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Bikepacking singletrack with two kids
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Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Bikepacking singletrack with two kids on 07/08/2012 20:30:28 MDT Print View

We finally got out to try bikepacking with our daughters, aged 1.5 and 4.5.
Ready for singletrack

We did a quick overnight in an area we are familiar with from day rides. We rode out from the parking lot around 5:00, rode for about an hour and set up the tent near a lake. Unfortunately it was to marshy around the edges to swim. I cooked dinner while my wife and girls stayed in the tent to be free from the mosquitoes which were out in force. then they suited up and ate their supper.
Dinner with the bugs

In the morning we continued the rest of the loop, with a stop to pick raspberries, back to the car where we had lunch.

Wild raspberries!

We used a Tout Terrain tag-a-long for my 4 year old and a Tout Terrain Singletrailer for my toddler. These have real rear suspension using Rockshox air shocks and so llow us to ride actual mtb trails with the girls, not just atv trails.

In the trailer we had an Ursack with dinners, breakfast, cups, spoons as well as a Jetboil Sol Ti and a small drybag with clothes, these all fit under the seat/her feet. Otherwise we had the tent mesh inner in my backpack, the outer in my wife's and a handlebar bag with clothes/sleeping gear each. We used 2 full length Neoairs and one short one and a size S Thermarest UL. Since it was forecast to be warm we used light fleece blankets. We didn't need all the capacity of the small toptube/handle bar bags we had, so could have left some of those home. Because of the trailers we couldn't use a seatbag, at least not a larger one like in the review by David.
We had plenty of capacity, even for a longer trip or one in colder weather we could have gotten it all in their easily. This set-up still allowed us to ride fairly technical trials at close to normal speed, and our backpacks were light for comfort in the saddle.

We use a Golite Hex 3 which has plenty of room inside the mesh inner for 4 pads next to each other as well as gear around you, the sides of the inner do sag a lot though. We don't use a pole, instead hanging it from a branch or a cord between two trees.

The kids had a blast, as expected, since they love biking and camping. The trail we picked was just right for us, since it doesn't have a lot of climbing, but lots of fun berms and whoop-dee-do's that I and the girls enjoy.

Edited by Tjaard on 07/08/2012 21:45:48 MDT.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
we will do it again for sure! on 07/11/2012 09:22:07 MDT Print View

It all went well, and we had plenty of cargo volume that we should be able to do a longer trip and one in cooler weather as well, and still be able to pack everything in a controlled manner.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Re: we will do it again for sure! on 07/11/2012 09:45:42 MDT Print View

That is a really cool trip to do with your family. Great to hear it went so well!

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Looks like a great time! on 07/11/2012 10:06:54 MDT Print View

What a great experience for you and your kids! May you have many more of them! Even though they are now grown with kids of their own, my kids still bike and hike with me - you and your wife can expect the same!

Something for the future:
Once my kids started riding singletrack with me, we hit a small snag. They wanted to follow me so they would know where to go. I wanted to be behind them to make sure they were okay. If I rode in front, I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure they were following along okay - which caused me to inadvertently direct my bike off the trail far too many times!

The solution was to start wearing a rear view mirror on my glasses. I know - a rear view mirror while mountain biking??? Horrors!! But it was the perfect solution to the problem, even if very gauche by MTB fashion standards!

Andy Amick

Locale: Colorado
Nice setup on 07/12/2012 06:14:58 MDT Print View

Tjaard, looks like a fun time. I had never seen the trailer or tag-a-long with suspension before. That would definitely make the ride smoother.

Looks like you have plenty of additional space for more gear or a longer trip. I was surpised to see such a small amount of gear in the picture. For a family of 4, you packed light. Nice job.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
misc on 07/13/2012 12:47:32 MDT Print View

The Hex and neo airs really help keep the volume down. This was also a very short trip in warm weather, so not much was needed for clothing, although we would have been ok with these clothes into the low 40's and had full rain gear for the girls. What's frustrating is the lack of UL windshirts/pants for the kids. My suit is smaller and lighter than my childs, who is half as tall!

I wouldn't usually bring a life jacket but we were hoping to swim in the lake and my 4 yr old just figured out how to dog=paddle in her pfd and loves it. unfortunately, it was to marshy along the rim of the lake.

Stephen, that's a great tip about the mirror, thanks!