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Deuter Gogo XS Kids' Pack Review

So often on the hills you'll see a parent striding out in all the latest gear, while their offspring straggles along behind in a random selection of sub-optimal street wear and ill-fitting hand-me-downs. But if you want to encourage the kids to enjoy the family walk then surely they deserve decent gear? The problem, of course, is that they're forever growing. How much are you willing to spend for a few months' wear? One item that should last them more than a season is a rucksack, and given the use and abuse a pack is likely to receive there's an argument for getting them a good solid one.

A robust and comfy day pack for little people  © Pegs Bailey
A robust and comfy day pack for little people
© Pegs Bailey

If you're after a well-made pack then Deuter are a good brand to look at; they don't do any other sort. You can get far cheaper kid's rucksacks in the big budget retailers of course, but in our experience these can be flimsy, uncomfortable and/or relatively heavy. At £40 the Deuter Gogo XS is a hefty investment for a child's pack, but in terms of quality, durability and comfort we think it's a bit of a winner, and it should still be going strong for her sister when it's time to hand it on.

Her first decent rucksack, on her first Munro...  © Dan Bailey
Her first decent rucksack, on her first Munro...
© Dan Bailey

Size, capacity and weight

You don't want to overload children on the hills, particularly smaller kids, and a pack with limited capacity is one way to keep the load sensible. Daisy likes carrying her own rucksack when we're out, but as a small (albeit pretty tough) 7-year-old, there are definitely limits. With a 13 litre capacity the Gogo XS is pretty much the ideal size for big day walks, with enough room for all her spare clothing, food and water, plus the odd teddy or random rock.

13 litres is about as much as we'd want her carrying on a long day  © Pegs Bailey
13 litres is about as much as we'd want her carrying on a long day
© Pegs Bailey

When fully packed it looks quite large on her back, and though Deuter say this model is for age 5 and upwards I'm pretty sure it would have been massive on Daisy two years ago. It's always hard to estimate these things in advance, but I'd say she's going to get at least two or three years' use out of it before needing anything with a longer back.

Its weight, just 342g on our scales (Deuter say 330g), seems reasonable for a robust little pack like this.

Fit and comfort

A kid's pack is only worth having if they're willing to carry it all day, and for that it needs to be comfy. In the main the Gogo XS is very good in this regard. Padding on the back runs in two full-length strips. These give plenty of cushioning, and are deep enough to protect the wearer from jabbing pack contents (sharp rocks and pencils are two of Daisy's favourites). With a full-length air gap between the foam strips, there's plenty of ventilation for warm weather use - something we've had plenty of occasion to test this summer. For added comfort the foam itself is porous, and covered with a mesh fabric.

It's comfy and cool for warm weather use  © Dan Bailey
It's comfy and cool for warm weather use
© Dan Bailey

The shoulder straps are well sculpted for a close but unrestrictive fit, and these are a little breathable too. At first glance I thought the addition of a sternum strap might be overkill for a child's backpack, but actually we've found it makes quite a difference to comfort when the pack is full.

The sternum strap helps with a heavy pack  © Dan Bailey
The sternum strap helps with a heavy pack
© Dan Bailey

While the Gogo XS is way too small to require a frame, a slightly stiffened sheet has been inserted just at the top of the pack. While this does give some support that helps it hold its shape when loaded, the catch is that the stiffened section pokes up above the level of the shoulder straps and as a result it can rub on the back of the neck when looking up. I might never have noticed this, but Daisy points it out often. The solution is to fold the top of the pack over a little - it seems to hold the fold quite well, though we'll probably get around to adding a couple of stitches here to keep it down.

Fabric

The fabric is durable enough to survive children  © Dan Bailey
The fabric is durable enough to survive children
© Dan Bailey

Nippers don't tend to handle their gear with kid gloves, so one of my main concerns in a children's pack would always be its robustness. With a high standard of build quality - as you'd expect from a Deuter pack - the Gogo XS scores a big tick in this box. Its fabric is a 210 denier blend of Polyester (40%) and Polyamide (60%), a hardwearing textured fabric that can clearly take a lot of scuffing and general abuse. It has a PU coating inside for added weather resistance, though with the number of seams on show the only way to make the pack properly rainproof would be to buy a cover (available separately) or stow the contents inside a dry bag.

Features

photo
Back padding
© Dan Bailey

photo
Side pockets
© Dan Bailey

photo
Front bungy cord
© Dan Bailey

The zip-top opening provides easy access, but because the zip runs only about halfway down the pack you don't risk spilling out all the contents every time it's opened; kids are, after all, careless. On a budget model the zip will often be the first thing to go, but the YKK zips used here can clearly take a bit of rough treatment. Since Daisy has taken to hanging several heavy keyrings from the zippers, this is a good thing. A small external hanging loop has proven a good place for dangling ornaments too.

The zipped valuables pocket is ideal for the real essentials - loose change, pebbles, crystals, pens and plastic figurines. A key clip is provided here, and though Daisy is some way off being trusted with her own set of keys this also does duty as a place to fix nicknacks and thingumyjigs.

Making good use of the bungy  © Dan Bailey
Making good use of the bungy
© Dan Bailey

A stretch pocket on each side is the place for wet gloves and water - these just fit a one litre bottle, though I generally prefer to give her a smaller bottle and take more of the weight myself. An external bungy provides extra lashing-on potential, and apparently this is the place to keep a soft toy. It also doubles as quite an effective way to compress a part-full pack.

Finally, there's an address label inside. Given our unerring ability to lose things, I anticipate this coming in handy before long.

Summary

Robust, comfy and a good size for little people, the Gogo XS has proved a bit of a hit for family hill walks, day trips, travel and general outdoor use. Our only criticism is that too-high frame sheet, an unfortunate niggle in an otherwise faultless pack - but one that we can work around. The price seems quite high for a kid's pack, but I think the quality justifies it. In this age of throwaway tat we could probably all do with buying fewer things but making sure that they're made to last. Once Daisy has outgrown it, the Gogo XS looks like it should survive being passed down through several children.

Larking about up Schiehallion  © Dan Bailey
Larking about up Schiehallion
© Dan Bailey

Deuter say:

The Gogo is THE classic daypack. It is now also available in small to accompany kids aged 5 and older to the city, the swimming pool or sport centre. The high-quality Airstripes back system ensures comfort while clever functions – like those of its big brother – and fresh colours add a feel-good factor to every trip.

  • Weight: 342g (our weight)
  • Volume: 13 litres
  • Size: 39 / 23 / 17 (H x W x D) cm
  • Fabric: 210D Polyester: 40% / Polyamide: 60% with PU coating
  • Outstanding air circulation means less sweating: Two air channeled foam strips and an air mesh cover ensure as little back contact as possible.
  • Ergonomically cut S-shape shoulder straps
  • Bilaminate construction made from one soft and one firm layer of foam for carrying comfort
  • Sternum strap
  • Valuables pocket
  • Two external stretch pockets

For more info see deutergb.co.uk



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21 Sep, 2018

I'd also recommend the Jack Wolfskin Track Jack (https://www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/track-jack/2003421-4521.html). Similar design and quality. Back panel is slightly simpler but it's also a little cheaper (£28). We have two and the kids love them.


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