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Topic: Re-designing a family hiking backpack, please post your ideas and thoughts< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 9:46 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am Re-Designing the hiking backpack to try and improve access to goods in your pack. I also want to make the sharing of goods in your pack with family members easier. I need your guys help to pinpoint the main problems you deal with while hiking with your family. For example is the main issue finding items buried away in one large compartment, or is the main issue having to constantly take off your backpack to give kids items(like snacks).  Do you guys think there is more of a necessity for a pack that makes accessing goods easier or a pack that has detachable smaller packs for kids. I am unsure whether the main problem in family hiking is locating and accessing items or if it is sharing the burden/weight and responsibility of items with multiple/detachable packs.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 10:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't have any difficulty getting to anything in my pack. I just pack the stuff I need to access regularly on the top. The kids carry their own pack so they have their own stuff.  

Honestly, I think the biggest issue is not the adult pack but the kid's pack. There's only a small number on the market at all and most of them have hip belts that are too large for normal size kids.  An adjustable hip belt for a kids pack would be awesome, especially for the younger kids (think 5-7).
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 11:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Pastywhite is right.  My kids are getting to where they carry their own now, mostly, but the biggest issue was weight, so I wouldn't have been wanting more pockets or anything that would add weight.   We seldom took the boys' packs, so packs that attached to ours weren't an issue.  And I quickly learned to keep snacks in a) the kids' packs, and b) a stuff sack near the top of my pack, and c) in my camera bag (waist pack).

But that hip belt issue with the kids--huge.  Even now, as young teens, they are barely big enough for the belts.  And when they were 6 and 7, and the packs all came with hip belts for 22-24" waists or something--beyond useless.  Also would love to see lighter kids' packs, though I realize that light weight usually comes with the sort of price tag we don't want to pay for kids' gear.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 23 2012, 11:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This input is very helpful, especially the problem with belt sizes. Does anyone have more information about kid's behavior with their backpacks while hiking. Do your guy's kids have any difficulty accessing goods/finding goods, or do they use their backpacks in any sort of alternative use like commonly using it as a seat/backrest when resting during a hike? All information is helpful, I just generally would benefit from hearing more information on general information regarding the child's favorite parts and least favorite parts of hiking.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 23 2012, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Mine are older now--13 & 15--but I'm thinking back to when they were smaller.  From an early age we set them up with hydration bladders, avoiding the issue of accessing drinks (packs don't necessarily need a designated spot for such--we just put them on top).  They quickly developed a pattern of where they put their snack bags, and had little trouble with zippers,etc.  When packs were very full occasionally an adult needed to stuff something in.

They've never used their packs as seats, but they also don't take the same care an adult might about where they dump them--arrive in camp. Drop pack.  Oh, was that a muddy spot?  Oops.

I really think the biggest thing is adjustability.  It can be hard to get a 10-15 lb pack comfortable on a scrawny 10-y.o.  It's key to be able to adjust the torso, the hip belt, the load lifters, etc., quickly and easily in the field.

Basically, my boys have always used their packs just as we use our, except it's only recently they've started using them as part of their pillows.

As far as most and least favorite parts of hiking: favorite is hanging out in camp by a body of water in which they can wade, throw rocks, and/or modify the course (yeah, I know, not low-impact).  Least favorite is sweating up a steep trail under a load (big surprise).  Mine have always liked camping, especially back-country camping (not campgrounds), but scenic values come pretty low on the priorities as they are only now developing much appreciation for scenery in and of itself (and flowers still bore them).

Hope some of this helps!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 23 2012, 5:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It always seems like when mine needs a rest while hiking, and then we stop for a rest, that he's just running around wherever we're parked  :p

But seriously, I agree with all of the above - we don't run into issues with how things are packed or even organized (that's all very personal preference).  The hipbelt issue is major for lightweight skinny kids, and we do the best of what we can with what we have and the price points we want to stick to.  So far, so good.

