Kids Hiking Backpacks

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Choosing the right hiking backpack for your children will help your family explorations easier and more enjoyable!

two backpacks leaning against a tree with brown leaves around it

When we are out on my family camping trips, we love to take hikes with our kids! We have been hiking with our kids since our oldest was just a toddler, and it has stayed one of our favorite outdoor activities.

A hiking pack for each kid is a great way for them to explore the campground around you, or to take on hikes. We set our hiking packs up as “Explorer’s Bags” with the intention that they are there to help our kids not only be a little more self sufficient on a hike, but to help them explore the natural world around them while we are camping.

three kids hiking backpacks (an orange, a dark green and a small pink bag) stacked on top of each other on gravel

Hiking backpacks for kids

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When looking for a pack for kids to carry, think about a few things:

  • Lightweight. You want a bag that is lightweight
  • Pockets. You want a bag with lots of variety of pockets in different sizes. This helps your kids be able to organize their bags a little better and to be able to find things they want instead of everything dropping down to the bottom of one giant hole.
  • Water bottle holder. We love having our kids carry their own water bottles so we don’t have to, and they can be in charge of their own water intake.
  • Comfort and Adjustability – If it isn’t comfortable for the kid, they won’t want to wear it. Look for padded areas like shoulder straps, adjustable straps, and that the length is the right size for your child’s back.

Our favorite kids hiking backpacks

Here are the packs we have tried and enjoy the most:

  • For Older Kids – We love these VenturePal lightweight daypacks


    for our older kids. They hold a ton of stuff, have nice pockets, a dedicated wet pocket with their own opening both inside and outside your pack, hidden pockets, are super adjustable, and are very lightweight hand packable. These are not actually “kids packs” but they are so versatile and durable that they will last for years.
  • For Younger Kids – We like this MountainTop Toddler Backpack


    for younger kids. It is lightweight and easy to weight for littler bodies, but still holds all their goodies. Ours has lasted long enough that it has been through two kids, and even though our youngest is now 6 this still fits her well.
orange hiking back with contents laid out on gravel

What to put inside a kids hiking pack

We love to offer different items for our kids to use while on a hike or while camping. These are meant to help them be more curious and interested in the natural world around them and help them to be a little more self sufficient on the hike.

*Parents Note: We tell our kids that these items must stay in their “Explorer’s Bags” at all times, they special items we only use when out in nature, so that they don’t get them out and they get lost at home. We also never then have to pack these bags, because they are always ready to go.

  • Kids Water bottle. (We tried using Camelbaks once and our kids spent the entire first 5 minutes hiking with the straws in their mouths and then needed to pee every 5 minutes after that. We found that small Kids Nalgenes work best for our family.) A small lightweight one is perfect.
  • Their own portable snacks. Get some ideas for what to pack in our kids camping snacks post.
  • Durable magnifying glass for looking at all the bark, flowers, insects, and rocks you can find. We really like the Hape Nature Detective Set


    that also comes with a whistle.
  • Nature Journal + Sketching set.
  • Durable compass. Get a nice one that works well, we really like this Kids Compass because it also has measurements on the sides.
  • Whistle for emergencies
  • Kids first aid kit (we have the Adventure Medical Kits from Bass Pro Shop)
  • Small guidebooks for animal tracks and local plant life.
  • Small pouches for “found treasures”. Our kids are always finding acorns, small rocks, etc that they want to keep as treasures. Letting them have their own special little pouch to put them in helps them be in charge of carting all those rocks around. Ours are these cute little leather acorn coin purses we purchased off of Etsy.
  • Kids Camera. So they can take all the photos they want.
  • Extra clothes – depending on the weather we might pack in some extra clothes like a hat, long sleeve shirt or jacket in case we get out on the hike and they decide they are too hot/too cold.

We love using our hiking backpacks as fun activities for our kids, letting them be active, adventurous, and explore the great outdoors while hiking or camping.

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