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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2008, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Default what size backpack when hiking with kids?

Hi,

I just bought an Osprey 70L backpack. I haven't used it or taken the tags off of it yet because I'm wondering if I should have gotten a larger pack. I haven't hiked/backpacked with my kids yet but I guess it stands to reason that I would have to carry a bunch of extra stuff. Sort of like a pack mule, ugh.

So for those of you that have gone through this, what's the deal?

thanks
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2008, 04:41 PM
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sluggo,
I think the "Full Theory" applies. It reads:
"If you have it, you will fill it" (I'm going to write a book on the Full Theory someday)

I have a 90L pack that I needlessly cram full and have stuff strapped to the outside. It's a great pack for the 10 and 12 day events but for a couple of nights with my daughter I'm certain I can do with a 70L pack. My daughter is 7 and can carry her clothes, water and some small items (such as her giraffy). The tent, sleeping bags and pads are all on your back.

How many kids? How old? Can they carry some stuff? Do you have help? For a small (ok, large) fee I can sherpa for you!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2008, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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This is all theoretical so far, we were planning some hikes but injuries took their toll on me in May.

The kids are 3 and 5, so right now I'm hoping to do a 1km hike to campsite. The kids can likely carry their thermarest and maybe a change of clothes. I'm not 100% sure if my wife would come. We have a 3 person tent we can all fit in. I can likely take quite a bit of stuff in my pack and then lash or hand carry the kids sleeping bags. If my wife comes then we can split up the tent, share some cooking and/or food, and each take a kids sleeping bag. or something like that...

I have no idea how this backpacking thing will progress over the next few years, and agree with the "if there's room you'll fill it" theory. I don't want to have to buy a larger pack in a year or two though. Either way we'll do okay, just wondering what other parents can get away with.

thanks for the reply,
Doug
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2008, 05:18 PM
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Depends a lot on how compact and light your sleeping bags pads, and tent are, and how many kids you are caryng gear for.

Test pack it at home. If you can fit your bare essentials in then keep it.

I have an 80L and three kids, .. I found weight to be a bigger issue then space ie light gear is expensive when trying to outfit a family.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2008, 09:25 PM
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I use an Aether 75L pack and can fit the Mutha Hubba, three bags, three pads, stove, food and fuel and my clothes in it if I have to. When I introduced my wife and daughter to backpacking, I wanted their packs to be almost empty so that they're first experiences would be very positive. So, I carried practically everything for three people in my 75L pack.

Here's what I do...

In the sleeping bag compartment, I put the tent body and fly. Above that go the three sleeping bags. The sleeping pads are in a dry bag and lashed onto the outside with the sleeping pad straps. In the interior, above the bags is the food, fuel and stove. Clothing goes on top. The lid has first aid, night-kit (glasses/contacts/toothbrush) repair kit, flashlight and other odds and ends. The tent poles and pegs are in the side pockets. The mesh bucket has raincoats. Yes, all 75L is gone, but it makes it.

This works thanks to 800+fill power down bags (super light and compact for the warmth), UL/compact down jackets, etc.

This set-up carries well, and is superb for packing up in poor weather. By having the tent located in the lowest compartment, I can drag my pack into the tent, load everything but the tent while it's raining, and then hop out, collapse the tent, and into it's own compartment it goes.

Now, for this summer, the other two are carrying a bit more. My wife now carries her pad, bag, clothes, lunch and some odds and ends. My daughter carries her own clothes, teddy and 1L of water. My back is happier!! Though, it was good training for mountaineering trips where there is no such thing as UL climbing gear or ropes...
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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yeah, I have the same pack. Well, mine is a 70l Aether. Maybe they used to be bigger. I'm sure my wife can carry a few things so given your feedback I think the 70L is doable. The difference between your setup and mine is that most of our sleeping bags aren't super small, they pack around 10-13L I think (2 down barrel bags, 1 kids synthetic bag which is the bulkiest, and 1 old synthetic bag that needs to be replaced). The tent is essentially the same and I have a small cookset and stove (either the compact snow peak gigapower LPG stove, or an MSR whisperlite).


d
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 01:08 AM
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My suggestion is to go bigger. The Aether 85 adds only a very slight weight penalty but will provide some critical additional space. If your kids like camping, you have several years ahead of you as primary gear mule. Also, you will have a pack that is suitable for extended trips and/or winter camping.

