Review: Cub Ruck

An all purpose, feature rich ruck for the outdoor loving child in your life. PLUS a Pack Config exclusive shipping deal (See below).

You can pick up a kids pack for next to nothing. Unless of course you’re ‘made’ to buy the latest Paw Patrol or Frozen branded bag. But in my opinion the vast majority of these packs are not even acceptable for my own back, let alone the developing frame of our child.

There are a number of common features that would be deal breakers for most of you when choosing a pack for yourself. Box designs, cardboard like straps that cut in, zero back panel padding, only one pocket for organisation (maybe), crazy colour schemes, poor quality materials that wear or crack easily and quite frankly the most unreliable plastic hardware possible that breaks after the smallest strain. But most children’s packs come with these as standard.

Enter the Cub Ruck.

What stands out about this pack is that Cub Cubs have actually considered things like fit, comfort and functionality; unlike at least 80% of other kids packs out there.

It comes in two cool outdoorsy colour options, Wolf Grey and Olive Green. I went for Wolf Grey, but whichever one you go for there is a brilliant pop of orange on the straps and the inner lining.

COMFORT:

First Thoughts

When we first started packing our son a backpack of his own he refused to wear it. To be honest I didn’t blame him. It was a bright yellow badly designed backpack with no padding. Our son was 2 and a half when the Cub Ruck arrived, and after the joy of opening up the creative packaging, he was strutting around the house with it on and a grin on his face. It’s now never an issue getting his pack on, even if it’s loaded up for a day out.

Above: Cub Ruck on day one … straight outside!
Below: Fits like a glove.

Back panel

The back of the pack is not just padded, but it has a raised area for maximum snugness on your child’s back. On some packs these back panels are made of super porous material that picks up every grain of dirt. But the Cub Ruck seems to allow sand, dry soil and bits of plants to be brushed off without a hitch – exactly what you want.

Cub Ruck – impressively sand resistant!

Straps

It’s inevitable. Unless you have a completely militant (and perhaps unrealistic) approach to parenting, there’ll come that moment where your child is beyond the point of carrying their ruck. Whether it’s because they’re shattered or threatening to tantrum and you’re late for whatever you’re doing next, the last ditch response as parents often requires scooping up everything yourselves and moving on.

The Cub Ruck has long straps with hook and loop keepers on the end. We actually have the strap keepers set at the length my wife and I would need to easily carry the ruck. This gives it two settings for us to switch between; clinched up for our son and slid opened to the keepers for us.

Over the winter my son wears a mixture of bulky or lighter coats depending on our ever changing UK weather, so I tend to adjust his straps differently per outing.

The ladder locks on the straps don’t seem to work loose like I’ve experienced on other packs, but maybe that’s due to the lack of serious weight inside!

Chest Clip

The chest clip is simple and easy to adjust on the move. At first look I thought it was a bit overkill for a kids pack, but it turned out to be one of the most essential features. It’s pretty beefy but it keeps the pack firmly on our son as he charges around. It’s size is just right for him to be able to almost operate it himself. When he can it will be a massive parenting bonus – one less thing to do!

It’s also a great place to attach the PDW Expedition Watch Band Compass. I’ve been teaching him about direction and setting a course recently, so it’s great that he can now easily look at it himself.

SPACE:

Main Compartment

The main compartment is large and spacious. Often packs can appear floppy or misshapen when half filled, but this pack doesn’t lose its shape when it’s only lightly packed which points to a really smart construction. It’s also easy to turn completely inside out when cleaning which is handy.

Internal Sleeve Pocket

Inside the main compartment and adorned by a stunning embroidered logo patch, is a padded sleeve pocket that is ideal for gadgets, like and iPad mini or Kindle. Our son loves his reading and activity books which generally fit well in here, depending on the size of the book, so mainly how we use it. It’s also perfect for a pack of wipes and, of course, room for twigs!

Side Pockets

However the main dumping ground for twigs are either (or both) of the two side pockets. They’re made of a tough mesh and have an elastic top edging. These have a generous capacity that means they’re used for anything and everthing!

The pocket on the top of this image shows the natural open position.

After a little bit of use I started to dislike these pockets. They kind of stuck out a little and I felt like they maybe should have tighter elastic. But then I realised quite how useful it was that our son could pop his water bottle back in there himself or stuff something in there on his own. If the pocket was any tighter he’d struggle to use it, mainly because his hands are always carrying sticks, some stones, a drink AND something else. Everything’s got to be one hand open for him! These pockets are exactly that, with just the right amount of elastic to keep stuff from falling out.

Parenting is unpredictable. There was one time I unloaded both of these side pockets to an unbelieved mound of items. Multiple used wipes, a half eaten apple, a toy car, a stickable octopus toy, a stick, a few raisins, dried mud, an acorn and his bottle of water. It’s not always this bad, but there are always items you end up storing away somewhere to avoid your child leaving a wake of destruction litter behind them! These pockets have the capacity to deal with this unexpected and that’s how they won me over.

