Heading out into the great outdoors is an adventure, especially for the young ones eager to explore. Getting them ready for a day of adventure means packing up a backpack that’s just their size but still packs a punch in terms of holding all their essentials, from water bottles to those all-important snacks and maybe a treasure or two found along the way. These backpacks aren’t just smaller versions of adult gear; they’re designed with kids in mind, making sure they’re comfortable to carry without skimping on the cool features or the space needed for every adventure necessity.

Choosing the right backpack is a bit like picking out a new friend for them to take on their journeys. It’s about finding that perfect companion that they can manage on their own, sparking that sense of independence and adventure. It’s not just about the practicalities, though those are super important, but also about what makes them excited to strap on their gear and hit the trail.

With the right backpack, our kids are not just prepared for their outdoor escapades but are also stepping out with a bit more confidence, ready to take on whatever the path holds for them with all they need right there on their backs.

Hiking Backpack Buyer’s Guide

Hiking is a fantastic way for kids to explore the great outdoors, develop a love for nature, and engage in physical activity. However, to ensure they have a comfortable and enjoyable experience, it’s crucial to equip them with the right gear, starting with a suitable hiking backpack. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing the perfect hiking backpack for your little adventurers.

  • Size and Fit: The most critical factor in selecting a hiking backpack for kids is ensuring it fits properly. A backpack that’s too large can cause strain on their shoulders and back, while one that’s too small won’t hold all their essentials. Look for backpacks specifically designed for children, with adjustable shoulder straps and a chest strap to help distribute weight evenly. Ideally, the backpack should sit comfortably on their back without extending past their waist.
  • Capacity: Depending on the length of your hike and whether your child will be carrying their own supplies, the capacity of the backpack is an important consideration. For short day hikes, a small backpack ranging from 10 to 15 liters should suffice. For longer excursions or overnight trips, you might need something larger. However, remember the golden rule: the backpack should never be too heavy for them to carry comfortably. A good guideline is that the filled backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight.
  • Material and Durability: Kids can be tough on their gear, so look for a backpack made from durable materials that can withstand a bit of rough handling. Nylon and polyester are both strong, lightweight options that offer water resistance to protect against light rain. Additionally, consider backpacks with reinforced stitching and high-quality zippers to ensure longevity.
  • Comfort: Comfort is key to keeping your child happy on the trail. Padded shoulder straps will prevent the straps from digging into their shoulders, while a padded back panel will provide additional support and ventilation, reducing sweat on those hot hiking days.
  • Compartments and Pockets: A backpack with multiple compartments and pockets will help keep your child’s gear organized and easily accessible. Look for a main compartment large enough to hold their clothing and food, side pockets for water bottles, and smaller pockets for snacks, a hat, sunscreen, and other essentials. Some backpacks also come with loops or straps to attach extra gear like a sleeping bag or trekking poles.
  • Safety Features: Safety should never be overlooked. Bright colors and reflective materials can help make your child more visible to you and others, especially in low-light conditions. Additionally, consider backpacks with a whistle on the chest strap, which can be a vital tool in an emergency situation.
  • Personal Preference: Lastly, involve your child in the selection process. A backpack in their favorite color or with a fun design can make them more excited about hiking. Comfort, fit, and functionality are crucial, but so is ensuring your child is happy and proud to carry their backpack.

With the myriad of options and criteria to consider when buying your little one a hiking backpack, here is a handy table to help you prioritize your choices:

FeatureImportanceNotes
Adjustable StrapsHighEssential for growth and changing layers.
Material StrengthMedium to HighShould endure abrasion and strain.
Water ResistanceMediumUseful for wet climates or unexpected weather.
CapacityVariableBased on the length and type of hiking.
CompartmentalizationMediumHelps keep gear organized.
ComfortHighPadded straps and ventilation are key for longer hikes.
Safety FeaturesMedium to HighReflective elements and whistles are valuable additions.

