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items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking
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Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 12/26/2011 15:52:58 MST Print View

I'm new here, and wanted to start revamping my gear with your sage advice. As a start, I would like to have a set of stuff that I can pretty much just grab and go, and then add food, shelter, clothing, etc. as needed. I'm hoping this core can also be useful for family day hikes, so I am prepared to add things that are kid specific. I won't list weights yet, because my goal is to get a working list of items first. Many of these I intend to buy once I get a feel for which things I need or don't need, so I'm rather vague at points.

Location: Northern Colorado Rockies
Minimum Temperatures: 20F (winter day hikes to 3-season backpacking)
Length of Hike: day hike to week long trip
People: Me and possibly 2 kids (6 and 9 year olds)
Elevations: 4000 - 12000' (plains to mountains)

% foot care: tape and glue
Leukotape and Compound Tincture of Benzoin

% fire building
WetFire tinder cubes
Esbet tablets
magnesium firestarter

% firstaid

waterproof paper
rehydration salts
a couple of power bars

% sunscreen & bug stuff
sunscreen and bottle? How much per person per day?
mosquito repellent (for summer)

% navigation and distress
compass and whistle

% repairs
Gorilla Tape
small knife
50' bear cord

% flashlight
Princeton Tec Quad ?

% hygene
alchohol hand gel
small container soap (how much per person per day?)

% water
aquamira tabs (useful for Colorado giardia or is a filter preferred?)

% clothing
rain gear for all

eric lansford

Locale: PNW
items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/02/2012 09:46:27 MST Print View

First off, "Well done Derek for introducing your kids to hiking"

I am a father of 3 daughters and have backpacked with them since they were around 6. Day hikes/car camping - even younger.

Here is some friendly/fatherly advice for you while hiking with children.

1. Take your time while hiking. There is no race here. Remember to "stop and smell the roses". With kids, stop and find magic wand sticks along the way (it is a fun game at the camp-site). Let them poke a bug or two or see who can toss a rock into the lake/stream and hit a large piece of wood/boulder. Make activities into a game if possible. *Remember, if your kids do not have a fun time with you on the first few outings, getting them to go again will prove to be more difficult in the future.

2. Regarding kids carrying something: I always let me daughters bring one small toy and they had to carry it in their own backpack. I also had them carry their own sleeping bag as well. Bags are usually light and take room - so it allows them to feel as if they are contributing to the carrying load and does not tire them out too quickly. As they age, they carried more.

3. Stop and force them to drink water and snack often. They will forget if you do not. Here again, hate to see a child not have a good time and if they run out of fuel, get tired and cranky... well that leads to not having a good time.... you get the point. Bring smores makings as well. That is always a high-light at the end of the evening. Marshmellows at a minimum. Just find a stick, carve it into a point and "wa-la" you are off and roasting. Besides, there is something comforting about a fire at night and smores add to the fun.

4. If you elect to camp out over-night, keep the kids warm. We have good 30' bags from REI (Which if you are in need of sleeping bags, let me know and I will sell them cheap to you as my daughters have all but out-grown theirs). The girls slept in sweats/long underwear. Hats if needed. I bought them all tiny Photon Lights to keep inside their bags for night. They could click them off and on and feel a little more at ease durning the dark nights. I also took a candle light and hung that from the tent. Nice ambiance lighting. Bring a deck of cards for games if the weather is poor. Beyond that, there will be more than enough "outdoor" activities to keep them occupied. We also have a book on "what if" questions or "if you had to choose, which would you rather...."

5. On the topic of medical needs: I know I took too much stuff in this category. Band-aids, anticeptic ointments, allergy meds (topical and oral medicines), blister needs, etc. There is not much weight here, however, if the need arises....better to have it than not. I always brought bug juice (put it on your hand, then apply to their faces (lightly) and I would spray liberally on their clothes. Again, back to the "if they have a good time (no bites) they will want to come back" and DEET washes out of clothing. I would bring 30-50 spf for the sunscreen and definately sweat-proof! I would bring their tooth-brushes and tooth-paste. We take sponge baths. Getting girls into a cold river does not happen... so not much need for soap. Bring the hand-sanitizer for before meals and after "duty calls". I bring rolls of toilet paper (think 4 women (Mom included)). Toilet paper is good. That is one item you do not want to run out of with women/girls. Geezzz....

