Backcountry Base Camping With Kids

A pair of outdoor-loving parents finally discover the secret of family wilderness success when camping with kids, including a diary of their base camping trip, how to set-up a family base camp and camping tips for families.

| July/August 1988


We tried base camping recently, and it was an unqualified success. Besides offering the pleasures that came from staying in one outdoor spot, base camping cut wilderness housekeeping chores way down.


A pair of outdoors-loving parents finally discover the secret of family wilderness success: setting up a base camp when camping with kids.

Backcountry Base Camping With Kids

I thought I'd never figure it out. I mean, you can go backpacking with one small child or even canoe camping with two. But three? How do you get away from civilization (including crowded campgrounds) if you have a trio of kids to cart along?

That was our problem. In the years before we accepted irrevocable adulthood (i.e., became parents), my wife, Becky, and I hiked and paddled in the backcountry every chance we got. When baby Nate joined us, we just stuffed him in a backpack child carrier and sallied forth. We didn't hike quite as far, and our shoulders ached a bit, but we still enjoyed "real" wilderness experiences.

Then Jesse graced our family, and since we couldn't carry two kids in addition to all our gear, we tied extra seats in the middle of our canoe and paddled into the wilderness.

But when Samantha blessed our nest, well . . . um . . . what could we do? The answer, when it finally came to me, was so simple, elegant and enjoyable that I wished we'd done it long before. It was to . . .

Base Camping With Kids

. . . that is, hike a short distance into the woods, pitch the tent and stay put. The idea of base camping goes against my strongest backpacking instincts—that "let's see what's around the next bend" urge that's driven me over many a series of hilltops.

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