Bottom line: Choosing the right hiking backpack for your child involves a balance of practicality and personal preference. By focusing on size, fit, capacity, material, comfort, and safety features, you can ensure your child is well-equipped for their outdoor adventures. Remember, a well-chosen backpack not only makes hiking more enjoyable but also helps instill a lifelong love for adventure and the great outdoors in your child.

Top Kids’ Hiking Backpacks

We’ve researched and tested dozens of hiking backpacks to bring you the ones that stand out for their comfort, durability, and kid-friendly features. Our selection ensures that your little adventurer will have a reliable companion on their journey, perfectly sized to hold their essentials without weighing them down. Here are our top picks for the best hiking backpacks for kids.

CamelBak Kids’ Mini M.U.L.E.

CamelBak Kids' Mini M.U.L.E.
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For young adventurers constantly on the move, finding the right gear that supports their hydration needs without weighing them down is key. The CamelBak Kids' Mini M.U.L.E. stands out as an ideal choice, perfectly sized for the younger crowd. It offers just enough water capacity for those longer outdoor excursions, ensuring they stay hydrated with ease. Despite its compact size, it cleverly includes a bike tool organizer pocket and zippered compartments for personal items, making it a hit with kids eager to carry their own gear and essentials like the pros.

Pros

  • Just the right size for young adventurers
  • Handy on/off lever to prevent leaks
  • Features reflective strips for safety

Cons

  • Limited storage space for bulkier items
  • May need adult assistance for refilling
  • Higher price point than some alternatives

What really makes this backpack a parent-approved option are the built-in safety features. Reflective accents enhance visibility during those twilight adventures or when navigating through dense forests, adding an important layer of safety. Moreover, a built-in safety whistle ensures they can always call for attention if needed. These features, combined with the Crux reservoir system that allows for more water per sip, mean fewer interruptions and more time spent exploring the great outdoors.

However, it's worth noting that while the Mini M.U.L.E. excels in convenience and child-centric design, it does have limitations in storage space for bulkier items and might require a helping hand from an adult for refills. Despite these minor drawbacks and a slightly higher price point, the balance of lightweight design, hydration efficiency, and safety enhancements make it a standout choice for keeping our little ones hydrated and happy on their adventures.

Ivygreen Mini Hydration Pack

Ivygreen Mini Hydration Pack
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For young adventurers in need of a reliable hydration solution, the Ivygreen Mini Hydration Pack ticks all the right boxes. Designed with children in mind, it features adjustable, padded shoulder straps for comfortable wear and a kid-friendly 1.5L hydration bladder, ensuring that staying hydrated on the go is both easy and enjoyable. Its taste-free bladder is a major plus, promising fresh water without any unpleasant plastic flavors, making it an instant hit with the kids.

Pros

  • Specifically designed for children with adjustable, padded shoulder straps for comfort
  • Includes essential safety features like a reflective strip and whistle
  • Comes with a taste-free 1.5L hydration bladder to keep kids hydrated on the go

Cons

  • With a 1.5L capacity, refills may be required on longer excursions
  • Smaller kids may find the backpack bulky despite its mini size
  • Some users reported issues with the bladder if not closed properly

Overall, the Ivygreen Mini Hydration Pack is a standout choice for its blend of functionality, safety, and child-centric design. While it's perfect for short to medium excursions, planning for refills on longer trips and ensuring a good fit for your child will enhance their outdoor experience. This pack not only keeps kids hydrated but also encourages independence and responsibility with their own gear, making it an excellent addition to any young explorer's collection.

However, the pack isn't just about hydration; it's built with safety at its core. Equipped with reflective strips for visibility and a whistle for emergencies, it provides added security for parents and fun for kids. Despite its targeted design, there are a few points to consider: the 1.5L capacity might not suffice for longer adventures, and its size, while mini, could be cumbersome for smaller children. Additionally, careful attention is needed to ensure the bladder is sealed properly to avoid leaks.

