Looking for a bonafide pack for your kids’ next backpacking trip? The Deuter Fox 30 has my vote for the best kids backpack for overnight and long weekend trips.

  • Highly adjustable so the pack will grow with your kids
  • Good storage in the lid and side pockets for better organization
  • Tons of features usually reserved for adult packs
  • Excessive padding adds weight
  • No pockets on the hip belt
  • Hip belt can’t be removed

Detailed Review

The Deuter Fox 30 is my pick for the best kids pack for overnight and long weekend trips. It’s not perfect, but it’s close. The solid construction, adjustability, and range of features sets this pack apart from others in this category. It’s also the best value on the market!

Construction

The Deuter Fox 30 is made of a polyester and nylon fabric with side-release buckles, nylon webbing straps, and heavy-duty zippers. Translation, it’s damn tough! There are very few exposed seams so you can leave your sew kit at home, and they’ve reinforced or double stitched the major stress points for greater strength. It has the look and feel of an adult pack, just miniaturized.

Fit & Adjustability

The Deuter Fox 30 contains a host of features to allow your kiddo to dial in the fit for long days on the trail, like load stabilizers with pull-forward construction, vari-flex hip fins for greater range of motion, and a padded hip belt and shoulder straps for comfort. The vari-quick system allows for easy adjustability based on torso height so the pack can grow with your child.

Weight

At 2 pounds 10 ounces, the Deuter Fox 30 is on par with other kids packs on the market. Having said that, there’s no way a kids pack should weigh almost three pounds! I’m always looking to shave weight to ensure comfort and increase enjoyment, so these overbuilt kids packs impose a serious handicap.

Features

The Deuter Fox 30 is chock-full of features. Here are a few I think are noteworthy:

Bottom Access

There’s nothing worse than being a mile down the trail when your kid needs an item at the bottom of their pack. The zippered bottom access is convenient and just plain makes sense for a kids pack.

Lid Storage

The lid is the most accessible storage on this pack providing roughly 270 cubic inches of space for kid stuff–snacks, compass, gloves, sunglasses, whatever. The lid provides protection of your gear in the main compartment and cinches tights with two side-release buckles. The four attachment loops give you the ability to strap on extra gear. When you flip the lid there’s an additional secure storage that will accommodate personal items, like toothbrushes or combs. This extra pouch comes in handy for organization on the trail.

Sturdy Haul Strap

You need a strap to carry or hang your pack, it’s a pretty easy concept. The strap should be able to withstand abuse and hold the weight of the pack. As a parent, you’ll be reaching for this strap every time your kids need help with their pack so it should be large enough to get your hand inside the loop. Deuter delivered a reinforced nylon haul strap that actually works. Kuddos!

Lumbar Pad

The lumbar system is designed to keep the pack close to your center of gravity and channel heat through a channel between the pads for ventilation. I think this entire system is overbuilt and contains excessive padding, which adds weight and heat. That said, the fit on my kids is good and the soft support provides great comfort. The vari-fit system allows parents to adjust the pack to accommodate variable torso lengths, which means the pack will grow with your kids. The shoulder straps curve nicely around the back, providing great padding around the shoulder, and the sternum strap with integrated whistle helps stabilize the pack on the shoulders.

Load Lifter Straps

There’s nothing worse than feeling like your pack is pulling you backward. The best fix for this problem is correct packing, but load lifters can help shift weight to the hips and stabilizing the pack. These straps are typically included for higher volume packs were heavy loads are being carried, but they’re useful in most backpacking conditions for added comfort.

Hip belt Stabilizer

The hip belt has a flexible fin to cover the hip bone and provides a decent range of motion while moving. This works to transfer the load from their shoulders for added comfort. Deuter opted for a gear loop on the hip belt, similar to a climbing harness. I think every hip belt should have pockets; gear loops are worthless unless you’re carrying carabiners because nobody likes dangling gear. The hip belt fits waists between 24 and 36 inches, providing a ton of flexibility for your kids as they grow. The hip belt can’t be removed, but for most people, this won’t be an issue.

Side Pockets

I’ve got a major gripe with companies who install compression straps across outside pockets. Every time you want to access the pocket, you have to release the strap and everything gets crushed when you cinch it tight. The designers at Deuter got this one right. The compression straps were placed on the top and bottom of the pocket, which provides roughly seven inches of useful space for snacks or items you want to be readily accessible, like raingear or gloves.

The side pockets should be able to accommodate water bottles easily when the pack is at full capacity. This is a deal breaker for me because I don’t use bladders. These side pockets are sufficient, they’ll take a platypus with no problem or a squeeze bottle with a little effort. The elastic opening provides great compression to hold the bottles tight so they don’t bounce around in the pack.

Trekking Pole & Ice Axe Loops

I’m a huge fan of trekking poles when traveling into the backcountry. Deuter attached two bungee loops on the outside of the pack for quick and easy access to trekking poles, and the nylon loop allows for secure ice axe transport. This is a feature that could have easily been overlooked so big kudos to Deuter.

Value

The Deuter Fox 30 retails for $99. That’s the best value on the market for a fully-featured kids backpack.

Where to Buy

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I purchased the Deuter Fox 30 at full retail price for my 10-year-old son. This review is based solely on my own personal experience and no other people or companies influenced the outcome of this review.

Mark Fitterer

Family Basecamp