I think my son's favorite part of a backpacking trip is the burger or sub sandwich joint trip at the end!   :laugh:   He will usually say that the trip was worth it in the end, and I think he likes having a goal for the trip (this summer it was the glacier, which he enjoyed).  His least favorite thing is if it rains.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 23 2012, 8:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(peeb @ Oct. 23 2012, 2:28 pm)
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It always seems like when mine needs a rest while hiking, and then we stop for a rest, that he's just running around wherever we're parked  :p ... snip...

I think my son's favorite part of a backpacking trip is the burger or sub sandwich joint trip at the end!   :laugh:   He will usually say that the trip was worth it in the end.  His least favorite thing is if it rains.

I did not know you were my Mom.  Seems like your son and I share a common interest, at least in the after trip meal.  Though, mine tends towards steak and a beer.  LOL  

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 24 2012, 10:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ha,Peeb, your kid is perfectly normal!  We long ago figured out that kids have two completely separate pools of energy.  The one for hiking or work is very small, the one for play huge.  Thus the "I can't hike another step" followed by hours of energetic play.

After-hike ice cream is key.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 25 2012, 12:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you all for the continued discussion. All of this information is very helpful. Due to the recent discussion I have changed my project to simply re-designing a lighter, more accessible, and better adjustable pack for kids. Also all the photos are very helpful for giving me more of a contextual understanding of various situations you guys encounter with your families. Feel free to post more photos of examples of different situations your family is in while hiking together.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 25 2012, 9:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Once I throw the kid off the computer where the photos are, I'll give you a whole series from over the years :D

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 25 2012, 9:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Somewhere not too far down this forum there are photos of how I modified a pack for my very skinny eldest.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 1:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Okay, here's the earliest shot I could find of one our guys with his pack.

It's not a very good picture, being scanned from a slide, but you can see it is a very small pack (the second round, though--an REI Little Teton; before that we had some truly micro packs my Mom picked up at Fred Meyer, just big enough for a little water and a granola bar).


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 1:23 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ah, found a better one of the same pack.  These had rudimentary hip belts (possibly added by yours truly), with no padding, but they carried only a few pounds, since the boys (ages 6 & 7 in this photo) were tiny.  At that size, the pack didn't much matter.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 1:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

By the next year, we had moved them up to the Deuter Fox 30--a very popular choice, in part because a) it has a very adjustable torso, so fits for several years, b) it has one of the smallest hipbelts (which I still had to modify), and c) it's not too heavy.

They didn't move out of those packs until a couple of years ago, as they entered or approached their teens.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 11:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The dang Forums wouldn't let me publish my one last post last night.  I was trying to bring it up to this past summer, where my 13-y.o. wore a Deuter Fox 40, and his 14-y.o. brother had his first adult-sized pack, an Osprey Talon 44, a UL or nearly so pack with many good features, and just enough room (and a hip belt that, in size small, *just* goes small enough for him, and sort of large enough for me :p ).

One of our biggest problems, and I don't think a pack can solve it, is that my guys (especially Eldest Son) just don't get packing neat and tight.  Folding and rolling their clothes seems to be an alien concept--and the warm fuzzies really do take up more space when randomly shoved into the pack.

In sum, what I've seen as needed in packs for kids of all ages is:
--maximum adjustability, so that they can use it for multiple seasons
--smaller hipbelts for skinny kids!
--simplicity--kids think they want lots of cool features, but just learning how to fasten the basic straps and use them for maximum stability seems like enough.
--light weight.  When the kid weighs 45 lbs, his total pack weight is going to be under 10 lbs.  The pack better not be half of that.
--ability to put things like pads on the outside, vertically.
--I wouldn't mind a better way to attach their crocs.  They don't seem to mind them flopping, but I do.

I've been trying to post this as a reply, with photo, and it won't let me (bumps me completely out of the thread).  I'll try it this way.

ETA: that worked, so must be something about the photo, even though it has none of the usual error messages.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 11:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ha!  Did a check and sure enough, the photo was too big.  Why the heck didn't it just say so like it usually does when I screw up?

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 10:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As a hiking dad with twins that has never had a wife to share the burden I can tell you all about hiking with children. (Mine started at 5) It is an ever evolving process. At first you have to carry everything. Kinda like Sandy Hill Pittman's Sherpa. ;-)

Then as they get older and stronger they can carry more.

