As ‘back to school’ time approaches, you’ve no doubt begun your search for the perfect backpack if you have school-aged children. Our 4-year-old, Owen, will be entering the pre-k program next month with a Kelty. With two new styles to choose from — and updates to several pre-existing models — you’re virtually guaranteed to find a junior backpack that suits your needs.
The biggest of the bunch is the Kelty Urchin ($37; shown at left), which is new for 2008. At 1,000 cubic inches the Urchin is designed for 8-to-12-year-olds, and features lots of internal organization for your homework-toting kid. The Kelty Grommet ($32) is a step below the Urchin in size, at 850 cubic inches, while still featuring much of the practical features of the Urchin like mesh watter bottle holders and organizer pockets. That’s what Owen has been carrying this summer (no homework yet, just matchbox cars and bingo!) and it’s a good fit for him. The straps are amply padded and the Grommet seems to distribute weight really well because I never see him fidgeting with or tugging at this backpack. Kelty recommends the Grommet for 5-to-10-year-olds.
Like the Grommet, the Kelty Minnow ($27) has been updated for 2008 and is perfect for preschoolers, at 750 cubic inches. Slightly smaller is the Kelty Starfish ($47; shown at right) at 600 cubic inches. Completely redesigned for 2008, the Starfish has lots of pockets and is the ultimate backpack for your junior trailblazer; It comes complete with a water hydration system! Last but certainly not least, the Kelty Itty ($32) is a brand new backpack designed with girls in mind. Available in five different colors with butterfly or flower graphics, Itty measures in at 600 cubic inches and even features an easy-access cell phone pocket.
Speaking of graphics– besides the high-quality construction — what I really like about Kelty’s junior backpacks are how classic they are in appearance. They’re not all junked up with decals and licensed characters; Instead, each bag features a subtle design (zebras, skateboarders, seashells, etc.) in a monochromatic color scheme, so that the design blends in with the overall aesthetic of the backpack. Kids are fickle, and the last thing I need is for Owen to burn out on his backpack and wake up one day only to decide it’s not "cool" anymore. Kelty’s junior backpacks remind me of the backpacks I carried to school as a child, myself, and so I appreciate their timeless appeal.
As an added bonus, for every Kelty junior backpack sold between now and Sept. 30, 2009, Kelty will donate $1 to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF); In return, the NWF will provide those who purchased Kelty junior backpacks with three free issues of Ranger Rick magazine!
To shop the entire collection, click here.