Family Backpacking 101- Basic Camping Gear

Family Backpacking Gear ListAfter several successful car camping road trips, our family decided we were ready to take the next step and try backpacking. We found that planning for a family backpacking trip was quite different from preparing for our previous camping trips as once we were out on the trail, there was no longer an option to make a quick store run for things we had forgotten.  In addition, we were limited in the number of things we could bring “just in case” to only what we could carry on our backs. No more stuffing the car with everything we might need- we had to develop a method to making sure we were safe and comfortable without having to carry the dead weight of things that were unnecessary.

Family Backpacking: Basic Gear List

I will cover the basics here for what you need to take for a successful family backpacking trip. In addition, we have developed through trial and error a list of the extra things our family requires for happy hiking which are as individual as each family is. What I deem as necessary, you may decide is just extra weight and vice versa. With each trip, our list changes slightly as our needs change. We have found that some things sit unused in our packs the entire trip so we don’t bring it on future hikes, while some items always make the list. While a successful family backpacking trip does require planning and organization, it is now my absolute favorite way to vacation.Family Backpacking

When packing for a family backpacking trip, I organize our gear into groups that are typically used together and pack each group, depending on its size, in its own ziplock bag or Stuff Sack to keep these items together. For our family, these groups are safety, navigationhygiene, kitchen, sleeping, clothes, bathroom, and frequently used essential items. Click through the previous topics to read what you need for each group. While sadly, I am not always this disciplined in my day to day life, once on the trail, I make sure to always put items back with the group where they belong.  There are few things more frustrating on a camping trip than ripping apart six different packs searching for one particular item.

Over the next several days, I will go over what we pack for each group.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I am always happy to help people get out there on a family backpacking adventure!

Click HERE to read our entire Family Backpacking 101 Series to get you out on the trail for your own adventures!

Happy Trails!



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I love to plan family travel adventures with our four kids. Encouraging time in nature, National Parks travel, backpacking and hiking are my passions and I love to write about them.


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