Osprey Zip 25
$60, 25L/1,526 c.i., 1 lb. 8 oz.
One size, not adjustable (fits children age 8 to 13)
For my family’s seven-day, hut-to-hut trek through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, I wanted a daypack for my 13-year-old son that’s comfortable, has the capacity and good organization for his water, clothes, and personal items, and that’s streamlined and stable so it wouldn’t encumber him too much. So I had him test-drive a Zip 25.
The pack was stuffed to capacity with everything he needed for that hut trek, but had space to spare on a subsequent dayhike in the Dolomites. A wide, clamshell-style zipper provides quick access to the main compartment, while a front pocket holds smaller items. A flexible, mesh-covered, molded-foam back panel delivers comfort and ventilation, and support for carrying about 10 pounds. The fleece-lined shoulder straps and unpadded, wide, mesh waist belt held the pack securely in place—it never shifted even when he was hiking or scrambling steep terrain. While the pack is light and shaped to not impede mobility at all, it nonetheless remained comfortable for him even on days when we hiked several hours.
The bladder sleeve in the main compartment also fits a small laptop computer. Stretchy, mesh side pockets hold a water bottle or snacks, and there’s a front bungee cord for attaching a wet jacket to the outside. The 420-denier pack cloth (colored area of pack bag) and 600-denier polyester (white area of pack bag) are designed to withstand a lot of abuse from a kid who’ll toss his pack down anywhere. Osprey says the pack fits kids age 8 to 13; I’d say it will fit bigger 8- or 9-year-olds, and smaller 13-year-olds. I’d prefer to see hipbelt pockets to keep snacks handy. But the Zip 25 is a solid, all-around kids daypack for dayhiking, a hut trek, or schlepping to school.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.