Deuter Climber Backpack: A Great Introductory Backpacking Pack for Kids

Introducing a kid to a sport is an awesome experience.  As parents, we want things to go well in hopes that they’ll love it (especially if it’s something that we love too).  I mean, you’re not going to take your kid skiing for the first time with garage sale skis with a broken binding and expect that the day will go flawless, right?  Well the same applies to backpacking.  If you want your kid to have a great experience, ditch the character school bag, and get them a real pack.  Like the Deuter Climber.
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Today we’re touching on one of the biggest backpacking questions our readers ask us:

“What is a good backpacking pack for kids?”

If you can’t tell already, we are really big Deuter fans around here (read about it here, here, and here,).  Their packs are well built, have great features, and most importantly, seem to fit everyone in the family really well.

Tested:  Multi-day backpacking trip, city touring, day hikes, and scrambling by a 5-year-old and 8-year-old.

Cost:  $69

Overall:  One of the best kids packs out there.

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What makes the Deuter Climber so great?

This pack is great because it offers a lot of the features that you look for in an adult pack, but it’s designed for kids ages 5-9.  Things like a chest strap, hip belt, hydration pouch and mesh bottle pockets are just some of the things you’ll find.  Though none of these features are as technical or bulky, simply having them is a great way to show your kids how to use gear properly and what the features are for (since I know that not many 7-year-olds will need to use the ice axe loops this bag has).

While at 22L you will notice that it is likely smaller than your child’s school bag, this is a size that’s properly designed for their bodies.  As an added bonus, since it’s relatively small, it makes it easier to keep the weight light, which is incredibly important when backpacking with kids (a good rule of thumb is to never allow them to carry more than 20% of their body weight).  This pack fit both our 5 and 8 year old kids well, though I anticipate that our oldest will be ready for a bigger backpacking pack next year (this will still be a great day pack size until about age 10).
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Technical Specs:

  • ice axe and hiking pole attachment
  • side compression straps
  • mesh side pockets
  • gear loops for anything from carabiners to a magnifying glass
  • lid pocket
  • valuables pocket under the lid
  • “D-Rings” on the lid
  • soft hip fins with gear loops
  • chest strap with emergency whistle
  • shoulder straps with soft edges
  • hydration system compatible
  • loops for helmet holder
    prague and turkey 773

The only thing that I would love to see improved would be to have the opening a little larger.  For backpacking it was difficult to fit a sleeping bag inside the pack (though it did eventually fit).

Our son was able to carry all his own gear for our backpacking trip in here, and his own snacks and water for each day which made backpacking as a family significantly easier for all of us.  We also have the Deuter Junior and the Climber is only slightly larger, so if you’re trying to decide, I would skip the Junior and go straight for the Climber, as it has much better features and will be more of a multi-sport pack.

prague and turkey 776

Deuter generously provided this pack for review, but as always these are our honest opinions that we would share with our friends.  




  • Jackie Mitchell says:

    I’ve been looking for a small fry backpack that’s been put to the test. It looks just like a “real” backpack – I love it. I’ll have to give it a go with my kids.

  • David says:

    Curious what pack your oldest is using now two years later.
    Looking at the Deuter Climber but I’m concerned it may be on the verge of too small for my 10yo already.

    • bringthekids says:

      Yes, the climber is too small. In fact, the climber is only a bit bigger than the Junior so go with something bigger. Although we haven’t done any backpacking in the last year, we did get my son a backpacking pack that he uses when we travel. It is just a simple High Sierra pack that I believe is 40 or 45L. It’s still big on him, but the frame adjusts really small, though the waist belt is still roomy for him (I guess I need to fatten him up a bit 🙂 We got it at Costco for $30 I think so it was a pretty great value too!

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