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Backpacks

Goruck Kids

GORUCK Kid Ruck 8L and 13L :: Drive By

by , May 26, 2016

Kid carry – a world often littered with ‘fun’ but not too functional bags. But there are bags out there that give children’s carry the design attention and consideration it deserves. As highlighted in our Back to School Bags post, there are certain criteria kids’ packs should cover. Aesthetics that age well is a definite plus, along with durable construction that still remains comfortable and lightweight. Wide straps help with weight distribution (though kids shouldn’t be carrying heavy loads to start with), and there should be enough pockets for organizing the basics. And of course the bag needs to be a suitable size and length for each particular user. So how does the GORUCK Kid Ruck fare as a children’s backpack? We set the 8L and 13L versions loose to tackle the distinct challenges associated with children’s carry…

GORUCK Kid Ruck

Who It Suits

Let’s admit it, as parents we want our kids to be cooler versions of ourselves, so if you dig the GORUCK vibe, that’s what this is mostly about. If we want to get more utilitarian about this, these packs will appeal to parents who don’t want some naff cartoon character backpack for their kid. Parents who want a pack to last longer than three months. Or kids who are beyond their years in street cred.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

Who It Doesn’t

Those on a super-tight budget. Kids who need an enormous pack. Kids who wear really delicate clothing. Kids who live in Glasgow or super-rainy places.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

The Good

The Kid Ruck is tough enough that dads can wear it, restrained enough that it should go mostly unnoticed, and credible enough that those in the know will dig it. There is just enough strap length that parents can wear it in a pinch, even with the smallest size. And compared to most Dora/Frozen/Hulk backpacks, this is leagues better. And the colors are good too. The blue and black are safe, and the pink will get a nod from the girls, but has a touch of purple to keep it tough enough to avoid Barbie territory.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“The Kid Ruck is tough enough that dads can wear it, restrained enough that it should go mostly unnoticed, and credible enough that those in the know will dig it.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

As with all GORUCKs, it has a fairly geometric form, which means the shape speaks of books and iPads more than clothes and food and footballs. The zoning is fairly basic, but it works well enough. It’s mostly a large main compartment, with just a couple of pockets in support. The large size is best for weird-shaped kid things (football, teddy, balloon art). Things like really square lunch boxes can jam up the space a touch, so you’d be better off using this pack with a flatter lunchbox.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“As with all GORUCKs, it has a fairly geometric form, which means the shape speaks of books and iPads more than clothes and food and footballs.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

GORUCK Kid Ruck

It’s built pretty tough. But so are kids. That means it will still wear through if your kid likes to drag their bag everywhere, or practice ninja sword skills on any object within reach. But for most kids, the construction and materials make good all-around sense. The pack uses classic Polyester Cordura, so it looks reasonable, will stand up to some abrasion and strain, and should last many years.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

There’s not much hardware used on this bag, which is a good thing. But the zips are solid, the zip pulls work well for small hands, and there aren’t hard and sharp bits to scratch walls and floors. Another good aspect of the pack is the patch on the front provides lots of fun, letting kids change it up and keep the bag exciting without resorting to a new pack.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“There’s not much hardware used on this bag, which is a good thing. But the zips are solid, the zip pulls work well for small hands, and there aren’t hard and sharp bits to scratch walls and floors.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

We used both sizes, and liked them. Our four-year-old loved the 8L, with it just squeezing in a teddy, lunch bag and essentials like a hat. Our six-year-old loved the extra space of the 13L, also fitting some school projects and a larger drink bottle. It’s worth noting that the 13L is too big for our four-year-old to comfortably carry (it almost drags on the ground for her).

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“…the patch on the front provides lots of fun, letting kids change it up and keep the bag exciting without resorting to a new pack.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

The Not So Good

The storm flaps over the zippers can catch a little and get in the way. Thankfully (as mentioned above) the zip pulls are easy for small hands, which helps them overcome this resistance.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

One of the issues with GORUCK is that the bulletproof fabric wins any duel with your delicate clothing or skin. With the reduced loads and friction of a small pack, this doesn’t really come into play unless your kid wears fragile clothing. Still, it’s something to bear in mind. Another potential downside is that it’s only okay for washability (compared to a fully coated fabric).

