Hitting the open road with your family is always an adventure. Whether hiking in the mountains, rafting down a river, or camping out under the stars, packing for a backpacking trip can seem like quite the task. What should I pack? How much do I need to bring? Will it rain?
These are just some of the questions that run through my mind before every outing with my family! Here are some of things to include in your backpacking packing list and how much to bring on your next family backpacking adventure.
Map or GPS
A map or GPS is an excellent tool for backpacking. You can use them to locate trails and destinations, which will help you stay on track throughout your journey. Maps may also come in handy when looking for water sources if the trail does not pass by a creek. If you are traveling with children, it is essential to keep them entertained. A map or GPS can be used for games to help prevent your kids from becoming bored and tired on the trail.
It’s crucial always to have plenty of water when backpacking to stay adequately hydrated. Consider bringing a water filter or treatment tablets in case you can’t find any clean water. Always pack more than enough water than required, so it doesn’t become an issue if your location runs out of fresh drinking supplies.
Snacks and Food for Kids
It’s always best to bring plenty of snacks, especially on long days. It’s crucial to pack food that your kids like because you don’t want them getting cranky at the wrong time (like when you’re trying to hike up a mountain). While energy bars are always suitable for hiking trips, they can get boring after several days of eating nothing but granola and nuts. Bring some of your kids’ favorite snacks to keep everybody happy.
You are going on a family backpacking adventure, so it’s only natural that the weather will be unpredictable – especially if you’re hiking up into higher elevations or traveling during fall months. Even though you might think it is hot enough for short sleeves and shorts, the weather can change at any moment. It is better to be safe than sorry when layering clothes for your family backpacking trip.
Pack a variety of clothing options in case you get wet or cold during the hike. Lightweight ponchos are great because they don’t take up much space and protect against rain and wind. In addition to lightweight ponchos, pack a variety of warm clothing for your family backpacking trips, such as thermal tops and bottoms or wool socks/gloves if you know the weather will be chilly at night.
If you’re going to be birdwatching or spending a lot of time in nature, everyone should have their own set. You could also use them to get a good look at that pretty waterfall.
These are great to have in case you get lost or separated from the group and start fires. This way, if it starts raining on your hike back down or you need to make camp at night, everyone will be prepared with some tinder!
This is for the family that wants to document their memories. You could have one person in your group take all of them, but it’s more fun if everyone has a camera so you can get multiple perspectives on what’s happening around you. A camera is a great way to capture your journey and take pictures of all the things you want to remember.
Just as it is essential to bring sunscreen, you also need to be prepared with mosquito repellent. Your kids may not like the idea of wearing bug spray, but trust me – they’ll thank you later!
Hammock or Tarp
You can also use the tarp as another ground cover by covering it with leaves and pine needles. A tarp is lighter than a hammock but will not protect you from bugs or wind. One word of caution about using large tarps: if it’s too big, your family may have trouble staying together under one shelter.
A hammock is a more comfortable option, but it can be not easy to find trees that are spaced far enough apart for a proper hang. You will also need tree straps or ropes to use your hammock safely. A good size for two people is about 12-feet long by four feet wide.
A sleeping bag is an essential item to pack when going on a family backpacking adventure. It’s critical to choose one that will keep you warm at night and provides comfort for your shoulders, hips, knees, feet – basically all parts of your body that are touching the ground! While there are plenty of options available online or in stores, the truth is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on an expensive sleeping bag for it to be comfortable.
Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are an excellent resource for any adventure. However, these can be expensive and heavy to bring on an extended trip, so it is best not to rely solely upon them as your sole source of clean drinking water. These can weigh around 0.05 grams per tablet and pack relatively small into even the smallest nook or cranny of your pack. Some tablets purify water for up to one year, so these can be a great resource if you know in advance that you will need clean drinking water for the entire duration of the trip.
Flashlights are essential items that should be included in your list when you are going for a family backpacking adventure. These days, powerful LED tactical flashlight come with sophisticated features which make them easy to use in all conditions. You can use it to light up around camp, and if there is an emergency, this will help you illuminate dark corners.
The first thing you should pack is a waterproof jacket. Make sure it’s lightweight and can fold up into your daypack or suitcase easily so that if the weather changes during your trip, you will be prepared to stay dry. If it rains unexpectedly while hiking in the mountains or on a boat, you will be glad you had your rain jacket with you.
First Aid Kit
Include pain relievers, antihistamines, bandages, and other must-haves for scrapes & cuts. If you have a medical condition, make sure to pack your medicine in the first aid kit!
If you are leaving the country, including a prescription for any medicines that require it.
In conclusion, when it comes to family backpacking trips, every tiny detail matters. The gear you bring can make or break your trip, so be sure to pack accordingly based on the destination and season of travel.