Packing a backpack can quickly turn into a headache, but if you overlook this stage, you risk paying the price for it the next day. However, before this happens, your choice of kids’ backpack is crucial. This choice will also affect the amount that your child will carry. The ultimate goal: to have the lightest kids’ backpack possible without forgetting anything!
Chose an appropriate bag for each trip and one that is designed to suit the size and shape of each hiker
You can’t use a bag designed for a light, 4 hour hike for an 8 hour trek. Checking the route and the length of the hike is, therefore, an essential preliminary stage before you embark about filling the backpack.
Old saying: stuff expands to fill the space available… quickly increasing the load you’re going to carry.
For a 4 hour hike, a bag with 10-15L capacity is more than sufficient (or 20L in winter so you can carry extra layers). We really like the Quechua Arpenaz 15L Junior as it provides good ventilation as well as multiple compartments. For a day-long hike, a bag with 20-25L capacity will work well. Any bigger than this and you’ll be tempted to take unnecessary items.
Don’t skimp when it comes to your kids’ backpack; check that the back length is suitable and opt for a bag with a chest strap. If he is to enjoy the day, it’s essential he feels comfortable.
Ensure you distribute the load properly
For a child’s backpack, you’re advised not to exceed 10%-15% of his weight. Any more than this and the weight could damage his spine or cause pain.
If you load up your child like a mule, don’t expect him to enjoy the experience or want to come back!
“Think “group”: consider how many hikers there are (adults and children), so you can distribute the load better ; be aware that an adult can carry approximately 25% of his weight.
In terms of weight, normally water supplies and your packed lunch make up the bulk of your load; and don’t overlook these two points. Make sure you give priority to “dried foods” with a high calorie content (dried fruit and cereal bars, for example) rather than “wet” foods. Remove as much unnecessary packaging as possible so you’ll have a lighter load and less rubbish to bring back
Tip: identify drinking water points along the trail where you can top up your supply so you don’t have to fill your water bladder up to the max. Otherwise, always carry at least 1L per person. For kids, this water bottle is a good option as it is very light and practical.
Before you leave, have a quick weigh-in (bathroom scales will do the trick) and then try and save another 1-2 kg, by asking yourself the question “is everything I’ve packed really necessary?”.
Distributing the load properly is not just a question of weight; you also need to balance your bag, so that it’s comfortable to carry. You’re advised to put the heaviest items against your back (usually: the water bladder, packed lunch etc.), that is to say, nearest your centre of gravity. You also need to check that all contents are securely positioned to prevent items moving when you walk.
Remember to store appetite suppressant type snacks somewhere accessible and distribute them evenly (belt pocket or bag flap are perfect for this). If you don’t have a water bladder, try to ensure that the water bottle is easily accessible. Finally, leave the windproof jacket or waterproof at the very top, ready to get out at the 1st cold snap!
OK but…what shall I take?
Backpack and essential items:
- 10-20L backpack (depending on size, length of walk and weather)
- Snacks + several appetite suppressants (cereal bars, biscuits, dried fruit etc.)
- Water bladder plus water bottle: this fun item will encourage them to drink without having to stop
- Tissues/toilet paper
Bonus: A small knife if your child is big enough
- Lightweight, durable trousers – tip: you can get trousers that convert into shorts such as the Quechua Hike 900!
- Breathable, comfortable T-shirt (such as the Quechua Hike 900 Girl’s T-shirt)
- Wide brim hap or cap with neck flap
- Grade 3 or 4 glasses (check that they fit properly)
- Lightweight fleece jacket (no one is safe from sudden changes in weather) like the Quechua Hike 200 Boys’ Fleece
- Lightweight, waterproof jacket or 3-in-1 so you can swap from a warm to a lightweight jacket with just two tugs of a zip (weather in the mountain can change quickly)
- Good shoes: soles with good stud grips, ideally with good ankle support and preferably with laces rather than rip-tabs for preciser fastening (where necessary, remember to take a spare pair of laces!). We personally like the Quechua Crossrock Walking Shoes as they offer good traction and cushioning! A small tip: watch our instructional video on how to lace your boots so the knot at ankle level doesn’t bother you.
A little extra: Take clothes that dry quickly; children are always keen to splash around but afterwards they’re likely to become cold very quickly. For those reasons, it is always good to carry a waterproof jacket such as the Quechua Hike 100 Girl’s Jacket.
For boys, we really like the Quechua Hike 500 Jacket as it offers good breathability and durability.
- Headlamp: in case of the unexpected
- Survival blanket
- Mini first aid kit (bandages, in case of blisters, at the very least)
- Factor 50+ sun cream
- Map + compass
Important: a pre-charged mobile phone with the 112 emergency call number stored on the phone and possibly stitched or written on the flap of your bag.
Precautionary measure: before setting out, let close family members know the route you’re going to take and what time you expect to be back.
For More Information
When going Hiking, it is important to wear clothes that will protect you from different weather conditions. Check our Kids Hiking Clothing range to make sure you are fully prepared!