6. Snacks: gummy bears (they do not melt) - I would take my girls to the store and let them create their own version of GORP (chocolate, nuts, etc.). We bring granola (mixed with strawberries, blueberries, nuts, etc.) for breakfast and lots of hot-chocolate.

7. Rain gear, we all have rain jackets and rain pants. However, we live in WA and those items are pretty much a mandatory for backpacking in this state.

8. Regarding daily milage... that depends upon the kids. I have had some days wehre my 6 year old would like 6-7 miles (half of which was in snow) and other days where we only made it 3-4 miles in great weather. The trip intenary HAS to be open - unless you are needing to get back due to weather or out of food. Again, remember to make this fun for the kids! If you do not make it to the ideal camp spot or locate - who cares. Next time you might be able to. When we would backpack for 3-4 days, then ideally, we would hike hard for the first day, find a spot as a base camp and then take day hikes from there. Kids like to know the plan (how far and to where you are going). For instance, a daughter would carry the GPS unit. A GPS lets them know where they are, how much further, etc. I (Papa Sherpa) would carry the map and compass.

9. I have a 6-person GoLite Shangra La with a bug net. I love that tent. Light and huge. Bought it years ago and at the time was thinking " I really going to spend this much money on a tent?" Needless to say, I bought it and been happy since. Remember, you have to carry what they do not... again, just call me "Papa Sherpa".

We have a tradition, perhaps you might like to incorporate as well: We go to a DQ after the hike and they can order any ice-cream thing on the menu. Again, makes it fun for the kids.

Well, I could go on and on. If you want more specifics or input on a topic, just reply back or send me a PM.


Papa Sherpa

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/03/2012 13:37:44 MST Print View

Thanks Eric. We're really lucky that we can get into the backcountry fairly quickly, and my major challenge has been being able to take time off from work. So my goal is to get stuff fairly ready to go, so that packing for a trip doesn't become a time-consuming process--hence my post. Based on your comments, and what I have gathered from reading other posts, I'm going to put together the above core set of stuff, and then start working towards gear lists for: me and the kids, and just me alone. Thanks for the offer on the sleeping bags. I just bought them REI tiggers, which seem quite nice, so I think we're all set on that front.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/03/2012 13:48:03 MST Print View

Although for myself I adhere to the lightweight rule about taking only enough clothing to be warm and dry in the worst conditions expected, when wearing all of it at the same time, except for a spare pair of socks, I take a full change of clothing for my grandkids. I've never yet been on a trip when they didn't manage to get wet!

With that one addition, I concur fully with Eric!

My grandkids, though, want to stop at the first pizza place we run across! I swear that's the first word they learned to read! Not, of course, that they object to ice cream, either!

Edited by hikinggranny on 01/03/2012 23:43:35 MST.

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/03/2012 14:25:01 MST Print View

We've done one overnight backpacking trip with my son, who brought lego mini-figures and a stuffed animal, and I took my daughter car camping this summer and the tent was filled with stuffed animals. Not exactly the backpacking light ethos (which I hope to learn more about), but they had fun, and that's all that I really care about.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/03/2012 22:34:16 MST Print View

Derek: Mine are 7 and 11 and I've got a mid-winter trip coming up for the first time. Our previous minimum was 20F but our decision point next month will be 0F.

>% fire building
>WetFire tinder cubes
>Esbet tablets
>magnesium firestarter

I like that you've got reducancy in the fire-building catagory

>waterproof paper

paper and pen solves and avoids more problems than any other bit of emergency gear. A friend was on a trip where a boulder onto a foot (BAD foot injury) got morphed into a two hikers and a HORSE dead by the time it got relayed to the authorities.

>% repairs
>Gorilla Tape
>small knife
>50' bear cord

I add dental floss and a serious needle (like a glover's needle from the variety pack of needles). For a small knife, the Swiss Army "Classic" has scissors, nail file, tweezers and small blade. For 0.8 ounces.

