Somewhere between bottles and diapers and a bike without training wheels, there’s an opportunity to instill in your children the same love for the trail and wild spaces you have. As an outdoor enthusiast you may be lamenting the loss of available time to pursue activities you are interested in with the addition of children to your family. But there’s no need to sit and be idle. Today there are a many of ways to keep parents and kids alike motivated and ready for time on the trail. It turns out meaningful inspiration, sound advice and wisdom can be gleaned from the parental trailblazers that came before us. We turned to the Deuter ambassador team for relatable and actionable ways to continue to do what you love.
New parents find that the time they spend outdoors is not necessarily reduced but the activities get a little tamer. Before becoming parents Jesse Cunningham and his wife tended to put in long hours on technical pursuits like multi-pitch ice climbs and overnight backpacking trips. “With children our activities are more often less technical in nature,” Cunningham said, Aimee Eaton, who’s currently on a year-long quest to catch every game fish in the country with her toddler son and husband, expresses a similar sentiment “while we continue to spend as much, or more time outdoors than pre-baby, that time has shifted to fishing smaller waters.”
Though the change of pace or objective doesn’t have to stymie outdoor pursuit. “Some people claim having children has curbed their outdoor lifestyle,” Deuter ambassador Melissa Edge explains, “but I believe it has enriched mine. I am able to see the world differently through a child’s eyes. The slower pace allows us to appreciate where we are going and what we are doing.” In the frenzy of ambitious summit attempts, all-day ski tours and endurance mountain bike rides it’s easy to let slip the reason we’re out there in the first place – discovery of and connection to the natural world.
As with outdoor trips sans children, the right gear and proper planning make the experience. First aid, more water (and diapers) than you’d ever think you’d need are essential, explains Elisa Rispoli. The Deuter Kid Comfort 3, she claims, has a potent case for being the most indispensable piece of gear for outdoor parents with toddlers. Plenty of compartments for holding the aforementioned necessities plus first class comfort for passenger and parent alike make for sublime time on the trail.
Once the little ones are under their own power, Deuter ambassadors turn to the family line of packs to help lighten the load. “Kids are stronger than you think: One day we hiked 1,700 feet up a pass only to discover our 7-year old son’s pack contained rocks (mementos of the trail)” said Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin. Deuter’s Climber and Fox packs offer the same technology, features and benefits of Deuter adult packs, just shrunk down to fit budding adventurers.
It’s important for kids to have gear that is suited to their size, weight and ability, which is why Deuter makes the Kikki and Schmusebar packs for even the littlest of hikers. “If a child is uncomfortable doing any outdoor activity due to their gear not being suitable, it will be miserable for everyone,” explains Melisse Edge, who blogs about adventuring with kids at adventuretykes.com.
The right gear will only take you and the little ones so far. The last mile in creating unforgettable outdoor experiences is still up to the guides, or in this case, the parents. Sparking an emotional connection to the outdoors creates indelible moments and lasting bonds. Creating them takes practice, perseverance and patience. “Keep the trips fun. Don’t try to bite off too much. Shorter is always better if you finish when everyone is still happy,” is Cunningham’s advice. “Have a bailout/backup plan for if things don’t go well and be open to making creative changes to your plans as needed,” he continues.
Creating the avenues that fueled your excitement for the outdoors for your children will foster their enjoyment of it as well. Whether that’s the serenity of an alpine lake, the thrill of bagging a peak or settling in at a remote campsite, the connection is fostered through relationship with place. “We’ve always educated ourselves about the places we explore and now we can pass that knowledge down to our son, but it doesn’t “feel” like learning,” said Edge. “It’s more of a discovery for him.”