Gear · Hiking Gear

What Our Boys Carry: School Age Backpack Loads

In the past I have written about what our young boys carry in their backpacks for dayhikes. This year Walker will turn 9 and Alistaire will be 7. They have both grown quite a bit since the last post on gear.

I often make it my goal to tear apart their backpacks around the New Year, to see what needs to be restocked, replaced or tossed. It also forces me to clean gear that has been ignored mostly since early fall. Usually what kicks me into it is our annual First Day Hike on New Years Day. This year was typical!


Oh wait. Not those backpacks. Those were the “New Year’s Eve” backpacks…..

The biggest issue we faced this time was finding out that both boys had outgrown their rain gear. Outgrown so badly that Alistaire was too big for Walker’s! Alistaire is nearly the same size as his brother (people often ask if they are twins). They also had outgrown hats, gloves and insulating layer.

As I was restocking their packs, I remembered the Frogg Toggs Polly Woggs rainsuit I had bought Walker in 2013. Yes. 5 years ago! It was so big, I stuck it in their closet and it hung around so long we moved twice. With Walker in size 10 boys clothing, it actually almost fits him now. We ordered Alistaire a set to put in his pack. The price has even come down by a few dollars, so that was a bonus.

Walker’s backpack contents (he is nearly 9, wears a size 10 boys clothing)

In summer:

  • Sun hat
  • Sandals
  • Pack towel

Alistaire’s backpack (he is nearly 7 now and wears a size 8 and up in boys clothing):

  • Deuter Junior pack
  • Whistle (on sternum strap)
  • Carabiner (for attaching items to pack)
  • Epi-Pen Jr set & carrying case (with medical history inside)
  • Thermarest Z sit pad
  • LED headlamp (check batteries quarterly)
  • Rain pants
  • Frogg Toggs jacket and rain pants
  • Fleece pullover
  • Hat
  • Mittens
  • Sunglasses
  • Snack bag
  • Kleenex
  • Emergency blanket
  • Binoculars
  • Water bottles

In summer:

  • Sun hat
  • Sandals
  • Pack Towel

Thing is, it hasn’t changed much in the past few years what they carry, but rather how heavy they can carry has changed. As they have aged, they carry all their water and food needed. By next year, I will need to move up their backpacks to small backpacking ones from Deuter (which we own). This has lightened my load of course.



Both boys carry Black Diamond First Strike trekking poles. I also pack in waterproof lightweight guides, on flowers, animals, scat, clouds and more on most hikes, the boys enjoy it – and I see it as bonus. We hike, and they get an extra helping of home school science and biology/botany. They also make a great surface to eat on, keeping lunch time less dirt enriched.

Yes, it might seem odd that a 7-year-old carries a set of Epi-Pens. However, I carry a set as well in my first aid kit. But when you have the allergy levels he does, you don’t mess around. If something happened to my pack, I want to know there is a backup. As well, he carries his allergen information twice in his pack – if something were to happen to me, or he get separated, I would want ZERO chance of a helpful person feeding him peanuts or nuts!

As for their snacks, I carry items I know they like. As long as it is single serving, it works well. With Alistaire we carry brands we know are safe for him. If on a longer day, I carry lunch in my pack for everyone still.

I don’t use bug spray on the children, nor on me. I use a Buzz Off spray I make myself. As for sunscreen, the boys usually hike in long sleeves and full hats at altitude. If I do use it on them, it is Aveno. Alix cannot handle most brands, and they cause eczema outbreaks or worse, hives. I get hives with most sunscreens as well. So overall we deal with sun exposure by wearing large hats and long-sleeve clothing.


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