As you can see, great for sticks!

Admin Pocket

On the front of the pack is the admin pocket. Our son doesn’t particularly need an organiser section at this stage in his life, but the different slots have been useful. They’ve been used for snack bars, pots of raisins, pens and tiny stones that he finds and desperately needs to keep! The zipped pocket is handy for nappy sacks, which are always good for quarantining something stinky, wet or both!

The little pen slots aren’t particularly deep and a regular biro sticks out the top quite far. It’s great for crayons or smaller pens which our son is more likely to use in future anyway.

The compartment itself is quite large and works well as a second storage area. Sometimes wipes go in there, or his hat and gloves and usually snacks too.

FEATURES:

Daisy Chain

Apart from adding a cool aesthetic to the front of the ruck this is great for attaching things. We mostly use it for a carabiner, which is useful for attaching his cap, something wet that needs drying out, or a whole load of other things. It also means I can clip his ruck to my pack if he gets tired. Finally I thought it could be used to add some elastic for stuffing his rain jacket in.

Badge Loop

Our son loves choosing and attaching badges to his ruck. He’s especially proud (well I’d like to think he is) to have the same badge as Daddy when we head out to the woods. This usually only happens with my own designs as those are the ones I have doubles of!

Above: Matching Thunder Bird Hills Patches.
Below: PDW Special Project Divison Octo-patches!

There’s a good sized area on the front/top and two side panels, but the sides can get a bit covered by anything large in the side pockets and tend to fold in a bit when the pack isn’t fully loaded. However it’s a kids pack, so it’s less about show and all about the fact they’re there. Cub Cubs offer a broad range of cool get-yourself-outside themed badges () which are definitely worth checking out. We’ve been giving them to our son as prizes for good behaviour!

Above: Just some of the amazing Cub Cubs badge designs.
Below: Part of our sons growing patch collection.

Reflective

This is one of those peace-of-mind kids pack features. He’s not often out late after dark, although this is more likely now winter has set in, but it’s good to know there’s something keeping him visible. The front daisy chains and shoulder straps both feature reflective strips so there is good all round coverage. The side loop panels also allow additional reflective items to be attached.

Handle

Essential for a kids pack is a good sized, easy-to-grab, pick-up-and-go handle. The Cub Rucks handle is the perfect fit. It’s a feature I’m grateful of when the ruck being is carried in the same hand as a ton of other bags and also for attaching to a pram or another pack. It’s been reinforced in a way that’s comfortable for carrying for long periods of time too.

Any child that loves to discover and roam (or run!) will occasionally need to learn about the dangers of this world. Whether it’s by a road or a pool of stagnant water they look like they’re about to jump into, you’re gonna be relieved that Cub Cubs built in this accessible handle.

Price

I wanted to comment on the price, which I don’t always do, as when I first saw the Cub Ruck I thought it was fairly expensive for a kids backpack. I was actually sent this product to review (although British customs likes to make sure I always pay something!) but because of my initial thought, I made even more effort to review it fairly. I approached this review as if I’d just spent $99 on it and considered whether I felt that the price was justified.

I think the age of 2 is probably the lowest age that this pack would work for but, having worn it myself (just), it’s sized to work easily up to the age of 9, and probably older.

Our sons done his best of the months we’ve had the ruck to put it through the ringer but there’s no obvious signs of stress or wear. Considering we’ve used it nearly everyday since it arrived, including woodland trips each month, it’s certainly got the durability and last-ability to justify this cost a few times over!

It has survived sand, mud and lots of dragging!

SUMMARY

The Cub Ruck ticked all my boxes. It also ticks boxes I didn’t know existed when it comes to kids packs. Our son is by far the coolest kid around and it always catches the interest of my adult hiking friends too.

If you or your friends have a child that likes to be outdoors, or if you want to encourage your son, daughter or even yourself to get out more, then you need to pick up one of these Cub Rucks. It’s also for all those parents who thinks that their child’s backs should be entitled to the same expectations our own backs have from a pack.

>>> PACK CONFIG – SHIPPING EXCLUSIVE <<<

The wonderful Polly Taylor, founder of Cub Cubs, has organised a special shipping coupon that will give any of our readers who choose to buy a Cub Ruck free shipping if you live in the US or a discount on your actual shipping if you’re an International customer. Click the link above and use code “PACKCONFIG” for your discount. Any questions? Just ask Polly using the link below

By Nat Wagstaff

Editor-In-Chief, more posts.

The product(s) being tested and reviewed here were exchanged for the service of producing this review.

Editor: For the reason I've intentionally not stated this product as having been received for free please read my Review Process comments on our About page. All of our contributors write without the pressure to review favourably, regardless of how they've been obtained. Most often we like to write about products or brands we already love but I always make every effort to make sure our reviews are honest.