Mar 16, 2013 at 6:52 am #1300526
In a couple of months I'll be taking my 8 and 9 year old boys on their first "real" backpacking trip. (Something like a 3 day, 2 night, 15 mile trip.) I want it to be enjoyable for them so I wanted to make sure their base weights are under 5 lbs. They'll each carry their own sleeping bags, wet weather gear, water, etc…I did some searching around and it seems most of the kids packs are in the 2+ lb weight range so I decided to do something custom.
I reached out to Chris Zimmer at Zimmerbuilt who was awesome to work with and we eventually settled on the design you see below. The packs are 10"x6"x19", I had him do a 17" torso, we shortened his standard shoulder straps about 3", and had him move them a half inch closer together. Final weight is about 17 ounces and will probably drop another ounce after some trimming. I just got them yesterday, the quality and workmanship are fantastic! My boys and I can't wait to try them out.
ChrisMar 16, 2013 at 7:49 am #1966232
They look great! I'll have to consider those when my kids are older. I'm still happy with my Zimmerbuilt pack. He does great work.Mar 16, 2013 at 8:46 am #1966240
Those are sweet packs. How much did he charge? I might have to get something similar for my 7 year old.
I think there could be a nice market for affordable UL kid gear.Mar 16, 2013 at 8:56 am #1966242
"But Mom! Billy's stakes are titanium and I still have my crummy aluminum ones…."Mar 16, 2013 at 9:07 am #1966243
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
And how is that different from adults? :)
It struck me that these packs might be rebuilt for day packs as they grow.Mar 16, 2013 at 10:44 am #1966260
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
>> In a couple of months I'll be taking my 8 and 9 year old boys on their first "real" backpacking trip. <<
OK, don't get me wrong, I think they look GREAT. And if you can actually afford to keep two boys in fixed-torso-length packs through their young backpacking lives, then you're a better (or at least richer) parent than me! With my son, I'd be worried that in the "couple of months", he will have outgrown the pack.
We do a fit-check of anything that has a size about two weeks prior to a hike — hiking pants, shoes, pack. In fact, we just did that for an upcoming hike and the brand-new-never-worn hiking pants purchased a month ago are now too short for his liking (yeah, he's just going to live with it for this hike.)Mar 16, 2013 at 10:53 am #1966266
"Those are sweet packs. How much did he charge? I might have to get something similar for my 7 year old.
I think there could be a nice market for affordable UL kid gear."
They aren't cheap, but they are custom-made, so I guess you get what you pay for. They were $135 each plus $30 each for a pair of the hip belt pockets.Mar 16, 2013 at 10:57 am #1966269
"OK, don't get me wrong, I think they look GREAT. And if you can actually afford to keep two boys in fixed-torso-length packs through their young backpacking lives, then you're a better (or at least richer) parent than me! With my son, I'd be worried that in the "couple of months", he will have outgrown the pack."
I went an inch or two big on them so I'm hoping to get a few seasons out of them. I also have a 5 year old daughter who will inherit one of them and it's been my experience that if you take good care of gear you can also sell it later and get a portion of the investment back.Mar 16, 2013 at 11:58 am #1966321
We have the same strategy. The younger daughter gets all sorts of gear hand me downs. That makes investments like this practical.
Last summer my son used a Flash 18 (about 10 oz). Yes it was big on him, but fine enough, he only carried his sleeping bag and a few trinkets — for about 1.5 miles, then I took it from him. This year we'll probably do same and I'll take his burden when he gets bored with it. Next year though, we'll try for something a little longer (what you're doing sounds about right) and he'll have to carry gear for the duration. That said, the ULA circuit is being offered in an adjustable kid size. More than a Zimmer pack (and heavier) but it could potentially be used for a long time. … Kids these days, they sure have it easy! I remember when….Mar 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm #1966362
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Very nicely done.
Are you going to stiffen them with a foam pad? Unless you've already invested in inflatable pads I'd suggest a foldable pad like the Z-Rest or any pad you've "scored" so that it folds easily. That will help ensure that the boys pack it neatly and the pad actually provides some support to the pack.Mar 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm #1966369
Kids do more backpacking than we do. Try carrying around that many textbooks and the now-ubiquitous laptop for 15 years!
The kid with the canting suspension system, load-lifter straps, adjustable torso, and weight-distributing hipbelt could rule the hallways. Or, you know, get beat up.Mar 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm #1966373
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
My students all carry ridiculously heavy loads around the hallways all day. Sadly, (and I forget who here pointed this out) all their backpacks have less suspension than an SUL frameless pack.Mar 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm #1966379
"Are you going to stiffen them with a foam pad? Unless you've already invested in inflatable pads I'd suggest a foldable pad like the Z-Rest or any pad you've "scored" so that it folds easily. That will help ensure that the boys pack it neatly and the pad actually provides some support to the pack."
I'll be stiffening them with foam pads. Haven't decided yet if I'll go with something like a GG Thinlight pad (rolled or folded) or a Therm-A-Rest Z Lite.
ChrisMar 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm #1966392
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Here's some ideas since properly packing a frameless is a bit tricky for kids.
Rolled pad Advice
-Walmart blue pads and Ridge Rests are best rolled (too stiff for kids to fold neatly).
-I don't like a really long pad rolled up because the pack becomes too round. Torso length pads are okay because there is just one layer of foam with two layers where the ends overlap. The compression system can force the pad into a more flat shape.
Folded Pad Advice
– A Z-Lite will be easy to fold neatly but not as stiff
-Z-Lites are kinda bulky
-Folding the pad keeps the pack in a flatter more comfortable shape (in my opinion).
If your chosen pad it too soft to stiffen the packs up you can just cut a piece of stiff walmart blue pad to 10 x 17 inches and combine it with the softer pad. That approach has worked well for me with lighter loads.
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