I have a secret.

I am excited for the day my kids are old enough that they carry the heaviest gear in their hiking backpacks on our adventures because they are fitter than me. I have heard that is a thing from some of the parents with kids that are grown. I feel like the thought is similar to thinking that unicorns exist, but maybe unicorns really do exist.

But, of course I don’t want these years to zoom by either. I love that the kids enjoy spending every moment with me. So, I am happy to wait.

In the meantime, having my kid’s wear a backpack on our adventures with even just a few items can help ease the load. Even toddlers can wear up a backpack but just make sure it does not exceed 10-15% of their weight.

Toddler Backpack

Best Hiking Backpacks for Kids


Jump Ahead

Best Hiking Backpacks for Toddlers and Kids up to Five Years Old

Fitting a Hiking Backpack

Best Hiking Backpacks for Kids

What if your toddler or kid doesn’t hike well when wearing a backpack?

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post to which I make a few cents if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting my small business and my family’s taco night!


Best Hiking Backpacks for Toddlers and Kids up to Five years Old

There are three backpacks that come highly recommended for toddlers. They fit well and have a clip to keep them snug on your child’s back.

The Deuter Pico Kids Pack 5 L

Deuter Pico Kids Pack 5 L
Deuter Pico Kids Pack 5 L

The Deuter Pico Kids Pack is a 5 Liter backpack that is just big enough for a stuffy, some snacks, and maybe a thin jacket. Just enough gear to feel like mom and dad without weighing them down. Best for ages 1-3 years old.

Why we love it?

The clip creates a snug fit and the designs are adorable.

Purchase the Deuter Pico Kids Pack here.

Osprey Moki 1.5 L Hydration Pack

Osprey Moki 1.5 L Hydration Pack
Osprey Moki 1.5 L Hydration Pack

The Osprey Moki 1.5 L is a hydration pack for little kids. The pack can only carry water and maybe a small snack. If the water is not filled up then you may be able to fit in a stuffy. Ok… that is a lie. We managed to stuff in my youngest’s stuffy. This is the one we are currently using for our 5 year old.

Why we love it?

A practical solution for kids wanting to wear a backpack and kids love being able to drink through a straw whenever they like. This keeps them hydrated on those more challenging hikes or hot days!

I also have kids who love to overpack and put every. single. rock. in their backpack making it so it is too heavy for them to carry. My 5 year old cannot do this with the Osprey Moki and so she is able to carry the backpack happily for the whole hike!

Purchase the Osprey Moki 1.5 L here.

Deuter Kikki 8 L

The Deuter Kikki 8 L is super cute backpack with a little bit more room. The extra room can be helpful for packing items for a road trip or a trip to the grandparents house.

Why we love it?

The extra room makes the backpack more versatile for different activities. Kids also love that the backpack is designed like a bear stuffy!

Purchase the Deuter Kikki 8 L here.


Fitting a Hiking Backpack

Fit is really important for picking out a backpack. However, for young children under the age of 10 there are limited options. Young kids also can have a hard time knowing whether something “fits” properly and if it “feels” good or not.

Older kids may have more more backpack pack options.

Consider going to a store to check fit of a few different packs. Ideally go to a store that has weight packers to try out the bag when it is fully packed.

4 Tips for Fitting a Hiking Backpack

  1. First, check to see if your backpack can be adjusted to fit your torso. This involves adjusting the hip belt and the torso length according to the instructions of the pack.
  2. Adjust the fit by adjusting from the hip first and more up from there. Position the hip so that hits the middle of hip straps. About 80% of your weight should be on your hips and 20% on your shoulders.
  3. Adjust the shoulder straps. The fit should not be too tight.
  4. Finally, adjust the straps around your sternum. These are the load lifters. Pull down on the straps allowing for a 45 degree angle. Do not make it too tight.

Best Hiking Backpacks for Kids

While there may not be a ton of kid hiking packs, there are some quality options that exist. There are even options for young children that are six and seven years old! Just make sure that the weight is not too heavy. Pack lighter options and try to keep the weight to 10-15% of their body weight.

This includes the weight of the pack.

Deuter Climber 22 L

Deuter Climber

The Deuter Climber is a great backpacking backpack for children and will fit most 5 year olds. The backpack is only 20 L and won’t be able to carry a ton of gear. However, for that age you will need to keep it light!

Why we love it?

The backpack is hydration compatible and performs just as well as an adult backpack.

Buy the Deuter Climber 20 L here.

Deuter Fox 30

The Deuter Fox 30 is a great backcountry backpack for kids that can carry a small amount of backcountry gear including a sleeping bag, water, light jacket, and snack. The amount of gear you want to pack will depend on weight, trail difficulty, and your child. The backpack is suitable for most kids age 7-10 years old.

Why we love it?

The Deuter Fox 30 is a little larger and will work for slightly older kids up to age 10. It can hold a little more inside the pack and can hold up to a 3 Litre water bladder. We chose the Deuter Fox 30 for our seven year old based on recommendations and it is so perfect for her!

Purchase the Deuter Fox 30 here.

Deuter Fox 40 L

The Deuter Fox 40L fits kids approximately age 8 to 16 years old and can hold a significant amount of gear. It is an excellent pack to fit all the necessary gear on a backcountry trip and should last for many years.

Why we love it?

Again, Deuter carries some excellent gear for kids and this pack contains all the features of some of the best backcountry packs for adults. It also is water bladder compatible

Purchase the Deuter Fox 40 L here.


What if your toddler or kid doesn’t hike well when wearing a backpack?

I am going to be honest with you.

My kids have not always hiked well while wearing a backpack.

If it is a short and easy trail for them then they can hike well with their backpacks. However, our longer and more challenging trails, including our backcountry hike up to Hidden Lake in Alberta two years ago had us holding their backpacks in our hands for the majority of the time.

At that time they were four and five years old.

If you are planning to hike a long trail with your little kids, then have a way to attach the pack to your bag to avoid having to carry if the whole way.

This summer we are going on some pretty epic backcountry trips. Our kids are two years older and so it will be different. Our seven year old should be fine carrying a few small items (stuffy, water, snack, small notebook, pens) in her Deuter Fox 30 backcountry pack.

However, our youngest that is now five, sometimes really struggles while wearing a pack.

We now have the Osprey Moki 1.5 L for our five year old because all it really carries is water. That way she can enjoy drinking water in her pack as she hikes. It also clips nice and tight to her body making her feel like she is not wearing a backpack at all.

However, we are fully aware that we might be attaching her pack to ours. We feel better having the extra water along attached to our bag instead of just a pack with random items.

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