Best Kids Backpacks
If it is time when your child is starting to get older and you can now bring them along with you on a backpacking adventure, you are probably scouring the internet looking for the perfect backpack for them. Since this most likely is your child's first backpacking trip and you want them to have the best and most reliable gear, you are probably looking for a great backpack which they will find stylish and will help hold all their gear. Plus, if they have a great time backpacking that means more trips in the future! If you are a parent on the hunt, then look no further, as the guide below not only has the top tent backpacks to help store all your child's gear but also are reliable, lightweight, and guaranteed to put a smile on their face.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
Two major compartments
Top Ten Backpacks for your Children
1. Osprey Ace 75
Two major compartments
Could have more pockets
Comparing to other products on our suggestion list, this one is intended for more serious hiking or backpacking trips. This is not the backpack for your beginner child since it is designed to carry a relatively large amount of weight. The backpack itself is very lightweight which makes it suitable for backpacking trips as well. The access to the main compartment is classic with a lid which e removable if you decide that the weight is too much. You could also change the size of the back by raising the lid up or down.Read more
Other than the lid, the bottom is another place of access which is the perfect place for your kid’s sleeping bag. Inside, there isn’t one main compartment, but it is divided into two major compartments for better organization and weight distribution. There is even a rain cover that is integrated into the backpack and it is placed at the bottom. This allows your kid to use the rain cover and pack it up right after use. Even though this is not recommended, it certainly is useful if it is required.
The only downside is that it lacks pockets. In fact, there aren’t any additional pockets. The design of this backpack is made for your kid to be able to access everything quickly and easy, even if it is already packed inside. There are two side mesh pockets for your water bottle though.
This backpack has a variety of straps for adjustability and should be able to be secured to your child so it fits comfortably.
This backpack is a little bigger than some of the other options on our list but provides much more room than a lot of the other backpacks on our list. You may want to check the measurements of this backpack before purchasing to make sure it will fit your child without putting off their balance.
The quality and placement of the straps is the main indicator of the comfort of the backpack. This one, has compression straps on both sides in order to keep the load more compact, therefore increase the balance of the user. Or if you intend on packing it extra light, you could maximize the compression and go on a one day hike. This increases the comfort level of the backpack and makes it feel more lightweight. The other additional pair of straps are placed on the bottom compartment which makes attaching a sleeping pad, bag or tent easier.
2. Osprey Jet 18
Spacious main compartment
Padded back panel
Material feels thin
This Osprey backpack is a pack made for hiking. It is a daypack size as the weight it can support is not enough for two days trip. It has many pockets and a large main compartment which make it perfect for well-organized kids and parents.Read more
The shoulder straps are enriched with mesh pockets that are perfect for small easily reachable stuff. There are also side pockets that are ideal for water packs or similar items that you don’t mind losing since the pockets are not zippered. The main compartment is a bucket style designed which is typical for daily kids backpacks. A water reservoir is one of the additional features this pack possesses. However, if you prefer a backpack without it, it is removable. What’s quite useful regarding the water reservoir is that is can be refilled without having to take it off. Instead, it is placed in a sleeve between the back panel and the body of the backpack.
The shouldered straps are contoured and they are perfectly resting on your kid’s shoulders. Because of the padded foam addition to the shoulder straps, they don’t leave marks even if you fully fill it up.
This backpack for your child is a nice size and has a sleek look. It will conform to your child's back and fit comfortably. This is definitely a great fitting backpack and if you decide to go with this one, your child will feel comfortable.
The back panel is padded with foam which makes it highly breathable and more comfortable.
3. Tenton Sports Oasis
Hydration pack included
Variety of colors to choose from
Hydration bladder could be more durable
This backpack from Tenton is not only built with quality in mind but it also comes to you at an affordable price and is backed by a strong brand known for its durability. This backpack is also versatile and can be used every day or specifically for camping or backpacking.Read more
This backpack has an outdoor feel to it and has side mesh pockets for extra storage and also external buckles to clip extra gear on that does not fit inside the backpack. It also comes with a hydration bladder so your child can hydrate when needed.
