What we pack in our kids hiking packs

Kids hiking pack

🎒Kid’s hiking pack—we selected a pack that had plenty of ways to adjust the pack for a good fit, lots of great pockets that help to position weight effectively, and the option to add a hydration reservoir.

We’ve found that if we weigh their packs before hitting the trail they are more successful carrying the pack. Between 5-10% of the body weight works well for us. If they are over we pull items and put them in our packs.

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Family of 4 Snow Gear

This is a complete list of what our family of 4 packed for a skiing, snowboarding, sledding winter adventure.

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Flying with 2 car seats

This is the process we follow flying cross-country with 2 car seats within the USA. Rules will vary outside the United States, so check regulations for where you are traveling.

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Bike gear list

Here’s all of the gear we use to bike as a family.  Our philosophy bike riding with small kids is to keep it fun.  Their ability to ride can fluctuate daily, so we always aim to provide an option for a break.  Set up for a bike ride is pretty quick.  Our bike trailer pops up in seconds, and the mountain bike seats stay installed on our bikes at all times so we are always ready to use them.

Quick list of gear we use

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Dehydrating homemade backpacking meals

We love to backpack, and we love to cook! We’ve used pre-made dehydrated meals for years for the convenience, but always felt they were not exactly what we wanted. Meals either weren’t something our kids liked, had a funny aftertaste, had more sodium than we wanted, or didn’t have a plant-based option. Plus we didn’t love all of the excessive, bulky packaging that they come in. We recently decided to start making our own meals using a food dehydrator and the meals have been SO DELICIOUS! Why did we wait so long?!

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A Winter Guide to Visiting Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes is an outdoor adventure wonderland. We love to visit throughout the year, but winter might be our favorite time to travel to Mammoth because of the family-friendly winter sports. We’ve included a list of must-see and must-do activities to consider for your next trip.

To get more inspiration before your visit, check out Visit Mammoth on Instagram.

Playing in the snow outside our cabin at Tamarack Lodge
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Layering kids for cold weather adventures

dressing kids for cold weather

Keeping kids cozy during cold weather adventures is important, but knowing how to properly dress can be stressful if you are new to winter adventures with little ones. The key to happy kids in the cold is proper layering! We use this layering technique for all cold weather outdoor adventures. The last layer changes depending on the activity.

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A guide to learning to ride a bike without training wheels

If you told us that our daughter would learn to ride a bike without training wheels long before she turned 3, we never would have believed it. Thanks to a tip from family, we learned about balance bikes and never looked back. If you want to give it a try, we’d say go for it! Each child is different, but here are some tips that worked for us.

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Tire Upsize & Upgrade for Mercedes Sprinter 4×4

After a little over 3 years since we purchased our van, our Sprinter van’s odometer finally ticked past the 50,000 mark. Bruce is the van’s name, for those who care about that sort of thing. We bought the van new, and maintained the stock Continental Vanco “four season” M+S tires and the stock steel 16 inch rims. Although these tires were anything but “off-road”, they carried us across rugged terrain and icy conditions pretty well…with some help from the van’s 4×4 transmission, some basic air-down techniques, and tire chains (more on our original tire chains for the stock tires check out our blog post here).

Installing our tire chains on the original Vanco tires

At 50,000 miles it was finally time to buy a new set of tires. We only had two decisions before beginning to search for brands and models. First, we easily decided to stick with the stock black steel 16 inch wheels in order to save several hundred dollars. Second, we needed to decide if we were going to upsize. Although upsizing would require the purchase of a full-sized spare and new tire chains, we quickly decided we wanted to do it. According to friends with more off-road experience than we have, and a few Sprinter forums, upsizing would improve performance on- and off-road. Maybe more importantly, larger tires will also look better. 🙂

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Tips to help your child sleep when camping

Lighting cues

This is our newest and BEST hack. We started using this nightlight at home. It changes colors to give a visual reminder to the kids that it’s bedtime or morning.  We picked blue for bedtime, red for stay in bed, and green for get up and go! We can change the color using an app on our phone. It has been tremendously helpful for us at home and camping.  The key is using it consistently so when you go camping, the kiddos are already familiar with how it works. We have power in our van so we use the same light we have at home, but if you need a battery operated version there’s several out there. (Something like this nightlight might work) We also noted that this light helps illuminate their sleeping area.  Our daughter used to wake up scared at night when it was too dark in the van because she didn’t know where she was.  Seeing her familiar light and being able to see where she was has also helped if she wakes during the night. 

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DIY baby hot cocoa mug photoshoot

We had so much fun putting together this photoshoot for Luke when he was a baby. It was very easy! It doesn’t take much prep work, many of the items you might already have at home.

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Nut Loaf Recipe

The PBD (Plant-Based Diet) Nut Loaf has been a staple for years.  We LOVE this recipe!  It has very simple ingredients, it’s easy to make, and is filled with a powerhouse of nutrients including protein, fiber, folate, vitamins E, K, A, and copper.  We usually serve it with a side of redskin potatoes and steamed spinach.  It’s the perfect dish for a chilly night and makes great leftovers.

