How to Backpack with a Son

Knapsack Col - Wind River Range, CO
Knapsack Col – Wind River Range, CO

It has been one week today since Grant, my son and I walked off the Continental Divide Trail. We have managed to successfully leap back into school and work. Both of us would agree that our adventure together was unique, fun, and very challenging.

Many of you have emailed or commented asking for tips for hiking with a parent or an adult child. As Silly Chili and I reflect back over the last 2 months, we are laughing and attribute our positive hiking partnership to the following very simple tips that worked for us:

  1. Both be equally and independently committed to the trip, and both be willing to make it work. We cannot express this strongly enough!!!!

  2. Both be physically in shape.

  3. Have more of a friendship, rather than a parent/child relationship.

  4. Pack independent gear: water filter, maps, GPS, tent, food storage, and camera.

  5. Both need to be responsible individually for selecting, preparing, and packing their own food.

  6. Have patience and understanding, be forgiving, and just have fun.

Click here to view all entries from our summer on the Continental Divide Trail:


  1. Skyward (Teresa)

    Congrats, Christie. As I was hiking Oregon, I mentally listed each day my women hiking inspirations-your name was on the list. I finished, it was fun, hurt a lot ( feet), but otherwise turned out wonderful. I met some nice folks. I’m looking forward to your gear review-thinking of changing pack, tent, also wondering how the Cascadias did. At the last minute I wore a different show instead of those, and I think it was a mistake. My feet got too hot in the trail shoes (Patagonias) I wore.
    Have a great teaching year! We will be down at our place near Death Valley this winter, if you want to hike or stay with us!

    • I just love hearing this. Thank you for sharing! So when are you hiking Washington????? Loved my tent, pack, and shoe combo. I am a huge fan of anything cuben fiber. To me it was a miracle fabric: light, strong, and waterproof. I ended up going back to my 50L Jam pack and loved it because the length of the back was shorter and the capacity was less. I also changed from the Cascadia 7 to 8s. I had no blisters or problems. I did wear them with Spenco insoles, injinji socks, and dirty girl gaiters. That combo really works for me in any conditions, especially heat and wet. My tent the Skyscape X by Six Moons took some time to get used to setting it up, but I knew that was going to be a challenge for me ahead of time. After I learned to deal with that, I loved the size, weight, protection, and set-up. I LOVED LOVED that after the tent got really wet after a rain, I could roll it up and it did not weight much more than when it was dry. Sil nylon after getting wet weighs a ton, not so with cuben fiber. I experienced time and time again with the material of my Tarptent Moment turning into a wet soggy mess. It is all about pack weight and being comfortable to me these days. I will be posting a full gear review soon with some surprising conclusions.

      Congratulations on your successful trek on the PCT. Please, please let me know when you will be down my way to hike. Thanks for posting!

  2. Sounds advice from a great pair of hikers. 🙂

  3. Thank you for creating such a great blog! I am planning on heading out to the Winds in a couple weeks. How was it going over Knapsack Col? I have MicroSpikes but is an ice axe needed coming up from Titcomb Basin this year?

    • The Winds were gorgeous and the flowers should be in full bloom when you go. No need for any equipment now on the regular cols and passes, unless you are planning on climbing some of the peaks. Have a fantastic trip. I am jealous.

  4. Sounds like good advice for life, not just a backpacking trip.

    • Come to think of it you are so right. After being home for awhile, I am in the need for a tune-up mentally and physically. Work always seems to take over. Thanks for the insight.

  5. Penny Rand

    I have followed your trip from day 1. Love your honesty, determination and commitment. What special and unreplaceable memories you have with your son. You have contributed to everyones dreams and plans. Glad you are home safe!

    • That means so much. Thank you for following along our journey. I still cannot wrap my head around that we actually did it all and came out in one piece, happy, and ready for life.

  6. Wise and sound advice not just for parent/adult-child hikes, but for anyone taking on a hiking partner. I resonate especially with the need to have a full kit independently, in case either party is separated or wishes to hike solo a while. The summer CDT entries reflect, to me, a mature relationship of love and give-and-take between the two of you. How special that is! And…it’s great you’re both safely home!

    • Timothy,
      Both Grant and I have loved and looked forward to reading your thoughtful and encouraging comments. We cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read and comment along the way. You are the best.
      Rockin’ and Silly Chili

  7. Any chance you will post a gest review of the CDT?

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