The Best Hiking Backpacks For Kids

by Christine Howland | Last Updated: April 2, 2021

Hiking can be an amazing experience for children as well as adolescents. But, in comparison to adult backpacks, there are not many backpack options available in the market which are suitable for kids. If you think that kids hiking backpacks are the same as adult ones, then you are wrong. The backpacks for kids differ in size from adult backpacks. They are much smaller in size, have got more adjustable harnesses, and tapered hip belts. Additionally, they can even be extended with the growth of the child so you don’t need to buy a new backpack every year. Such backpacks offer a great fitting to young hiking enthusiasts.

So, to help you find an ideal fitting backpack for your child, we have come up with a list of the best hiking backpacks for kids. We have also added a buyer’s guide to this article so that you can make an informed choice. So let’s get started.

Top Picks For The Best Hiking Backpacks For Kids

Osprey Jet 18 Kids Hiking Backpack

Osprey Jet 18 Kids Hiking Backpack

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If you are looking for a backpack with durable stitching and custom fit, then you can buy this Osprey Jet 18 Kids Hiking Backpack. This backpack allows the young hikers to bring every hiking essential with them.

The Jet 18 bag gives an easy feature set and lets you carry it with comfort in a pint-sized package. It is ideal for trails, treks, hiking, and also backpacking. As the bag weighs less, your kid can carry it without facing many difficulties.

The backpack has a less noticeable design. If you do not want to stand out too much, you can choose this bag. Your kid can keep clothes, shoes, snacks, and also a sleeping bag. You can see a big bucket-style opening at the top, making it easy for you to open during the hike.

This kid’s backpack features dual stretchable mesh side pockets. It is beneficial for keeping water bottles, juice bags, or energy liquids. This bag has shoulder straps and a soft padded hip belt with straps.

There is a tiny zippered pocket on the outer surface of the bag for keeping small essentials. The backpack has enough space for carrying a reservoir with a fixed top lid. You can place the items in the front shove-it pocket when you are in a hurry.

Pros

  • It is perfect for outdoor activities.
  • There is an outer reservoir sleeve.
  • It comes with a cinch top closure.
  • The backpack has lower web-loop daisy chain attachment points.

Cons

  • The padded lid is not adjustable.
  • Sometimes the straps are a bit loose.

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

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Starting from innovative design, shape to intuitive traits – this backpack has everything needed for the children. It is an excellent pick if you want a bag that includes a two-liter hydration bladder.

This backpack has a high-end locking system, and it is easy to operate as well. It has a total of three different storage compartments. The back of this bag has a ventilated mesh back, and there is an emergency whistle.

Besides that, there is a big front stretchable mesh pocket. You can keep snacks, keychains, ropes, and more in this assistant pocket. On the side hip or waist belt, there are small zipper storage pockets. The children can keep energy bars or candies.

The insulated compartment is roomy. It can store loaded water bladder and also other boxes, fruits, snacks, and more. This two-liter hydration bladder can keep the water cold for about four hours.

There are comfortable shoulder straps, and the children can adjust them with ease. This backpack uses D rings. You can connect other equipment like a vacuum insulated carabiner and an extra water container.

The grocery storage pocket has safety and reflective material on the surface. You will get a cleaning snake or water tube, which comes in handy while washing the bladder. The bottom side straps will secure the backpack when your start to run.

Pros

  • It is available in different colors and prints.
  • There is a separate insulation layer.
  • It is durable, lightweight, leak-proof, and breathable.
  • This backpack is repellent to water.
  • It comes with an insulated water tube.

Cons

  • You can not shift the straps.

Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder

Vibrelli Hydration Pack & 2L Hydration Water Bladder

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Whether the kids are jumping on rocks or running on a flat surface, this backpack allows them to have flexible movement. It looks tiny, has a sleek design, and weighs less, so your children can carry it without much effort.

The outer material of the bag is made from 420D Rip-stop Honeycomb fabric and shows resistance to water. Though it uses high-quality materials, the backpack weighs around 14oz (415g). The front surface has a drawstring design.

You can adjust the bungee strap depending on the load capacity. There are ergonomic side stabilizers for ensuring comfort. You can find a reflective safety tab and a light attachment at the bottom of the bag.

