a good option for slender adults as well as children.)  Key features include a ventilated suspension to keep your back cooler during hikes, a stretch mesh pocket, a zippered sleeping bag compartment, deep water bottle pockets, ample hipbelt pockets, and an emergency sternum whistle. Borrowing from the brand’s adult packs, the Ace series also includes adjustable load lifter straps and compression straps to help stabilize the pack in all conditions. The pack uses very durable 600D and 400D recycled nylon packcloth to ensure this backpack can withstand years of use. Osprey includes a rain cover with this pack (saving you upwards of $30) as well as the brand’s unlimited LIFETIME WARRANTY.

I like this pack so well, I purchased the 50L model for my son’s Boy Scout backpacking trips.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON   |   OSPREY (Direct)

 

 

GREGORY WANDER BACKPACK  (50L / 70L)

Drawing from the brand’s premiere backpacking series, the WANDER series packs for children are exceptional hiking packs. Featuring adjustable suspension and flexible hipbelt to accomodate growing bodies, the WANDER includes a well-ventilated mesh backpanel, internal hydration resevoir compartment, stresh mesh pocket, mutliple attachment points, large water bottle pockets, large hipbelt pockets, as well as an emergency sternum whistle. Using a combination of 210D ripstop nylon and 420D reinforced nylon, the WANDER balances rugged features and weight savings. The WANDER series includes a pack-specific rain cover and the brand’s lifetime warranty.

A great option for Scout hiking and camping, I would not hesitate to recommend the WANDER series for multi-day backpacking.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON

 

 

 

DEUTER FOX BACKPACK (30L / 40L)

Another top option for children’s backpacks is the Deuter Fox hiking series. Taller and slimmer than the Osprey Ace, the Deuter also offers seven inches of torso adjustment for height to ensure years of reliable service. Key features from the brand’s adult series include chimney-style back ventilation, a mesh stretch pocket, a zippered sleeping bag compartment, a hydration reservoir compartment, side bottle holders with compression, load adjustment straps, and an emergency whistle, making the Fox series a tested value for young backpackers. Like the Osprey, this is not a “kids” model, rather a downsize pack for children that would also be ideal for slender adults.

The Deuter Fox series uses 211D ripstop nylon fabric, balancing some durability versus the Osprey in favor of slight weight savings. The Fox Series carries Deuter’s limited lifetime warranty.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP   |    AMAZON

 

 

 

 

REI TARN BACKPACK   (12L / 15L / 18L / 40L / 65L)

REI’s in-house line of hiking packs designed for children, the REI TARN series, offers multiple sizes designed for day hiking and extended trips. While each has its usefulness, the TARN 40 and TARN 65 are specifically designed for overnight and multi-night backpacking trips. Both the TARN 40 and TARN 65 offer adjustable back panel suspensions to accommodate growing hikers, large stuff mesh front pockets, ample side bottle pockets, hipbelt pockets, and multiple attachment points, while the TARN 65 specifically offers a separate sleeping bag compartment.

Both the TARN 40 and TARN 65 are made from recycled 420D ripstop nylon. Like all REI branded products, the TARN series has a no-questions-asked one-year return satisfaction policy.

*THESE PACKS ARE AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT REI.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP

 

 

Looking for options for shorter hikes or day hikes? Here are the best daypacks for children.

 

THE BEST DAY HIKE BACKPACKS FOR CHILDREN

 

OSPREY JET BACKPACK (18L)

Designed as a full-featured daypack for children, the Osprey JET 18L is highly recommended. The JET features Osprey’s Airscape backpanel ventilation to help kids stay cool while on the move. Multiple attachment points, a stretch mesh stuff pocket, plus dual stretch water bottle pockets make this a great small hauler for day hiking. Add in an airmesh ventilated hipbelt, emergency whistle, water reservoir compartment, and Osprey’s lifetime all-inclusive warranty and you have the makings of one of the best (if not the best) small daypacks available on the market.

SHOP ONLINE:  AMAZON   |   OSPREY (Direct)

 

 

 

 

 

REI TARN BACKPACK   (12L / 15L / 18L / 40L / 65L)

REI’s in-house line of hiking packs designed for children, the REI TARN series, offers multiple sizes designed for day hiking and extended trips. While each has its usefulness, the TARN 12 and TARN 18 are designed for short day hikes. Featuring a frameless design that makes the packs more lightweight, both the TARN 12 and TARN 18 offer adjustable straps, water reservoir compartments, and stretch mesh stuff pockets. The TARN 18 adds greater capacity and hipbelt pockets, making it a serviceable daypack for any outing.

Both the TARN 12 and TARN 18 are made from recycled ripstop nylon. Like all REI branded products, the TARN series has a no-questions-asked one-year return satisfaction policy.

*THESE PACKS ARE AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT REI.

SHOP ONLINE:  REI CO-OP

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED ONLINE RETAILERS

          

 

NOTE: I purchased the Osprey ACE Series on my own and did not receive any incentive for providing this review. The views expressed regarding this product are mine alone based on my own experience. If you purchase an item linked from this site, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.