This backpack has a great sense of adjustability so you can fit the backpack perfectly to your child's back. It also comes with extra chest buckles for extra support and a tighter fit.
This backpack is the size of a regular backpack so it will fit your child perfectly and not weigh them down. They will be able to move around comfortably and without issue.
This backpack has an ergonomic design to comfortably fit your child and not put a strain on their back or shoulders.
4. Venture Pal
Variety of colors to choose from
Can be compressed for easy portability
Can be damaged if you machine wash
This backpack from Venture Pal not only comes in a variety of colors and styles to choose from but it will offer a quality fit and feel comfortable on your child no matter what they plan to use it for.Read more
This backpack not only comes in a variety of colors, so you will have no problem finding a style that your child will love, but it is also quite affordable. This backpack when not in use can fold down into a small carry case so it can be even easier to transport.
This backpack is not too big and will fit your child without issue. It also has an adjustable chest strap for even more adjustability and to ensure it fits correctly and feels great.
This backpack is about the size of a standard backpack your child would use for school. It also can be compressed down into a carrying case for easy transportation if you are traveling or need to pack the backpack for storage.
This backpack is quite comfortable and with the adjustable straps, can fit your child perfectly so they stay comfortable.
5. The North Face Recon
Could come with more designs to choose from
This is the definition of a stylish and durable backpack for your child. It is quite versatile and is great for daily activities or if you are planning on taking them camping or a backpacking trip. This backpack is also quite affordable and for a North Face product is definitely one to check out.Read more
This backpack is quite stylish and will be a hit with your little one. It also comes equipped with some outside mesh pockets for quick storage and quick access. It also comes with a chest buckle which is helpful for extra support and will take a majority of the stress off your child's shoulders and back.
This backpack will fit your child nicely as it is not too big and should fit proportionally which will keep them comfortable. This backpack also has the middle chest strap for extra support and a more comfortable feel.
This backpack is the size of a standard school backpack. It will fit comfortably on your child's back and should not put to much stress on them while using it for their daily routine or for a camping trip.
This backpack as stated above is quite comfortable and will fit your child nicely. If you are looking for an affordable comfortable backpack than this may be the one you want to invest in for your child.
6. Deuter Fox 40
Adjustable straps meant to grow with your child
Great ergonomic design
40 liters of storage space
Water repellant, not waterproof
Like the Deuter Fox 30, this pack is designed with thought and care. It has everything an adult's bag has, but of course, with adjustments especially made for a child's comfort. If the Deuter 30 didn't have enough room for your kiddo, this one has 40 liters of storage space to hit the trails with.Read more
This bag is made from lightweight, durable Ballistic Polyamide and Super-Polytex. It has a waterproof PU coating. And like the Deuter 30, the 40, is equipped VariQuick back length adjustable straps, so the bag grows with your child. The Alpine back system is comfortable and ventilating. Its unique design offers a secure fit that follows the hiker's movement and maintains the weight close to its center of gravity for proper balance.
A specially designed Alpine back system is ergonomically built to distribute the weight in an even way with maximum airflow and ventilation. The even weight distribution will keep your hiker from feeling too much pressure in any one area. The shoulder straps are S-shaped and soft-edged to add comfort.
The 40 liters of the room allows for ample storage with side pockets and a lid pocket. There is even an ice-ax and hiking pole attachment with gear loops on the hip belt.
This backpack is designed with your child's comfort in mind.
7. Deuter Fox 30
Ideal for long-time use with adjustable straps
Could have more storage room
The Deuter Fox 30 is a thoughtful design that takes the backpack of a grown-up and adapts it to fit the size and accompanying strength of a child. It also comes with adjustable straps, so that the backpack will grow with your child.Read more
This backpack is lightweight, and it is constructed of Ballistic Polyamide for durability, as well as Super Polytex. It is coated in a waterproof PU coating. There is a hiking pole attachment, as well as gear loops, and of course, soft shoulder pads for optimal softness.
