UL/Lightweight Pack for 11-14 year olds

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Home Forums Scouting Backpacking Light with Scouts UL/Lightweight Pack for 11-14 year olds

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    Christopher V
    BPL Member


    To the group, wondering what would be a good beginner UL/Lightweight backpack for Scouts ages 11-14, since that’s the age where they are growing fastest so we’re looking for a pack that has an adjustable torso for youth.  The Troop will likely purchase 3 or 4 of these so the kids can check them out and see if they like them and backpacking before they (and their parents) start spending a bunch of money.  Thanks!

    Matthew / BPL


    Do the kids have UL loads? If not, a UL pack might be too small and uncomrtable when carrying heavier loads.

    In general I’m not a fan of Osprey packs but my son’s Ace 48 fit him from little 10 year old until he was 14 and 5’9”. He carried a full BV500 and his gear in it for 220 miles of the JMT when he was 12. He moved on to a ULA Ohm 2.0 when he outgrew it and more recently has claimed my Kumo as his fear has gotten more compact and his knowledge has grown.

    ULA makes a youth Circuit that adjusts from 12 to 18” backs, iirc.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    My Trail Company (a restart of GoLite by the same people) isn’t cutting edge anymore, but they’re always putting their stuff on sale at attractive prices.  Like their 2 pound 1.5 ounce Backpack Light 50L currently for $99 (they just sold out of the 70L at $169).  I’ve used the GoLite versions a lot myself and for my teenagers.  Especially as Troop gear, you could get one Small, one Medium and two Large the next time they offer them on sale (they’re down to only Larges now) and Scouts could move through the sizes as they grow.  They’re not as light as some 1-pound packs but they’re a lot cheaper and don’t have to babied quite as much.

    Jeffrey Peters
    BPL Member


    I have to agree if they do not have the skill set for lightweight backpacking then investing in  lightweight packs might cause other problems. My troop has four packs that we loan out to new scouts. They have all been donated to  the troop when a scout outgrows them. My son has an REI Flash 65 that works for him. Over at he recomends packs from Teton Sports sold on Amazon. They are not lightweight but as loaner gear I think they would fit the bill.

    BPL Member


    Locale: NorCal - South Bay

    I am with the My Trail choice and the 50L pack plus turning your troop onto their Jackets for cost savings.  I still have my original Jam pack at 50L.  But here is where I differ.  The troop should provide a set of the Big 3 That they like.  Honestly, that they have tried and know works.  Shelter, sleeping Quilt (sleeping bag – I hate sleeping bags), and Shelter.  Preferably, a floorless shelter/Pyramid where 4 young men can sleep.  Otherwise you are going to want to fit them to a standard pack because if the troop isn’t light you will have a hard time fitting what mom and dad gives them out of their closet.  My friend was just recommending a synthetic quilt from that he purchased a few of.  The price was definitely right for under $100.  Otherwise you need to train the parents in UL when they arrive as part of orientation and provide a gear list that holds them accountable over time as they collect the gear.  I have a great plan for this if you are in northern California I would be glad to meet with you and show you my program.  Developed here over the years including a BPL/Scouting course that straightened me out on how to teach.  Let me know.

    tony g
    BPL Member


    Locale: norcal

    I have 2 ULA CDT packs i picked up just for my scouts. Keeps weight and bulk down.
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    Locale: Washington DC

    These look interesting… wonder if it really works..

    Lightning Packs LLC on Vimeo.

    Link .
    BPL Member


    SFoldmanclan HERE is a thread about it from last year



    Locale: Washington DC

    @annapurna thanks

    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    The Osprey Ace would likely work,  Dueter Fox 40 might work if it has enough volume, you could go old school and do an external frame.  It’s been a while since I have thought about this (my youngest is 18 now)… but I have some notes about backpacks for young.

    Kevin Sweere
    BPL Member


    Just went through this drill a few more times.  My current process:

    1.  Age and weight matter not.  Gotta have a parent or friend measure the Scout’s torso and waist size per
    2.  Start your hunt online for packs that fit those specs.  Start with Youth packs.
    3.  Definitely favor those with adjustable lengths.
    4.  Buy, fill, and hike 5 miles (and/or wear all day at school or camp) to test

    My best results so far for son, daughter, and other Scouts have been: Deuter Fox 30, Deuter Fox 40, and a Granite Gear Crown2 (with a way minimized belt).

    If your Troop has a stack of loaner packs DO NOT just check them out… spend at least 30 minutes adjusting and seeing if it actually fits that Scout.  Most Scouts & parents comprehend kids need different size shoes but not packs.

    Casey Bowden
    BPL Member


    Locale: Berkeley Hills

    With lightweight gear (and not bringing excess/extra gear) the pack is not that important.

    For example, on our last trip my 8-year-old daughter used this $20 pack from Amazon:

    It worked just fine since the pack, and everything in it, was 6.8 pounds. Note that she carried all of her own gear.

    Stock photo of pack from Amazon.

    Daughter with pack.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Huge pack for such a little girl!
    But the filled weight of 6 lb – ah, that is very good. We don’t mind volume, just weight.

    Once $200 from speciality gear shops; now $20 from Amazon. That’s the way it goes.


    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    Zpacks offers torso length adjusters on some of their packs.  One of the problems with larger packs is that they are easily overloaded. For most 11-14 year olds, about 10-15% of their body weight is a max load (pack weight, not base weight.) If one of them weighs 100 pounds then a ten-fifteen pound load would be fine. While this may sound too light, their skeleton has not reached full hardness and can be deformed with heavier load outs. As they get older this increases, of course. An adult can handle a 30% load out for long periods of time. You will also find that there are large differences in sizes at that age range. Some will be small, some will be near adult size. bones, cartilage, etc still is forming, though.

    I would note that while the material is rather rugged, the ZPacks frames are not.  Use reasonable precautions. It might be wise to pick up a couple frame members for replacements. The packs themselves should last for a long time.

    Wasting weight on a pack, just to carry stuff, is a bit inefficient.  A ten pound laod out with 2pounds of food per day should take them to no more than 20 pounds. Plan accordingly.


    Brian Devlin
    BPL Member


    I agree with the G4Free pack recommendation from Amazon.  Depending of course on pack contents and length of hike.  My daughter had an 8 lb total pack weight and she had no issues with the pack and its lack of frame or hip belt.  She is 11 and it was a 2 hour hike.  That said, I have MyTrail packs and if they were on sale I probably would lean towards one of those for added features and quality.  But the G4free makes a great airline carry-on.  We use my daughters for a day pack.  She just empties her contents into the tent or another bag a voila we have a very light good size day pack.

    Jeffrey Peters
    BPL Member


    Making a pack or any gear recommendation to a parent is one of the things I struggle with.  The reason is the parent wants an easy  answer for themselves but doesn’t  understand the cascading effect a pack choice can have on other gear.  I try to explain that picking a lightweight pack  of 50 liters will mean investing in other lightweight gear so stuff will fit in the pack.  They also want the pack to fit the scout from age 11-18 and that is just not going to happen.  So now i just tend to say go to REI  and find out your torso and hip size.  Then shop around and buy a bag that fits those sizes and is at least 65 liters and as close to 3lbs as possible.

    Brad P


    For loaner packs for kids, you should be looking at adjustability and durability, not ultralight. Loaner equipment is never cared for the way owned equipment is.

    Brian Devlin
    BPL Member


    If you are still looking for a pack, I have a Deuter Fox 30 I need to sell.  Probably will post it soon.

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