How To Choose The Best Backpacks For Your Backpacking Adventures With Kids

Embarking on a backpacking adventure with your kids can transform a simple hike into an unforgettable family journey. Choosing the right backpack is crucial not only for comfort but also for ensuring that the trip remains enjoyable and stress-free for everyone involved. 

For 2024 and beyond, the focus is on finding the best backpacking packs that cater specifically to family needs, balancing between ultralight designs and essential features like adjustable torso lengths, ample compartments, and hydration capabilities. 

Whether you’re considering an Osprey with its renowned Aircontact system and breathable materials or eyeing a Granite Gear model for its robust yet adjustable framework—selecting the right backpack can elevate your outdoor experiences substantially. Get into our guide to understand how to choose a pack that ensures your little adventurers feel every bit a part of the journey as you do without sacrificing important gear like sleeping bags or an ice axe holder.

1. Consider The Size And Fit Of The Backpack 

When it comes to backpacking with kids, size and fit trump the latest trends. Ignoring flashy features in favor of a backpack that matches your child’s torso length can be the difference between a grueling trek and an energizing adventure.

  • Child’s Size: Prioritize a backpack proportional to your child’s size. A snug, breathable fit is essential for comfort and ease of movement, making an ultralight pack from Osprey or Granite Gear a wise pick. Investing in a backpack with a compartment just right for a sleeping bag ensures little outdoor enthusiasts can carry their weight without being overburdened.
  • Adjustability: Children grow; their gear should grow with them. Look for a backpacking pack with an adjustable harness—2024’s best backpacking designs, like REI’s latest models, tout this feature. An adjustable pack accommodates growth spurts, making that perfect fit last more than a single season. This is not just about comfort; it’s about the economy.

Stay ahead of the curve and ensure your child’s next backpack grows with them, from the first trail to the peak of their adolescence. Choose adjustability; choose longevity.

2. Weight Distribution

Selecting the right backpack for backpacking adventures with kids is crucial for ensuring a pain-free and enjoyable experience. Key to this is the optimal weight distribution, which can significantly influence a child’s ability to carry their backpack comfortably over extended trips.

  • Lightweight Yet Durable: Opt for ultralight backpacks like the Osprey Atmos AG 65 or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear series. These are engineered for the best balance of comfort and durability, allowing even the youngest hikers to manage their load effectively without the bulk weighing them down.
  • Ergonomic Support Features: Ensure the backpack features padded shoulder straps and well-designed hip belts. These elements are essential for evenly distributing the load. The Gregory Focal and Osprey Aether series, known for their Aircontact core and innovative suspension systems, are perfect examples. They help distribute the weight from the shoulders to the hips, making heavier loads manageable.

These backpacks are equipped not only with robust main compartments but also with accessible pockets and clever compartmentalization. Whether packing a sleeping bag or a week’s worth of gear, the right backpack will distribute the weight evenly across the body, reducing fatigue and increasing trail time joy.

With the best backpacking backpacks of 2024 and beyond, every family can tackle that dream backpacking trip much more comfortably. Remember, the best pack is one that grows with your adventure needs, providing sustainable comfort and durability.

3. Capacity And Compartments Of The Backpack For Backpacking

Finding the right backpack for your kid’s backpacking adventure is narrowed down to two crucial factors: capacity needs and the utility of compartments.

  • Capacity Needs: The length of your trip dictates the backpack size. Short excursions might only require a sleek, ultralight model, possibly in the 30-liter range from brands like Osprey or Granite Gear, while longer journeys call for upscaling to a 50-liter or more for all essentials, including the sleeping bag.
  • Organized Compartments: The best backpacking packs, such as the REI Co-op 2024 series or the Osprey Aircontact, feature adjustable compartments that not only keep gear neatly organized but also readily accessible. They boast hydration pockets for quick sips, dedicated sleeping bag spaces, and even breathable sections for damp items. Also, look for those with specialized pockets for snacks and water bottles and perhaps an ice axe loop for those adventurous terrains.

A well-chosen backpack turns the packing phase from a puzzle into a pleasure, making every backpacking journey with kids a smooth and memorable one.

4. Durability And Material

Young boy looking at pond, Stanford Valley Guest Farm, Stanford, Western Cape, South Africa.

When planning your next family backpacking trip, it’s crucial to choose a backpack made from durable and weather-resistant materials. This not only ensures longevity but also protects your gear under various outdoor conditions.

