If you want to take your young camper on a hiking trip, finding the right hiking backpack for kids is an important step. Hiking backpacks come in handy, whether it’s to carry snacks, water, kids sleeping bag or other hiking gear. Apart from worrying about capacity, you also need to consider comfort and weight. You don’t want a backpack that’s too bulky to the point where your child is having issues on the hike, but also with comfortable padded shoulders, so they don’t get inconvenienced by it.
Here we cover ten of the best kids hiking backpacks, so your camper is well-prepared and comfy on their hiking, backpacking, or camping adventures. We included reviews for different backpacks in terms of capacity, torso size, and weight so you can find the right one for your young hiker.
Top 10 Hiking Backpacks For Kids
1. Osprey Jet 18
- Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 9 inches
- Weight: 1 pound, 3.4 ounces
- Capacity: 1,098 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 12 to 17 inches
If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly bag for your child to use on your family's hikes, the Jet 18 from Osprey might just be one of the most suitable choices. It features GRS-certified recycled materials, so you can grant your child the storage they need in the most eco-friendly way.
Better yet, your child can get ample use of this product. It provides top-load access to the main compartment, a large front stash pocket, airmesh adjustable hip belt and dual-stretch mesh side pockets. You can even carry a small kids sleeping bag inside it. Plus, this backpack comes with a back foam panel and padded shoulder straps for a comfortable wearing experience.
Exploring the outdoors can be exciting, but it's important always to remain aware. A smaller member of your party may stumble across wild critters or unexpected strangers. That's why Osprey built the Jet 18 to include a convenient whistle on the chest buckle. This whistle is easily accessible, so your child can reach for and blow it if they feel threatened. This small but potentially life-saving feature can help your family enjoy their hiking expenditures with more peace of mind.
2. Deuter Climber
- Dimensions: 23 x 9.5 x 7 inches
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Capacity: 1,340 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 10 to 17 inches
The Deuter brand is highly respected in the hiking industry, and this Deuter Climber Children's option is a true testimony to the company's excellence. It's a top-notch choice, as it mirrors the adult pack. Deuter didn't strip down the adult version of this pack — it only scaled it down to fit smaller adventurers. The carrying capacity, ergonomics, and other details remain true to other Deuter products.
Some of the most notable features of this backpack include attachment points for helmet carriers and trekking poles, load stabilizing straps, and side compression straps. If you're using a trekking pole tent as a shelter, it's the perfect backpack for it.
One of our favorite additions is an elasticated inner compartment. Your child can throw their wet clothes or dirty socks in this section without ruining their other belongings!
This product also features Alpine System technology that grants the wearer optimal comfort. It adapts to every movement and doesn't restrict your child's free-spirited nature. Younger kids can wear this bag luxuriously and keep up with all the older kids in the hiking group.
3. Osprey Ace 38
- Dimensions: 25 x 13 x 11 inches
- Weight: 2.9 pounds
- Capacity: 2,320 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 11 to 15 inches
The Osprey Ace 38 Kid's Backpacking Backpack is a little pricier than most other products, but it's well worth the cost. The Osprey Ace 38 is meant to help kids get into the mindset of discovering the great outdoors. It holds up to 25 pounds of weight, so they'll never be without the items that make them feel comfortable. There is a hip belt, which provides quick access to small items like snacks.
It's one of the most comfortable backpacks as it comes with a unique ventilated AirSpeed suspension system. Combine this backpack with some comfy kids hiking shoes and they'll grow to love it. This design provides over four inches of adjustability, meaning you won't have to buy a new backpack every year. Instead, it'll remain helpful even as your child grows.
Some of this bag's notable features that make it truly stand out are its zippered bottom pocket, removable sleeping pad straps, and an integrated rain cover for overcast hiking days. Also, it has a sleeping bag compartment for easy access. Perfect way to protect your sleeping bag from getting wet and for quickly taking it out.
4. Deuter Pico
- Dimensions: 11 x 7.5 x 4.7 inches
- Weight: 0.5 pounds
- Capacity: 305 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 11 to 15 inches
The Deter Pico backpack is a great way to get your child excited about hiking. This backpack offers plenty in terms of style. It's available in three fun colors to suit any child's interests: Hot Pink Ruby, Indigo Turquoise, and Plum Coral. It features animated characters, including crabs, owls, and dolphins. You'll have a hard time getting your child to travel anywhere without one of these colorful backpacks for kids. Plus, it’s easily recognizable and stands out when you’re out in the wild.
This backpack is just as functional as it is fashionable. The semicircular zip design is easy for any child with less-than-ideal dexterity to open and close. In addition to the interior storage area, there are two external pockets for water bottle placement.
