By Michael Lanza

Whether you’re a family of novices planning your first backpacking trip or an experienced backpacker ready to take your kids on their first multi-day hike, heed this friendly advice: You’re in for some surprises. And I speak from experience. I’d been backpacking for years—in fact, I was already working as a professional backpacker—when my wife (also a longtime backpacker) and I first dove into the grand new adventure of taking our young kids into the wilderness.

We learned a lot. But the biggest lesson was this: Our backcountry adventures brought us closer together as a family and helped mold our children into eager and skilled backpackers and confident young adults with a passion and appreciation for the outdoors.

This article shares lessons I learned while taking our kids on countless backpacking trips since they were quite little and over the course of the 10 years I spent as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog.

A young girl backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.
” data-image-caption=”My daughter, Alex, backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?fit=300%2C199&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?fit=900%2C598&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”598″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?resize=900%2C598&ssl=1″ alt=”A young girl backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.” class=”wp-image-45459″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C680&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?resize=300%2C199&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?resize=768%2C510&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?resize=150%2C100&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Sierra3-040-High-Sierra-Trail-above-Hamilton-Lakes-Sequoia-N.P.-CA-2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />My daughter, Alex, backpacking the High Sierra Trail above Hamilton Lakes, Sequoia National Park.

Follow the tips below to make your family backpacking trips a success and ensure that your kids want to go again and again.

Please share your thoughts, questions, or your own tips in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments. Click on any photo to read about that trip.

Check out my expert e-guides to classic backpacking trips and my Custom Trip Planning page to learn how I can help you plan your next great adventure.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s

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