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How we stay warm in our van during the winter

We do not have a diesel heater in our van, but we are able to keep cozy during the winter months camping with the following tricks:

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what to wear hiking and backpacking

Wearing comfortable, breathable, and durable clothing hiking and backpacking is critical for remaining comfortable throughout your adventure. We organized the clothing, shoes, and hats we wear by each person.

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Tent camping with kids

We’ve camped everywhere from the beach and the desert, to the mountains and everything in-between with our kids. Sleeping in a tent with little ones was a big departure from our former days as backpackers sans kiddos. Now with kids, we’ve tried lots of different options and we are sharing our experience, good and bad. There’s so many different factors that go into camping in a tent with kids such as professional organization guidelines, family preferences, child needs, and style of camping to name a few. For this reason, what we are sharing in this blog is not recommendations for what you should do, but rather a description of what WE do. Plus, what we do continues to evolve as our children grow and new equipment is developed in the ever expanding realm of outdoor gear.

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Summer hiking Tips

There’s nothing like summer hiking. The beautiful flowers, refreshing lakes, and long days are what dreams are made of. But summer hiking can be a nightmare filled with sunburns, over heating, and bugs without the proper preparation. After years of hiking we learned that certain pieces of gear and a few tips make all the difference to squeeze the most out of those long summer days on the trail.

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camping gear list

We are self-proclaimed gear junkies. We love having the right “stuff” to make any adventure a little easier or more fun. Across countless camping outings we have discovered that quality gear is important in order to make the camping experience a blast.

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Camping essentials for babies

Heading out on a camping trip with little kids can be exciting but also a bit daunting. We have found a few helpful pieces of gear make time around camp a little bit easier.

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Backpacking Gear list

Below is a list of gear we take backpacking.

Packs & Sacks

Sleep & Shelter

Clothing & Boots

Cooking & Water


Insect repellent

books for the outdoorsy toddler

We’ve found that reading books to our kids about the outdoors has helped inspire excitement for any family outdoor activity. We put together this list of our favorite books that have helped teach our kids about so many things: animals, plants, seasons, the sun and moon, camping, fire safety, bugs, colors, hiking…the list goes on and on!

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Our favorite packs to carry kids on the trail

Finding a comfortable way to carry your baby or toddler on hikes can be overwhelming. There are so many options, and the needs and size of little ones are always changing and growing. Our collection of packs and carriers came to be after combing through blogs, watching video reviews, testing, and even stopping random parents on the trail. We’ve got you covered from the first few days and weeks of infancy all the way up to toddler carriers. While no carrier is perfect, we found each of these options was a nice solution to meet our needs as an active family hiking everything from local parks to overnight adventures in the Sierras.

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Six tricks that keep our family on-the-go

Traveling can be cumbersome and exhausting, and doing so with kids only amplifies the challenges. Whether it is a road trip, an airline trip, a camping trip, or even a vacation to a resort, kids undoubtedly complicate things and the thought of the obstacles surrounding a trip can sometimes be stifling or even create such a road block to cancel or postpone the notion all together!

Backpacking trip in the Sierras

Over the past year and a half, we’ve tried our best to stay active with our daughter. Our trips haven’t always been easy, but we have learned a few things that have made our adventures more fun and most important, doable! Below we’ve listed six tips for traveling with a young family.

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5 Tips for Yosemite’s Firefall

Firefall is one of the most spectacular displays of natural beauty that Yosemite National Park has to offer. When conditions are just right, Horsetail Fall, located on the eastern side of El Capitan, lights up and resembles molten lava pouring over the side the valley. Words and photos don’t do it justice, you need to see it for yourself!

We’ve put together a few tips to help get you in place and ready to capture the big event.

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Snow Chains For Mercedes Sprinter 4×4

Snow is falling and snowshoeing is calling! We recently traveled to both Big Bear and Yosemite National Park in California to get out into some fresh powder. While it was all fun and games when we finally got on the trail, prepping for and traveling on wintry roads to get to the trail can be a little hair-raising, particularly during a major snow storm. We are going to walk you through our experience selecting snow chains for our Mercedes Sprinter 4×4, what we learned about Mercedes tire chain disclosure, our experience with the van’s performance with the factory mud/snow tires plus 4×4, and what conditions prompted us to install our chains.

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Backpackers’ Cookies


  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, blended into oat flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (keep whole, don’t blend into flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (or any small dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips/or other dried fruit
  • 2 T chopped almonds
  • 2 T sunflower seeds
  • 2 T pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T chia or hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


  • 1 Tbsp ground flax + 2 Tbsp water, mixed together
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter (Preferably a bit runny, you can also use peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk the ground flaxseed and water together in a small cup. Set aside and allow it to gel.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients, including the flax and water mixture, until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  There should be no dry patches.
  6. Portion into balls, about the size of a ping pong ball.  Place on the baking sheet a few inches apart.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown on the bottom. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  If you transfer the cookies while they are hot, they will break apart.

 These treats fueled my backpacking trip to the top of Cloud's Rest in Yosemite These treats fueled our backpacking trip to the top of Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite