Pack It In, Pack It Out for Kids
- What: REI Tarn 12 Pack Kids
- When: 4 to 8 years old
- Why: Durable, lightweight, huge capacity
- Where: REI
Sick of buying a new backpack for your kid every fall? Want your kids’ backpack to log more miles than just the trek back and forth to school? Grab an REI Tarn 12 Kids’ Backpack for a super durable kid-sized pack that can go the extra miles.
These packs, which typically come in two colors each season, hold an amazing amount of stuff, yet don’t overload small backs. My daughter got her REI Tarn 12 two years ago, and it has traveled to and from school every day as well as on multiple field trips and family excursions. Despite some fading in the color, every other aspect has held up remarkably well, especially for a kid product and the amazing amount of abuse my kid bestows on her belongings.
Each pack has an exterior zippered pocket for quick access to things like sunscreen or bandaids, as well as two mesh side pockets perfect for water bottles (or toys or stuffed animals or found treasures). Inside, an open pocket al the back holds a hydration pack, complete with a path for the drinking tube. If you don’t want to carry their water in a bag, this pocket works great for spare clothes and extra layers for changing weather conditions. Best of all, each pack comes with a printed list of pictures to encourage your kid to pack themselves in preparation for the great outdoors.
The padded straps offer plenty of adjustment for my very petite five year old up to my tall eight year old. The backpack comes with a hip strap as well as chest buckle that prevents the shoulder straps from slipping off in transit. The extra buckle on the front of the bag means you or your kid can smush even more stuff into the bag beyond the packing capacity. Or you can use the buckle to attach things like lunch boxes and other bags or necessities.
The mesh along the backside helps keep kids from overheating (and the bag from getting smelly, discounting any leftover lunch bits left undiscovered inside). At 13 x 9 x 5 inches, this lightweight pack can carry much more than its weight or size would imply. Don’t want to make the trek to REI or order through their website? Amazon offers a similar pack from Osprey.