Saturday, August 14, 2010

Backpacking with Kids

As previously stated we went backpacking, if you have never been backpacking with small children there is a lot of this (pictured below):  But also its important to go at your child's pace so they enjoy it.
There is so much to this post that is floating around in my head, I don't know what to think or say.  All I know it it was a learning experience, and we wish we knew someone for advice.  We almost talked to another family there with little kids, but they we noticed them with a saw, and that's not really our style of backpacking, plus they were secluded and we didn't want to be rude. If anyone finds this post from Google, please give us advice. We went up to Ruth Lake in the Unitahs, it was gorgeous.  But here are my thoughts.

1-- The biggest plus about going was my husband became the primary parent.  They wanted him to hug him if they got hurt, they whined to him for food.  Pretty much anything went wrong and they went to him, our 19 month old even shook her head no when I tried to hug her, and went and hugged her dad with a big grin on.  Its the exact opposite at home, they never whine to dad, they never want him to fix their sorrows.  It was bittersweet, I did have a ting of regret, but it was awesome to just be along for the ride, instead of flying the plane.  I think they knew I'm incredibly incapable of taking care of myself if the wilderness and so I couldn't help them either. When it comes to survival my husband is the one in command. (I'm pretty sure there is nothing sweeter than watching my husband and daughter holding hands hiking together.)

2-- My children love camping, they love being in the dirt, the tree, the flowers, the rocks, and even a little water if they are allowed, so they absolutely love camping.  Backpacking was no different, although they did get a little fatigued with the backpacking portion, but so did Brent and I.  His pack was 40+ lbs, and mine was 30+.  Brent and I are light people, that was 10+ too much for both of us, 20 lbs total.

3-- This was the first time we had been backpacking with kids.  We didn't really know what to pack or what to expect.  We started with a small trip, three days, about a mile in, and a mile out, then day in-between of day hikes. It was my daughter's (19 months) second trip actually hiking instead of walking, (she didn't make the whole mile).  My son (4 years old) had never hiked with a pack on, other than two miles we walked at home through a park on flat dirt. His pack wasn't much, a 1-liter water bladder, his jacket, his thumb sucking blanket, two pulls ups, and his sister's thumb sucking blanket.  The way in he didn't make the whole mile carrying, it I had to take it, but he did do the day hikes with it, with just his jacket, and the hike out.

4-- We bought my son the REI Squirt Hydration Pack.  I had to sell my husband on this one.  I picked it for a few reasons, 
   1.  REI stuff is cheaper than name brands.  
   2. I wanted to pick a hydration pack because its hard to get tired kids to drink water unless its fun, and easy.  A straw from your back is fun, don't believe me watch my kids fight over it.  My daughter will probably get one for her birthday.  
   3. REI's squirt was one of the smaller packs, and my four year old is small, but the only one that was small and also had room from other stuff in the pack.

5-- So back to the packs, Brent and I were carrying 10 lbs too much for both of us, then my husband also had to carry our daughter part of the way.  We had never packed two people's stuff in one pack.  People without kids would say they are little how much stuff do they need?  More than adults, the smaller the person the more stuff they require.  Brent and I both had two sleeping bags in our packs, Brent carried the 6lbs four man tent. (I thought he weight it and got 6 lbs, but the site says, 7.5?) We brought too much clothes for three days, normally conventional wisdom says, one change of clothes for a week. But we were only gone for three days, we decided after the trip, one change of clothes, if you get wet stay in the tent in your pajamas, until your clothes dry in the dry desert air. One change of underwear, for the kid, we brought two, because wet underwear is gross, but it never got peed on, so we'll take our chances.  You may wonder how much one extra can wear pair of underwear weight?  It adds up. I also probably brought 6 lbs of nuts, too much for three days.  I also learned my kids will not eat peanuts, just bring them m&ms and craisins.  (Do you see how uncomfortable my husband looks with 60 lbs on his back?)
6--We brought too much food, we didn't know what the kids would eat, and we just didn't know a lot.  If I'm hiking 5+ miles with a pack, I could use two powerbars a day, but on kids hikes, two is overkill for me.  I can't stomach that much without being able to burn all the calories, and protein.  Powerbars are not light. What was good, was two packs of oatmeal, per person over two for breakfast. The kids also loved granola bars, but none of that is extremely light.  We ate Mountain House food but it wasn't really kid friendly tastes.   
7--I totally packed wrong, its hard to pack an internal frame with two sleeping bags, and three people's clothing.  So we had to stop and repack, because I felt like a beetle about to be stuck on my back. I haven't backpacked since before I had two kids, its easier to backpack at 17 with a strained ankle then in my twenties after two kids.  I can't imagine next decade.  Hopefully if we do it more it will be easier.
I think that is enough for now. 

 I have been talking about backpacking since my son was my daughter's age.  I thought we could do an overnight trip.  I think the weight never appealed to my husband, not to mention he was scout master at the time and camped once or twice or a month. So we never did anything other then hike during the day.  But then this spring we were visiting one of my husband's friends and his family and he was saying that he wanted to take his wife and daughter backpacking, and I guess it inspired my husband.  Not to mention also in the spring we were down in Grand Staircase Esclante and we met a family with three kids under probably 6 who were backpacking. I like backpacking for a few reasons, one I hate camping next to a RV.  Number two, team sports have never appealed to me, I don't like playing organized sports, but backpacking is the type of athletic activity I like.  Not to mention it not everyone else can backpack.  Anyway we really enjoyed ourselves, I'm disappointed we don't have another chance to go before next summer.  Three days, two nights were perfect for us, my daughter wouldn't have last any longer she was exhausted.  But maybe three nights next summer.  Who knows.
As a note, there is a lot of information on backpacking with kids, but there isn't a lot, we put our kids in this while we are gone, or we pack this.  I doubt my stuff is useful, but I wish there was some real useful specific information on backpacking with toddlers.

1 comment:

  1. This is Kim's friend. I live my outdoor life vicariously through blog stalking her. She would be a great connection to learn about doing such things with kids. I like the idea of backpacking with the family, but there are so many things that stop me. Number one is that my husband wouldn't cooperate.