I am not sure where you are going now or what your goal is, but feel free to contact me. I have beta tested packs in the past (although my main thing is shelters) and would be willing to help you out with my past experience with children. (Mine are 13 now and able to carry all their own stuff if I could get them off the couch and stop them texting...)

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 27 2012, 1:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My little hikers are very young (3 and 5).  We've hiked as a family since the first one was an infant.  There are a few things I would have liked along the way.  

1) a front carrier that positioned the baby's hips correctly, and also had a little more cargo space for a few essentials

2) My biggest beef with the packs available for the tiniest kids is the teeny tiny size of the side pockets, which are typically not big enough for even a baby's bottle, let alone a sippy cup or water bottle.  I know the packs have to be tiny, but the pockets could be bigger and/or stretchier.  Of course at this stage they really aren't carrying much at all, but I think it's good for them to get in the habit early of carrying a pack.  I think of it as "pack training," and they like to carry their own snack and drink.  (There are packs that fit toddlers...deuter, llbean, pottery barn).

3) The shoulder straps are usually too wide and set too far apart on little kids' packs.  They rub on the neck and inside of the arms. I couldn't even find a school backpack for my 5 year old with shoulder straps that come close to fitting her.  

And I can already see that everything Rebecca and Peeb talk about with regard to waist belts is going to be a problem for my skinny girls down the road.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2012, 11:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just wait until they get taller and try to find pants that fit in both leg length and waist sizes... ;-)  Leafstomper still has to pull the internal adjustable waist tabs all the way on *slim* sized pants this year  :p  (and I think they are still just a little loose, sigh)  I've got a first grader in my carpool this year who weighs just 10 pounds less than my 7th grader.

But, he is just chunky enough that Rebecca's old Deuter fits him well around the hips (although we didn't move him up to that until he was 9; up to that point he carried the old Camelbak Scout but I still carried the bulk of his gear).  Now that his gear size is growing, it's a little more challenging to find a place for everything well, but we're making it work.  This summer he carried almost everything; we carried his sleeping pad and extra dry clothing, but he took everything else.  I think a good lightweight compression sack is in his future!

Once he gets tall enough to outgrow the torso size on the Deuter, we'll be back to square one on hipbelts again.  We might get another summer or two before that happens.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2012, 11:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Peeb, there may be some hope.  Eldest Son is just big enough in the waist now for a small sized adult men's hip belt.  I was surprised, since he's still awfully skinny.  But there has been SOME proportional increase!  (He topped 100 lbs this fall, too!).

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 11:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That will be a good day, when he can fit in to "normal" albeit smaller men's sizes - especially shoes!  I can't wait until he hits men's shoe size 7 and the world of New Balance hikers in wide sizes opens up to him.  We did move him into the REI Stoke 19 daypack this year, that seems to work for him nicely right now and should hold him through a few years at least.

At least there's hope of him growing (body-wise anyway, I'm not sure he's growing "up" any time soon LOL!).  At the rate he's eating these days, maybe it will happen sooner than later...     ???


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 11:44 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Peeb, don't to too happy about the shoe size thing.  I've found two sad truths: adult shoes are more expensive, and the borderline sizes (7-9) are often hard to find.  ES has finally moved on up to sizes that are securely in the men's department, but for the last year I've been struggling for both boys.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 1:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's always the downside of them growing up - things get more expensive.  :(

But with Leaf's already wide feet, we'll get a wider selection of NB trail runner shoes than the kids usually get. (While we got away with Keens' wider toebox for him in the last couple of years, but this summer his feet really spread out and this is the last pair he'll own.)

If you know their size fairly well, check out Joe's New Balance - you can search on both size and width and sort by "outdoor," etc.  We really like them for the extra-wide feet in our house (Barometer Head takes an 8.5 4E...!!) and they have some really nice deals on closeout shoes.  Great service, sometimes they offer free shipping for everything on the site and not just the over $75 that is standard.


ETA:  Well, I really took this thread off topic!  :p   Sorry to the OP for delving into kids clothing and shoe issues!


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