Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019

    Here's a report of a U24O (Under-24h-Overnighter) we did last weekend, with the kids.

    We were 3 adults (me, my wife and a friend) and 3 kids (ours: a boy 8yo and a girl 5.5yo, and his: boy 8yo)

    The route, which I explored two weeks before, was mostly downhill, and mostly on smooth gravel roads.

    We started on Friday afternoon, mostly gliding down the hill, and tackling some nasty mud puddles:

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-dsc05134.jpg

    On the short uphills we had, we used the amazing Towwhee straps to tow the kids (except my boy, which due to his experience and very light bike, managed to ride or push his bike without any help)

    Our campground was just a spot along a creek, with no supplies or water tap. There wasn't need for much water, due to the cool weather.

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-dsc05149.jpg

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-dsc05169.jpg

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-dsc05158.jpg

    The fatigue, both physically and mentally, sent the kids to sleep before 8:00PM...

    The 2nd day started with the only serious climb of the trip, a hill which we had to cross to get down to the parralel creek. We pushed the bikes, but surpringly no one complained (I prepared everyone mentally)

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-climbing.jpg

    For the 2nd day I even managed to locate a short section of singletrack, suitable eve for my girl, with her 14" wheels (a very smooth track, without any steep sections)

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-ayelet-ramat-menashe-march-2019.jpg

    At the end, I guarded the kids on a nice playground, while my wife and my friend ordered a taxi to fetch the cars from the starting point.


    The distance we traveled was ~6km per day (~4Mi per day). For kids this age, this was plenty.

    I insisted that no cars will be involved in the middle, i.e. I'll-join-but-my-wife-will-bring-the-car-with-all-the-gear-to-the-campground involvement. We had to carry everything we need by ourselves. Probably 90% of the families I invited were set back by this request, but I wanted the kids to experience the bike as means of touring and exploring, not just as a toy.

    Expected conclusion: the kids said it was the greatest trip ever, and demanded we do another one soon.

    Surprising conclusion: my wife said the same.

    I'll be happy to share some info about planning and executing such a trip, if anyone is interested trying.

  2. #2
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    Man, super cool adventure. Can you describe how you handled all the gear and logistics? Maybe stuff you thought was critical and stuff you wanted to leave. We have a full stack of really light backpacking gear, I'd bet it'd work well for something like this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Can you describe how you handled all the gear and logistics?
    OK, let's try:

    Sleeping: I have 3 Alps Mountaineering tents, for 1,2 and 3 persons. They're fairly light for their price and size, and I use a combination of them according to how many people I need to accommodate. when I did such a trip alone with the kids, I used the 3-person tent. Last weekend, I just added the 1-person tent.

    Sleeping bags etc.: depends on the weather. Fleece blankets are cheap and roll easily, and for above-cold weather can be sufficient, instead of purchasing fancy sleeping bags for all the kids.

    Sleeping pads: for the kids I have inflatable Ali-Express stuff, I think it's Nature-Hike. Small, light and works fine.
    Spare clothing: for a U24O you hardly need any. I took spare under ware, and planned to use the warm evening clothing as spare for the kids, had they needed any. The weather was cool. Had it been warmer, I might have taken additional warm-weather spares, which are smaller and lighter than cool-weather clothing.

    No need for spare shoes, of course. It's an off-road trip, we're not going to a royal wedding.

    Food: whatever works for you. Don't be too spartan here, bring a box of vegetables and some good protein source, not just Power-bars. You don't have to cook, and that can save a lot of space and weight. If you do take a stove and a pot, one is enough for 3 families.

    Tools and spares: you're covering very small distances, on a very light terrain, right? Most chances are - nothing will break down. Take one multi-tool, one pump, tube-patch set and tire levers.

    If you want spare tubes, you'll face the too-many-wheel-sizes problem. On this trip we had 29", 26", 20", 16" and 14" wheels! That's hefty, and occupies quite a large volume. One solution is to "share": a 29" will fit into a 26" tire; a 16" tube will fit into a 14" wheel. Not perfect, but you'll be able to continue rolling.

    What else?

    A small first-aid kit, with stuff for taking care of bruises or cuts; small candles and flashlight for the campground; fire-starter for lighting a fire (a must, everyone loves to sit around the fire)

    If you're not camping in a designated campground, bring trash bags. Also consider human-waste: the easiest is to use small dog-poo baggies for picking up the toilet papers. Really, your hand stay clean, and you "leave no mark".

    What's not necessary (IMHO):

    Toys.
    Battery bank for electronics (unless you navigate with your smartphone)
    Books.

    Now for packing it on the bike:

    The best is to have a rear rack and panniers. Large panniers. That gives you enough volume for parent + small kid stuff (with the tent and sleeping bag tied above the rack). If you cut down things like cook-ware, maybe it's sufficient for a parent + 2 small kids.

    If the kids are not "small" - let them carry some of the gear.

    In the photos you can see that my wife opted a trailer, mainly because of the larger volume it enabled her to carry (she carried a HUGE down blanket there, but hey - it made her happy on chilly night). Here are the setups:

    Bikepacking with the kids, March 2019-img-20190323-wa0034.jpg

    It all adds up to a significant weight, there's no way around it. But: you're not doing 60 Miles a day here, right? It's going to be short, and maybe even mostly downhill. For you the weight won't be a challenge anyway.
    Last edited by oren_hershco; 03-25-2019 at 10:56 PM.

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