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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Backcountry Camping with a Little One: 7 Useful Tips for Beginners

Updated: Apr 8

Backcountry Camping with a Little One, Lake and mountain range, backcountry scene, mountain reflection on still water lake, blue sky, summer day
Semaphore Lakes Pemberton BC

Nature can have a lot of benefits for both mental and physical health. One of the perks of being out in nature is that it can help you reduce the amount of stress in your body, thus helping you in the healing process. Kids benefit greatly from being out in nature, according to the Child Mind Institute, kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.

Thankfully, in BC, we are blessed to have a plethora of different ways to enjoy nature, and it doesn’t have to involve going on an overnight hike to camp in the middle of nowhere. But if you are looking for new experiences, I am here to tell you that backcountry camping with a little human can be a lot of fun and a nurturing experience for the whole family.

When my partner and I took our daughter on her first backcountry camping adventure, she was a month shy of turning three years old, and although we were peak baggers before becoming parents and had taken our daughter on several hikes and camps prior, this was the ultimate adventure for us -to finally share the backcountry with our little one- and we loved it.

So I have a few recommendations to ease your mind on the matter and hopefully help you in the process of becoming a backcountry camper yourself:

Backcountry camping scene on a misty summer morning, orange camping tent, lake and mountains
Semaphore Lakes Pemberton BC

1. Decide on the area you want to explore and do research about it.

Choosing a place for your first backcountry camping adventure can be complex, but I would say there are three big factors to consider when making your final decision:

  • Your level of fitness

  • Your child’s age

  • The time of year you want to camp

Your level of fitness will determine the length of the hike you will be comfortable with, keeping in mind that you will be carrying an overnight pack and your child.

Your child’s age will give you an idea of the length that your little one will possibly walk and also the extra time it might take you to get to your final destination (you know, stopping to smell the roses, so to speak).

The time of the year wait, what? So it doesn’t have to be a summer camp? Yup, you got it. Late spring and early fall are also marvellous times to go exploring and I imagine winter is also beautiful, but as for backcountry camping, we would have to wait on that one for now.

Hike on Vancouver BC, forest trail, stairs

2. Train

Ideally, you are already somewhat of an active person, and if you aren’t yet, don’t worry; you can start training now. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, and yoga are all good options to get you started.

It is also a good idea to fill up your overnight pack and walk around the neighbourhood to check how it feels and make the necessary adjustments.

Go hiking and perhaps explore the area you are planning on conquering prior to setting off on your big adventure.

3. Know your limitations

This one might sound obvious, but I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing your limitations and the limitations of the group you are going to camp with. When setting the goal, make sure to always communicate with your party and work together to ensure not only the success of the adventure but the agreement of everyone involved in terms of how the adventure will evolve. Perhaps each party will carry their own items on the hike, or maybe you want to divide them so each party will have fewer items to carry on the hike. Perhaps your level of fitness will be different than that of your companions.

Always communicate with them and work together to set the goal.

Clothing for backcountry camping

4. Get the right gear

Getting the right gear is really important if you want to succeed in your adventure, and it doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money; nowadays you can find secondhand gear in very good condition. Remember that you want to pack as light as possible but also be comfortable and have all the necessary gear for your child as well.

You can check your local “Buy Nothing Project” for free gear, usually there is one for every neighborhood in Vancouver. Market place on Facebook is also a good place to check, it will have good deals on second hand items that are usually in amazing condition. If you prefer to shop there’s stores like MEC or Mountain Warehouse that will have gear for adults and kids alike and are on the cheaper side.

If you want to know more about the gear you will need, check out: Backcountry camping with a little one: What to bring (packing list included!)

Hiking on Joffrey lake trail, parents and kid, overnight hiking backpacks

5. Find like minded people

It is always a good idea to have some guidance when embarking on a new project, and there are always people willing to help.

On Facebook, you will find plenty of groups that you can join to learn more about the outdoors and also to meet up and go hiking and exploring.

Here are some Facebook groups that you can join:

6. Be prepared

This one goes for everything: be prepared weather-wise, bring lots of snacks for you and your little one, and also be prepared for tears, tantrums, blisters, wildlife, or to quit the hike all together.

Don’t feel disappointed if the first time you try it doesn’t go the way you planned. You will learn from each experience and hopefully keep your spirits up and try again until you succeed.

7. Don’t forget to have fun

Going to the backcountry does not only involve being physically able; it also means you have a positive mindset about any circumstances that might arise and that you will be ready to make the best decisions.

Having fun is always a good way to be calm and enjoy the moment. Don’t forget that feeling the rain is an amazing reminder that you are alive.

In Summary

In summary, whether you choose a walk on the beach or a backcountry camping experience, recognize that the most important thing is what you feel comfortable with and that everything is possible if you choose for it to be that way.


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