Tips For Hiking And Backpacking With Kids


00:14 – 01:09 Background and Resources
01:10 – 01:53 Snacks
01:54 – 02:40 Start with Shorter Distances
02:41 – 03:13 Plan For Good Weather
03:14 – 03:51 Have a Distinct Destination
03:52 – 05:06 Make Camp Fun
05:07 – 06:28 Let Them Have Their Own Gear
06:29 – 07:42 Play Games and Use Your Imagination
07:43 – 09:03 Use Technology In A Positive Way
09:04 – 09:47 Permit Forbidden Activities
09:48 Focus on Making Memories
Other Resources:
Backpacking With Kids:
Strawbridge Treks:
Fight For Together:
Hikingwiththe3ks:
The Dirtbag Baby:
Kids Out Wild:

Budget Gear List:

CDT Gear List:

PCT Gear Lists: Desert –
Sierra Nevada –
Cascade Range –

AT Gear List:

Camino de Santiago Gear List:

Homemade Wanderlust Merch:

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29 comments

  • When I was a Girl Scout, we went summer camping and played a twist on a scavenger hunt where we were divided into groups and each group had to chose an animal. The object of the hunt was to designated a leader of each group and the leader was the only person in each group allowed to pick up and collect the item on the scavenger hunt list. How the leader knew where to collect the item was to listen for the sound of the animal your group chose at the beginning of the hunt. The group I was in chose a cow as our animal, so I had to listen for "moo, moo, moo" whenever the kids in my group spotted an item on the list in order for me to pick up the item since I was the leader of the group. I'm 43 years now and to this day, my nickname is "moo cow." 😆😆 Some of my friends have kids and their kids call me "Aunt Moo"…..the name has stuck with me since the 80s and I wouldn't have it any other way 😊 🐮

  • Surprised about this video, very good tips for sure.

  • We are currently preparing our little man (he’s 3 now) for thru hiking the Appalacian Trail!!! I love your videos!!! Thank you!! Do you ever plan to do the American discovery??

  • Dixie! Our family was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail when this video came out, I can’t believe I didn’t see it till now! Thank you for including our link! What an honor ❤️. I teared up at the end to hear you talk about the importance of being in nature and bonding. That’s one of my favorite things about long-distance hiking with our kids: distraction free time to really get to know each other. It is a treasure! We love you! We are hitting the CDT in April, time to rewatch all your CDT videos 😁—mindi

  • Hello, I have 2-7 year old daughter's that are wanting to get into backpacking with me this year. I am a dad and doing this adventure alone with them. I need a females help on the feminine side of what I should be buying them for thier packs. "Exe" packable and light hair brushes. All the other things women need and what I need to expect to teach them.

  • Really enjoyed this. Our adventures started earlier this year, and so farm my 6yo has done about 14 overnights backpacking. Plenty more car camping;)

  • I’m envious of the mamas who will have their babies around the same time you do, if you do. Imagine, they can keep an eye on what you’re doing, and be inspired to lockstep with you and get their babies and selves out into the wild, where so much of parenting/daily anxiety and stress actually falls away, rather than builds, once you have your wild legs, so to speak.
    I’ve been all-weather hiking with my kids since they were in a carrier on my front and my pack was on my back — or vice versa — and because of that, there has never been a day when either one of them didn’t want to go outside and into the forest. The trick get the right gear, and get out no matter what. I’ve found most of our gear through hand-me-downs and thrift stores over the years. Mostly, we end up paying full price for wool socks.
    We’re going snowshoeing today, which brings me to my tip: bring or make a hot drink, no matter the season. Great for bedtime, or a rainy slog up or down a mountain.
    A couple more tips:
    – change of clothes
    – bail out plan
    – everybody gets a whistle
    – teach them to hug a tree if they get lost
    – go just a little further than you think they can
    – keep your reactions to any injury or scary encounter calm and steady (they’re looking at you for how to react themselves)
    – is there a topic you normally don’t enjoy discussing? Pokémon? Dinosaurs? Robot fairies? Indulge them on the trail. Go for it, kid!
    – avoid too much build up in the days/hours leading up to the trek. “Let’s go exploring. Maybe we’ll find a waterfall.” Rather than “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST DAY EVER!”
    – Avoid too much praise. This isn’t about our approval, but more about them building self-confidence that doesn’t rely on countless “Good jobs!”
    Phew. Over commented … but there you have it.
    I appreciate your content immensely, Dixie. Especially as I try to lighten my load so I can carry more food for us on multi-day hikes.

