In our family kids carry backpacks on almost every hike. First off we’re getting them used to carrying their own bag. Second we get them to carry their rain coats emergency food/water and their headlamps. This is essential gear for any hike and if we get separated for some reason set’s them up to have food and water and clothing required to spend some time on their own in some semblance of safety. On overnight trips we add to it pretty much everything but their sleeping bags that they need.
Finding a backpack that is small enough for a kid to carry that will also last and be comfortable with their few things in it was a challenge. Sure there are lots of school bags that are large enough, but few of them have the build quality required to handle even a tame summer of backpacking.
Enter the Osprey Jet
This was our first experience with Osprey packs and right away I was supremely impressed with the build quality and features found on a pack for a child.
The Osprey Jet has a wonderful mesh back panel that helps keep things cool on hot days and it’s 18L of storage handles all the clothes and jackets needed for a few days in the backcountry.
The two water bottle pockets keep water easily accessible for our kids. Keeping them hydrated is one sure fire way to help keep them (and us) happy as we travel. This is also partially the draw back of the pack, it has no place to stick a hydration bladder. Yes you can put one in the main compartment but I’m always hesitant to do this since any leak means that all your stuff is wet. That’s a bad enough proposition for an adult, but even worse for a kid since when they’re miserable they have a way of making everyone with them miserable.
Our main critique has been solved by Osprey with their recent addition of the HydraJet 15 to their line of children’s packs. This is a 15L pack that will take a 1.5L bladder. Clearly you still have to remember to get your kids to drink regularly, but the addition of the bladder at least makes sure that they have water accessible.
Outside the main compartment is a smaller pocket that offers a few options in organization. We’ve hung a small MSR tent light in the small compartment so that we can dig things out in the dark, and let the kids have a bit of a light to play with. I love that light even for adult packs so you can find your headlamp if it’s already dark out when you finally get around to looking for it.
Finally on the outside there is a stretch mesh pocket that makes an easy stash area for jackets that come off while your hiking. It will also fit a kid’s bike helmet which has been great when we’re running errands via bike and they want to stash they’re helmets in a store.
If you’re looking for a great overnight or daypack for your kids make sure the Jet is on your list of packs to check out. Our kids have been comfortable with it for many backpacking trips over the years. It’s high quality has got us to purchase a number of other packs from Osprey, all of which we’ve been happy with.