Family Day Hiking: Picking Out Your Pack


When you start to think about hiking in the wilderness with your kids, does a thought like that make you feel a bit overwhelmed? Do you think that it is not doable? Do you ask yourself, where is the information for me to do be able to do this?

These were all questions I had asked myself as Matt and I worked on preparing for our first day hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). We had no idea what we were doing when we first began this journey. I would stand in the aisles in REI just looking at all the stuff and the prices and think, “There is no way we can even afford to do this!” The feelings of being overwhelmed and the uncertainty of what we would even need were at times mind-numbing.

Now I’m not the type to give up on something, (some call it stubbornness, I call it persistence) so I pressed on with my preparations for our day hikes in the Rockies. I did have a bit of frustration trying to find things for the kids because there is a short supply of variety and quality outside of places like, REI or even outdoor stores like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops. My biggest complaint on finding things for kids for anything outdoors is that the choices are limited. For example, on the Osprey website, there are 9 kids style packs for both day and back country hiking. For men and women however there are tons of choices! This is the most difficult issue facing families preparing for these kinds of things.

Not only was the selection for children not the greatest, but the cost of outfitting a family for something like this pretty high. Now I’m a pretty thrifty person and I don’t just run out and buy “whatever we need.” We simply can’t afford to. So I took some time to do a bit of research and to try to choose the best quality at the best price.

We finally decided to buy Osprey day packs from REI. There are a couple of reasons for this. The main reason is, Osprey has an ALL MIGHTY GUARANTEE!

(We, also, chose them for our back country packs but that is a different blog post) For a thrifty person, this kind of guarantee makes purchasing a high end pack worth it. Matt, Hannah (17), Rachel (15), Nate (13), Sam (11) and myself have these packs.

But also, we chose to buy from REI. First of all, they have the best selection around, hands down and the staff their is super helpful. But secondly, their return policy is AWESOME! They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee within 1 year of purchase. Try finding that kind of a return policy anywhere else.

So what did we pick out?

Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
Osprey Daylite Plus

Matt went with the Osprey Daylite Plus which was right around $65.00. He really likes this one so much that he has used it for business trips as a carry on. It’s got a divided main cargo area, hydration pack slot, and a smaller pocket on the top back with a mesh divider inside. It also has a clip on a tether in which you  can snap your car keys onto so you don’t lose them when you get back from your hike. And it is super comfortable.


I (Brandy) have the Skimmer 30 which is right around $120.00. Why a 30? Because I am the mom and I have EVERYTHING you would ever need for a hike in this thing. Who do you ask if you need something? The mom, that’s who, and thus the bigger day pack. It is always full of this and that and extra water on a day hike. If I was not a mom I would choose something a little smaller, but until the kids are gone or more responsible, I will carry this one! It should be nicknamed, The Osprey Mompack! 🙂

Plume Purple

Osprey Celeste

Rachel and Hannah have Celeste which is about $120.00. These are great for hiking and for commuting to school or to other activities. They are very versatile.

Image result for osprey quasar
Osprey Quasar

Nate and Sam have Quasar $100.00 retail. I got the boys packs on clearance at our local Meijer grocery store. I was thrilled to snag them for $44.00 ea!  Originally, I had bought them High Sierra brand packs at Costco for $22.00 and sadly they weren’t even worth that. The packs ripped and the water bladders leaked after the first hike right out of the mouth piece. The Quasar’s have held up beautifully since.

As for Miss Abbie, we actually broke away from Osprey and went with a Camelbak. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it. Why did we buy it? Well, they were sold out of the one we wanted from Osprey and she had to have something. She has T1d (Type I Diabetes…not the same as Type II but that’s another blog post) so we had to have something for water, snacks and diabetes supplies. Hydration is a must for this little one so it should suit her for a couple more years.

I would have chosen this one if I would have had the opportunity. $70.00 retail.

Osprey Hydrajet 15

As for water bladders, I would suggest the 3.0 liter for all ages. You don’t have to fill it up full for the younger kids but as they grow and need more water and you will already have the size they will need. And on longer day hikes this is a must. We’ve had a couple of hikes where they filled up their 2.0 liter bladders and ran out before getting back. And just as a frame of reference, a typical water bottle is about 0.5 liters. So being able to carry a little extra is well worth it.

3.0 liter water bladder

We are an Osprey pack wearing  kinda family, what can I say? These packs are sturdy, reliable and worth the money. We’ve been using them immensely and have been impressed with the overall quality.

I am working on a blog post about what we actually put in a day pack. I’ve had a few people ask me about this and I know that finding information about large family day hiking is somewhat limited. Look for that to come pretty soon. Until next time…

Happy Hiking!


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