How much weight and which pack for a kid?

Northpark

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So my 8 year old daughter is wanting to go with me on a backpack coues deer hunt this year. The area I like is about 4.5 miles in. She’s a super athletic kid doing lots of gymnastics and tumbling. I always laugh and say she’s the only one in the house with 6 pack abs. Anyways for those with kids which backpacks have you given them and how much weight can they safely carry? Doing a bit of research it looks like 10% of their weight is safe.

Any help would be appreciated.
 

saile14

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Jun 22, 2021
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About 15% of their weight is the point you should max out. If 8-12 lbs is doable, that will allow them to carry all of the must have gear needed for 1-3 days, but you should also plan on leaving some space in/on your pack to lighten their load if needed. Any longer than 3 days, means you need to carry some of their stuff (usually food+water).

I got a REI Tarn 40 pack. It is highly adjustable height wise so hopefully I can get years out of it as they grow. Seems to be working great so far.

Sore heels and weak ankles have been an issue with the added weight though, make sure YOU are confident in the fit of the kid's boots before you set off.

Good luck and have fun!
 

mlgc20

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I tried to keep my daughters in the 10-12% range. Both of them started with Deuter Fox 40 packs. Great starter pack and very adjustable. I took them on a 8 mile backcountry trip in Yellowstone when they were 5 & 8. They were able to carry pretty much all their own individual gear. Of course, I carried the shelter, stove, fuel, and all the shared stuff. Now that they are 14 & 11, my older daughter has moved to a Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack and the younger one has a Gregory Maven 55.
 

MTPipeliner

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I second the opinion to have extra room in your pack. Last summer my boys and I went on a short backpacking trip and half way in I had to take quite a bit from my youngest son and put it in my pack. I think he started out over 10%, he snuck some things into his pack while I wasn’t looking.

Same thing hunting in the fall when it gets cold out, for a short day hunt with them it looks like I’m loaded to hike Everest for a month with all the stuff I end up packing in for them.
 
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Northpark

Northpark

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Thanks for the tips guys. I talked to her about it a bit last night. We are going to try a few practice hikes in the next couple months. Ended up ordering her the Tarn 40 kids pack. I’m hoping she can carry her water and sleeping bag and maybe a jacket. Should come out to like 8 lbs. if I play it right.
 

Decker9

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My 8 year old daughter joined us on last years sheep hunt. She packed a Deuter climber (22L) with only light clothing, 5-6-7 lbs maybe. There were times I had to take her pack, but for the most part it worked out good.

She’s pretty sad about not joining us next week for opener, so told her I’d take her out in September for a trip.
 

Truaxdw

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Look at western edge gear youth packs, They are a sponsor here, I had one for my son until he outgrew it. Think miniature Kifaru pack for kids. Give them a call if you have any questions very helpful. My son really like the pack load lifters helped a lot.

Superdoo beat me to it!
 

BackcountryBloodline

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My son started with a Deuter fox forty as well. Just carried his camp gear most of the time but helped me pack out a bear 1.5 miles when he was 9. I didn't think his pack was that heavy but it turned out to be 50% of his bodyweight at the time when we got home and weighed it and he never flinched, claimed he wasn't even sore the next day. Don't overload them but never underestimate them, carrying heavy loads as a kid is what built the most character for me!
 

Silvereagle50

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I think this is great your kid wants to go. I hope everything works out great. Maybe she’ll be able to pack out a couple back straps for ya.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

505Wapiti

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Interesting thread. How does that percentage of body weight increase as they age. Take a 12 year old boy very athletic, in great shape… what would you max weight at?
 
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Northpark

Northpark

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Interesting thread. How does that percentage of body weight increase as they age. Take a 12 year old boy very athletic, in great shape… what would you max weight at?
So I’m doing a fair bit of research it looks like up to about 16 years doctors recommend staying below 15% of body weight. Under 10 about 10% of body weight. Has something to do with protecting their spine and shoulders during development.
 

505Wapiti

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Thanks @Northpark…. I’ve been seeing the same thing. I wonder how much this is related to a regular backpack with no waist belt, etc., vs like a true frame pack. The XS/S MR Guidelight MT with a mule bag fits him perfect, so him and my wife share the same pack depending on who is out with me. I’m wondering with that fitted properly at the waist on the hips and adjusted specific for him if he could pack a deer quarter. He wants to be involved and help pack but I don’t want to push it if it will cause him problems. It will just be me and him in Nov for his mule deer tag, and I’m sure I will be doing all the heavy lifting.
 

nodakian

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Interesting thread. How does that percentage of body weight increase as they age. Take a 12 year old boy very athletic, in great shape… what would you max weight at?
As with adults, it depends. I just took some 12-14 YO Scouts on a backpack trip so got to observe differences in attitude, size, and conditioning. The super scrawny 80 lb 13YO kid with 40 pounds on board could hang with me—exceptional attitude, mindset, athletic ability, and intelligence. A 135 lb 14YO struggled with the same load. A 5’-9” 160lb 12YO was really hurting with 35-40 pounds. The two biggest kids used MR adult size packs; the other four used the packs I make.

Any kid I’ve observed can easily carry 20% of their body weight with the right pack. The problem I encountered years ago was that I couldn’t find a rugged, hunting style pack for small kids, say 4’4”-5’, that would handle 30%+ body weight.
 

Dwight2180

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My son has used a Tarn 18 on overnight hikes. Started when he was 7 and weighed maybe 50lbs. I kept him under 6lbs. He's thin but strong and athletic. He hits the wall occasionally. I have carried him AND his pack a few times. Keep it fun for her and let her decide if her pack is too heavy. Lighten it up and take the extra load. Keeping it fun for her keeps her interested, I have forgotten that more than once. He's almost 11 and has the 40 now but doesn't enjoy it so he still uses the 18.
 

peaceman

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Good info here. my daughter, now 16 and 105 lbs, has been hunting with me now for 6 years or so. Last year she went on a walk in sheep hunt and with the right pack (old north face cats meow) is now carrying all her gear and water. I still carried the rifle and optics. Packing out a moose she was able to carry about 35 -40 lbs for short distances. My son, 13 and 90 lbs, is going on his first sheep hunt this year and he has a REI Tarn 65 and will look to keep him at 15% going in, hopefully heavier coming out:) Honestly, think I am now the weak link in our party...
 

nodakian

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I’ve seen the 15% limit mentioned too, and since most of our activities are day hikes and hunts, my kids’ loads tend to stay there. No point in wrecking them.

However, I want them to be prepared to pack heavy, whether a critter, cold weather gear, or other gear in case of emergency. Also, I want them to occasionally endure some suck so they build confidence by pushing through it.
 

505Wapiti

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Agreed @nodakian… obviously I don’t want to push beyond his abilities or make it miserable to the point he doesn’t want to do it again or cause injury, but he’s an athlete that has no problem with hustle and effort. I think it’s a lot like anything else in that a little common sense goes a long way. I just happened upon this thread and it started the wheels turning, so I appreciate everyone’s input.
 

BackcountryBloodline

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Keep in mind there are 7 year old powerlifters out there squatting 3x their bodyweight with no ill effects and the theory of resistance training in children interfering with physical development when done properly has been proven false for years now. They aren't pack mules but they're far more capable than most people realize!
 

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