  • Tough Materials: Premium packs like the Osprey Atmos AG 65 and Gregory Focal are crafted from high-tech, durable fabrics that can withstand the wear and tear of outdoor adventures in desert landscapes and mountainous terrains.
  • Weather Resistance: Opt for ultralight backpacks from brands like Hyperlite Mountain Gear that offer superior waterproofing and abrasion resistance, ensuring that everything from backpacking tents to sleeping bags stays dry and intact.
  • Load Management: Extended trips require carrying heavy loads, and designs like the REI Co-op Flash 55 or the Deuter Aircontact Core come equipped with robust compression straps and a structured pack body to distribute weight evenly, offering the best balance of comfort.
  • Smart Features: Accessories matter—look for backpacks with easily accessible main compartments, external pockets for frequently used items, and hydration sleeves that are easy to access on the go.

Selecting the right backpack, such as the Atmos AG or the Aether Plus, means focusing on how well it will hold up against the elements while keeping your gear organized and accessible. These principles guide our choices, ensuring that each backpacking trip is smooth and enjoyable for the whole family.

5. Comfort Is Key

Comfort cannot be overlooked for backpacking adventures that leave memories rather than sore muscles. It’s the cornerstone for any successful outdoor journey, especially when you’re introducing little ones to the wonders of the trail.

  • Ergonomic Design: Seek backpacks with padded straps and back panels. Brands like Osprey and Granite Gear understand the need for cushioning where it counts, ensuring your journey is pain-free from start to finish.
  • Stay Cool: Ventilated back panels are a game changer. Opt for backpacks with breathable designs, such as the REI Aircontact series, to avoid the dreaded back sweat and keep the air flowing on the go.
  • Fit Matters: An adjustable backpack that caters to your torso length can transform your backpacking experience. Look for ultralight options that offer hydration compatibility and compartments for organizing essentials, like your sleeping bag, without compromising your comfort.

The right backpack doesn’t just carry your gear—it enhances your adventure. As you gear up for 2024, choose a pack that stands at the intersection of comfort and practicality, ensuring every family trek is nothing short of remarkable.

6. Safety Features

Amid the excitement of planning your next backpacking trip, it is paramount to prioritize safety features in your gear selection. After all, adventures with kids demand an additional layer of caution.

  • Visibility at Dusk: As the sun dips below the horizon, reflective materials on your backpack become an essential safety tool. Backpacks like the Osprey Atmos AG 65 and the REI Co-op Flash 55 incorporate reflective elements that catch the light, ensuring you and your little explorers remain visible to others, even in low light conditions.
  • Secure Your Gear: Look for backpacks with sturdy compression straps and a secure top lid, like the Gregory Focal and Aircontact Core. These features not only help to manage heavy loads but also keep your sleeping bag, backpacking tent, and other gear snugly in place, minimizing the risk of in-transit accidents.
  • Accessibility is Key: Easy access to the main compartment, side pockets, and especially the sleeping bag compartment can make all the difference in quickly responding to any need or mishap. Ultralight packs like the Hyperlite Mountain Gear models and the Gossamer Gear Mariposa ensure that essential items are just a zipper away, without compromising on your hike’s pace or safety.

Choosing the right backpack isn’t just about storage and comfort; it’s also about keeping your family safe on every trail. With the best backpacking backpacks featuring advanced safety elements, your adventures are not just about reaching the destination but ensuring everyone arrives there safely and joyfully.

7. Reviews And Recommendations

When gearing up for an adventure with kids, the collective wisdom of the backpacking community can guide you to the perfect backpack. Read reviews and recommendations from fellow backpacking families to navigate your choices.

  • Community Insights: Utilize forums and online communities where families share their firsthand experiences with various backpacks. From the ultralight Osprey packs to the durable Granite Gear, see which brands consistently earn high marks for comfort, durability, and kid-friendliness.
  • Expert Picks: Look for annual reviews and round-ups of the best backpacking packs by trusted outdoor gear publications. These sources rigorously test backpacks in various conditions, providing a reliable benchmark for quality.

8. Try Before You Buy

Nothing can substitute the assurance of a perfect fit like a test run. Before committing, ensure the backpack:

  • Fits Well: Adjust the backpack to your torso length and load it up with a typical load. It should sit comfortably without straining any part of your body.
  • Comfort Check: If possible, walk around, climb stairs, or even take a short hike. Pay attention to how the pack moves with you and how accessible the compartments are, especially for essentials like the sleeping bag and hydration system.

The best backpacking journeys balance the thrill of adventure with the practical needs of every family member. Starting with a well-fitted, kid-approved backpack ensures that your expeditions are memorable for all the right reasons. Remember, the journey doesn’t start at the trailhead; it begins the moment you choose the perfect backpacking pack for your family’s adventures.

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