The Deuter Pico hiking backpack fits children as young as two years old, so you can grant your child a sense of independence when your family goes out into nature. Have them carry their own stuff without worrying about them toppling over, as this bag's sternum strap will help your child walk steadily with their belongings in tow.
5. REI Co-op Tarn 40
- Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 9 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces
- Capacity: 2,440 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 12 to 16 inches
If you're looking for something more robust and suitable for a child's first backpacking trip, consider the REI Co-op Tarn 40 Kids' Pack. It features 420-Denier Ripstop recycled nylon, which receives a seal of approval from Bluesign®. The material is very sturdy and can hold up well as your little camper transports their pack to wherever their adventurous spirit takes them.
Your child can fill this pack with whatever they need, including snacks, a change of clothing, and a first-aid kit. It's one of the top options, as it features many pockets for convenience, including hipbelt pockets. Your child can fill the four exterior pockets with water bottles and items they need to access easily, including compasses and other navigation tools. The interior pocket is very roomy and provides ample storage for their larger items. It also comes with an adjustable torso and compression straps.
The REI Co-op Tarn 40 Pack has a set of unique features, including the removable top-lid pocket and loops for clips and bungees. Your child will become the most organized hiker with this convenient bag. It has a padded hip belt and shoulder straps, which reduces annoyances when hiking for long hours. Plus, the sleeping bag compartment can easily accommodate a small sleeping bag.
6. CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E.
- Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 4 inches
- Weight: 0.5 pounds
- Liquid capacity: 1.5 liters of water
- Torso Length: 15 to 21 inches
It may be difficult to get your child excited about hiking when they always find an excuse to turn around early. But when you purchase the CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. for your child, you won't have to worry about them being thirsty.
This product is a great backpack if you're looking for a solution to your little one's hydration. You don't have to worry about storing water bottles.The hydration bladder holds up to 1.5 liters of water, which is more than enough to get your child through at least a few hours of hiking. Or you can even use it for camping overnight if you want to use the camping fridge to store food instead of water.
And gone are the days of unscrewing water bottles time and time again. The hiking bag comes with a high-flow hydration reservoir that delivers 20% more water per sip than similar products. And, the crux comes with an accessible on/off lever that your child can operate by themselves. This helps prevent spills and ensures optimal use of the drinking water.
When you need to clean the product out and refill it, you can latch onto the ergonomic handle for a seamless refilling experience.
7. OneTrail Mini-Me 10 Liter
- Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 15 inches
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Capacity: 610 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 10 to 15 inches
As its name implies, the OneTrail Mini-Me 10 Liter Daypack is the perfect option for a short day trip. It's a compact backpack with a flexible design, and it delivers both style and performance. You can find it in one of five soft-toned colors, including heather gray and crimson. In addition, the whole backpack features durable, water-resistant material that'll hold up well against rain showers, so your family won't have to cut any of your adventures short.
Even though this backpack is meant for day trips, it can hold quite a lot. For instance, your child can slip their tablet up to 11” into the padded laptop sleeve. This backpack also features two water bottle pockets on the sides and a front buckle to hang hats from. Realistically, you can also use it for an overnight trip if your sleeping in a tent for the night.
Even the clumsiest of children can carry their own gear with this product. It features a chest buckle that provides optimal weight distribution so that they can explore without mobility limitations. Although it does not have a waist belt, it does a great job at remaining in place and makes hiking easier.
8. REI Co-op Tarn 12
- Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 5 inches
- Weight: 0.75 pounds
- Capacity: 732 cubic inches
REI Co-op Tarn 12 Kids' Pack is made of durable material to last years to come. It fits children ages five to eight years old, meaning they can grow up with this product on their back. The recycled ripstop nylon features a durable water repellent (DWR) finish, meaning it'll hold up well to drizzles and dirt stains. You can’t go camping without a waterproof tent, and similarly, you can’t go hiking without a waterproof backpack.
As far as usage goes, the REI Co-op Tarn 12 is quite impressive. It comes with a sternum strap to keep the shoulder straps from slipping off narrow shoulders. Plus, this product has a buckled hip belt that provides an optimal way to transfer weight equally and a padded back panel for ideal ventilation.
This children's hiking backpack has a zippered pocket and side mesh pockets for added convenience. Overall, it's a lightweight backpack suitable for kids going on day hikes or overnight trips.
