For the last two years I've been struggling to find good quality backpacks that will fit my two young children (ages 5 and 4). The best I had been able to do was either a REI FlashUL pack or a small basic Jansport book bag, neither of which were exactly ideal or what I was looking for. However, it seems that gear manufacturers have noticed that there is a gap in the market for more serious backpacks targeted at small children, many of whom have parents that are avid outdoors people and who want to take their kids along on hikes and start having them carry a small amount of their own gear - that pretty much describes me in a nutshell. Suddenly there was a really good selection of small scaled quality hiking backpacks for younger kids - excellent!
I recently took Jack to our local REI store to try on some of the children's hiking backpacks to see which ones fit the best, gave him the options he wanted (he wanted one similar to mine), and to see what appealed to his individual sense of style.
He tried on several packs including the Osprey Jet pack, and the REI Super Nova, but the pack he liked the best was the Deuter Junior back pack in green. You can check here for more kid's backpack reviews.
It is a top-loading pack that is ideal for carrying day-hiking essentials, clothing or a few small toys. It met all of the requirements that we were looking for:
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to load
- Good padding
- Highly adjustable
- Kid friendly
- Large capacity
- Light weight
Jack really liked the padded shoulder straps and back panel because it is soft. Another very important detail was that he could easily open the quick-release buckles himself, unlike some of the other children's packs that he tried on. The pack has some nice reflective accents to increase visibility in low light, which appealed to me a lot more than it did to Jack. There are two side mesh pockets that are adequate enough to hold water bottles or other small snacks or objects.
The pack has an 18 liter capacity which is more than sufficient for Jack's needs. It is frameless as you would expect for a small child and weighs in at a mere 15 ounces. Overall I am very impressed with the high quality of this pack. Jack seems to love it and want to carry his own stuff with him on day hikes, which lets him feel like he is more responsible and involved with the adventure.
He'll be testing his new pack out over the next few weeks to see how it goes and to make adjustments if necessary. So far he's loved it and hasn't had to fuss with it hardly at all. I'm looking forward to being able to bring him along on more and more hikes. It's going to be a lot of fun.