Backpacking with a toddler can be a great way to bring the family together. I mean it is pretty much heaven for little kids.
Toddlers are surrounded by their favourite toys; rocks, water, sticks and dirt.
Our backcountry trip with a two and a four year old was a lot of fun.
We enjoyed mountain views, glacier water, a sandy beach and a peaceful night in the the woods. Lindeman Lake, BC combined adventure, beautiful views, while being a relatively easy hike for our family to complete.
We faced a few challenges like how to pack all the gear and food for a family of four on a backpacking trip.
Going backpacking with a baby? Check out these 11 Tips for Backpacking with a baby.
Tips for Backpacking with a Toddler
Packing and sorting out all the gear for two eating toddlers that were no longer breastfeeding was more challenging than taking one baby that ate only a little bit and survived mostly on breastmilk.
We also had to pack enough food and gear for not one but two toddlers!
In total we had two big backpacks, two little kids backpacks, two fanny packs and a soft-structured baby carrier
I first packed our big backpack and then started to sort out the hard structured baby carrier.
I felt pretty proud of myself realizing that I had managed to pack everything! Then my husband came out with an armful of gear and food that still needed to pack.
I felt defeated.
Out came the second big backpack. I unpacked our hard structured carrier and packed the second backpack.
I made the one for my husband heavier as I was going to carry the big backpack and our two year old daughter in the soft-structured carrier when she was too tired to walk.
Sometimes you have to pull out all your strength as a mom and I figured that since I gave birth to these two littles that I could surely carry a large pack and 22 lbs toddler up 3.5 km of trails.
I also have two Hipster Fanny packs by Onya Baby that I am in love with!
I always pack them with snacks and treats for the family and the kids lunch so that the food is easily accessible on the hike. Sure I look like a pack horse but that goes with the territory of being an adventure mama.
In addition to the two large packs and soft structured baby carrier, we also made our daughters each carry their own backpack.
In each of their backpacks they had a waterbottle, snack, and their stuffies. They really cannot sleep without their stuffies.
Our four year old carried her backpack the whole time while our two year old managed to carry hers for part of the hike.
Water and Food
We brought water purification tablets, our LifeStraw to drink directly from a waterbottle, and tablets.
Update: We have upgraded our water system and purchased the Lifestraw Flex with Gravity Bag.
Since the hike was short we made sure to bring enough water for the girls in our 32 ounce Hydroflask.
Yes, that was extra space and weight. However, since our four year old hiking so hard, I really wanted to avoid dehydration in the hot 30 C weather.
I had heard of issues where kids avoided drinking treated water. I was worried that the tablet or filtered water would not taste good to her.
Choosing the Hike
Choosing a short hike without a ton of elevation was essential and helped us really enjoy the whole experience.
We also knew that we had to choose a hike that our four year old could complete herself.
There was no way that either of us could have added an extra 35lbs to our load.
Lindeman Lake was the perfect distance at 3.4 km and 300 metres for our four year old. We knew that it would be challenging but that it would also be possible without overextending ourselves.
Want to try hiking to Lindeman Lake? Check out our Lindeman Lake, BC trip report here.
Note that this hike could be challenging for some adults and is rated intermediate on other hiking sites.
Hike with Friends
I was so excited when our friends AND family decided to join us for the hike.
They only stayed for part of the day before heading down but it made the hike up so much easier. Our four year old was so excited to be hiking with another four year old, her cousin that is eight and another boy that is seven.
Tell lots of stories and Play Games
Making hiking fun by telling stories or playing games along the trail can help make the experience more fun for everyone.
About part way through the steep portion of the hike where most of the 300 metres of elevation comes in our 4 year old was getting tired. My husband busted out some good hiking stories to keep her motivated.
Check out these 10 Hiking Games for Kids for more fun ideas.
Both Parents Carry Bear Spray
We learnt quickly that when we are hiking with both of our girls that our four year old loves to run ahead. We also learnt that slowing her down can make the hike go a whole lot longer.
Another thing we learnt was that when our two year old falls asleep in the carrier it is a good time for the person carrying the sleeping toddler up the trail to gain some ground.
When she is done sleeping she will want out and our hiking pace will slow down.
Since my husband and I are not always hiking close together anymore depending on the stage of the hike we have realized that it is essential that we both carry bear spray.
Push it when they are sleeping
On our backcountry hike I managed to slowly convince my 2 year old to ride in the carrier.
This was just before the steep portion of the hike. I was so thankful that she went in the carrier as she was in desperate need of a nap.
As soon as she fell asleep, I got into a hiking groove and did my best to cover as much ground as possible. We had been far behind our four year old because she was enjoying climbing up the stairs.
I was happy that we soon caught up and gained a bit more elevation on tough terrain.
Relax and Enjoy the Views
Sometimes as a parent, I feel like our children’s needs and concerns take up all of our energy and focus.
It is so important to take a moment to look up, take in and enjoy your surroundings.
When we got up to the lake, I was struck by the beauty of the glacier lake. It was incredible. It felt so amazing to enjoy such a beautiful place as a family.
One of the best parts about Lindeman Lake was that there was actually sand to play in. Our two girls had the best time digging in the sand and even swimming in the glacier water.
I was fortunate enough to hop into a blow up kayak since one of our friends hauled it up the trail. I gave each of our children a turn close to shore before heading further by myself and soak up some me time.
Heading on a backpacking trip with your baby? Check out these Tips for Backcountry Camping with a Baby!
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Looking for some hikes? Check out these beautiful hikes for families in Canada and the USA!