How to Go Backpacking with Kids (Even Young Ones)

There are dozens of reasons to get into backpacking and hiking: cheap vacation, healthy living, immersion into nature, etc. There are just as many reasons to get your kids out hiking too, and the earlier the better. My personal favorite reason is that I get uninterrupted time with my kids in a calm and positive environment. A close second is that I’m making it more likely that they’ll love and respect nature for the rest of their lives. It’s been rewarding for me personally as well, being able to see nature differently through their eyes.

Many parents of young children are astonished when I tell them that I started backpacking with my son when he was three years old. They’re even more astonished when I tell them that he carries his own pack with a few pounds of food and gear for two miles or more every trip, and loves it! He’s not a mini Jeremiah Johnson (yet), and he’s of average physical ability for a kid his age. Continue reading How to Go Backpacking with Kids (Even Young Ones)

How to Appreciate Civilization (or “Memoir of a Desiccated Man”)

This trail memoir was originally published on in September, 2014, and is based on a backpacking trip taken in the spring of 2014. I had an unusually long backpacking hiatus leading up to this trip due to preparations surrounding the birth of my daughter in March, and subsequent time spent enjoying family. I promise a proper trail summary at some point, so stay tuned!


Ridge Trail, Backpacking Black River State Forest, Wisconsin


For a long, flat stretch of Interstate 39 between DeKalb and Rockford in Illinois, I had no 4GLTE coverage. This wouldn’t have been a major issue if sufficient 3G coverage was provided, but I was left with EDGE, 1G, or GSM. A few times I turned on my screen only to reveal a red “X” where there should have been bars. Our plight continued this way between Rockford and Beloit, from Beloit to Madison, and from Madison to our destination. Continue reading How to Appreciate Civilization (or “Memoir of a Desiccated Man”)

First World Backpacking Food

Over the past several years I’ve had the great fortune of introducing some of my favorite people to nature through backpacking. The most meaningful of those introductions occurred this May, when I took my three-year-old son, Charlie, on his first backpacking trip. He absolutely loved it, and so we shared our second trek together just last week (mid-September).  He has his very own Osprey 12L backpack that he picked out himself, and in it he carries his snacks, rain jacket, mini water bottle, headlamp, a change of clothes, and most importantly, his favorite teddy bear named Patchouli Bear.

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Charlie & Daniel (photo credit: Kevin)

My good friend and long-time backpacking buddy Kevin has a similarly aged son, so it was natural that we co-planned these trips. (It’s also a convenient excuse to get the wives to let us out of the house for the weekend.)

As I’m sure you can imagine, these trips aren’t anything like the treks that I take when traveling solo or with other adults. They’re within two hours of the Chicago metro area, we typically get cell service the whole time (definitely not “Zero Bars” destinations), and the hike to the camp site has to be less than two miles (because three-year-olds have short legs).

But we’re beginning to learn that this style of backpacking has its advantages; it lends itself to new luxuries, especially with regard to the food that we can bring. You’re not forced into a dehydrated and freeze-dried menu when you only have to carry your food for two miles, and you don’t really need to worry about refrigeration when you’re going to be cooking your food within a couple of hours of leaving the car*. Our most recent trip was our first foray into backpacking gourmet, and it turned out exceedingly well. Continue reading First World Backpacking Food

Barefoot Backpacking at Whisker Lake Wilderness

Five hours from Chicago and Minneapolis, roughly four hours from Madison and Milwaukee,  and less than two and a half hours from Green Bay,  backpacking in this wilderness area may not offer dramatic bluffs or broad vistas, but you will definitely experience peace, quiet, and wilderness.

IMG_20150905_143439 Continue reading Barefoot Backpacking at Whisker Lake Wilderness