Bike Camping With Kids, Part II: Destinations, Planning, and Equipment

This is the second installment in a two-part series on bike camping with kids. In the first installment, AMC contributor Ethan Hipple shared his account of his family's bike camping adventure along the coast of Maine. It is the story of one family's trip with 11 and 13 year old kids pedaling their own camping gear along the rocky coast, islands, and fishing villages of Deer Isle, Me. This week, we publish his tips for routes, planning, packing, and equipment.

Wicker baskets are old-school, but functional. 
  1. Navigation: Map and compass and knowledge how to use them.
  2. Sun Protection: Sunscreen and shades.
  3. Insulation: Non-cotton, insulating layers. Fleece, poly-pro or wool are best.
  4. Illumination: Just going out for a day ride? Still bring a headlamp and bike light. You don’t know what is going to happen out there.
  5. First Aid: Bring a small backcountry first aid kit on every trip.
  6. Fire: Lighter and fire starting material.
  7. Nutrition: In addition to lunch, bring emergency food: energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit or jerky.
  8. Hydration: You should be drinking all day as you read--at least two quarts per person. But as you won’t be in the backcountry, you can just carry one quart bottle per person since you can refill as you go.
  9. Shelter: Tent for overnight trips.
  10. Tools: I never go an adventure without a lighter, Swiss Army knife or multi-tool, 50 feet of parachute cord, and duct tape. With these items along you can handle almost any situation.
A trailer allows you to haul along extras like extra tents, camp hammock, instruments, and more. We've seen folks carrying coolers on short trips!

Loaded kids bike with custom fishing rod holders bolted on the back. The flat platform created by the tops of the two square five-gallon buckets is perfect for strapping sleeping bags, pads, tents, etc...
Solar charger is handy for cameras, phones, etc... This one cost $30 and charges a phone in 3 hours while we ride. 

Bring along an extra tarp to make a vestibule. Gives you a front porch off of your tent! 
Make it Fun

Use three u-bolts to attach the bucket to the bike rack. Or you can make it quick-release (as pictured above) by using coat hooks on the top (they hook over the top of the bike rack) and a u-bolt on the bottom (it attaches with wingnuts to the vertical bike rack supports).

Inside view. 
Places to Go For Your First Family Bike Camping Trip

Read the first installment of this two-part series here. 

Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog. This post was written by Ethan Hipple.

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