I want to take my 10-year-old (80 lbs.) boy backpacking. How much weight should he carry? I want him to enjoy it!
Submitted by - Bil Gibson - Jupiter, FL
Well, Bil, there are several factors to consider here. It’s a great idea to have your son carry a pack. I’ve found that my kids (ages 9 and 12) enjoy carrying a pack because it makes them feel more involved with the trip, but if the route is strenuous or the day is long, I gotta be really careful about how much weight I give them.
I find that it’s better to start my boys off on a trip with a really light pack, and if they handle it well, I discreetly add a little more weight as the trip progresses. If your boy is big and strong and the trail is flat, you could try him with 15-20 pounds, but it’s risky to go higher than that. Make him carry his sleeping bag and pad and some clothes, a water bottle and a couple of snacks.
As for you, be prepared to schlep monster hero-dad loads until your boy is full-grown. Hopefully, by then, you’ll have molded him into an enthusiastic backpacker, who will repay you by carrying the heavy stuff!