Backpacking with kids?

tzimm007

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Mar 26, 2017
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Hey guys,
I'm thinking of taking my family to Colorado this summer for vakay. My kids are 6 and 9. I would like to do some short back country hikes with overnight camping. They have never been on a trip like this and I was just wanting some input from folks that have done this with young kids or their families. The place I am thinking of going is easy hiking on established trails were tennis shoes will be sufficient. Four miles the first day camp overnight then three the second day. Thanks.


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Foldem

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And what elevation is the place you want to go?

You really need to let them acclimate to the elevation for a day or more if you are going high before you push them, especially if you are from low elevation flat land. Don't forget they are taking at least 1/3 more steps than you.

I had my (then 8 YO) son get elevation sickness or a severe migraine on his first trip. We drove up to 10k from home at 5400' and immediately hiked in a couple miles and set up camp at 11,000'. When we got ready for dinner he said he didn't feel well and started puking every 15-20 minutes. As soon as he got sick the first time I started packing up and getting him back to the truck. He was sick until I was able to get him back almost to town at 8,000' or so.

I'm not trying to scare you off of this, but you need to be considerate and have a plan if something like this happens. Altitude sickness is no joke.
 

Foldem

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I will add that my son loves backpacking now and has gone on several more trips that were much more difficult than the first. I force him to drink a ton of water/pedialite and always bring some tylenol for him at the first sign of headache. I also make him slow down. He will hike full speed until he drops.
 

FreeRange

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You know your kids best and their abilities so I'd be pretty realistic about your expectations and do expect to take a lot of breaks and not push it. Honestly if you've never done a backpack trip before with them biting off 4 miles could be a bit much, or it could be a cakewalk.

Keep in mind that for a kid, being a mile from the car and camping out is just as cool as being 4 miles in, and just like introducing them to fishing and hunting the fun of the experience is what's most important, not how epic it is or how few other people you see.

I was 9 when my dad took me on my first overnight trip, 3 miles in on a hike I'd done a number of times as a day hike before, it is still one of my favorite childhood memories. I'd suggest trying to do four miles in a half day with them between now and then and see how it goes. The last thing you want is to get 4 miles in and have your night camping out marred by your kids dreading another death march the next day. I want to say 4 miles would be no big deal, but on an overnight trip would be the wrong time to figure out it's too far.

Sounds like a super fun trip and sounds like your kids are at the perfect age to start doing this kind of stuff. My kids are 2 and 4 so still small enough to carry when they get worn out but it means we have to go with other people to carry the extra weight when we need to bring along the overnight gear too. We've had great trips and a few that turned into suffer fests (usually due to cold and snow) which is no fun for the kids, no fun for the parents.
 
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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Thanks guys. We are from Oklahoma so it will be quite a change for us. I think about 10,000. We don't have to do both back to back. I'm good spending a day or two before we start so we all can try and get used to the elevation. I don't have a deadline or itinerary that's actually the whole point of the trip. I'm just tired of vacations centering around shopping and paying people to entertain us! If we only make the first part and stay there I'm good with that. I'm thinking about Lyle lake in the White River national Forest. I am planning on the end of July first of August so that hopefully the weather is more consistent.


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bean outdoors

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Hey guys,
I'm thinking of taking my family to Colorado this summer for vakay. My kids are 6 and 9. I would like to do some short back country hikes with overnight camping. They have never been on a trip like this and I was just wanting some input from folks that have done this with young kids or their families. The place I am thinking of going is easy hiking on established trails were tennis shoes will be sufficient. Four miles the first day camp overnight then three the second day. Thanks.


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i would start with something very simple with small kids with not a whole of walking so that you dont burn them out on the first go
 
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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What are you guys using for sleeping bags for the kids and I know my son will want to carry a backpack because I am.


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ColoradoHunterHiker

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I'd look at the hike to Sawyer lake. It's about a mile (I think) and it's pretty well established. Pretty, get away from it, but don't burn them up. Let me know if you need more info, but I'd bet 4 miles, followed by 3, at an elevation change will be a challenge.

The way I look at it, it's like skiing: It's not about learning to ski at first. Fill a backpack full of candy/treats and hold them between your skis. Let them feel all the fun of going down the run (without the work) and then fill them with sugar on the lifts on the way up. Once you've got them hooked, you can start the teaching...
 
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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Yeah send me the info please. Is the fishing pretty easy at that lake?


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Tod osier

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What are you guys using for sleeping bags for the kids and I know my son will want to carry a backpack because I am.


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Gus has a Mountain Hardwear Goat 20°F Sleeping Bag - works well for summer high or early fall. The bag is a little over 2#, but that replaces a 4# Kelty kids bag. Look into the Deuter Fox packs for kids - they are well made and look very grown up.
 
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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OK thanks I'll look into it. Is a 20° bag plenty warm or could I get by with a 50° bag. What kind of temperatures could I expect during the day and overnight in late July August


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AKMAN

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My parents started dragging me up hills with packs pretty early. At 6 i carried toys, but by 9 it's totally realistic to pack clothes, sleeping bag and a stuffed animal or two. ;)
By 10 I packed out my own sheep horns, so I vote early and frequent!
Sounds like a fun summer; enjoy.
 

Tod osier

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Yeah send me the info please. Is the fishing pretty easy at that lake?


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Keeping it easy is the name of the game at the start, anyway. Once you have a rough idea where you are going - call the fishery guys in the area and ask them for some kid fishing areas. We have had great success over the years finding water that keeps a kid interested.
 

Tod osier

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OK thanks I'll look into it. Is a 20° bag plenty warm or could I get by with a 50° bag. What kind of temperatures could I expect during the day and overnight in late July August


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Could be near or at freezing at 10K daily.
 

Backpack Hunter

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What are you guys using for sleeping bags for the kids and I know my son will want to carry a backpack because I am.


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All of my kids use full size sleeping bags. I try to rate them 15degr or so below the temps we are expecting.All of them wear backpacks as well. I still have two that use something like a Jansport book bag backpack, but they put what they want in there and I carry everything else. The older/taller/stronger ones have a backpack that is made for backpacking.
 
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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I like those deuter packs. I think the fox 40 would even work for my wife.


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twall13

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I took my 8 year old son on his first backpacking trip last year. You've been given some solid advice so far. We stayed 3 nights and had a blast fishing and hiking around. He had a pack with his sleeping bag, snacks, water, etc. that weighed 12 lbs. To you and​ me that doesn't sound like much but for an 8 year old it's a good percentage of their body weight. After about 2 miles he was pretty worn out and I ended up packing his pack in my arms for the next half mile till we found a suitable campsite. We had originally intended to go in 5 miles but there was no way he was doing that and still coming away from the trip with a smile on his face that day. So, as others have mentioned, be flexible and listen to their needs. We did end up doing a day hike up to the lake we had originally planned to camp at. Without the pack he did much better on the 5 mile round trip day hike. It can definitely be a good experience, but plan on going slower than you are used to and packing a lot more snacks and extra clothes for your kids than what you would need on your own.
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tzimm007

tzimm007

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Heck yeah that's awesome. Looks like you had some luck fishing too! What kind of pack is he wearing.


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