This backpack is fully adjustable with VariQuick back length adjustment settings. There are also compression straps that can control the backpack volume so that your little one isn't overwhelmed by too much room to fill.
There are 30 liters of storage room available so your kiddo can pack almost anything.
This backpack utilizes the Deuter Alpine back system that ventilates and adds comfort.
8. Deuter Pico
Breathable shoulder straps
Could have more storage room
The Deuter Pico backpack is zipper closure and it is the ideal choice for toddlers and smaller age kids. It has great design and high-quality features and it comes at an affordable price.Read more
The main compartment is spacious and it gives the user quick access to their stuff. The side pockets look like wings and they are perfect for keeping small stuff inside.
The shoulder straps are padded but they are not very breathable which might lead to sweating on that specific place. However, they are very comfortable and completely adjustable to any torso length. The fabric is made from high-quality polyester material. This makes it durable and able to support a small amount of weight.
Even though it is a very comfortable backpack, it is a small one and it is made for one-day hikes only. It does not have an internal frame and a larger load would represent a problem for the carrier.
This backpack is made for children and fits them comfortably so they can go about their day without issue.
9. Deuter Climber
Limited color options
The Deuter Climber Backpack is a product made for backpacking as well as hiking. This is also our best value choice since it offers a combination of price and features that are incomparable to any other kids’ backpack on the market.Read more
The material is very durable which is the most necessary feature for kids’ backpacks. It is built to endure the abuse that is inevitable considering that the owner would be a bit smaller than expected. The material used in the production process is ripstop nylon which is quite common in the kids’ backpacks manufacturing process.
This backpack is a bit bigger than some of the others on our list but with the adjustable straps, it can securely and comfortably fit your child with ease.
What makes this pack capable of carrying a bigger amount of weight is its internal frame which is very lightweight and does not add up weight to the pack. It is built to carry larger weight and more moderate loads and how much you pack it is your choice.
This backpack is comfortable but is not the most comfortable on our list. It fits securely to your child but can put some strain on their back if not properly adjusted.
10. CamelBak Mini Mule
Hydration pack included
Storage room could be bigger
CamelBak is known for its quality backpacks and hydration packs. This Mini Mule is one of their top of the line backpacks and will not only allow your child to store their gear but also allow them to hydrate themselves.Read more
This backpack not only has front storage pockets to store your gear but also has a large hydration pack built-in to ensure your child will stay hydrated while performing their activities or if they find themselves on a day hike.
This backpack is smaller and will fit your child comfortably. It has a chest strap that will secure around your child's chest and give extra support.
This backpack is one of the smaller on our list and does not have the most room for storage and gear but great if you are taking your child on a day trip.
This backpack will fit your child comfortably as it is easily adjustable and has extra straps to secure a tight and comfortable fit.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Even though when it comes to our kids we are always aiming for natural products, this is not the case to do so. Natural material backpacks tend to be less durable and have a lower quality. Even though they exist, they are certainly not made for hiking. Instead, aim for a synthetic blend of polyester and nylon material. The base of the backpack should also be reinforced with a heavier fabric that will support the weight and help in its even distribution.
Although we are aware that he will overgrow it in a short period of time if looking for a high-quality backpack, search for one that is sturdier. That means that the stitching should be reinforced in some areas such as the base of the backpack and the shoulder straps. Also, the zippers should not get stuck easily since this could cause panic to your child and a nice situation can easily turn into a difficult one. Instead, look for wider zippers that would be easier to use without much effort.
If you wish for him to use his backpack as long as possible, we recommend sticking to adjustable shoulder straps and adjustable hip belt. Finally, it is a kid’s backpack, so don’t leave the house without a label. Although, the possibility of someone finding it in the woods and getting it back to you is indeed low.
