Outdoors Gear Review: Keen Kids Grasshopper Backseat Pack
How do you choose a backpack for children? Looks usually count as well as functionality, sturdiness and price. Since we spend a lot of our free time exploring the outdoors, my girls need good backpacks that can withstand rough treatment and be fun for all the activities they have in mind. However the reason this backpack is a winner is not just because it’s a cool backpack. It also makes up for the picnic blanket we never bring on the trail. While my husband and I are happy to sit on grass or rocks, my girls have a grander idea of comfort in the wild and this clever backpack is their go-to backpack for picnics or short trails. The back folds down into a camp chair that you can open whenever you need a cushy seat to relax in the great outdoors, a great combo when on damp or rough terrain. This Keen backpack is the only kid version I know of such backpacks and my girls absolutely love theirs. Here’s the deal.
As you can guess, the high point of this backpack is the integrated seat. Recently my girls have used it to sit on grassy meadows for some nature journaling, to sit on leafy forest floors for a snack break, or to sit on dry canyon beds for picnic lunches. The theme is obvious, this backpack invites regular breaks so you can enjoy the landscape. That’s not to stay that kids will stay glued in their camping chair and loaf around. My girls usually take a 10-minute break in the seat and then they’re off – looking for bugs, playing in streams or climbing trees. I’ve never seen them take naps in that backpack even though it might be a thought worth pursuing when they are hyperactive.
Photo gallery – click on thumbnails to enlarge:
Since kids love to bring knick-knacks on the trail – regardless of whether they might be of any use – this backpack provides ample room to pack everything and some more. Think snacks and lunch, a towel and swim suit, headlamps and sunhats, and even a teddy bear or a nature journaling kit if you feel like it. The dimensions are 15.5″ x 11.25″ x 6.5″ or 40cm x 28.5cm x 16.5cm.
The two side mesh pockets are usually filled with a water bottle on one side and treasures found on the trail on the other. Lately we’ve been collecting random sticks, leaves of different sizes and sheep wool found on the open moor. There’s no limit to trail treasures and these pockets seem to grow as you fill them! You wouldn’t believe what I’ve extracted when I clean up the backpacks for storage.
The pack even features an internal flat pocket that’s perfect for maps, wilderness field guides and drawing paper. As a hip bonus, you’ll find a red LED light on the zipper pull to keep track track of your kids in low light conditions. My girls found it so great that they lit it up on the first day until the battery ran out of juice and we haven’t thought about replacing it since. It could have been a fun little gadget if my clever offspring hadn’t found out about it. Now it’s up to me to teach them how to replace the batteries.
The last great point of the bag is its gender-neutral look – it’s neither blue nor pink. Hurray for KEEN! It irks me when kid backpacks are so obviously color-coded for boys or girls. Some brands are particularly guilty of that but I won’t name them, you’ll find them easily. Since this backpack comes in lime green or black, it’s perfect for girls and boys and yes, I’ve seen boys and girls look with envy at my girls’ backpacks on the trail.
Now, the backpack does have a few low points: its weight (it’s quite heavy and a slender child will feel it more than a more solid child), its bulkiness (roomy also means it’s quite big) and its stiffness (that’s what you get for the folding camping chair). If my girls get ready to wear a backpack for longer periods of time, we prefer lighter backpacks that are not going to feel too big or too stiff on their backs if they need to scramble on rocks and boulders.
However for short day trips or even visits to gardens or parks, this backpack is a winner and always draws admiring glances from other kids. We’ve had it three years now and it’s still in great shape.
Disclaimer: I received these backpacks free of charge when I shot an ad for a KEEN FOOTWEAR hiking shoe but they never asked me to write a review. I’m writing a review because this backpack has proved useful and sturdy over time despite rough treatment, a definite plus for an outdoorsy mom.