>% flashlight
>Princeton Tec Quad ?

Anything LED as a start. And small ones for each child.

>% water
>aquamira tabs (useful for Colorado giardia or is a filter preferred

chlorine kills Giardia if you give it 20 minutes, 40 minutes if cold. But don't bother treating what you are going to boil and bringing tea for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids is a good idea.

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
Rain and kids on 01/06/2012 10:05:16 MST Print View

Thanks David--great suggestions. Do you have a gear list put together for your 0F trip by any chance?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Cold and kids on 01/06/2012 10:37:28 MST Print View

I should do a gear list - I usually work off a traditional over-equipped list to at least consider everything on it and not forget the TP. Here, for instance, is REI's:

Some things about our winter trips are

(1) I pull a sled so weight and especially bulk aren't issues. When our youngest was 3-4, she'd toddle for bit, mom would carry her for a bit and she'd finish the trip in the sled, stuffed between the sleeping bags and pads.

(2) it not going to be above freezing, and

(3) almost all the bears (black and brown) are sleeping.

So frozen pizza is totally an option. And far more junk-foody than we ever serve at home so it's a treat for the kids. Our goal in these early years is to keep the trips fun rather than go far or superlight.

Keep in mind our kids' schools' kick them outside for outdoor recess twice a day down when it's above -10F (-23C). So they are used to dressing for the cold. We'll have an extra thermal layer top and bottom for them and if a cold front or big storm could move it, we'll scrub the trip or bail.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/06/2012 11:02:50 MST Print View

I might add that in your vehicle you should carry for each kid an entire outfit, sealed tightly - shirt, pants, socks, underwear.

And carry a large trash bag for filthy clothing when you get back. I changed wet/muddy outfits many times on my oldest when he was young in the back of my SUV. And grocery bags for muddy shoes. It cuts down on the mess.

Then as a backup also carry thin/light but warm blankets in the car as well. Plus everything you need to get out of mud or snow if you get caught.

A rack of water bottles as well. Food that won't go bad.

Anyhow, when it comes to kids and hiking - I carry the same gear basically for dayhiking and backpacking. The only difference is I add in a sleeping bag and pad/shelter for backpacking. I have found over the years that by forcing myself to cook lunch for us it slowed me down - and gave the kids a break at lunch on dayhikes. Kids can do adult miles, but they need time to be a kid.

On food....only take food you know kids will eat. And if that means shelling out $$$ for kid oriented energy bars, suck it up. But keep those as emergency food. And that is something the adult should be carrying as well - a backup for both themselves and the kids.

I believe every kid who is walking should be wearing a pack of some sorts. It teaches them to haul their share. Once they are 4 to 5, most kids can carry a small daypack with rain gear, sit pad (pretty important for no wet butts!!), snacks, emergency kit for them, etc.

I don't carry soap. I use hand wipes - you can get under the nails really well with them. I don't use gel either. Just the wipes. DO take TP for kids. Don't make them suffer!!!!

Each kid should have a whistle attached to their pack - even if the pack has a sternum strap whistle. And stern warning that it isn't a toy ;-)

I'd say my oldest had a mini pack of mine from the time he was 6 on. I have always bought him mini-me gear (well not! He is over 6 feet tall now) but had snowshoes, crampons, trekking poles and so on even when he was 4 1/2.

I let him take his Nintendo with him on all trips - only for the tent at night.

More on food: Ford is one of those super skinny kids. I learned to pack a lot of food. I carried the food till he was 9 or 10 and much of the water for us, to lighten his load. This bought many more miles a day. I let him pick out what he wanted for snacks and be involved in meal selections.

But last but not least: Yes carrying extra clothing while backpacking isn't UL. Suck it up and carry it for the kids. If you don't, they will get wet and there is nothing more horrid than listening to a whining cold child. Nothing. You will end up freezing while they wear YOUR clothing.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Re: items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/06/2012 11:34:47 MST Print View

I have one word... Yahtzee.

I honestly don't know of any other game that can be played by a wider age range of kids and adults.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Yahtzee on 01/06/2012 11:41:41 MST Print View

Sumi: Agreed.

