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1:45 p.m. on April 16, 2002 (EDT)

I just bought an Ophir to go on a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout troop. Is this a good pack for a 12 year old who is only '4 7" ?

6:46 p.m. on April 16, 2002 (EDT)
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... Is this a good pack for a 12 year old who is only '4 7" ?

Measure his torso. The vital measurement is from C7 (7th cervical vertebra) to the top of the pelvis. Compare this to the pack height.

Also, a good rule of thumb on pack weight is keep the pack less than 1/5 of his body weight. After he grows a bit more and develops more strength, you can go up to 1/4 his weight. There was some recently published evidence that too heavy a pack causes spinal problems (study was carried out on book packs, since it seems kids are sometimes carrying over 1/3 of their weight in the book packs, which aren't really designed for carrying heavy weight in any case). In working with scouts for many years, I have found that ill-fitting packs (99 percent of the time, parents buy way too large, hoping the young'un will "grow into the pack") and too heavy a pack will turn a youngster off backpacking in short order. Making it painful is a sure way to destroy a boy or girl's natural love of the outdoors. Later on, when your son passes 16 or 17, he will be able to move up significantly in percentage of body weight carried. By 18-20, he will be carrying hundred pound packs, which is about the right timing to get him to carry all your gear. But for the next 3 or 4 years, stick with the lighter weights and well-fitted pack.

Should have said - there is more to fitting a pack than torso length. There is also a properly fitting waist belt, shoulder straps, and shape of the back. It is easier to adjust an external frame pack to a youngster (and much cheaper besides), and save the needed bending and shaping of internal stays and framesheets until he is more fully grown and has developed his muscles. Bite the bullet and resign yourself to buying a new pack at about 2 year intervals (or get an adjustable external frame) until he is pretty much at full growth (about 3 to 4 packs, cheaper if used, resell or donate to a younger scout). Mainly, keep the load small.

8:24 p.m. on April 19, 2002 (EDT)

a.k.a. Me, Me Again


I just bought an Ophir to go on a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout troop. Is this a good pack for a 12 year old who is only '4 7" ?

Get the boy a good pack. The weight should distribute to the hips, so a good hip belt is essential. You could get him an Osprey Lunar. It is made for women or smaller framed people, and comes in an extra small. Sierra Traders had them on closeout recently.
Don't pack over 1/4 of his body weight.

April 21, 2014
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