While smaller kids probably don’t need a pack once they’re big enough to carry their own weight you can start giving them a few survival items, their own water etc and really get them into the activity.
Kids backpacks need to be fun as well, and as adults we know how un-fun a backpack can be. Look for ones that have bright colors and that are designed specifically for a kids body rather than trying to adapt a small daypack.
The biggest reason kids backpacks are different is that the hip belts are generally much narrower and they’re far more adjustable so that it can grow with your child.
Quality packs can last your child well into their teens and until they’re ready for an adult pack which makes them a good investment.
The Top 3 Best Kids Hiking Backpack Reviews
Check out the list of our top hiking backpacks for kids from this list:
Osprey Youth jet 18 – $XX.xx
For an Osprey bag this is a pretty good price. Since adult packs often run three to five times this it’s the perfect introduction to the brand.
It’s made of quality nylon and has many features you would expect to see in an adult pack like zippered compartments in the lid, mesh side pockets, a top lid design, and 5 other pockets for organization.
It comes in two fetching colors and also has a 2l external hydration sleeve design.
The back panel has mesh for ventilation, fleece lined shoulder straps for comfort and a hip belt that also has mesh wings to keep the pack stable.
Suitable for ages 5-7 and up.
With plenty of straps and attachment points you can grow this bag further with bungee cords to increase the space. Osprey only uses good quality materials so this will load up and last for years as it’s designed to.
The ventilation works well and helps to minimize complaints and it’s light enough that there’s plenty of space to grow into without them feeling overwhelmed at first.
The top pull closure is a little finnicky and it’s perhaps a little small if you expect it to last into their teens since it’s not much bigger than your average daypacks. This isn’t intended on being loaded down as it’s just basic nylon and not ballistic or high grade so ideal for small kids and beginners only who won’t be going into especially rough terrain.
Deuter Kikki Backpack – $XX.xx
Where Osprey simply made their normal pack in miniature Deuter chose to make a fun pack for kids instead. It comes in 4 fetching bird designs and it has reflective details and a name label.
The bag is pretty small at only 6l so it’s better for ages 4-5 and up since it also weighs a tiny 12oz and is a compact design.
Its designed for adventure and has a reinforced base, ice axe attachment, hydration compatible, compression straps, ski attachment, hip fins and mesh straps mean it’s got a lot going for it.
There’s also a wet laundry compartment, mesh pockets, padded back, a helmet flap, and more.
It’s made with a flexible frame, removable hip belt, breathable air mesh, and a combination of 210 denier Nylon and 100D Ripstop with PU coating to make it tough enough to stand up to any activity.
- Durable Nylon
- Gear Attachments
- Adorable Design
- Flexible frame
There’s so many features designed for different activities that this is almost the ideal outdoors pack for kids to try just about anything.
With so many attachment points and a durable and light construction it would already be great but the adorable design, made to look like a parrot, really cinches making it kid friendly and fun. It’s well made and well stitched so it will hold well and the small size means it’s good for even smaller kids (3-4) though they’re probably not going to be using all the features.
This is a small pack, it’s no going to fit a lot and it’s not going to grow with your kid for long. It’s probably only suited up to about 7-8 max because it is a very kiddie designed look. It’s really small which is the issue mainly so it’s very limited in use despite all the features for outside storage.
HABA Terra Kid’s – $XX.xx
With a set of matching gear including things like binoculars your little adventurer can be just like you.
Designed for kids that love getting out it’s got padded shoulder straps and ventilation that rivals most adult packs as well as lots of straps and carabiners to hang things from.
There are tons of pockets in this design which is a fetching and bright green and orange. There’s separate compartments inside for wet clothes, and outer straps for sleeping bags and a hidden storage pocket for valuables.
The bottom is waterproof and there’s an included raincover for the entire pack and a drawstring divider inside.
This is like the Osprey in terms of quality but much more functional because there’s so much organization going on.
- Fun Colors
- Lots of pockets
Designed to be tough and functional this is kid-proof while still giving you peace of mind. The waterproof areas are ideal for those times when your kid doesn’t think and throws things into the bag or the bag goes into a puddle.
There’s loads of little pockets to keep them organized and the included raincover is definitely a bonus.
There’s no waist or hip belt which means the weight distribution isn’t great for long wear or stability. It’s also got no area for a hydration bladder though you can use the carabiners to clip on.
The main closure clips are a bit stiff and there’s also a good chance they won’t bother closing them which means everything falls out because there’s no zipper inside.
The HABA has all the awesome features you could want in a kids backpack but the lack of a hip belt and proper hydration design means it’s hampered as a real hiking pack. The Deuter is great for very small children but it seems like it’s had features added just for the sake of it (who gives a 5 year old an ice axe????). You’re paying for the name with the osprey but it is the most expandable and the easiest to figure out for most kids.
The biggest difference of the three is what age group they’re so obviously aimed at. Your youngest are going to love the fun designs of the Deuter but the bold colors and tons of pockets will appeal within a few years. The Osprey is much more a “grown up” style pack and smaller kids aren’t going to be as drawn to it as that of the Deuter. Overall the best kids backpack depends on where you’re planning on taking it and how long they need to be wearing it.