And 5 dice weigh almost nothing. 5 mini-dice do weigh nothing.

Xerox the score sheets @ 50% and double sided to cut that weight by 87%.

Time Magazine, 40 years ago, used to send out these SKINNY little pencils. Inside their solicition letters. Graphite in wood, but about 1/8" total diameter, 5" long. Strong enough to write with, just about big enough to hold. Some of those and a small eraser would let you reuse the score sheet. Anyone have a line on where to get a dozen or a gross of those?

Editted to add: This is what I mean:

Is there a printable toilet paper? Then once used as score sheet, they could be reused in a cathole.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/06/2012 11:43:46 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Would chew my arms off to avoid family game night on 01/06/2012 13:26:17 MST Print View

There I admit it. I hate board and card games ;-)

Let me roll over and read my trashy novel in peace and quiet ;-)

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Book on 01/06/2012 13:46:25 MST Print View

I would bring a book that my daughter would not usually read on her own. Last trip I brought a David Sedaris book and read it out loud as we were both hanging in our hammocks. We laughed a lot :)

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Would chew my arms off to avoid family game night on 01/06/2012 19:23:42 MST Print View

I'm with you Sarah. Renee's family is into that stuff. I just take the dogs for a walk. Easier on the digestion.

greg jenkins
(OCPik4chu) - F

Locale: CO, Rockies
re: items to bring on every trip: day hikes w/ kids to backpacking on 01/09/2012 16:42:52 MST Print View

I wanted to agree strongly with many things Sarah mentioned, being in Colorado myself (I dont have kids but I am an Assist. Scoutmaster for a local troop). While paring down what you carry to the campsite is a good thing that doesnt mean that should be the only stuff that you bring along. Have plenty of equipment in your car such as food, water and a change of clothes in case of emergency. I don't know how much winter camping you have done around here but it is certainly possible to be trapped on the other side of a pass when heading home due to bad road conditions or even getting stuck in a camp site. So make sure you have access to supplies in case you get stuck somewhere an extra day. Nothing ruins a camping/car trip more than a group of hungry family members stuck in a small space.

One comment on your water question. The tabs work just fine and are best for the shorter outtings especially when it comes to weight. If you are looking for something that will cross over into an emergency/survival bag that you take camping (which is about what I do usually) then I would add a filter to the mix in addition to the tablets. I always keep some tabs with the first aid gear and a few in the pouch that my camelback has so they are in convenient places.

For the sunblock question, when going around in cold weather most skin will be covered so you shouldnt need that much during this time, just enough for the face. Which is very important, the sun reflecting of the snow gets people often so make sure to bring enough to fully cover the face, hands, back of neck, ears, etc, even under the chin ;) I have a little 1.5oz bottle of some 45spf, waterproof sunscreen that I use for backpacking. I got the bottle from Target with some generic junk sunscreen in it and refilled it with some good stuff. Its always lasted the full length of the trip and was enough for 2 people for 5 days before I hit the limit. Then I just refill from a big bottle when I get home (or the car). And in the same category I didnt see you mentioned chapstick, great to have in the winter time to protect lips, get some with a little spf in it for extra sun protection.

For the foot kit, I honestly dont know if there is some epicly awesome blister product out now but Ive always used a little duct tape if a blister starts (dont use it on big blisters or ones that have popped, just if one is forming) and it provides the best friction guard ever. Just remember to replace it often and keep your feet dry. A few feet of it wrapped around an old credit card will last a while. *Edit* this was suggested as an addition for the foot kit, not as a replacement for moleskin or similar product fyi.

Camping soap: This greatly depends on how much dish washing you will need to do, if you are staying minimal with the cooking utensils (such as, 1 pot, spoot, knife and then the usual cup/bowl/spoon/fork for eating) then you really wont need much most camp suds are highly concentrated. When mixing up the 'washing bin' at camp itd usually just take a couple drops of soap into a gal of water and it was enough for our family (4-6people) so it doesnt take much.

Edited by OCPik4chu on 01/09/2012 16:53:44 MST.