BACKPACKING – Choosing a pack for your twins (or any children really)

choose a pack, backpacking, gear, hiking, camping

The decision has been made to go on a backpacking trip with your young twins (or any combination of young children.)

 The destination has been chosen – in our case Mystic Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

SO WHAT COMES NEXT?  CHOOSING A PACK!

When going on an adventure whether it’s backpacking or something else entirely, once the type of adventure and the destination have been chosen, there are a whole series of important decisions to make.

My AIM is to help you navigate some of these decisions.  This post is particularly geared at backpacking with twins because getting around with young twins has some unique challenges – however, the decisions and suggestions will generally apply to backpacking with any combination of children and ages, so please keep reading even if you don’t actually have twins.

With backpacking, choosing the RIGHT backpack is CRITICAL both for your enjoyment and safety.  Choosing the WRONG backpack can make every step you take torture and cause every second that you have the pack on your back to stretch into an eternity – you won’t enjoy any of the scenery and will likely spend every second at your destination dreading the return trip.  I can pretty much predict that you won’t EVER go backpacking again.

So, how do you choose?

Let me walk you through my thought process.

 WHICH ONE IS THE BEST?

 I’m going to start with the adults because even though I’m here to discuss the children, if the adults are miserable then the trip is going to be a write-off anyway.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there is NOT one single backpack that is going to be the right fit for every person and every situation.

There is NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL option.

Only YOU can choose the backpack that fits both your needs and your body.  I highly recommend going to a store that specializes in backpacking gear and getting the staff to help you with your decision.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RIGHT BACKPACK:

  1.  PROPER FIT
  • The waist strap needs to sit right on your waist.
  • Get some help with this from someone knowledgeable.
  • Trying the pack with some weight in it is important – the store should have something you can use.
  1. AMPLE VOLUME
  • The pack needs to be big enough to carry all your stuff BUT don’t just choose the pack with the biggest volume. Your size, strength and aerobic fitness level are going to determine how much you can safely and comfortably pack – a pack with too much volume can result in an overweight pack.
  1. FEATURES
  • Waist belt
    • It will take a lot of pressure off of your shoulders and move it to your hips. It’s basically ESSENTIAL if you are carrying any kind of significant weight on your back.
    • My favourite is when the waist belt also has zippered pockets, as it makes it super easy to store things like your snack and camera within easy reach.
  • Chest strap
    • It will keep your shoulder straps from slipping off of your shoulders.
  • Pouches and pockets
    • I like it when there are more pockets than just the main pouch. I find it easier to organize things.
    • I especially like it when there are pouches for a water bottle even if the pack is set up to hold a water bladder.
  1. PRICE
  • It needs to fit your budget. You don’t want to spend all your adventure money on the pack and then end up leaving your pack in the closet collecting dust because you can’t afford to go on the adventures.  At the same time, quality is important so don’t completely cheap out.

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

 Fitting kids with a backpack can be a little tricky.  They’re still growing so finding one that fits just right can be a bit challenging.

 So, where do you START?

My suggestion is to start with what VOLUME of backpack your twins need.  Keep in mind that your twins, despite being the exact same age and potentially sharing genetics, are different people and the answer might not be the same for both of them.

 I know you are probably thinking, “Wow, that’s really helpful.  It will be super easy to pick a backpack for each of my twins now.  I will just find the one that’s the right volume, and I’ll be done.”

You’re welcome – enjoy your backpacking adventure 😉

So, how do you determine volume?

Volume is determined by two things:
  1. How much each twin CAN carry.
  2. How much YOU NEED each twin to carry.
 HOW MUCH CAN EACH TWIN CARRY?

The weight a child can safely carry is going to vary greatly.  It is dependent on:

  1. Age
  2. Physical fitness
  3. Height
  4. Weight

Let me walk you through the process I used to decide for my own twins.

My twins are 6.  They are both tall for their age – at least compared to the other kids in their kindergarten class.  They each weigh just over 50lbs.  We’ve been doing practice hikes, and they can easily carry a 5lb pack on a 5km trek.

When carrying a backpack, it is a general guideline that it shouldn’t weigh more than one third of your body weight.  So, theoretically my twins could each carry a 16lb pack.

In my opinion, which let’s be honest in this situation was the only one that mattered, 16lbs is way too heavy.  Since they’d each done a 5km hike with a 5lb pack, I figured a 3km hike with a pack weighing no more than 7lbs would be okay.

And it was.  The hike turned out to be more like 2.3km, but they had no difficulties with their packs. They didn’t even complain once that the packs were too heavy.

You, of course, will have to make this decision based on your knowledge of your children’s abilities.  But, I think that keeping the packs lighter is better – of course, this means you get to carry more.  It’s one of the parenting joys that people allude to but don’t really talk about.

HOW MUCH DO I NEED THEM TO CARRY?

 I’m going to let you in on a little secret: my pack can only hold so much – this is a basic fact that can only be slightly altered by hanging things off the outside of my pack.

There was no conceivable way that I could put three sleeping bags and three sleeping mats into/onto my pack.  The twins needed to carry their own sleeping bags and sleeping mats.

Sleeping bags are bulky and sleeping mats aren’t much better.  Fortunately, both of these items are also relatively light.

I chose the largest volume of pack available at their size – 32L.

32L is big enough to put a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat in with room to spare for a stuffy.

I chose a pack with a large volume which means I had to be very careful to NOT OVER PACK.  Just because there was space available didn’t mean that it was okay for me to cram it with stuff.

WHAT KIND OF PACKS DID THE TWINS CARRY?

Backpacks hanging in the tree

The twins carried the MEC Escapade Backpack.  It is a 32L pack designed for children and youths.

I chose this model for a few reasons.

  1. Waist Belt
  • A well-fitted backpack with a waist belt is much more comfortable as it distributes some of the weight from the shoulders to the hips.
  1. Adjustable Frame
  • The frame on this back is adjustable, so I can make it bigger as they grow. This will equal great value down the road
AND, they were on sale 🙂

If I was buying a backpack for an adult, I wouldn’t choose one just because it was on sale – fit is a much more important factor.  Fit is still important when it comes to choosing a pack for kids.  The difference is they are still growing, so I would argue, and I don’t have any special expertise other than personal experience and the fact that I have an opinion, that the right pack has a balance between the following:

  1. Fit
  2. Price

Learn what we packed in our packs here.

TO SUM IT ALL UP

Choosing the RIGHT backpacks for you and your twins is an IMPORTANT part of your trip planning.  It can really make or break the trip within moments of departing your car.

That being said, there are just a few things to keep in mind to make the process SIMPLE.

  1. Choose the best pack for YOU. Everyone is different.
  2. Get assistance.
  3. Choose packs that fit well – even if it isn’t the color you would like.
  4. Choose packs with waist belts if possible.
  5. Choose the right volume.
    1. Keep in mind that a larger volume pack makes it easy for the pack to end up too heavy.
  6. Try to stay in your budget.
  7. Look for extra features that make packing easier.

And have FUN.

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for picking the BEST backpack.

Learn about our trip to Mystic Beach here.

Happy Adventuring,

 

 

 

 

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