How to Start Backpacking with Your Family

With the price of fuel skyrocketing, it’s nice to know that we can always depend on our feet to keep adventure travel alive! Slap a pack on your back and you’re ready to explore the unknown.  And the good news is that it’s even easier than you think to get started.

Sigining in at the trailhead. (Photo: M.Kopp)

Before you pack, learn to walk!
Start with daily strolls around the neighbourhood and build up from short hikes to full treks with day packs. Not only does this conditioning make the physical part of backpacking possible, but it also allows your family team to build a hiking rhythm with a comfortable pace that is neither too fast nor too slow. 

Taking this time also allows you to break in your footwear instead of your feet! You’ll get used to the weight of a pack on your back. This goes for kids too – even the little guys can carry a drink, snack and light coat. Bump up the day pack weight gradually (add a pair of binoculars and birdwatching field guide one day or a full-blown picnic lunch complete with blanket the next) if you feel in need of extra training. Extend beyond flat walks to cardio climbs. Keep it fun and keep doing it!

Get in Gear
Training well underway, you’re ready to gear up.  If possible, rent or borrow gear for the first trip or two. This saves you the financial commitment while you explore whether or not backpacking works for your family. It also allows you try out different types of equipment before settling on the perfect gear. 

Safe Travels
Be aware that backcountry travel includes the chance of encountering wildlife  – from bears to bumblebees. Don’t store any food or scented products in your tent, use the bear poles or food caches provided, always carry a first aid kit, and know what to do should you encounter wildlife on the trail or in your camp.

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