Don’t let people tell you that you can’t go bikepacking with kids.
They certainly can.
And it’s fun!
Taking your child out on the trail presents a few challenges, but there are many more positives than negatives. Here are three things to keep in mind when planning a bikepacking trip with younger kids.
Kids Don’t Care About Distance
If you ride 2 miles or 10 miles, kids don’t care. They are much more interested in gummi bears, wildlife, slides, splashing water, and what’s for breakfast. It’s a different mindset from our typical adult outlook, but it sure is a lot of fun once you adjust. Prepare yourself for lots of stops, slow riding, and lots of laughs. If you know this going into the trip, you won’t be as frustrated with potty and snack breaks every 3 minutes.
Kids do care about having fun and part of that is based on the gear you carry. DO NOT go ultralight to save a few pounds. One bad experience can turn a kid off from bikepacking. A fun trip on the other hand can keep them coming back for more adventures. Packing a heavier tent, a pillow, and an extra stuffed animal is well worth the weight.
Food Is You Friend
When my kids were toddlers, I planned our routes to start in town and end at a state park a few miles away. Before leaving town, we always stopped at Chipotle to fuel up on burritos. Sometimes we at there and other times we packed up the burritos and ate them one we setup camp. Again, the kids are not concerned about mileage, but they sure do get excited about having a fun meal before “roughing” it for the night.
For breakfast in the morning, bring out the full cook kit and make some killer oatmeal or some other hot breakfast. It’s a great way to enjoy the quiet of morning (with toddlers, they might be the first ones awake in the campground), warm up a bit, and get the day started off right.
Reward At The End
After the trip, a little ice cream might be in order. What better way to finish the trip than to make a special stop on the way home? Let’s face it. We do this ourselves with our burger and beers stops after our own bikepacking trips so why not let your kids enjoy an after trip splurge? This stop might have more sprinkles and sticky faces, but they earned it.
It’s All Worth It
I’ll repeat it one more time. Kids don’t care about how far you rode, how fast you rode, or the gear you used. It’s all about the fun, the food, and the experience for them.
Hopefully, these tips can help you have some enjoyable bikepacking adventures with your kids. You won’t regret it once you embark on the adventure. Keep the plan simple but flexible and you’ll do fine.