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Backpack Camping

Your Wenzel equipment opens up a whole new world of camping opportunities. Backpacking into a wilderness area is the surest way to find serenity and isolation. But remember, you'll need to carry everything you and your kids need, a process that requires planning, extra expense for specialized equipment, and physical strength. Since you'll be hiking to your site with all of your equipment, you may want to put off trying it with the family until the kids reach grade school age.

Most family campers tell us it's easier to take to the trails with babies (who are easy to carry) than with toddlers (who are not). Remember, diapers and other baby supplies add bulk to the load. One solution could be to fill your extra pack
with a several-day supply of diapers, plus lots of plastic bags for packing out
soiled ones.

It's probably best at first to choose a site reachable within an hour's hike from your car. Use that spot as a base and take longer hikes during your stay. Be sure to carefully organize the contents of your pack before a trip such as this. You'll find tips on packing later in this section.

If you plan packing into a wilderness area, contact the ranger before you go. There may be restrictions on where you can camp, and you may need to buy a special permit. Also, you should review maps of the area you'll be going into, to locate roads and public phones closest to your campsite or trail, so you know where to summon help if it is needed.

Gear Tips 

  • Bring running shoes as camp shoes. They’re lightweight and most importantly can be a real blessing if your boots have blistered your feet during a long day of hiking. If you choose to give your feet a break from your hiking boots you'll probably find you can get by wearing your running shoes, even in fairly technical terrain.You just have to be more careful about where and how to step.
  • Hiking pants with crotch gusset are extra comfortable, and they also last longer because there's less stress on the inseam and surrounding fabric.


  • You'll find your sense for scenic details sharpened when you're searching for great shots. That helps you enjoy the scenery to the utmost.
  • If you bring an SLR camera, consider bringing a polarizing filter and a tripod or one of the single-legged unipods. This additional weight really pays off in picture quality. Also bring lots of film. The best way to get better pictures is take more of them (like the pros do).

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Use a ski pole or walking staff to ease the ups and downs of the trail - it really works!
  • A silk sleeping bag liner may seem an unnecessary luxury, but it will certainly delay having to wash your bag. Washing down-filled bags, for example, can be a pretty tedious process.
  • A small hacksaw blade weighs only an ounce or so and is far more useful than the saw blade in pocket knives. Wrap some electrical tape around one end as a handle.
  • Be sure to get a pack raincover. Not only does it keep everything in and outside your pack dry, but you can leave your pack outside the tent taking only the necessary items inside. It saves valuable tent space.
  • Choose bright colored raingear. Safety on the trail is important and bright colored apparel helps groups stay together in foul weather when visibility is lower. It also helps people find you in an emergency.
  • 15 minutes into the day's hike, take a small break to adjust clothing, bootlaces, etc. You'll be glad you did.
  • Pack your food in one-day rations before the trip. This ensures that some items are not used up prematurely and ensures you're packing enough food. The ration bags may also be used as trash bags when the contents are eaten.
  • If the map of the area you wish to travel is too big, have color photocopies made of only the relevant parts and have them laminated.
  • Instead of bringing a guidebook, write down only the most pertinent information and take these notes on your trip.