Author Topic: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips  (Read 1095 times)


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Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« on: 12:13:54, 24/04/19 »

I have loved camping for a long time but have recently gotten the bug to go hiking/backpacking. My wife has given me the green light to start accumulating gear so I am looking for some recommendations. I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls aged 2-11. Our current gear is for car camping so it is mostly too big. I was thinking about getting a couple 3-person backpacking tents, one for the boys and one for the girls. I would also like some recommendations on sleeping bags, sleeping pads, rucksacks, food, and anything else that you might think is helpful. Thanks in advance!


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Re: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« Reply #1 on: 13:22:15, 24/04/19 »
Welcome to the forum
The children are very young and will struggle to walk very far with backpacking gear, you will end up carrying all the heavy stuff like tents and food etc. Especially if you donít get lightweight gear which is expensive, you would probably be better if saving yourself a lot of money and using camp sites, and doing day walks from there until your kids are older, unless you do really easy walks O0 
We went on a 4 day trip and my rucksack was about 19kg ;D

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Re: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« Reply #2 on: 13:35:34, 24/04/19 »
We went on a 4 day trip and my rucksack was about 19kg ;D

I think it was 18kg  ;D

You had 4kg worth of wine and 2kg worth of camera gear. Without it we would have been much lighter. I had 3.5kg extra in food, it was 4 days worth.
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Re: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« Reply #3 on: 13:40:08, 24/04/19 »
Good for you. I want to take a "can do" attitude here, but beefy does have a point - it is going to be a struggle walking much of a distance until the children can carry a reasonable share of the equipment. It depends a bit on how old your middle children are - the 11 year old should be able to carry their own sleeping bag, mat and clothes, but younger than 6 or 7 they probably won't be making a significant contribution to portage. We've only really started backpacking as a family since most of our kids (we have three) have reached their teens. However, on the plus side you can get some "economies of scale". For example, we've recently started using a Luxe Octopeak lightweight teepee style tent. Since this squeezes all five of us in, and pitches with walking poles, its 3kg weight averages out as only 600g per person, which is a tent weight you'd struggle to reach as a single backpacker.

Likewise stove and cooking equipment doesn't necessarily increase in weight in proportion to the number using it. Unfortunately the truly lightweight camping cooksets are sized for one or two people and just aren't big enough for a family. My family cooking top tip would be a Tefal oven cake-tin as a frying pan - weighs 200g for a 27cm "frying pan" with a high quality non stick surface. And take a small gas stove - meths, although lightweight, can struggle to have the "oomph" to cook for a big family (though a good compromise which we use is a gas stove for cooking and a little tin can meths stove for brews en route, which supplements the cooking options when camped).

Children seem to sleep suprisingly warm and with little cushioning - they'll still need insulation from the ground, but inexpensive and very light foam pads will probably be fine for sub-teenagers. My 17 year old daughter now insists on a neoair the same as us, and the younger two (14 and 11) are on self-inflating foam pads. Child size sleeping bags are available from several of the big names - Vango, Blacks etc - and while not particularly light for their size, and not given specific temperature ratings, we've found them quite adequate for temperatures down to probably just a few degrees.

Good luck, though - and let us know how you get on!


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Re: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« Reply #4 on: 18:04:47, 24/04/19 »

Welcome to the forum, James.

As others have said, your problem is that two adults will be carrying equipment for 6, although the 11 year old may be able to carry a bit. You will end up carrying the 2 year old as well!

Sorry to sound negative, but unless you are just thinking of walking a couple of miles, you would be far better off sticking to 'boot of the car' camping on organised sites, and concentrating on getting the children used to camping and day walking. There's nothing to stop you using the smaller tents on a campsite though. The backpacking can come later.
WildAboutWalking - Join me on my walks through the wilder parts of Britain


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Re: Newbie With Larger Family Looking For Tips
« Reply #5 on: 19:35:56, 24/04/19 »

Hi and welcome
Fantastic that you are giving your children such an opportunity. Can I suggest you look at this blog

He walks and backpacks and wild camps with his children.

You don't say where you live but if Dartmoor is within your range then you can wild camp (almost) anywhere with just short walks to a wild spot.
So many paths, so little time