Backpacking with Kids

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.

Heading off on our backpacking adventure

At our start point on the Wenlock Edge in Shropshire

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.

At the campsite

Made it to the campsite, at last!

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!

Hills in the cloud

The cloud and mist were rolling in over the hills. Fortunately, it didn’t rain too heavy; just a bit of drizzle.

Since we were having a campfire that night, I did bring a large glass bottle of beer, which added to the weight 😉

Not lightweight

These weren’t the lightest things to carry!

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.

Sun setting

The sun came out for a sunset over the campsite

We had everything we needed, except anything to sit on.

Campfire from above

Night at the campsite

The night a the campsite. Still enjoying the campfire

Morning sun over the countryside

Blueskies the next morning.

Coffee

First brew of the day

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.

Campsite Pond

Lower Hill Farm campsite has a pond, which we camped by.

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.

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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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