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7 Tiny Backpacking Tips

Backpacking is my favorite pasttime and I’ve learned a lot over the 17 years or so since I went on my first trip. These are just little things that can make a difference in easing some of the hardships that come along with the fun. Dig into these backpacking tips and enjoy!

Carabiner Tent Lock

Feeling uneasy about the security of your tent against intruders? Take a tiny carabiner and slide it through both zippers on each door of your tent. If someone tries to open it from the outside while you’re sleeping, they won’t be able to. The one safety concern is that it does make it more challenging for you to get out of your own tent in an emergency, so you’ll have to pick your battle.

Dish Cleaning with a Pot Scraper

Skip the soap and scrubber for cleaning in the backcountry. Grab a GSI Pot Scraper and use it to scrape your bowl nice and clean. Lick the bits off the scraper so you get every last bite of food and you’ll save yourself some trouble. It’s clean enough for a night or two on the trail 😉

Gear Test at Home First

Got some new gear? Hooray! Test it at home before you take it out. Set up your tent. Inflate your sleeping pad. Cook an easy meal on your camp stove. Filter some water to drink (even if it’s already clean). Practice with low stakes at home to reduce your stress on the trail.

Pre-Trip Tent Play

Camping with kids? Set up the tent at home for a few hours (or 24) the week before you head out. Let the kids play in there, make a fort, bounce around. Read books together in there or make it cozy with pillows and blankets for a movie night. It’ll reduce the novelty of the whole situation and make bedtime your first night out a bit easier.

My favorite family tent is the Big Agnes Copper Spur 4UL (pictured above).

Carabiner for Kiddo’s Pack

Have a toddler who’s keen to carry their own pack. Just in case, keep a carabiner on the shoulder strap of your pack. When your kiddo needs a break from their pack, clip it onto the carabiner. It’s much less annoying to carry an extra bag when you have a place to put it.

A lowcost option like this or a dual carabiner like this work great for just $2.

Be Bold, Start Cold

Before lugging your heavy pack into place on your back, pause for a moment and think about what you’re wearing. It might be worth it to take off a layer, even if it means you start out cold, so you don’t have to stop and take your pack off in half a mile when your body warms up from walking.

Pocket Snacks

Whether you have kids with you or not, but especially if you have kids, keep a hearty amount of snacks accessible while you walk. Use your pants pockets, the hip pockets on your backpack, or the pockets overhead on the brain of your pack if you can reach them. It’ll save you another time or two of having to remove your pack. My favorite pocket snacks include: trail mix, bars, apple sauce pouches, nuts and dried fruit. A special treat like gummy bears or a lollipop makes for a great emergency help if you need to keep a kiddo walking longer when they are tired.

If you’re low on accessible storage, you can try something like this Hip Belt Pocket that slips onto the hip belt of your backpacking pack.


Keen to backpack with your kids? Check out our backpacking sleep set up and my favorite backpacking destinations with babies (also excellent for beginning backpackers!).

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