The bladder gives water that is free from BPA, Phthalates, and PVC. The hose is taste-free and makes the water remain fresh. You can drink the water from the H2O hose pipe. Using the wide top-fill, you can easily add more ice or water to it.

Your children can keep their extra pairs of shoes and clothes in the front zipper compartment. The main storage compartment has plenty of space, and there are secure keyring clips. You can carry it using the top handle as well.

This backpack has a separate pocket for keeping the bladder. There are adjustable straps, and they are breathable and wicks away the sweat and moisture.

Pros

  • There is an easy access mesh pocket at the front.
  • It comes with a two-liter hydration bladder.
  • There are bungee straps and an emergency whistle.
  • It includes a five-year manufacturer warranty.

Cons

  • You can find the usage of plastic in the bite valve.

Deuter Kids Fox 40 Hiking Backpack

Deuter Kids Fox 40 Hiking Backpack

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If you want to introduce your children to some hiking adventure, then Deuter Kids Fox 40 Hiking Backpack can help you do so. It is a nice backpack for young growing explorers who are excited to carry their own gear on a backpacking trip.

Pros

  • VariQuick System allows back length adjustment.
  • Back pads for even weight distribution.
  • Enhanced convenience through padded, stowable hip fins.
  • Volume of 40 liters.
  • Separate compartments for keeping gear.
  • Hydration system compatibility.

Cons

  • The top lid is fixed.
  • A bit heavy.

Osprey Ace 50 Kid’s Backpack

Osprey Ace 50 Kid’s Backpack

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Osprey Ace 50 backpack is a high-performance backpack for long scouting or hiking adventures. It offers a great volume of 50 liters and still manages to keep the weight light. The backpack has got some pretty nice features:

Pros

  • Comes with an adjustable harness.
  • Internal hydration sleeve with a capacity of up to 3 liters.
  • Adjustable AirSpeed suspension.
  • Integrated Raincover.
  • Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt.
  • Sufficient storage space.

Cons

  • Might be too big for small kids.

Gregory Mountain Products Wander 50 Liter Backpack

Gregory Mountain Products Wander 50 Liter Backpack

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Gregory Mountain Products Wanter 50 Liter Backpack is a popular one amongst scouts as well as hikers. This is because it offers sufficient space along with amazing functionality for long trips.

Pros

  • Adjustable suspension.
  • Breathable backpanel.
  • U-Zip easy access.
  • Several storage pockets.
  • Adjustable hipbelt.
  • Includes a raincover.

Cons

  • Lacks hydration bladder.

CamelBak Kid’s Scout Hydration Pack 50oz

CamelBak Kid’s Scout Hydration Pack 50oz

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If you are looking for a light multipurpose backpack with a great hydration system, then CamelBak Kid’s Scout Hydration Pack is for you. The backpack is small in size and can be easily taken anywhere.

Pros

  • Includes a hydration bladder.
  • Thick comfortable backpanel padding.
  • Breathable mesh on the backpanel.

Cons

  • There is no option to adjust the harness. However, the shoulders straps are adjustable.

Bseash Small Waterproof Sport Backpack

Bseash Small Waterproof Sport Backpack

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If you are looking for a quick, small, and budget-friendly backpack option, then this Bseash backpack will serve you well. It is not amongst the premium bags, but it works fine. The bag is suitable for children with a height of less than 4 feet.

Pros

  • Waterproof coating.
  • Tear and abrasion-resistant.
  • Backpanel is properly padded and ventilated.
  • Multiple compartments as well as pocket makes it a versatile pack.
  • Budget-friendly.

Cons

  • Too small in size; even difficult to fit an A4 size notebook.
  • Does not have an adjustable harness.
  • Not the most durable option.

Looking for more hiking gear? Check out these articles

Choosing Hiking Backpacks For Kids

When your kid loves going on outdoor trips with you, you will obviously want to boost his/her morale even more. One of the best ways of encouraging your hiking loving kid is gifting him/her a good hiking backpack. But, while choosing the best hiking backpack for your little one, there are some factors that you should keep in mind.

Size And Volume

Remember, you should always buy a backpack according to your needs. We usually try to buy a backpack with too much volume as we want to put in as many things in the pack as possible. Overpacking is tempting, but you’ll end up making your backpack unnecessarily heavy. So, it is wise to pack the bag relatively full, not unnecessarily heavy, so the bag remains stable while you carry it.

