This Christmas we really focused on gifts that encourage family time. In addition to their archery sets, Mr. Fix-It and I decided that the kids are old enough (and we’ve found enough courage!) for us to take up hiking and backpacking again. So we gave the crew backpacking gear for Christmas. (Well, a start for gear, anyway.)
Of course, this is going to be a completely different undertaking than when the two of us would go when we were dating and first married–as we discovered when we hauled our stuff out of the attic and looked it over after nearly 8 years! Super-light backpacking tent for 2? Not gonna to work.
So we added a new tent and camp stove to the pile Christmas morning. And we got the boys new sleeping bags. They needed them, but we went ahead and got them quality, 3 season bags that should last half of forever and be light enough that they can at least carry those for themselves.
I’m on the fence about taking Penny. We took my dog, Kenzie, with us before and we have her old dog backpack (the older model of this one) that Penny could use to carry her own food and some water. But I’m not sure I’m up to having one. more. body. to keep track of. We’ll have to see how our day hikes go.
We also had some extensive conversations with the folks at a couple of our local outfitter stores, since camping with kids is completely new to us. I think we got lots of good advice–which is one reason why we also sprang for new packs for us! Our old packs were smaller and lower quality and the simple fact is that we’re going to need gear for 5 now, and we’ll be carrying most of it!
A couple quick tips that we picked up (and will be working on between now and camping season!):
- Ounces matter. Pack light–especially the kids! Our boys will probably start only carrying their own sleeping bags and water bottles. Only. The Cowboy is already doing well in our “test run” family walks, so he might carry his own change of clothes too. The Ladybug will probably carry her sleeping bag, water, a change of clothes, and her little camera. Right now we’re expecting that everything else will be on us!
- Test Runs. We’re working on getting everyone in better shape and use to their packs with family walks, and day hikes between now and when we want to actually go overnight. We’ll also be doing a couple of trial backyard and back-40 overnighters to ensure we’ve got everything and are comfortable with our equipment. Especially for the kids, because they’ve never been camping (away from home, anyway) at all.
- Good Food. We want the kids to enjoy it. Several articles I read said be careful about skimping on the food–hungry kids will not enjoy it! Trial runs of “camping food” is another thing we’ll be working on over the next couple months at home.
- Safety First. Trail safety with kids is different from two adults. We need to pack a slightly different first aid kit, get safety whistles, and teach the kids about getting lost. This is all new to us.
- Lower Expectations! Especially starting out, you need to keep the expectations real! Focus on the total experience, not on the trail itself. Let the kids take breaks, get distracted, stop early, double back, and explore. Don’t be focused on the trail end point.
If you have any tips or thoughts or a great post on this topic–please share! I’ve started a Camping/Backpacking Pinterest board for all the articles I’ve been looking up and there’s definitely some great stuff out there. I’m most worry about food, actually. I’ve got a picky eater–who also happens to be the smallest and youngest, and least work-oriented of the group. (i.e. most likely to poop-out early and start whining, or AKA: Speedracer!) But we’ll see how the next couple months go!
Do you have any family plans you’re working on right now?