How to pack for a backcountry excursion with your family

Have exciting plans for a backcountry trip this summer? Whether you’re headed to a remote lodge, planning a wilderness portage, or camping for the first time with your family, proper preparation and strategic packing are both key to a successful trip.

Unlike day trips and car camping, backcountry travel requires a high degree of forethought and precision, especially when it comes to packing as lightly and smartly as possible. After all, you’ll eventually have to carry everything for the excursion on your back, and there won’t be any room for nonessentials.

To get it right, keep these five important factors in mind the next time you and your family hit the open road.

Consider your route and necessary gear

Ahead of any trip, you’ll want to think through the geography and timing of your expedition. For example, if you are hiking to a backcountry cabin instead of setting up tents along the way, you may not have to pack as much gear, depending on what equipment will already be available at your destination.

Then, make sure that you have all required permits, a detailed map with campsites and water sources marked, and access to a GPS and a compass, even if they are just on your phone. Solar-powered phone chargers and flashlights can also be helpful, especially for a longer trip.

Shop wisely and pack smartly

We all want to explore the backcountry in style, but it’s important to be strategic and bring only the essentials, since you likely won’t have access to electricity, bathrooms or running water. You will need tents, campsite and cooking gear, but also enough clothing, food, and toiletries for everyone for the duration of your trip. If you run out of bug spray or sunscreen in the wilderness, there won’t be any way to restock.

You’ll have to carry everything that you pack on the trail, so everything you bring should be as light and compact as possible. When you’re prepping for the excursion, look for multi-purpose, specially designed outdoor gear that’s made of lightweight, durable materials.

Make meal prep a priority

On a backcountry trip, you won’t be able to carry large quantities of food and water, or bring anything that needs to be refrigerated. For a short trip that involves some hiking, you may want to rely on ready-to-eat food, and avoid meals that require cooking altogether. Dried and dehydrated foods and water-purification filters, drops or tablets are helpful for keeping the weight of your pack down.  

Finally, you may need a bear bag or food hang to keep your food away from bears and other animals on the trail.

Put safety first

Besides a GPS, compass, and map, a good first aid kit is a backcountry necessity. You’ll also want to have a personal flotation devices for everyone if you will be portaging, as well as essentials such as matches or a lighter, a pocket knife, and duct tape for quick repairs.

Check for fit

Ahead of your trip, be sure to check that everything you’ve put aside will fit in your bags, and that there is room in the car and space on the hike for the entire family’s gear and essentials.

Thankfully, with the new, spacious Kia Telluride eight-passenger family SUV, taking your family and camping gear on the road couldn’t be easier. There’s plenty of room, and with the one-touch walk-in sliding seats, your family will be able to easily slip into the back. The third-row folding seats allow for even more room in the back, maximizing your space and simplifying the loading and unloading process.


Hitting the open road for an adventure with your family this summer? Visit Tales from the Modern Family, our roadmap to reconnecting families through authentic weekend experiences, brought to you by the all-new Kia Telluride.