Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

Choosing a bug out bag for your child

Choosing the right size bug out bag for your child is important

Choosing the right size bug out bag for your child is important

Having the wrong size bug out bag for a child, or even the right one if it’s not fitted properly, can damage your child’s shoulders or back. Not only that, but if they aren’t comfortable wearing it; they won’t.

So you’ve gone through my popular post on what to pack in your bug out bag and now you’ve finally decided to get your children involved in your plans. Which children’s bug out bag should you choose?

Obviously, most children are smaller than most adults so a bug out bag that fits you isn’t going to fit your kid. They also can’t carry as much weight as you can so you need something that will fit a smaller list of bug out items properly. The last thing you need is to get your kid a bug out backpack that they won’t carry, or worse – will cause damage to their back.

Amazon has an entire section devoted to nothing but kid’s backpacks but how do you know which one to get?

How to choose the right bug out bag for your child

The biggest issues to think about in choosing a backpack for your child are:

  • Size
  • Fit
  • Quality
  • Options

Sizing your child’s bugoug bag

Your child’s height and strength play an important part in figuring out what size of backpack you should use as a bug out bag. A small child needs a small bag. If the bag weighs too much, they won’t carry it – and then you’ll be carrying it.

According to the ergonomics page of About.com, this is a good sizing guide to start with:

Children's backpack sizing chart

Children’s backpack sizing chart

The fit of the pack is important

Fitting the pack properly lets you hold more weight safely

Fitting the pack properly lets you hold more weight safely

In addition to the size of the pack, look for something that will fit well. An over-the-shoulder bag might be the right size but it’ll put too much pressure on one shoulder. Same thing goes with a gym bag. They need to keep their hands free and not think about what they’re carrying.

If they’re a larger kid and will be carrying a decent amount of weight, get a bag with a waist belt / hip belt.The hip belt should sit right above the hips when it’s fully loaded. Adjust the straps so the padded part doesn’t overlap the belt buckle but it still fits snugly. The hip belt should carry the weight of the bag.

Adjust the shoulder straps so the bag fits tight against their back but allows them to move around. The padding on the straps should completely overlap the top of the shoulders.

Adjust the sternum strap. This is the part that goes across the front of the chest and keeps the straps in line properly.

Once you’ve done all that, go back through and tweak it again.

Also, you should size the bag based on how big your kid is right now, and not buy one they’ll grow into. Let them grow and then get another bag.


Obviously, the quality of the bag is important. Reading the reviews on sites that review backpacks like Backpacker Magazine can help if you can find someone who’s written a review of a pack you’re looking at but sometimes it’s hard to find an article on the backpack you’re looking at. Reviews on Amazon and eBay are useful if there are a lot of them for a particular item but can be deceiving if there are only a few because some people are idiots.

What options should you look for in a kid’s bag?

One of the big thing to consider is water. If your kid’s big enough, think about getting one with a built-in water system. Make sure you keep it clean, especially if you do like some of my privates used to do and pour in flavored powder in their water system. In either case, it’s helpful if your kids bag has a pouch for a water bottle that they can easily get to.

Even better, keep backup water in the main pack and get a fanny pack that can hold a water bottle. This not only adds to the amount they can carry without adding too much stress, it gives them water right within reach.

Having several pockets or sections in the bag makes it easier to find things. Also, having some kind of straps on the outside allows you to keep a pair of sandals or sneakers on the outside without getting everything dirty inside.

For older kids, get a bag that can handle rain. Some, like the High Sierra Access Pack, come with a rain cover that helps without adding a lot of cost or weight. If nothing else, throw a garbage bag into your pack that will cover the thing. You may need to modify it a bit.


Once you’ve gotten the bag, now you need to figure out what goes into it. Getting your children involved is important in this process. Here are some tips I came up with for that.



I’m curious what you do to get your children involved and which bag you chose for them and why…

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. A word of warning. Never have the backpack and the childs school backpack the same color. Mistaken one backpack for the other could get your child expeled from school for who knows with the progressive definitions of weapons will be as to the contents of that backpack. An ounce of prevention is good advice as always. Or better yet get control of your school and its rules and have teachers sign an understanding as to what or what is not allowed so when that accident happens your children and others are not the ones to pay the price.

  2. I’ve been going threw most of your posts and i just came across 3 different articles that included children in them. I consider myself a jack of all trades more than a prepper. But I also am a army vet and as such I went I was trained that what happens within the first 2 minutes of an injury can be the difference between life and death. Many survival skills come natural to me and seem like common sense to me. but I don’t know how to measure my kids common sense or general knowledge. I like your style and I’d like to see more articles on children, measuring there inherent knowledge, and teaching them basic survival skills, camping, first aid, safety, etc…. I was planning a camping trip this summer but after reading some of your articles I think it could become a life lesson and be even more fun in the process.

    here is kinda what i was thinking.
    the kids could research camping/first aid/survival
    pick some topics they are interested in learning more about
    then they could help plan out the trip. cost, millage, gear, maybe even the campsite.

    anyway after reading your article on child bob’s and having them help plan out there gear and stuff it got me to thinking why not have them help with every step of the process of a camping trip. can you give suggestions on a way to pull something like that off (2 yr old style, planning a camping trip for the family with the family for the layman… lol)

    • graywolfsurvival says

      It all comes down to the same thing as when I was running an aerospace corporation’s computer factory and when I was an NCO (and now an officer). It comes down to buy-in. There’s a lot to be said for researching enough to teach someone as well, and that’s enough to make it worth-while but if you get them to own part of the project, they will put in a lot more effort into it on their own, outside of your own pushing and prodding. Find a way to get them to feel like they are responsible for a part of the process and own it and pride and need for approval will take over. It works very well.

  3. I’m a mom of a four year old and an 18 month old. I’m combing the internet looking for articles just like this. Yours was well written and informative. I’d love if you linked to suggested bags for kids, like the popular Alice bags, or the Gregory Mountain Deva pack for women. Moms, and dads, with young kids often don’t have a lot of time to do careful research. We try, we really do. But so helpful to find products listed out for you to then do the research from there.

    Have you ever written any posts about needing to bug out with infants/very young children? My youngest can’t really walk much so I’m looking at having to back carry her in an emergency scenario and distribute my BOB items into my husband’s bag, or perhaps front carry a small back pack with more items. Frustrating to think about.

    Thanks for writing about kids and emergency preparedness. Joining your mailing list.

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