  • Our kid changes into one of those fluffy animals when he’s hungry. A Gremlin!

  • Stop hiking with kids! What? You want your kid to get fiddled by pedos on the trail? WTF!

  • We’ve done many day hikes and then camping a few miles from our vehicle. We really want to attempt a 28 mile hike next year but our baby will only be 1 1/2 years. Trying to figure out the logistics of diapers on the trail. Is that possible?

  • …those cute kid pix!!!

  • Great video. I wish this one was made before my son (who turned 14 on trail) and I started our thru-hike last season. I got really frustrated with him for raiding hiker boxes (he found a 6" knife in Gatlinburg that he carried to our finish in NJ) and his desire to get something at every Dollar General we stopped at, but looking back, those things kept him going. My tramily and I let him have some say in our daily mileage and even though he was the stronger hiker of all of us, we tried not to push him too much. Playing games, such as tossing a frisbee was a highlight for him.

  • So glad you posted the family of 8, Fight for Together. I was in awe of their AT adventure accomplishment. Thanks Dixie for all your insight of hiking, I am getting hooked.

  • Did 15km today with my 6yo son, he was not in to it realy..but this video will help ..thank you

  • I donr know how I missed this video! I have been waiting for this foe a long time! Thank you!! We are planning the AT this spring 🙂

  • I've hiked with my 2 boys who are now 11 and 8 for a few years. They love it but definitely snacks are essential! We also get a mini blizzard at DQ on the way home. Its tradition

  • These are all great tips! We are a hiking family of 5, with three small kids (2, 4, and 6). Definitely snacks and "any snack of your choice at the magical gas station…*once we make it out of here 🙂 Thanks Dixie, you are an inspiration to us! #TeamCarterFamily we hope to see you on trail one day!

  • Very good advice we stated with back yard camping and it was a huge hit and letting them pick there own gear is a big one too

  • When hiking with my kids I almost always bring the freeze dried Ice Cream Sandwiches for one desert. They always love it and ask if we will have them (I personally don't care for them). We also hit a fastfood joint on the way to the hike and one on the way back (usually something we don't normally do). Our favorite area is Grayson Highlands in VA. You start at a high altitude so there is not as much elevation changes but you get enough to feel like you are (not to mention the views). You have the rock scrambles and areas they can feel like they are doing bouldering or rock climbing. And of course, there are the PONIES! The most difficult thing I have had is being able to get my kids to use the toilet in the woods – the privies are good for this but even those they really don't want to use it nor are they always available. Also, I always (even as young as 5 years old) teach my kids how to navigate the trail and how to keep from getting lost. I encourage them to show me how to get back, which way is which.
    OH, and every kid is different. My middle child wants the long distance hikes, she wants the miles (so we go on longer hikes). My oldest wants to explore, look for bugs and animals (so we will spend a lot more time at camp- camping early and not departing too early). My youngest is a mix of the other two, however he wants to take more breaks to just relax and then will explore (but just the immediate area – the oldest one: I have to make sure she has a whistle because of how far she goes).

  • My 5 year old loves hiking and now backpacking. Longest hike in one day was 7 miles and 18 in 3 days. She likes making little videos along the way.

  • How fun to get to be mentioned in the list!

    And some great tips in there. The imitate animal sounds. Love it. Told the kids yesterday, after seeing 5 grizzlies in 2 days, "Bears don't think it polite to be imitated."

  • You post caused me to remember my years in Boy Scouts, they were some of the best years of my life. Thank you for sharing your time and especially your life through the years. 
    Safe Travels my Friend!

  • Let the kids set the pace. I always had my son lead. This way he wasn't looking at my backside the whole time and would cruise along. I could then monitor his pace and decide if I needed to nudge him along or not. I was fortunate that my son always loved hiking. He started up the hill in diapers out pacing his mother. Living in western Montana you have extra fun of going up really big hills a lot. I also planned our backpacking trip distances based on his pace.

  • Could you make a video on how to pack/fold a tent. I recently became interested in backpacking and was testing out my tent and sleeping pad last night and I've been all morning trying to get it back into the sack it came in lol.

    Glad I'm going this now at home and not the woods lol

  • My tip. Marry a woman who doesn't hate camping and hiking. That would be good after the children are born. I didn't follow that tip btw…

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