There comes a time in all adventure families lives where the kids grow up and you they need to step up to the next level of gear. For Grace this was not just a matter of growing, but also growing up. Grace recently became more interested in carrying her own weight literally and figuratively when it camp to hiking and backpacking. To this end, away went the smaller day pack and in came her first real backpack.
As an active dad, trying to keep his family and especially his daughter engaged in the outdoors it is quite difficult sometime to find kid side gear that is worth the investment and will grow with your children until they are truly ready for the next step.
Bravo to the good people at Kelty for designing a line of packs designed specifically for kids or "Juniors" as they put it. The Juniors line is specifically designed to fit the pre-teenager and allow them to carry the pack potentially as mentioned till they are ready for the next transition. Grace has been carrying the Kelty LAKOTA Jr. 45L Backpack for two seasons and absolutely loves it. While she has grown over the seasons the pack has been easily adjusted to fit her and the added weight and gear she has desired to carry. She is quite the self-determined and independent lady.
Weight: 3 lb 5 oz / 1.5 kg
Capacity: 2750 cu in / 45 L
Hydration Compatible: Yes
Backpack Features: Included Rain Cover, Sleeping Bag Compartment, Top Loader
Material: 420D Polyester Ball Shadow
Water bottle pockets
Side compression straps
Lower compression and pad straps
Pack cover included
Large front pocket with organization
LightBeam single aluminum stay
HDPE frame sheet
AirMesh shoulder straps, waist belt, and lumbar
Dual density foam waist belt
Hipbelt stabilizer straps
Padded shoulder straps
Ventilating back panel
Torso Fit Range: 12 - 16 in / 30 - 40 cm
Waist Belt Fit Range: 25 - 39 in / 63 - 99 cm
Some of the features and specs that I as a dad really like in this pack for Grace is the durable material used on the pack. Kids are tough on things and a backpack is no exclusion. At this age, lightweight materials would not be the way to go given how hard they are on items. After extensive use, this pack has shown no tears, popped stitches or wear marks.
One of the other features that I think is quite a novel and nice features especially for kids on this pack is the handle on the back of the pack. This is quite uncharacteristic for backpacking backpacks and is more reminiscent of a duffel bag. Understand at this age, wearing a backpack with gear in it and the novelty of these new straps and buckles and buttons can be a lot of a youngster. The benefit of the handle helps when the youngster pick up a heavy bag when on the ground or more importantly helps pick it up to learn how to properly put on the pack without hurting themselves.
Grace loves the whistle on the sternum strap. While I know that most companies now have made this a standard feature of all packs. As a safety feature and as a parent always make sure that whistle is in good working order. Grace really likes the capability to decide between water bottle or a bladder. The Lakota Jr. comes standard with capability to house and the hose flap for the bladder. Prior to grace stepping up to this pack by Kelty, she was relegated to only bottles. She now feels like such a bigger girl having her own pack and bladder. As a dad, allowing her to have the bladder in the pack, means less stops on the trail for water breaks with the bladder.
Grace is an organization nut. She loves to have everything in it's place. The Lakota Jr. gives Grace the flexibility to put things where she wants them and ensures she doesn't lose something while on trail. Grace enjoys all the top pockets, base zippers allowing easy access into the main body of the pack and bottom compartment for her sleeping bag (also a Kelty product!).
A couple of tips for fitting your child for a pack:
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For more information about Kelty's Return Policy - Click Here
Kelty continues to make a great line of other kid designed packs suitable for your pre-teen. Check out the RedCloud Junior Pack.
Keep Hiking Forward!
Scott & Grace
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