How to Backpack With Kids

Backpacking is a great way to get out and see a part of the world that is largely untouched by mankind. It is this kind of natural beauty that children should be exposed to from a young age. However, getting the kids to tag along willingly is no easy task. Getting the kids to tag along willingly and without complaints, well that is unrealistic. If you do things right, it is possible to greatly enhance the backpacking trip for everyone involved, kids and adults alike.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Talk to you kids about going backpacking. Raise their enthusiasm level by placing some anticipation around the planned date. If your child has never been in the woods, he might be uncomfortable. Start by doing small walks on local nature trails. Once comfortable with the woods, try hiking a short distance, then pitch camp and use that as a "base camp" for other explorations.
Step 2
Have each child fitted with a good pair of shoes and a nice backpack before embarking. If you are not ready to invest a lot of money in a backpack, have the children use regular school bag type backpacks. Since they are likely accustomed to these types of bags it may in fact be more comfortable for them.
Step 3
Choose trails that are well suited to the kids' abilities. If this is their first outing, take it easy on them. Do not go for more than two or three hours without taking a sizable break in between until they build up stamina. Make sure your route contains interesting features such as waterfalls and fossil areas. 
Step 4
Make the kids carry only what they themselves will use. Having the kids carry additional gear may leave them a little more resentful than desired. You should also aim to keep their gear under ten pounds each to avoid back strain and arm chaffing.
Step 5
If you sense your child becoming tired or unfocused, tell some fun stories, play games, or sing songs. Point out the sites from the smallest insect to the most expansive vista. Be patient and answer all questions as best as you can.  
Step 6
Create a tempting reward at the end of the adventure. Plan to go camping, see an attraction, eat a meal or have some fun fishing when you get to your location. Whatever it is that interests your children, try to give them incentive to continue pressing forward.

Tips & Warnings

Be patient. Few children will have the same love of backpacking that you display and most children will complain a little. Getting upset by these complaints will damper the entire mood.
Do not forget to equip your kids with enough water and sun block to keep them safe in the sun.

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