Ever tried backpacking? Ever thought of trying it with your kids? We give it a test run and learnt some valuable lessons.
Like many families, taking the kids camping involves ramming the tent and a lot of other things into the car, and driving to the campsite.
Of course, that's not the only way to go camping.
Plenty of people backpack and camp and bike-packing is now becoming very popular too. But can you do this with kids?
Well, of course, you can. Though much depends on the age of your kids, how much they can carry, and how far they can walk. And don't just worry about your children's ability to do this; can you?
Backpacking and bike-packing is something we've been thinking about for years, though never seriously given it a try. Time to change that!
Fortunately for us, Vango supplied us with some lightweight kit, which helped out:
- Vango Banshee XD 300 tent
- Vango Dreamer self-inflating mats
- Vango Ultralite Pro sleeping bags
- Wayfayrer Meals
The first challenge was fitting everything into our backpacks, including food, stove, pot, etc.
We also chose an easy route along the Wenlock Edge in Shropshire, which would give us a traffic-free hike, with a campsite we knew, Lower Hill Farm, where we could stay.
It was deliberately not a long hike, and under normal conditions, you could walk it in 45 minutes. However, it turned out to be an hour and a half of aching shoulders for both of us. Backpacking isn't as easy as it looks!
Since we were having a campfire that night, I did bring a large glass bottle of beer, which added to the weight 😉
Once we arrived at the campsite, it was a great relief to take the bags off.
The weather was good, but it would have been miserable pitching the tent in the pouring rain.
We had everything we needed, except anything to sit on.
The next morning, after drying out the tent, we re-packed our bags. Now slightly lighter without all the food and drink. I also paid better attention to adjusting my backpack. Something I should have done before but didn't think it was too bad considering the short hike.
Now, my heavy bag sat more on my hips and off my shoulders. Fortunately, the walk back wasn't as far. 🙂
Tom and I enjoyed our little foray into backpacking and are keen to do something similar again, and also on our bikes.
Some lessons we learnt:
- Plan your route. You might need to take some breaks along the way, so don't put yourself under time pressure.
- Ring ahead and make sure the campsite can accommodate you.
- Pack and adjust your bag well to avoid too much weight on your shoulders.
- Review everything you are carrying. Do you need that large glass bottle of beer?
- Be prepared for wet weather and know how to pitch your tent so you can get it up quickly.
Backpacking was a great experience and something you might like to try yourself. If your child joins the Scouts or eventually undertakes the Duke of Edinburgh Award, then they'll get to do this. So, why not give it a go before then, so that you and your child can experience it together.