The North Face Youth Sprout Backpack is a small daypack designed for children age 2-4 years. It has a 10L capacity, two zippered compartments with double zippers, two water bottle pockets, padded shoulder straps, a padded back, reflective loops, and a sternum strap. The pack comes in a variety of different colors and patterns, and is armed with lifetime guarantee that protects against material and manufacturing defects. Check out my video review of the pack here!
Our children love having their own backpack to carry on the trail! They are in control of their own water and snacks, and we throw in a change of clothing as well. I think that putting a little bit of responsibility on their shoulders gives them a sense of pride and worth. Hopefully the novelty of having their own pack does not wear off any time soon! We have taken two hikes with these packs so far and had minimal complaints. There has been no uncomfortable rubbing or pinching that we have heard about yet. The longest hike we have done with them is approximately 4 miles.
There is a thick padding on the back of the bag so you don’t have to worry about something hard inside the pack rubbing against your child’s back. The shoulder straps, however, are lacking slightly in the padding department. The padding here is very thin and does not provide much protection for their little shoulders. Of course, they shouldn’t be carrying much weight at this age anyway so this should not adversely impact their experience. The sternum strap is a nice feature if you can get your kids to keep it strapped. All three of our boys ripped it off almost immediately when they first got the packs. After some coaxing, however, it seems that now they are much more comfortable using those straps (we’ve been using these for about three months now).
After doing some research, I’ve found statements that a child should not carry more than 15% of their body weight in their backpack. For our boys, that would be roughly 5 pounds each. I would suggest doing the math and taking a few shake down hikes to get a good estimate of what your child is comfortable with. You can work your way up to the desired weight over time! Check out this website for some tips on choosing a good everyday backpack for your child and some warning signs to watch out for.
Speaking of weight, the empty Sprout pack weighs only 9.2 ounces. When we take day trips, we expect the children to carry their own water bottle, spare clothing, snacks, and any extras that they might want to bring (hat, sunglasses, a toy car, etc). When our kids packs are full with day trip essentials, they weigh in at approximately 2 lb 3 ounces with a full water bottle and 1 lb 9 oz with an empty water bottle. Our goal for our trip on the Appalachian trail is to have them carry their sleeping bag, water, and several snacks. I packed these items up and with the full pack it weighed 3 lbs 8 ounces. Not too shabby! We may still add a few things like a walkie-talkie, whistle, utensils, and cup/bowl depending on each child’s comfort level.
Overall, this is a great starter backpack for toddlers and young children. It’s lightweight, so it will get them used to wearing something even if they don’t actually carry much inside of it to start out. The key is not to weight them down – but to build their confidence and comfort so that they will be able to make the long treks with you in the future!
If you have any additional questions about these little packs just ask! I’ll be happy to answer them the best I can or point you in the direction of the best place to get an answer!