The most important rule is that your kid’s backpack must be smaller than his back. This means that the top of the backpack should be below the shoulders and the bottom of the backpack should rest above his pelvis. If you manage to match all of this with his favorite design, half of the job is done! It is better to check the sizes online since all of the distributors have stated them on their sites. Even though there is a way that your too small backpack will fit your child, this is a certain way to know.
When it comes to packing your kid’s backpack it is all about the weight. It should not exceed the limit and all of the “heavy” items should be placed near the back in order for him to be more stable while he is walking.
Before you start your journey, it is important to prepare for it. Otherwise, everything could very quickly come to an end. Preparation for a hiking trip is the same for children as it is for adults. You need to get their body in shape first. This means that before the “big event” you should make small hikes to shorter destinations in order for them to get used to the activity. During your hike, you could psychologically prepare them and get them excited about the upcoming trip. After all, preparation is half the fun! Make them enthusiastic about the trip by being enthusiastic yourself. If you are planning on going camping, you could simulate a camping environment at home. Pitch them a small tent inside the house and let them sleep inside if they express such a desire. This will make them feel more excited about the upcoming trip and if any fear exists, which is not as uncommon as you might presume, it will definitely disappear.
And of course, let them be part of choosing their own backpack. They will certainly know how to appreciate this, or at least they will enjoy it for a long time!
For a more comfortable fit, it is recommended that you avoid narrow straps for the shoulders. Wider straps will not leave marks on your child’s shoulders and the weight will be distributed evenly. The shoulder straps with higher quality will also be padded with a soft material and the most exclusive ones will also allow the body to breathe and have excellent breathability properties.
If you are planning on going on a hiking or backpacking trip in the summer, it is best that you choose shoulder straps with mesh fabric which will increase the comfort and it will allow for the excessive moisture to escape.
The question without an answer is why most kids prefer wearing their backpack low. This is an everlasting struggle between kids and parents. However, remind him to place the backpack to the right position, to his lower back instead of his butt. This would be done by simply tightening up the shoulder straps. And of course, no matter the media influence, a backpack should be used with both straps in order to reduce strain and bad posture.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Back panels are making the backpacks more comfortable, breathable and stable. The backpacks with high quality have air channels in order to increase the breathability. This allows your child's skin to breathe. Back panels made from mesh fabric are the ones that possess superior quality and they provide the small user excellent ventilation properties, and the benefits are visible.
When looking for anything for our children our first priority is to make sure it is safe and comfortable but do not forget that they also would like a product with a little bit of style. The style of a product helps for your children to reflect their personality, so if you do not know what their style is, do not be afraid to ask to ensure you get a product they will love.
Other Factors to Consider
When the weight of a kid’s backpack is discussed, it usually indicates the weight of the items inside. However, the weight of the backpack itself is significant as well. It should be as lightweight as possible in order to allow them to focus on their hike instead of the weight on their backs. The reason for this is because the strength of a child is not at the same level as adults. They are still physically developing their bodies which makes them subject to any outer influences.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How heavy should a child’s backpack be?
Although different manufacturers have different recommendations to the same question, the answer depends on many factors. One of them is weight distribution. A proper weight distribution allows the user to carry a large amount of weight and still have the feeling of carrying a few pounds less. If a backpack has high weight distribution features, you could load it for up to 20% of the child’s weight. However, if it comes with suspicious weight distribution properties it is better not to go over the recommendation of 10% of the child’s weight.
Another important factor to consider is the age and physical condition of the child. If you are not sure where to stop between the 10%-20% range it is better to test it. When you put a different amount of weight in your kid’s backpack he will behave differently. For instance, his pace will be slower if he has too much weight on his back and he might even experience some muscle problems if he is not ready to endure the physical pressure. Statistics show that girls are much more likely to experience back issues that boys. The main reason for this lies in the fact that girls have a lower muscle body mass than boys and their structure is also more tender, as their lifestyle tends to be. However, this is not the case for everyone as some girls are prepared from a small age.
q: How is a child’s backpack any different from an adult’s one?
