For families who enjoy spending time outdoors, investing in a good quality kids hiking backpack can make the trip much easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Even if your family is new to camping or hiking, you can encourage a love of spending time outdoors if you choose the right type of pack for your children.
There are many criteria to consider when looking for a backpack, and selecting the wrong one can leave your child uncomfortable and unhappy for the duration of the trip.
Related: Best Hiking Backpacks for Women
Why should children carry their own backpack during a hike?
Having your child carry their own gear, or at least some of their own gear, on hiking trips is a great way to make young children feel grown up and relieve some of the burden of your own pack. It can help teach self-reliance and independence to your children.
At what age can a child start wearing a hiking backpack?
Children three years old or younger who show an interest in carrying their own backpack should be encouraged to do so. They want to copy your actions, so give them a pack to carry. Use your discretion to decide if they carry an empty backpack, or stash a small stuffed animal, some snacks, a rain jacket, or a water bottle inside.
How do I determine what the right backpack size and weight is for my child?
Your childâ€™s backpack should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight. Some sources state that children can carry up to 20% of their body weight in a backpack, but your goal is to get your child to enjoy the outdoors and carry some of their supplies, not overload your child and ruin the experience.
Follow this guideline:
- Age 0-3: 0-5% of their body weight
- Age 4-7: 5-10% of their body weight
- Age 8+: 10-15% of their body weight
The sternum strap should be at the sternum and the hip strap at the hips. Shoulder straps should be at a 90-degree angle from the shoulders, not above or below.
What are some key features to consider when buying a hiking backpack for kids?
Look for a pack that is the right size for your child now, but will also grow with them and function as a youth backpack as well. Adjustable shoulder straps are key. You also want to find a pack with even weight distribution, a supportive hip belt, and a reinforced back panel, which will make the pack more comfortable and easier to carry.
When looking for a hiking backpack for kids, it is important to find one that has space for a safety whistle in the sternum strap in the event of an emergency, and either a hydration reservoir or pockets for water bottles so your child stays hydrated.Contents on page
Osprey Packs Jet 18 Kid’s Hiking Backpack
This pack comes in two colors, red and teal. Ideal for first-time hikers, Ospreyâ€™s Jet 18 kidâ€™s backpack has a mesh back panel and a fleece-lined shoulder harness, making it a very comfortable pack to carry.
The hip belt and sternum strap keep the pack stable even if your child is running. With mesh side pockets for water or snacks, an external reservoir sleeve, and a mesh pocket on the shoulder strap, there is lots of room for snacks and water to keep your child going.
A common complaint among people with children around 10 is that this pack has shoulder straps that are very close together. There is a chance that on some children, the straps will rub the sides of their neck and cause discomfort and irritation.back to menu ↑
Deuter Unisex Junior
This top-loading backpack by Deuter comes in a variety of colors so you can give your child a pack with their favorite color. It is a top-loading back with a large main compartment, making it easy for children to pack their own bags. Deuterâ€™s unisex kids backpack is ideal if you need one pack to function for school, hiking, and backpacking. With adjustable shoulder straps and lid straps that adjust to fit your load size, this bag will fit your child and their needs for a long time.
Older children will not be able to use this as a school backpack. There is not enough room in the bag for a large binder and lunch kit.back to menu ↑
Quechua Kids Adult Outdoor Backpack
This pack is lightweight and small, with a 10L capacity and two main compartments. Adjustable shoulder straps help you find the right fit for your child.
The Quechua kids backpack is ideal for families who aren’t ready to invest too much in a kids hiking backpack and are looking for a low-cost option. Made from water-resistant and tear-resistant material, it holds up well and will last your child a long time.
As one of the cheaper kids backpack options on this list, it doesnâ€™t have as many features or benefits as some of the more expensive options.back to menu ↑
Sunhiker Small Cycling Hiking Backpack
This pack has a large compartment, a small compartment, and a front pocket meant for very small items, making it easy for your child to find exactly what theyâ€™re looking for.
Sunhiker’s small backpack is ideal for kids who may be rough on their packs. It is scratch-resistant, tear-resistant, and water-resistant, able to stand up to any adventure your kids can put it through. Both sides have a mesh pocket for water, and the adjustable sternum and shoulder straps help you find just the right fit.
There is no chest strap which may make it hard for a small child to manage the weight of a filled pack.back to menu ↑
CamelBak Kids Mini M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
The MULE hydration pack has a huge water reservoir with a leak-proof lever. Ideal for families who want to get their young children accustomed to carrying a pack, this bag stores 1.5L of water and works well as a diaper bag for small children with enough room for some snacks.
With reflective strips and a safety whistle, you can rely on the CamelBack kids mini MULE pack to keep your kids safe on the trail. It suits short hikes and adventures, but is not big enough to carry clothing and supplies.
Choosing the right kids hiking backpack can be the difference between sparking a lifelong love of hiking and the outdoors, or listening to your child complain for the whole trip. Find a pack that is the right size, meets their needs, keeps them hydrated and safe, and wonâ€™t be too heavy.