How to Plan a Fun Family Backpacking Adventure

Are you ready to make great memories with your kids? Why not go wild with an exciting backpacking experience?

Not only is backpacking great exercise, it's also an opportunity for your kids to develop a love of the outdoors. Backpacking is an exciting family adventure they’ll never forget.

Back to basics

The beauty of backpacking is its simplicity. You only have what you can carry, so kids will play with what they find and be thrilled by old-fashioned fun - a campfire story, or a scavenger hunt. 

Give your kids responsibilities, such as making the tent cozy, helping to navigate or finding sticks for marshmallows. Let them experience being self-sufficient by carrying their own backpack with a water bottle and snacks.

Most of all, backpacking gives your kids the chance to breathe fresh air and become comfortable with nature. They’ll learn to love the outdoors and treat it with respect.

Plan ahead for your first backpacking adventure

Start small with short hikes near home. Take a picnic or some easy food to cook. Prepare a list of things for them to look for (a red flower, a yellow butterfly etc). Remember, the aim is to get them used to walking and excited for the main event!

Why not camp in your backyard as a trial run?  You can guarantee when you set off on your adventure they’ll be even more excited to pitch the tent for real.

Check out this list of the best national park backcountry campsites.

Top tips for your first backpacking experience

  • Make sure they have comfy feet. Break in new boots ahead of time. Invest in wool or synthetic socks to prevent blisters.
  • Choose a 2-5 mile trail, depending on their age and experience.
  • Give your kids a whistle, water, and a flashlight or headlamp. Attach it all to a lanyard and strap it to their belt loops or backpack.
  • Check with the ranger's office in advance so you are aware of any safety issues.

For more information on backpacking, check out these kids backpacking guides from Backpacker Magazine.

Most of all, breathe fresh air and enjoy each other. That’s a memory worth making.