Travel gifts for kids: best hydration packs for all-season use

As an extension of our Travel Gear We Use series, we also feature some of our favorite travel-related gifts for kids. First up: best hydration packs for kids. I used to think that hydration packs were ‘overkill’ when it came to kids’ outdoor gear, but I’ve completely changed my mind! My kids love using hydration packs during outdoor-adventure travel, and I love that they stay hydrated.

best holiday travel gifts

Best hydration pack for kids 6-10:

The CamelBak Kicker is our favorite hydration pack for kids 10 and under. Why? It’s compact, has a nicely-sized gear compartment (not too big, not too small), and the hydration hose is fully insulated, making it perfect for winter ski and snowboard trips. The Kicker comes in two colors (boys and girls will dig it) and features a sternum strap for extra security and support while hiking, city touring, or skiing. The water bladder isn’t too big (1.5L), so kids are never carrying too much weight. Toby (pictured above with the Kicker at age 8) can effortlessly carry his water, a light jacket or other gear, and a snack. The Kicker goes everywhere with us, and it’s far less expensive than other hydration packs at $46.50 on Amazon.

Can’t find the Kicker? Look for the Mini MULE. This pack has been discontinued by Camelbak, but can still be found on Amazon for roughly the same price as the Kicker, and about the same amount of internal space (plus a nice outer pocket).

hydration for kids

Best hydration pack for kids 11-17:

For kids who have outgrown the Kicker, graduate them to the Platypus Tokul X.C.. Here’s why: this adult-sized hydration pack is still sleek enough for kids to carry easily and teens to crave while snowboarding or skiing. Kids get a full-sized water bladder (2L-3L) that’s easy to fill without spilling, and plenty of space for a light jacket, snack, extra goggles, or a phone. Best of all, the bladder and tube/bite valve is full compatible with other Platypus products, so the same gear can come on the family backpacking trip or on that long-distance run. Pick between three sizes (we find the 8L to be roomy enough for day hikes) on Amazon.

Need a pack that can grow with your kid, from childhood through the teen years? Ideal for tweens, teens, and beyond, the Camelbak Arete 18 is still small enough to be sleek (kids won’t be encumbered) but large enough to pack day trip items into. Plus, for bike rides and ski days, the Arete can transform from backpack to hydration sleeve. This is a pack that will carry through into adulthood, if you let it. Find it on Amazon for as low as $65.

Bonus! Best hydration packs for adults:

For adults who are active, we love the Osprey Raven, which is small enough to join you on ski trips and bike rides, but substantial enough for a day hike. For a hydration pack that gets the job done without breaking the bank, try the High Sierra Quickshot. It’s not as flashy, but the price is awesome!


Pit Stops for Kids has tested every one of these packs. We never recommend a product we haven’t tried.

About the author

Amy Whitley

AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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