“The storm flaps over the zippers can catch a little and get in the way.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

An area for improvement is the webbing spec, as the coarse weave can catch a little on the shoulder strap adjustments when it’s only little hands pulling. We’d love to see a finer webbing used.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

The pack doesn’t have a lot of features, and there are some noticeable absences. There’s no easy-wipe insulated lunch section, so you’ll need that as a separate lunch box. There’s no padded laptop sleeve, but the back sleeve works okay enough for iPads. There’s also no drink bottle holder. You get around this stuff, but it does cause the odd issue with leaking drink bottles or a clanging iPad.

“One of the issues with GORUCK is that the bulletproof fabric wins any duel with your delicate clothing or skin. With the reduced loads and friction of a small pack, this doesn’t really come into play unless your kid wears fragile clothing. Still, it’s something to bear in mind.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

Limiting pockets in a kids’ bag can be a good thing – I’ve lost count of the number of charms/snacks/school notices that have gone missing in previous backpacks. When the snacks start to smell, that can be a real issue. But there are also downsides to limiting pocketing – one spill can affect all contents, and lots of items can end up down the bottom and harder to reach. The flat front pocket would be great with just a touch more depth. The flat internal pocket is excellent for sticker books, a reader, or even an iPad; however, most stuff ends up in the main section.

“An area for improvement is the webbing spec, as the coarse weave can catch a little on the shoulder strap adjustments when it’s only little hands pulling.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“…there are also downsides to limiting pocketing – one spill can affect all contents, and lots of items can end up down the bottom and harder to reach.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

In terms of comfort, the Kid Ruck is solid for lighter loads. If your kid is collecting library books though, consider either a wheeled pack, or one with structure and a hip belt. Also if your kid sweats a lot in a hot climate, you may want more ventilation.

The weatherability is reasonable for light showers. But if you live in Glasgow or the Pacific North West, the rain will get through.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

Alternatives to Consider

The Fjällräven Kånken has a similar geometric zone, and street cred. The downside to this pack though is the confusing strap configuration.

Herschel Kids have some cute hipster formats, but don’t hit the same bomber build standards of GORUCK.

Burton Youth ranges are excellent if your grom wants to carry a skateboard (or grow a huge ginger mop and emulate the pros).

The North Face have some fun heritage formats also, such as the Youth Mini Berkeley and the Youth Mini Crevasse.

There are plenty of other sensible packs, including from Patagonia, REI and seriously good brands, but they just lack the same cred that we personally dig.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

“…if your kid sweats a lot in a hot climate, you may want more ventilation.”

GORUCK Kid Ruck

Verdict

The Kid Ruck has a great vibe, simple but solid format, and subtle street cred. This is a really well made pack that will last well. There’s not much to go wrong, and features like the front patch let you ‘refresh’ the excitement for your kids. However, the pack misses many features that are standard on kids’ packs, like drink bottle holders or wash-down sections. With the right accessories, you can get around this stuff, but it does require a little supplemental planning.

“The Kid Ruck has a great vibe, simple but solid format, and subtle street cred. This is a really well made pack that will last well.”

Despite the simple layout and small compromises, this is still my favorite pack for our kids to rock. It looks classic, stands up to abuse, and doesn’t have excess pockets for things to get lost in. I thought I was being a little selfish getting our kids to ditch the excitement of lions/Dora/Frozen for their pack, but they seem to have embraced these packs and continue to use them without complaint. At the end of the day, these packs have X Factor.

GORUCK Kid Ruck

The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access
7
Organization
7
Comfort
7

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
9
Build, Materials & Hardware
9
Features
6

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
9
Brand experience
10
Value
8
X Factor
10

Reader's Review

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  • Brad

    perhaps add the Tom Bihn Sprout to the list for the day-to-day, and the Gossamer gear “kids” mariposa for longer treks. Gregory makes some good ones as well to that end.

  • jim goldstein

    Could tjhis be usable by a 5’2″ woman who does not like a lot of gadgets etc.? She would use for traveling on planes to add to a roller bag and daily hikes. I would get the 13L for her. Would strap length be a problem? Thanks. Jim

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey Jim, that should work fine. There’s also the GORUCK Echo which is another size up and could be worth checking out – http://www.goruck.com/gr-echo-black-/p/GEAR-000064

      • jim goldstein

        Thanks so much. I am also looking at ketterwerks backpacks made in Bozeman, Montana. Want to purchase a bag made in USA.

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