9. CamelBak 2018
- Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 9 inches
- Weight: 0.7 pounds
- Liquid capacity: 1.5 liters
- Torso Length: 15 to 19 inches
If you like the CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. version, you'll love the CamelBak 2018 Kid's Scout Hydration Pack. This 2018 Kid's Scout version holds the same amount of water as the other type (1.5 liters), but it's slightly bigger and offers additional storage space. It has the same impressive crux that delivers 20% more liquid per sip and a leak-proof design to minimize wasted water.
The back panel consists of a breathable mesh material that offers a comfortable fit. What's more, backpacks for kids like this one offers a lot in terms of safety and convenience. It comes with transparent external pockets that let your child bring along anything they want, from extra water bottles to utility multi-tools. We also love the reflective accents on this backpack that make your child stand out in darker environments.
10. Osprey Daylite
- Dimensions: 13 x 7.5 x 7 inches
- Weight: 0.6 pounds
- Capacity: 610 cubic inches
- Torso Length: 11 to 15 inches
Many avid hikers love the Osprey Daylite products for adults, and the child-friendly versions are just as impressive. This backpack is impressive because of its compact build and user-friendly design.
It comes with a panel-loading main compartment where your child can store extra clothes, an umbrella, and other small items. They can also use the two side mesh pockets as water bottle pockets or to store other valuables, and the small front pocket provides additional storage space.
Other convenient features include an internal nametag, space for a hydration reservoir (sold separately), a key clip, and an easy-grab handle whenever adults need to carry the bag.
How To Buy A Hiking Backpack For Kids
Types Of Backpacks
A daypack is a smaller alternative to the trekking backpack. They’re pretty lightweight and are often suitable for day trips. This makes them perfect for kids, and if you're packing only essentials for a trip, then this should be suitable for you as well.
A good daypack should have enough space for personal effects, including sunglasses, water bottles, and safety lights. Besides, most daypacks have extra pockets to keep the extra stuff you may need for a trip.
This small pack can also be versatile and used for school.
An adventure-travel backpack is an excellent option if you’re young camper is an active hiker. It combines a suitcase and backpack, which means you can carry items like a laptop or an iPad.
Unless you’re the real traditional camper, your kid’s tablet or iPad might come in handy for them when camping. Some even have shoe compartments and muddy gear compartments to keep their belongings protected.
Trekking backpacks are the go-to choice for many avid hikers. Lightweight and comfortable, these backpacks are good for most hiking trips — whether that's a trek through the mountains or a journey through low-lying trails.
They can be quite large, so these might not be the best choice for young kids and more suitable for older kids and teenagers. The pack is weather-resistant and tends to have small pockets for extra gear.
Hiking backpacks differ based on their frame structure. Your bag can have an internal frame, external frame, or no frame, also known as frameless.
With external-frame backpacks, the structure that supports the weight is visible. While they have a larger carrying capacity, these backpacks are notorious for being unstable on the trail.
Internal-frame backpacks have their supporting structure hidden. These hug the body, which makes them more stable on hikes — and safer, too.
Frameless backpacks are the preserve of ultralight hikers, so they’re suitable for children. These have no frames and are lighter than other packs, although that means your child cannot haul heavy loads with one, which they might not need to in the first place. If you want them to go light, this may be ideal for their needs.
A kids backpack should ideally have a compartment for holding a hydration reservoir, even though you may need to buy the latter separately. Also, there should be ports to help them hydrate on trips.
On the trail, 80-90% of your backpack's weight rests on your shoulders and hips. To prevent soreness, a choice pack should have special padding in those areas to cushion the weight. Having padded shoulder straps and a padded hipbelt is key to comfort when someone is wearing one for long periods of time.
When hiking on hot summer days, most may develop a sweaty back. This is common with internal-frame backpacks that rub against your body as you move.
Some brands install a mesh panel in the pack to combat this problem. The internal frame rests on the breathable mesh panel slightly away from the back, giving room for ventilation.
Pockets are great for keeping items accessible on the trail, especially snacks. And extra side pockets mean more room for whatever additional items they decide to carry along for the trip.
Different pockets pop up on newer packs, including shovel pockets, top-lid pockets, external mesh pockets, zippered pockets, and hip-belt pockets.
Carrying an ill-fitting backpack for long hours will lead to discomfort and increased strain. This is why it's essential to buy a pack that suits their body type.
Some brands design unisex backpacks that fit both female and male torsos. However, you may opt for gender-specific backpacks because of their tailored design. Unlike the all-size-fits-one approach of unisex backpacks, these models are carefully designed with a specific group in mind.
Martin has been in the summer camp industry for 7 years now. He has worked in different roles for camps, including as a marketing director for summer camps in the United States. Martin enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities but likes hiking and kayaking the most. He’s also a huge fan of traveling.