Backpacking with kids can be super fun for families in the Rocky Mountains. Here are 8 valuable tips that will help you get the most out of your first trip backpacking with kids.
Backpacking in the great outdoors is one of my all time favorite activities. Before having kids I loved to throw on a backpack and go exploring for days in the mountains. But, once we had kids those long trips got shortened. You can still go backpacking, but it means a different kind of trip with kids than you used to take without kids. These tips will help you and your kids enjoy backpacking so that as they grow older you can enjoy it together.
Go for a short hike in that is still far enough to feel like you are backpacking and far from the civilized world. You do not want to choose a trail that is too long as your kids will just be worn out from the walk in and the trip will not be any fun. On the other hand, you don’t want something that is too short and just feels like you are in the backyard or near the car.
Aim to keep the food and gear simple. Bring enough food to keep everyone happy and full, but keep it simple. You don’t need to be a gourmet cook in the backcountry. Also, bring along some, but not too much, extra fun stuff you could play with around camp. You are in the outdoors, and your kids can use their imagination to find things to play with.
I would suggest planning a trip during the summer as this is time of year when the weather will be the best. It will not get too cold at night, which means you don’t need to bring too much winter clothing to stay warm. Also, try to pick some days for your trip when you know the weather is supposed to be sunny. As adults, we have all backpacked in foul weather and while we can deal with it, it is not fun. Do your best to plan your kids backpacking trip when the weather will be the best.
Remember, the goal of this trip is not to hike miles and miles, rather it is too instill in your children a sense that backpacking is super fun. If you can make if super fun, they will want to do it again and again.
This may mean walking along at a slow pace and taking frequent breaks for snacks, drinks, or to play and explore. Even if this means it may take two hours for a 2 mile hike it will be worth it in the long run.
This is your first backpacking trip with your kids so whatever you do, you will be setting a precedent for how backpacking trips will be. Think carefully and plan out what you want to take with you to do. For example, smores are fun to take along and can be a fun thing to always bring along. But, that will require you to make a fire everytime you go backpacking, are you prepared for that?
When planning on the trip with your kids, talk through what they will be expected to do. This means to let them know everyone, including them, will be carrying some stuff and that everyone is walking. Don’t just pick them up and carry them or else you will find yourself always stopping to carry them when you go hiking. They can hike and walk like pros, just set your and their expectations such that they are expected to walk and not be carried.
Share the Load
When packing for the trip try to evenly distribute the gear. Basically, this means that the kids can carry a few things, but most of the stuff should be carried by Mom and Dad. The kids should carry enough to make them feel like they are ‘backpacking’ and doing their part. But, don’t have them carry too much such that they get tired too fast and want to stop.
Set An Example
Show your kids that it is important to have a good attitude when backpacking. Let them see you enjoy being outdoors, carrying stuff, working hard, and having fun. Remember, backpacking is a lot of work, but it is also super fun. Parents need to keep a good, positive attitude even when things don’t go as planed.