Taking My 2-Year-Old on His First Backpacking Trip

Posted On | June 24, 2024

This past weekend, we took Jack on his very first backpacking trip!

Backpacking has (and I think will always be) my number one favorite way to enjoy the outdoors. There’s just something about the tough, type-2 fun that makes backpacking so rewarding.

When else do you carry everything you need to survive on your freakin’ back?!?!

Ben and I have done a lot of backpacking in Colorado over the years. Here’s a list of some of our favorite dog-friendy backpacking trails that we took Hazel on before Jack was born.

Being two and capable of walking a mile, Jack was officially ready for his first backpacking trip. We went with our good friends, who were also taking their 4-year-old on her first trip. It’s much better when we can all suffer together, right?

Ben and I were certainly nervous about this trip. Making the 1.8 mile hike in. Eating food Jack wasn’t familiar with. Most nerve-inducing was how we were going to sleep all together in a 3-man tent (with our pup, Hazel, or course). Well, Jack’s trip went 100x better than I could ever imagine and he is officially my little backpacker. Here’s the story to prove it.

We arrived at the Mount Margaret trailhead around 2:30 pm on Saturday. It had rained on and off much of the drive up there and there were dark clouds threatening to pour. Deciding to wait to see if it would rain, the kids played at the trailhead for a little bit. We took shelter in the car for about 5 minutes as the rain blew over us an then decided to start the 1.8 mile trek to Dowdy Lake.

Jack had his own kid-size REI backpack with a water bladder that he was very proud of. Inside was his bear and two cars. The hike was definitely at a two-year-old pace with plenty of stops for climbing rocks, balancing on logs, snacks, and “power pills” (aka skittles). Jack’s favorite part was crossing the river on a tiny bridge and seeing some horses on the trail that we got to pet. Jack’s two-year-old legs made it about 1 mile, and Ben and I switched off carrying him on our shoulders the rest of the way (phew ๐Ÿ˜…).

After getting camp set up and more snacks of course, we showed Jack how we make dinner backpacking on the stove. He picked out his Knoll Pasta Sides of cheddar broccoli pasta and, thankfully, it was a hit. Ben and I split a freeze dried meal (I don’t recommend the Beef Stew, but it was all the store had) and Idahoan potatoes (literally the BEST backpacking food ๐Ÿ™Œ).

Ben and I chose the Red Feather Lakes area and to campy by Dowdy Lake because it is a simple, easy hike, it’s right next to a beautiful lake, it’s at a lower elevation (so warmer) than many of the other backpacking areas we go to, and there is a campground on the other side of the lake in case of an emergency.

The evening consisted of throwing pinecones and sticks in the water, climbing rocks, sipping hot cocoa (mint tea for me), and roasting s’mores over the campfire. Jack doesn’t usually stay up past 8 pm, but for backpacking night, he hung out with us until we were all ready to go to bed. The best part was the kids were awake when it got dark and they loved putting on headlamps and looking for bugs.

Around 10pm we called it a night and got cozy in the tent. We rented a Morrison Outdoor Big Mo 20 Degree sleeping bag from a local lady on Jetset Kids. 100% worth the $14 we spent to get a good toddler sleeping bag with the arms. Jack has another sleeping bag, but he struggles with being inside it and sleeping on his stomach. The Morrison Outdoor sleeping bag was clutch. We got jammies on and Ben told a story and Jack was out within 5 minutes. Sleeping was definitely the thing I was most nervous about. Jack proved himself a pro backpacker and slept all night.

With a very early, 5:21 am, wake-up call from Jack, we were up for the day. Definitely wished we could have slept a little longer, but, hey, I can’t blame a kid who slept through the whole night and was excited to wake up in a tent when the sun came up. He did awesome.

That morning we made oatmeal for breakfast. I put some powdered milk, brown sugar, and freeze-dried strawberries and bananas in Jack’s oatmeal which he loved. We also brought a special donut treat to share with everyone. After playing more by the water we packed up and headed out.

Super proud of our little backpacker (and super proud of ourselves for just doing it with a toddler). Just make sure you leave plenty of time for naps and early bedtime later in the day ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are You Freakin’ REady?

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Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

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