I started backpacking with my kids when they were 6 and 9. Right from the start they were carrying their own sleeping bags, pads and most of their clothes. That still left me with a 3 or 4-person tent, all food, all cooking/eating gear, some of their odds and ends, all emergency gear (eg 1st aid kit etc), and all my own stuff. I used a 90 L. pack that always had the top extension sleeve fully extended at the start of a 2-night trip.

While it is possible to get by with a smaller pack, you will be strapping a lot on the outside (or even hand carrying as you suggest) which may be fine for short hikes but no fun as the family graduates to longer hikes or hikes in conditions where extra gear is wanted (like a cooking tarp, warmer clothes etc). A somewhat larger pack with the gear inside will carry better.

As your load shrinks (when the kids get older), you simply stop using the top extension and snug up the various compression straps. You will not start carrying all kinds of extra crap that you did without during the mule years (well except stuff needed for more challenging trips like helmets, ice axes, etc etc ...)

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 10:23 AM
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I just got back from taking our 10mth old for her first backpacking trip. We went up to the Trophy Mts in Wells Gray. We went up planning for 2 nights, but ended up getting chased down (darn bugs) a night early.

I have a 65L Arc'Teryx Bora, and it was jammed. My wife carried our daughter (with the kid's clothes, diapers, etc) and strapped her sleeping bag to the Kelty Kid Carrier. I carried mostly everything else. I say mostly because our dog got the stuff that just didn't fit on the inside of the pack.

Overall the 65l was pretty good, and I could have taken the mostly everything else, but there would have been a lot of stuff strapped to the outside.

I went through the same thought process at the beginning of summer, thinking that I should buy a bigger pack (I was thinking 85-90L Aether), but then realized that I could fit everything for the 3 of us in the Bora.

The trip was a very positive experience, one that we will try and do again next year... hopefully a little later in the season when the horsefly's don't eat a pound of my wife or daughter's flesh. I seem to be immune to those guys

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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I attempted to pack the 70L Aether. I packed my sleeping bag and the two kids bags, the 3 person tent, tarp and 1 sleeping pad. I could fit some more stuff in the lid, some snacks, and that's about it. No food or cooking equipment, and no clothes. I guess my wife would have to carry her sleeping bag, the cooking stuff, and clothes.

The sleeping bags are huge, especially the youngest one's. It's a cheap MEC bag but it's huge. My down bag could compress more with the right sack, I think it's spec'd at 10L? It fits a size small sack from mec: http://tinyurl.com/62wnup Everything packed is only 23lbs though.




I guess 15L of space would be pretty useful at this point. Or spend $500 and get a few smaller sleeping bags!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 09:49 PM
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quote:Originally posted by sluggo

I guess 15L of space would be pretty useful at this point. Or spend $500 and get a few smaller sleeping bags!
Yeah, sleeping bags get expensive fast when going to light, compressible down bags. Most years I spend 80+ nights in my bag, and my family 40+, so investing in bags made sense for us. And yes, my Aether is the previous generation, so the size is a little different.

Money wise, it makes sense to exchange the pack for something a little bigger and then invest in more compact gear as time goes on.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2008, 10:21 PM
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FWIW, my kids started hiking with me around 5-6 years old. They can easily carry their own Thermarest, little North Face mummy bags, and a change of clothes, I carry everything else. In looking for a pack for them, the challenge was to find a pack with a padded hip belt that would actually go small enough to fit their skinny little waist.
For the youngest, she uses a Tatonka pack. Just barely fits her stuff, but works. The older one uses a Deuter Fox 30. Great pack she can use for a while, even has a one litre hydration pack.

Deuter Fox 30 (Half-Pint)

Tatonka (Pippa)


Both girls showing off their new packs.

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