REVIEW: Youth Hydration Pack
This Outdoor Products pack is a MUST HAVE for hikers and other active adults with kids old enough to carry them! Three kids (ages 7, 5, and 4) tested these packs over the course of several weeks across a variety of activities. Not only did the packs hold up with every activity, but they look great, and all of the kids love them. These packs are far more adorable than they appear in pictures. They look and feel like packs we would buy for ourselves, but are appropriately sized for kids.
Packs come with the water reservoir, which is a huge plus! Properly closing the bladder to prevent leakage takes some finessing, but works with the correct closure technique (keep reading). Securing the bladder inside the pack can be successfully accomplished by the kids themselves.
Packs do not have a hip belt, but this did not bother any of the kids. In fact, it’s probably a better design without the hip belts. With the max weight kids will be carrying, hip belts would likely just get in the way. A chest strap secures the shoulder straps in place, which is completely fine.
More than its functionality, this pack excites our kids to get outside and be active. Between lengthy scooter rides, bike rides, hikes, and strolls around the neighborhood, our kids are proud to have packs that look like something their parents would carry. AND, perhaps most importantly, it is fun for them to drink water. At times, we have to dramatically pause our activity for a water break. Once hydrated, the kids signal their approval to resume moving.
Solid quality for a great price – you can’t go wrong with this pack (once you learn the proper closure technique for the water reservoir).
Tests #1-2: Scooter and Bike Riding (Raina)
As soon as the pack arrived, my daughter set out with concentrated determination to see how many snacks it would hold. She managed to fit enough snacks to satisfy an adult for a full day of moderate hiking. This included four packs of Entenmann’s muffins, a bag of almonds, a bag of sunflower seeds, and a giant handful of gummies, lollypops, and other candy. While not necessarily the type of food an adult hiker might select, the pack certainly holds a greater quantity than I’d have guessed.
She didn’t stop there. She needed to be like mom and carry additional “gear.” This amounted to a spare pair of pants that tucked nicely into the outer compartment, a small stuffed penguin that somehow fit in the top zippered compartment, a pack of travel tissues, and some chapstick.
Next, I turned to the water reservoir. Yes, this should be the first step, but rational order gets thrown out the window when a 5 year old is leading the charge and is excited about a new pack. The wide mouthed cap makes filling easy. For the maiden use, this reservoir and I did not yet have an established trust. I needed to make sure it would do its job without leaking, so I started by turning it upside down over the sink. It leaked. I fiddled with the cap and repeated. It still leaked. After running through this exercise another four or so times, I figured out how to properly secure it. For good measure, I turned it upside down and shook it awhile. No leaks, no drips anywhere! We buttoned it in and were ready to get outdoors. NOTE: this struggle was only for the first couple of times we used the pack. Future uses ran smoothly (see trick below).
Satisfied that her pack was now perfect, my daughter shrugged into the shoulder straps, secured the chest strap, and grabbed her scooter. 3.5 hours later, she was still going strong. At 5 years old, that motivation would have disappeared long before had it not been for the awesome pack.
Like scooter riding, this pack is the perfect way to carry water while bike riding. My daughter’s bike does not have a water bottle holder, so this means I am no longer responsible for carrying her water. She received half a dozen compliments about the pack while riding too.
Test #3: 27+ Hours of Road Tripping (Jill and Raina)
Great for the car. It’s a no mess way to keep your kids hydrated on long car rides. Plus, there’s plenty of room to store crayons, snacks, and electronics to keep them busy on the road.
Test #4: Hiking (Jill and Raina)
We are, after all, hikers. We needed to test these out on the trail, so of course, we took them highpointing. In addition to a handful of local mountains, these hydration packs visited NC’s Mt. Mitchell, TN’s Clingmans Dome, SC’s Sassafras Mountain, and GA’s Brasstown Bald. Packs were comfortable for the kids while hiking and allowed them dexterity to climb on rocks unencumbered. We paused a few times for water and a snack break at the summit. The kids handled their own bags the entire time, including procuring snacks, closing the packs, and securing the shoulder straps.
THE TRICK to making this pack not leak: Detach the ring designed to prevent the water cap from falling off. See gray ring to the left below. Also, be certain the tube and mouthpiece are securely screwed in.
- Sturdy construction that holds up to the normal abuse kids put their belongings through
- They’re awesome looking!
- Perfect size for kids, allowing them to carry their own water plus a few snacks and a small piece of gear
- Kids LOVE wearing them; after several weeks, enthusiasm still hasn’t waned
- Comes with the water reservoir
- Kids (age 5+) can secure the water reservoir and chest strap and themselves
- Wide cap makes filling the reservoir easy
- Excellent value – not sure you can beat the price for the quality you get with this pack
- Drying the water reservoir is awkward and seems to take longer than adult versions.
- Water bladder takes some finessing to properly seal the main cap. Turn it upside down to be certain it’s not dripping before placing in the pack. It’s not as foolproof as adult versions, but the fix is easy.
- No hip belt – would bother me on an adult product, but kids did not mind
Dimensions: 18.5in x 10.6in x 4.9in
- 1-Liter hydration reservoir included
- Front organizer pocket keeps small items accessible for quick use
- Soft lined media pocket for storing sunglasses or electronics
- Velcro compartment for easy access to hydration reservoir
- Wide opening for easy filling
- Screw-in bite valve with soft flexible tip
- Quick-Connect hose detaches and reattaches easily
- Last Drop™ profile collects every last bit of water so nothing is wasted
Click for cleaning instructions
Amazon carries these packs in pink and blue: Outdoor Products Youth Hydration Pack, French Blue
Disclaimer: Outdoor Products provided us with this item to test for this review. All testing is unbiased. Our policy is – if we love the product, we’ll rave about it. If we don’t, well, we’ll be honest about it.