How Much Weight Should a Kid Carry Backpacking?

By Michael Ferguson

When it comes to backpacking, kids can be just as adventurous and enthusiastic as adults. However, they have different needs when it comes to carrying weight. To ensure that kids have a safe backpacking adventure, there are some important guidelines that parents should keep in mind when determining how much weight their child should carry.

First of all, the backpack itself should not weigh more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight. If the bag is too heavy, it can cause strain on the child’s developing muscles and joints, resulting in back pain and poor posture. It is also important to ensure that the backpack is properly fitted for your child’s body type and size.

When packing for a backpacking trip with kids, only bring the essentials. Extra items like clothes and toys should be kept to a minimum as these will add unnecessary weight to the bag.

Additionally, items like food, water and other supplies should be packed strategically and evenly distributed throughout the bag to help with balance. It is also advised that heavier items like sleeping bags be carried by adults instead of children.

When your child is carrying their own backpack on a backpacking trip, it’s important to keep track of how much weight they are carrying on a regular basis. Kids should not carry more than 20% of their body weight in their packs at any time. If your child is struggling with their pack or looks uncomfortable while carrying it, consider lightening their load or redistributing some items among other members of the group.


Backpacking can be an enjoyable experience for kids when done safely. When determining how much weight your child should carry during a backpacking trip, keep in mind that their backpack itself should not weigh more than 10-15% of their body weight and no more than 20% of their bodyweight in total with all items packed inside. Make sure to pack only essential items and distribute them evenly throughout the bag for better balance.