Amazon Basics Travel Backpack

Amazon Basics Travel Backpack
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The Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack is a fantastic choice for young adventurers needing a robust and versatile travel bag. It's designed with a spacious main compartment that includes internal organization features, making it a breeze for kids to pack and find their essentials. The comfort-focused design, featuring padded straps and various carrying options, ensures that young travelers can carry their load comfortably, whether they're navigating through crowded airports or embarking on a school trip. Plus, its size is compliant with most airline carry-on requirements, making it a hassle-free companion for air travel.

Pros

  • Spacious main compartment with internal organization
  • Comfort-focused design with padded straps and multiple carrying options
  • Versatile and fits most airline carry-on requirements

Cons

  • Only available in one color
  • May be bulky for smaller children
  • Limited external pockets compared to other hiking backpacks

The backpack's single-color option may not appeal to kids who prefer more vibrant or personalized gear. Additionally, its size might be a bit bulky for smaller children, potentially making it challenging to carry when fully packed. The lack of external pockets also means that quick-access storage is somewhat limited compared to other backpacks designed specifically for hiking or outdoor activities. Despite these considerations, the Amazon Basics Carry-On Travel Backpack stands out as a reliable, all-around travel solution for kids, offering ample space, comfort, and adaptability for various travel needs.

Osprey Daylite Kids' Backpack

Osprey Daylite Kids' Backpack
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The Osprey Daylite Kids' Backpack is a fantastic option for young explorers needing a reliable yet lightweight backpack for school days and outdoor adventures. With a design focused on kids' comfort, it features padded shoulder straps and a back panel tailored for smaller frames, ensuring that the backpack doesn't become a burden during long days of wear. Practicality is a key aspect of this backpack, highlighted by easy-to-access panel-loading compartments, dual side mesh pockets for water bottles or snacks, an internal name tag for identification, and a top handle for quick carrying options.

Pros

  • Lightweight design makes it easy for kids to carry
  • Features like side mesh pockets and an internal name tag add to its functionality
  • Sports a high customer satisfaction rating, echoing its quality

Cons

  • The 10-liter capacity may not suffice for longer trips or larger items
  • Side pockets might not fit larger water bottles
  • Some find it too small for their needs

Despite its many positives, including a high customer satisfaction rating that speaks volumes about its quality, there are a few considerations. Its 10-liter capacity might not be sufficient for kids who need to carry larger items or for those on extended trips. Additionally, the side pockets may struggle to accommodate bigger water bottles, and some users have found the backpack a tad small for their needs.

However, given its durable construction synonymous with Osprey's reputation, this backpack promises longevity, making it a worthwhile investment for parents seeking a versatile and comfortable pack for their children aged 4 to 12.

Bseash 10L Kids Backpack

Bseash 10L Kids Backpack
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The Bseash backpack emerges as an excellent companion for young adventurers, striking a balance between a compact design and rugged durability. Tailored for kids under 4 feet, it boasts a construction of durable, waterproof nylon that ensures belongings remain dry and secure, no matter the weather.

Pros

  • Suitable for children under 4 feet tall for a better fit
  • Made of durable, waterproof nylon material for longevity
  • Reflective strips provide added safety in low light conditions

Cons

  • Not suitable for carrying school books due to its small size
  • Limited capacity at 10L, which restricts how much can be packed
  • Specific to a younger age range, which means kids might outgrow it quickly

Safety is paramount, with reflective strips for visibility in low light, making it an ideal choice for little ones joining in on outdoor activities. It's designed to let kids pack smart, with multiple pockets for easy organization without the risk of being weighed down by an oversized bag.

However, it's important to consider the backpack's limitations. Its 10-liter capacity, while preventing overpacking, may not suffice for kids needing to carry more for school or longer trips. Additionally, its design specifically caters to a younger demographic, meaning children might outgrow it faster than expected. While this backpack offers a cozy fit and encourages adventure among the younger crowd, parents should weigh its capacity and longevity against their child's needs and growth.

