Top Kids Backpacking Gear

Kids backpacking gear

Whether you want to outfit your kids for their first backpacking trip or are you looking to upgrade some of their gear that they have worn out or outgrown. ProGearLab has the scoop on the latest kids’ backpacking gear and seasoned advice on how to get out with the family and make sure there are smiles on those happy faces.

The kids backpacking gear you need:

  • Backpacking Pack: Kids should only carry at most 25% of their body weight. Consequently, keep packs light and close to the 30l range. In summary, keep it light to keep the smiles coming all day.
  • Sleeping Bag: A kids size sleeping bag will help them to stay warm. Therefore, don’t try to repurpose car camping gear. As a result, a lightweight warm bag will keep them cozy.
  • Sleeping Pad: It is much easier for kids to sleep on firmer surfaces than adults, but a comfortable sleeping pad will ensure that they are not sleeping on a rock all night long.
  • Clothing: You do not have to have backpacking only clothing but should have consideration for a layered clothing approach that does not include any cotton. This will ensure a safe happy outting.
  • Tent Considerations: Depending on the size of the party, you may be able to squeeze into one tent. Although you may consider opting for two tents for a more comfortable approach.
  • Checklist: Here is a checklist to make sure that your kids have packed all their essential gear.


To keep kids light on their feet and ready to charge up the trail you need to keep their pack weight low. Therefore, look for packs in the 30l range. This can make it easier to ensure that they don’t overpack for the trip. Get the kids to lay out the gear they are going to bring and make sure they have not forgotten anything. In addition, this will allow you to check that they did not bring five stuffed animals and several toys. Here are our recommended kids’ backpacks. You can’t go wrong with any of these. However, make sure that they fit well.

1. Deuter Fox 30 Kids Backpack ($119)

kids backpacking gear

Weight: 2.64 lbs.
What we like: Adjustable torso
What we don’t: Not many side pockets

Deuter makes great packs and this pack is no exception. This is an excellent first backpack. This pack will last for years and adjust as kids grow.

2. Gregory Icarus 30 Kids Hiking Backpack ($109)

Gregory Icarus 30

Weight: 2.15 lbs.
What we like: A 3d foam panel provides great airflow
What we don’t: Internal dividers split up the pack

Designed from the ground up just like Gregory’s adult packs. Smaller beginner packers will find this pack perfect for their smaller loads. A bottom zipper provides quick access to your sleeping bag.

3. Osprey Ace 38 Kids Backpacking Backpack ($120)

Osprey Ace 38

Weight: 2.0 lbs.
What we like: Great fit with lightweight
What we don’t: Larger than other packs

This larger-sized pack is great. Be careful not to overpack this pack. The pack is full of features and has many pockets and organization options. Younger kids aged 5-11 will find this pack a perfect fit.

Sleeping Bag

A backpacking sleeping bag is essential to making the trip a success. This will add another item to your kid’s backpacking gear that is critical on their trip Do consider getting a backpacking-specific sleeping bag for kids. Firstly, backpacking specific bags will be much lighter than a car camping sleeping bag. Secondly, a well-fitting bag will be able to work properly by not leaving cold areas where their body does not fit the bag properly. In conclusion, a proper backpacking sleeping bag is well worth it. Check out our recommended sleeping bags that will tick all these boxes.

1. Marmot Trestles 30 Degree Kids Mummy ($80)

Kids Backpacking Marmot Trestles 30

Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz

Marmot makes great sleeping bags. This kid’s version is made just for them. This is an excellent three-season sleeping bag featuring SpiraFil high-loft insulation that will last for years. This will fit anyone up to 5 feet in height.

2. Kelty Kids Mistral 30 Degree (~$50)

Backpacking Gear Kelty Kids Mistral

Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz

The Kelty Kids Mistral is a high-quality synthetic sleeping bag. This bag has offset quilt construction that helps to prevent cold spots. This will fit up to 5′ 4″.

3. Teton Sports Celsius Jr (~$45)

Kids Backpacking Sleeping bag Teton Sports Celsius Jr

Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz

Do you kids get claustrophobic in a mummy bag. Check out this square bottom bag for extra room and comfort. The Teton Sports Celsius Jr is a synthetic bag that will keep them toasty all night.

Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad’s purpose is two-fold. First, it provides cushion and support from the ground. As a result, this will make sure that the rock you accidentally pitched the tent on will not make for an uncomfortable night. Secondly, it insulates from the ground. Therefore, the sleeping pad is an important part of the sleeping system. A sleeping pad prevents heat loss to the ground. This will ensure a warm night’s sleep. See our recommended pads below.

1. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam (~$20)

Weight: 15 oz

This is a great option for kids. Kids are not that into caring for gear. This is a piece of gear that can be used around camp, and in their tent at night. Many kids are restless sleepers and this will help to keep them on the pad instead of slipping around all night.

2. Therm-a-Rest Prolite Self-Inflating (~$95-$120)

Weight: Around 15 oz

The therm-a-rest prolite is a self-inflating pad. This is more durable than an inflating pad. It can be slippery so it may be a good idea to get some straps to keep the sleeping pad under the sleeping bag.


Clothing for the outdoors will ensure a safe and comfortable trip. Consequently, a layered approach is best. Stay away from cotton, once wet it takes forever to dry. To begin with, we recommend a synthetic tee or long sleeve shirt, depending on the temperatures you expect. Similarly, synthetic sports shorts and long pants for the bottom half. A synthetic jacket or fleece will help add warmth to the mid-layer. Finally, an outer insulated or waterproof jacket will top off the system. In addition, consider an insulated hat for all but the warmest conditions, this can help turn a cold night into a toasty comfortable one. In conclusion, Here are some of our top picks for kids’ backpacking clothing.

  1. Long sleeve shirts
  2. Short sleeve shirts
  3. Fleece Jacket
  4. Rain Jacket


There are many options to ensure a cozy comfortable night. For example, If you have a small party you may all be able to all sleep in the same tent. Although, if you have too many for one tent you will have to consider splitting into multiple tents. Depending on the kid’s age you may split up with adults in one tent and kids in the other tent. However, with younger kids, they will likely feel more comfortable if you split an adult into each tent. Moreover, consider backpacking tent sizing. Backpacking tents are a tight fit. For example, a two-person tent will fit two with not much room for anything else. On the other hand, a three-person tent will fit two with room for your gear, or a card game on a rainy day.

Take these points into consideration when planning your outing. A great system for two adults and two kids is to get a two-person tent and a three-person tent. This provides many options depending on who goes on the trip and accommodates everyone when everyone goes. Check out our top-recommended backpacking tents.

1. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 (~$450)

Weight: 3lbs 10oz
What we like: Ultralight, Free-standing

The MSR Hubba Hubba is an awesome tent that will last years. The great thing is that it is an incredibly light tent that is free-standing without pegging it out, which can make it easier to set up. This is a great two-person option if a two-person tent is on your list.

2. Marmot Crane Creek (~$265)

Weight: 5lbs. 8oz.
What we like: Roomy, Inexpensive
What we don’t: Heavy

The marmot crane creek is our budget pick. This is a good crossover tent if you plan some car camping and some backpacking it is a good compromise. Although you will pay for it in trail weight, but overall this is a great option.

3. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 (~$370)

Weight: 2lbs!
What we like: Ultralight
What we don’t: Not free-standing

This is an amazingly light tent! The fly creek UL 2 is a great choice to save on pack weight. In most instances, the fact that it requires staking is no big deal. It can be a bear to pitch in a high wind situation but if you stake out the windward side first it goes up pretty easy.

Kids backpack checklist

The strategy we recommend is to have the kids pack only their gear. Consequently, use this checklist to make sure kids have all the things they need for the trip. Therefore, the adults with them can pack the shared gear like the water treatment, cooking, and the main meals for the trip. As a result, this leaves the kids with the following list.

  • Sleeping bag.
  • Sleeping pad.
  • Tent, Depending on tenting setup
  • Additional clothing layers not worn on the hike in.
  • Snacks for the hike.
  • Headlamp.
  • Water bottle for the trail.
  • Toiletries (toothbrush etc..)
  • Personal items (Stuffed animal, book, etc.)

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