Gear for 11 year old

10:59 a.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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My son is now a boy scout and needs gear.  Any suggestions on a multiday back pack?  I need it to grow with him plus I have a tight budget.

Also he'll eventually need a tent for all seasons.  We have a large tent, but they'll be doing some winter camping. 

11:31 a.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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My son is nine and I decided to rent until he got a little bigger.  This idea lasted until EMS had a late winter sale and I bought him a 50l backpack for 70% off which was less than 6 days rental fee.  Because they out grow equipment so fast I like to rent to find out what fits or buy on sale when it is more economical.  Used equipment is also something to think about.  I know REI has periodic garage sales of returned items and a few stores have used equipment.

I would try talking to the scoutmaster or other parents in his troop as they may have equipment that their sons have out grown.  When I was a scout - when fire was a new thing- the troop had its own tents and scouts only need personnel equipment. 

2:38 p.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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I would say rent for now. rei rents everything you need.

2:48 p.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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After you rent just a couple times you are already at or very near the purchase price of some of the good budget packs. For a pretty good quality pack, that is very adjustable, and budget friendly I would recommend Kelty. I assume the gear he has will not be top of the line and thus will not be the smallest, lightest, or most packable versions of everything. So I would recommend a larger capacity pack for now and if he sticks with it you can upgrade later down te line.

I would recommend the Kelty Coyote. Depending on the year model you buy and the torso size this will be a 70-80l pack. If you hunt around and wait for sales or a coupon you can get this pak easily in the 100-125 range. This was my starter pack an worked very well. Just evaluate your sons torso size and buy the right size for him, don't buy the next size up unless he is very very close to the size. Most packs are adjustable for about 4in of torso length. Most kids will be just about full height by 14. So a log as the pack you buy gives at least 2 more inches of adjustment he will probably be able to use it for 3 years eat if not much longer.

5:41 p.m. on June 30, 2013 (EDT)
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sorry iphone ate my spelling

8:34 a.m. on July 1, 2013 (EDT)
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How big is he? A 50-60 litre pack should work just fine for a few days of hiking, and will easily pack 40 lbs of gear. A back pack shouldn't exceed 25-30% of body weight, especially with a child. 

11:33 a.m. on July 1, 2013 (EDT)
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I must agree that the Kelty brand seems to make some nice backpacks for kids for trail use.  I would strongly support the recommendation to seek out a used pack or even borrow one if you can.  Renting from REI isn't a bad idea either. 

I have five kids, four of which go backpacking (the 5 yr old has his first trip this next month) and I can't emphasize enough that his pack must only contain bare essentials.  Pack-sore kids are miserable on the trail. 

I'd stick to a 35 liter size or smaller for the simple fact that kids see empty space as a challenge.  The smaller pack will make him pack only the essentials and leave the hatchet, folding chair, etc at home. 

Every loaded pack seems light in the living room but things change on the trail.  Give him time to break in his boots before the trip to prevent sore feet. 

30 pounds is a decent maximum weight to carry for the moderately10-13 yr old.  I'd aim for that range. 

You mentioned winter camping.  If this ends up being the case he will need a bigger pack.  A winter tent will weigh seven pounds or so which means he might split the tent up between a friend or two to carry. 

5:12 p.m. on July 1, 2013 (EDT)
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I agree completely that a child, especially one younger than 13 or so needs to have a pack no more than 25-30% of their body weight. This is usually somewhere around 25-35lbs for a total load out.

A relatively low pack weight does not however neccesarily translate into a smaller volume pack.

IMO a 35 liter pack would not work for this scenario, unless the child is teamed up with several others splitting gear, or with an adult to carry a portion of their gear. A pack in the 50-60L range would certainly work for weekend length trips, but anything beyond that or winter trips will require more room in my experiences.

Most kids in scouts are far from being outfitted with the newest, smalest, lightest, most packable gear. This typically translates into somewhat more bulky gear, but not always. The sleeping bag is the main culprit here many a times. Most parents arn't going to shell out around $200 for a down bag that packs down nice and small, especially when they are unsure their kids will stick with it to make the investment worthwhile. Most kids in scouting in my experiences end up with a cheaper synthetic bag. These work fine, but are very bulky. Most of them could easily take up the vast majority of a 35 liter pack.

I would definitely stick with a pack in the 60+ liter range. Simply to hold the volume of the gear if nothing else. But as always the best method to choose a pack that will work for you is to buy all your other gear and take it to an outfitter and start loading up packs. Find a pack that holds all of your gear plus a little room to spare for food and water, extra clothes for winter etc and then try them on and wear them around the store for awhile to make sure that fit well and are comfortable. And as I already mentioned, if the troop is sharing items like stoves and tents, then one can get by with a smaller pack.

I really don't think a 35L pack is the ticket here, nor do i think you need a 100L pack, but more likely something in the middle.

5:15 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Check out ebay and see if you can find something used.  I bought my daughter (now 14) a new kelty for backpacking trips.  She has now passed that pack onto her little brother (10).  It is still in very good shape and a great pack.  I would personally max out a 10 year old at about 30 lbs and maybe even 25 like Rambler said.  I guess it depends on the size and shape of the child.  

Fortunately, the troop I help out has troop tents.  They also have lots of gear for campouts.  The only thing the boys need is a pack, bag and their personal stuff.  

Good luck and I hope you find a reasonably priced pack your son can get lots of use out of.  

12:47 p.m. on July 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Being a scoutmaster, and high adventure for many years I concur with the others on a Kelty pack. Either a Coyote or Redcloud. In our troop we just had the young kids buy a giant duffle to hold their personal gear for weekend camps, and our troop had all the gear (tents, stoves, cast iron, pots, pans etc.) in a 18' trailer that was hauled to camp. If you must have a pack I agree to stick with something smaller in size (50-60L) and affortable, then upgrade when he is 13 yo and can attend high adventure bases such as Philmont or Boundry Waters later (70-85L). The sleeping bag is dependent on how your Troop camps. We tent camped through the winter months and we had most parents get a Colman 0 degree bag which was bulky but warm and relatively cheap. This may not work so well if it needs to be stuffed into a 50L backpack every campout. If they cabin tent in the winter a 20 - 30 degree bag should suffice for now. Once again when he moves onto high adventure trips this will need to be upgraded to a more compressable and lighter bag. The only other thing I would stress is some decent rain gear. Don't go overboard, because they will loose it, rip it etc. but the plastic cheap stuff falls apart easily and a ponco doesn't give enough coverage. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions. 

April 25, 2018
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