IVYGREEN Kids Hiking Backpack

IVYGREEN Kids Hiking Backpack
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The IVYGREEN Kids Hiking Backpack is an excellent choice for children over 3 years old who love outdoor activities, offering both comfort and practical features. It's made from water-resistant and lightweight polyester, perfect for keeping their belongings dry in damp conditions. The backpack doesn't just score high on durability; it also ensures comfort with padded shoulder straps and a chest strap, making it easier for little adventurers to carry their essentials without strain.

Pros

  • Water-resistant and lightweight, suitable for children over 3 years.
  • Comfortable support with padded shoulder straps and a chest strap.
  • Safety elements include a toy whistle and reflective strips.

Cons

  • The absence of a waist strap could affect weight distribution.
  • The smaller pocket's zipper may be a little stiff.
  • Limited capacity for extended trips or larger items.

Safety hasn't been overlooked either, with the inclusion of a toy whistle for emergencies and reflective strips for increased visibility, making it a well-rounded option for young explorers. However, it's important to note a few limitations. The absence of a waist strap might affect the backpack's weight distribution, which could be a concern on longer hikes.

Additionally, the zipper on the smaller pocket may be somewhat stiff, potentially making it a challenge for smaller hands to manage. And while the backpack is certainly equipped for day trips, its capacity may not be sufficient for extended adventures or carrying larger items.

Despite these considerations, the IVYGREEN Kids Hiking Backpack stands out as a thoughtfully designed accessory for children's outdoor adventures, blending essential safety features with a child-friendly design to keep them comfortable and secure as they explore the great outdoors.

Osprey Jet 18

Osprey Jet 18
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We think the Osprey Jet 18 backpack is a prime choice for young hikers due to its ventilated design and kid-friendly features.

Pros

  • Crafted from GRS certified recycled materials, environmentally friendly
  • Designed with an AirScape backpanel for carrying comfort and good ventilation
  • Comes with a variety of pockets for organized storage

Cons

  • The external reservoir for water is sold separately, which is an extra cost
  • Might be too large for children under the recommended age range
  • Limited color options could be a drawback for some

The Osprey brand is synonymous with high-quality, durable outdoor gear, and the Jet 18 backpack for kids harmonizes this reputation with the needs of younger explorers. Recognized for their attention to detail, Osprey tailors this backpack's features to suit the ergonomic requirements of children aged eight and above. Not just about comfort, its design ensures a practical distribution of weight, which can make a significant difference on longer trails.

When considering sustainability, this backpack scores high marks as it's made from eco-friendly materials, endorsing eco-consciousness from a young age. Its thoughtful design includes a mesh front pocket that's easily accessible, stretch side pockets for water bottles, and a small zippered compartment for valuables or snacks. The AirScape backpanel elevates the comfort quotient by combining firm support with optimum airflow, keeping the carrier cool during their outdoor ventures.

For young hikers taking on day trips or light hikes, the Osprey Jet 18 might just be the perfect companion. It nimbly bridges the gap between a kid's playful sensibilities and the robustness expected from an outdoor pack. It lacks nothing in the way of style, and its scale is both manageable and appreciable for those within the age group it targets. With a 4.6-star rating amassed from hundreds of users, this backpack's popularity amongst outdoor-loving families is undeniable. The small gripes about the separate water reservoir and color variety do little to tarnish its overall appeal.

KUYOU Kids' Hydration Pack

KUYOU Kids' Hydration Pack
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The Osprey Jet 18 backpack is a stellar pick for young adventurers, blending Osprey's renowned durability with features tailored for kids. It's constructed from GRS-certified recycled materials, showing Osprey's commitment to the environment. Designed specifically with children aged eight and above in mind, the backpack features an AirScape backpanel for enhanced comfort and ventilation, making those long hikes more enjoyable.