A child has a different body structure than an adult, therefore their backpacks are different in size to start with. However, their features also differ. A child’s backpack is usually built to carry much less weight than an adult’s backpack. For this reason, most kids’ backpacks don’t have an internal frame. However, those kids’ backpacks that are made to carry bigger loads have to have a great suspension which is why they also offer internal frames. Nevertheless, this is for bigger children only and of course, for those parents whose little ones are more physically prepared than most adults. Even though this seems like a myth, hikers’ and backpackers’ kids are in excellent physical shape.
A child’s torso is also much smaller than an adult’s one. This is why the straps, the waistband and the height of the backpack are adjusted to the child. Although, most backpacks are adjustable and they could be adjusted to almost any size. If you choose to give your old backpack to your kid, first make him try it at home to see if the size fits him correctly. If it does not, we recommend against going with it since it could influence his posture and his entire growth. If your child is too small, no matter how many strap adjustments you make, you are probably not going to manage to make it comfortable for your child. However, if you somehow manage to do so, there is no reason why he should not carry it to your next hiking trip.
q: When hiking with toddlers, what features do I need in a backpack?
Even though most parents consider this age to be too soon to start hiking or backpacking, there are brave parents who vote against this claim. When hiking with toddlers it is important to remember a few pointers and to look for certain features in a backpack for your youngest one. Since this is a trip that will test his adaptability skills, it is important to encourage him to drink water as often as possible. This means placing the water bottle at a place that is easily accessible. Side mesh pockets are the perfect choice for this. However, the zippered side pockets are more suitable for older children that have different requirements.
Another thing to look for in a toddler’s backpack is that you are going to need to pack a lot of extra clothes. This starts with extra socks. It is necessary that his small feet are dry and toddlers tend to explore everywhere so the possibility of wet socks is significantly greater in this age. Besides socks, you should also pack some extra clothes which means that you are going to need a backpack that is spacious and it doesn’t have to support a lot of weight.
q: What features should kid’s backpack have?
If your child is under the age of 4, it is certain that you are not going to make him carry everything he needs on his back. Since at this age, he definitely needs more than he can carry. However, if your child is ready for bigger adventures and longer hikes, it might be a better idea to consider a higher capacity that he is going to use for years to come. A backpack that is able to support a bigger weight should come with an internal frame. The frame should be lightweight and durable. Durable means that it should be made with a material that is corrosion-resistant. Another thing to look for is a backpack that has many compartments or at least many pockets. This way, you could pack it up and simply let him know where everything is. This approach is more organized and it is easier for the child to find what he is looking for. If however, your kid is younger, simply look for a design that he will like since the only thing you would pack inside is a water bottle and maybe some clothes. Even the water bottle will be small-sized.
The quality of the straps is also very important. The shoulder straps should be ergonomic and well padded. This will make it feel more comfortable. A waistband is needed for larger loads and for smaller children a backpack with a whistle is recommended. The straps and the back of the backpack should also be made from highly breathable material in order to prevent sweating and more frequent clothes changing.
And as of last, the most important thing: kids love to have gear of their own. However, the pleasure is much greater if you leave him to choose his most preferred design.
q: If I buy a expensive backpack for my child, will that ensure the best quality?
When looking at investing in a backpack for your child, do not think the more expensive the backpack the more durable or better quality it will be as that just is not the case. The best thing to do when looking for a durable backpack for your child to last them years to come is to look at the material and also the reviews to see how the backpack has held up for other consumers that have put them to the test. Do not solely be swayed by price as you may end up with an expensive backpack for your child that will not hold up, make an educated purchase and do the research before buying.