Hence, we recommend you choose the volume of the backpack as per its use. Go for a backpack with a volume of less than 25 liters, if you are planning only a day’s trip. For a two or three days long trip, a backpack of up to 40 liters of volume will be ideal. The requirement of the volume also depends on the size of the equipment or gear you carry. We recommend you avoid equipping your child’s or adolescent’s backpack too much as it will become too heavy to carry around. It is wise to purchase a small-sized perfect fit backpack for your young growing hiker.

Weight

Hiking is one such activity that is strenuous in nature. Hence, it is good to carry a backpack that is as light as possible. Especially, when it comes to kids, the backpack should be ultra-lightweight because they do not have the strength equivalent to that of an adult. Light equipment will aid them in climbing quickly, conveniently, and comfortably.

Adjustability

The adjustability of the backpack as per the growth of the child is a key factor. An adjustable harness or torso length adjustment allows the backpack to grow as the child grows. Children grow very fast, so it’s not feasible to buy a new pack for them every year. An adjustable harness offers the ability to fit the pack according to the torso length to accommodate the child’s growth.

Back panel

These days, the modern hiking backpacks come with sophisticated back panels for providing great comfort. Back panels offer a high level of breathability so that your back doesn’t feel too hot while hiking. Manufacturers make the addition of air channels to the back panel or create it with durable mesh fabric for maximum airflow. They even add good cushioning to the back panel for utmost comfort. So, always take a good look at the back panel of each of your options and choose the right one.

Hydration System Compatibility

Another popular feature in hiking backpacks these days is the hydration system. In this, the pack comes equipped with a special compartment to carry the water reservoir. Along with it, backpacks feature a gap for a water tube using which you can take a sip. The special compartment for the water reservoir helps you carry water in large quantity and keeps it cool and fresh too. The hydration system saves you from the trouble of taking your water bottle out every time you feel thirsty.

Pockets

A hiking backpack should always have enough pockets for easy storage and organization of your essential gear. In addition to main compartments, there should be small sleeves or mesh pockets inside and outside the backpack for carrying your small and needed items. It even provides better accessibility options.

Padded Shoulder Straps

Most of the weight of our backpack is on our shoulders. Hence, the shoulder straps should always be thickly padded. Kids should carry only 10% to 20% of their total weight for ease in hiking. The thickly padded shoulder straps will make it more comfortable to carry the weight of the pack when out on the trail.

Hip belt

On a single day trip, a hip belt may not be of much use, but on a long trip, it provides great assistance. A nicely padded hip belt will allow you to distribute the backpack’s weight evenly and not exert much pressure on your shoulders. Backpacks with high volume should always contain hip belts for conveniently carrying heavy equipment.

Sternum Strap

Sometimes the shoulder straps slide off from our shoulders while hiking. It is a problem that most of us have encountered. Such sliding of straps can be discomforting and frustrating. So, to ensure that your little hiker does not face such an issue, buy a backpack with a sternum strap. This strap buckle keeps the shoulder straps in place and prevents them from sliding off.

Daisy Chains

Daisy chains are sewn on the front area of the backpack. It allows your young hiker to hook hats, or key chains, or coat, or anything else that he/she want to clip outside.

Conclusion

So, by now, we have understood that choosing the best hiking backpack for kids is not that of an easy task. Mainly the choice depends on the age of your kid, his/her size, and on the purpose. Buying the biggest one is not always a solution. Pick the one which fits your child, and have some adjustment features too. Additional necessary features that we discussed in our buyer’s guide should also be kept in mind.

Out of all the options that we have discussed, each one is eminent in its specific way. But, in our view, the backpack that posses all the necessary features and passes our quality test is the Deuter Kids Fox 40 Hiking Backpack. We give this backpack the title of best hiking backpack for kids because it is a durable high-performance backpack offering almost all the features that will aid your little hiker in his/her hiking expedition. It is equipped with VariQuick System for adjusting torso length, a Contact backsystem for proper weight distribution, and 3D Airmesh lining for enhanced breathability. Not only this, the backpack’s shoulder straps, hipbelt, as well as backpanel is thickly padded for utmost comfort. The pack has several pockets for proper gear organization and hydration system compatibility too. It has a volume of 40 liters which is big enough for a long trip. All in all, the backpack is an ideal choice for a young hiking enthusiast.