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Gear Review: REI Tarn 18 Kids Daypack

REI Tarn 18

Kids Daypack
REI Tarn 18
$40, 1 lb. 3 oz. (one size fits kids age 8 to 12)
18L/1,100 c.i.

Your kid needs a hydration-compatible daypack that’s functional and comfortable, and the Tarn 18 rings all the bells at a good price. It logged numerous days with my family this summer, from the Columbia Gorge to the Tetons, because it fits both my son (recently turned 11) and daughter (age 8). They both loved its look and functionality of a real pack.



The main compartment fits extra clothes, a 50-ounce bladder (sold separately), and necessities like a small toy or stuffed animal, and a zippered top pocket, mesh side and front pockets, and two waist belt pockets keep small items and snacks within reach. Like some of REI’s adult daypacks, the foam-and-mesh back pad, shoulder straps, and waist belt ventilate well and provide enough support for carrying about eight pounds—enough for a kid that age. Useful and very cool: the safety whistle on the sternum strap. Well constructed, this pack will last through at least through at least a couple of young hikers.

—Michael Lanza

About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.


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    Mike, thanks for the review. We bought it for my 6 yo and she uses this pack on our backpacking trips now and it proved to be excellent! She carries her water and usually her down bag, small mattress, a toy and all that fits well in this pack. For day hikes she still prefers her tiny, kids Cammelback pack that she started to use at about age 3 and could carry her water, snack and small toy in it.

    • michaellanza

      Hi Kamila, glad it has worked out for you. She’ll probably get at least a few more years of use with that pack before she’s ready for something larger. Have fun.


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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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