Pros

  • Insulation keeps liquids cool or hot for up to 4 hours
  • Light and sturdy design with a useful 1.5L water capacity
  • Comfortable fit with adjustable straps and breathable material

Cons

  • Some units may have leaking issues with the bladder
  • Cleaning the bladder's tubing might be challenging
  • Limited storage for additional items

The variety of pockets, including a mesh front pocket, stretch side pockets for water bottles, and a zippered compartment for small items, ensure everything has its place, promoting organization and easy access.

However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The backpack's water reservoir is sold separately, which adds an additional cost to the overall investment in this hiking gear. Additionally, its size may be a bit too generous for younger or smaller children, and the limited color options might not appeal to every child's taste.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the Osprey Jet 18 remains a highly recommended choice for young hikers, offering a blend of comfort, functionality, and eco-conscious design that's hard to beat. Its high user rating is a testament to its quality and the satisfaction it brings to its young users and their parents.

Packing it Up!

As we conclude our exploration of the best backpacks for young adventurers, it's clear that the right choice boils down to a blend of comfort, durability, and kid-friendly features. Whether it's the eco-conscious construction of the Osprey Jet 18 or the ventilated comfort of the IVYGREEN Kids Hiking Backpack, each option offers unique benefits tailored to the needs of young explorers.

Keeping in mind the considerations of capacity, material, and additional features like water reservoirs and safety elements, parents can make informed decisions that align with their child's age, size, and the nature of their outdoor activities.

Choosing the perfect backpack is more than just picking a bag; it's about fostering a love for the outdoors and encouraging independence in young hikers. With the right backpack, kids can comfortably carry their own supplies, feeling a sense of pride and ownership over their outdoor experience.

So, take the time to consider the highlighted features and user feedback to select a backpack that will not only meet your child's needs but also enhance their hiking adventures. The investment in a quality backpack pays off in the smiles, stories, and memories that come from countless outdoor adventures. Happy hiking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting the appropriate hiking backpack for a child is crucial for their comfort and safety. We cover the most pertinent questions regarding sizes, features, and considerations for different ages below.

What age range are these kids' backpacks suitable for?

These backpacks are designed for children aged 3 and up, with specific models catering to the ergonomic needs of different age groups, ensuring a comfortable fit for toddlers through to pre-teens.

Can these backpacks be used for activities other than hiking?

Absolutely! While these backpacks are optimized for outdoor adventures, their versatile design makes them suitable for school, travel, and day-to-day use, providing a practical solution for carrying essentials wherever your child goes.

Are the materials used in these backpacks environmentally friendly?

Many of the backpacks, like the Osprey Jet 18, are made from GRS certified recycled materials, reflecting a commitment to sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

How do I clean these backpacks?

Most backpacks can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. For specific cleaning instructions, it's best to refer to the care label or manufacturer's guidelines to ensure the longevity of the backpack.

What safety features should I look for in a kids' backpack?

Key safety features include reflective strips for visibility in low light conditions, a whistle for emergencies, and a comfortable fit to ensure the backpack doesn't cause strain or imbalance.

How important is the backpack's weight?

It's crucial! A lightweight design is essential to prevent strain on young shoulders and backs, making it easier for kids to carry their backpacks for extended periods.

Can my child fit a water bottle in these backpacks?

Yes, most of these backpacks feature side mesh pockets designed to hold water bottles securely, ensuring your child stays hydrated during their adventures.

What is the AirScape backpanel mentioned in some backpack descriptions?

The AirScape backpanel is a ventilated design feature that provides comfort and good airflow between the backpack and the wearer's back, reducing sweat and keeping your child cool.

Are these backpacks durable enough for rough use?

Durability is a key focus in the design of these backpacks, with materials like waterproof nylon and features like reinforced stitching to withstand the rigors of outdoor play and exploration.

Is there a warranty on these backpacks?

Many manufacturers, like Osprey, offer a warranty on their backpacks, covering defects in materials and workmanship. Check the product details or manufacturer's website for specific warranty information.

Scott Meldrum

Scott founded FunOutdoors to connect his professional life with his passions. When Scott isn’t working, you’ll find him on the bike trail, riding a wave, or skiing down a mountain.

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