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Best Backpack for Short Term Hiking

A Scout parent asked this question in our Scout Moms, Dads, and Leaders Facebook group

What is the best backpack to get my scout for 1-2 night hikes?

The group members had several suggestions based on their experience. Here is a summary.

Concerning size: “It all depends on the size of the scout and how much gear they are taking with them. I’d probably recommend at least a 40L hiking backpack, that’ll let them carry their sleeping pad, tent, sleeping bag, cooking/eating equipment, clothing, all their 10 essential items and etc.”

More than one responded that the Teton 3400 Scout backpack was a good size for a weekend backpack outing and was not too large for younger Scouts. This is the one my sons used in their backpacking days and it served them well for many trips. The Osprey Ace 75 was also recommended by a reader.

It was also noted that it might be best to try before you buy. Some troops may have backpacks available to loan out. If not, you can rent one from REI. You can also buy a used pack from REI’s online store.

Readers, what are your suggestions? Add them to the comments below.


One response to “Best Backpack for Short Term Hiking”

  1. Alan Bower Avatar
    Alan Bower

    It depends on whether they are carrying full kit including a tent or not. For trips where they are not, a 40-50 L rucsacs would be fine – if they are then I would suggest 60 – 70.

    The main thing isn’t the size of the pack but the weight they can manage. I use a guide of about a quarter of their weight (or slightly over).

    The advice I give to the parents of my scouts here in the UK is to go for one of about 65L capacity that has an adjustable back.

    Even if your scout is quite short, the adjustable back should make a decent fit and can extend as your child grows. There are many on the market but a decent starter option is the Karrimor Panther 65:

    There are a number of good quality photos on there, which shows the adjustable back system.

    As mentioned above, try the rucsacs on, see how easy the back and straps are to adjust and how well padded the straps are – particularly the waist band – when walking the weight split should be 65-70 % on the waist so a good waistband that will be strong and well-padded is, to me, essential.

    If you scout is a girl, be sure then it also depends on her size and development. Women’s rucsacs are made slightly differently to men’s especially in the back and how the straps go over the chest. They will curve so as not to put pressure on delicate areas. Good examples of this type are:


    I have girls in my troop who use – or have used – both of these.

    There are many really good options for rucsacs from Lowe Alpine, North Face, Vango, Berghaus (all of these I have used) and many more – no doubt there are brands available in the US that we don’t get here in the UK worth looking at.

    Hope this helps,

    Alan, Scout Leader, Leeds, UK

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