Saturday, May 21, 2011

Backpacking overnighter with the kids

Finally the night temperatures seemed to stay clearly above freezing. It was time to go out with my kids, two boys aged six and seven. Bikepacking on trails is still a few years away for them, but backpacking is no problem. We got into the car and drove to Mathildedal in the Teijo area, a one hour drive. There would be other possibilities closer, but the Mathildedal trails go around two nice lakes and is quite scenic.

Starting 19:15 at Matildanjärvi.

Lots of interesting things to look at.

Not only walking...

... and not always the easiest way.

Bog-rosemary (fi suokukka, swe rosling).

Continuing towards Puolakanjärvi.

Our goal, the forest island to the right.

Almost there.

The first task was to put up the tent. There was actually another small group at the shelter (usually I see nobody on my outings), but we found a nice tent spot a bit away.

After that the kids went exploring the surroundings.

We grilled a few sandwhiches over the fire started by the other group. Delicious!

The evening was quite beautiful. Sunset at 22:15. Not bad.

Time to sleep. There were already a few mosquitoes around, enough to warrant the bug inner tent.

The kids did complain a little about the light, but soon fell asleep anyway.

The night was full of bird sounds, and in the beginning some noise from the other group. The temperature went a bit lower than expected, down to 3ºC (37ºF), but the kids said they were warm the entire time. Their sleeping bags should be good to around a little below freezing, but they seemed to glide off their half-length sleeping pads all the time, making it colder for them.

We slept long in the morning, and when we started to wake up the sun was already warming the tent to a comfortable temperature. We all ate porridge and drank hot chocolate / coffee.

Morning view.

The first night in the new tent, a Golite Shangri-La 5 with a bug inner tent, was promising. Light weight, lots of space and not a single drop of condensation despite no wind and a fairly chilly night. I'll make a post about tents later...

Morning exploring while I took down the tent.

The kids carried their own sleeping bags and pads, while I took the rest. My 80 liter backpack weighing 1.8 kg wins me no credibility amongst the lightpacking crowd, but otherwise the gear was lightweight. I would probably get a new light backpack if I would do more backpacking. A modern 60 liter backpack should weigh clearly under 1 kg.

On the move again.

Always something to take a closer look at.

Blueberry blossoms.

Small, but important, details.

We arrived at the car after a one hour walk. The children were satisfied with the outing and immediately asked when we will do it again.

A slideshow with more pictures.


  1. Nice post! The kids look cute with their matching gear. =) It's great to know that there is a new generation of lightweight backpackers/bikers growing out there.

  2. Looks like a great time with the kids. I wish more people would take the time to get their kids out into the backcountry.

  3. Awesome Awesome post!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

    Peace, Joboo

  4. Very nice! Really enjoyed this post.

  5. Very nice! What kind of sleeping bags are your kids using? I am searching new sleeping bags for the kids...

    The Teijo/Mathildedal area has been on my list of places to visit; now even more so.

  6. Maria, last time I checked there were no really good (i.e light) sleeping bags for kids. I bought these bags some years ago on some sort of sale, and they will have to do for now:
    The North Face Blue Ridge: Max height 150 cm, weight 1100 g.
    Ajungilak kompakt 3-Season: Max height 165 cm, weight a horrible 1300 g.

    Both bags are good to just below freezing, but are of course too heavy (my own down bag for similar temperatures weighs 600 g in size XL). A couple of years from now I will probably get them proper down bags or quilts.

  7. Thanks for your reply. It really seems that there are no really good alternatives. What I have been thinking is that I could purchase a quilt (which would be good to around 0 C). Then I could use it with my down sleeping bag in the winter (it should be ok to -7 C, but I freeze easily), and from late spring to early autumn it would serve the kids (of course, one at a time - or me, and the kids would use my sleeping bag). It would also be nice for me when it's really warm (maybe July?).

    Looking forward to your tent review, the Shangri-La 5 looks really nice! (Although I've heard that "5" is really optimistic ;-) )

  8. Nice Post! Really waiting new post from your Golite Shangri-La 5 tent. I also searching something similar; lightweight and more space.

  9. Great. We spent a number of nights too with kids at Mathildendal.

    BTW family trips - and they make about half of all trips I do - is one use case when I do not care about gear weight. I'm carrying almost everything myself anyway, and I'm not the "performance bottleneck". So no reason to compromise on comfort or to spend extra $$ to shed 200g.

    But now an important question/remark: so, for you it's OK to pitch at a ground where another team is already staying? Some distance like 20m? I'm especially sensitive about this issue being a foreigner in Finland. (Once we just left Matildanjärvi when the place I planned to stay was occupied, and there was no other reasonable place nearby...)

  10. Thanks for the comments. I'll try to make the tent post during next week.

    Konstantin, I think whether you can stay at the same place as another group really depends on the situation. Teerisaari, at the south of Puolakkajärvi is big enough to accomodate several groups. We were some 30 m from the other group behind the shelter they stayed at. And it is the kind of place where I don't think anyone can demand to be "alone" at. In my opinion this goes for most of the official places intended for camping. Camping in another place using the everyman's right might be different, though. But if it is the only reasonable place within the area I think most people would accept other groups at the same place.

    I don't obsess about weight, but when buying anything new I do try to find the lightest alternative, though cost is also a parameter. And while it does not matter much if you are only walking a few hours, I think for a slightly longer family trip weight does matter, since it is clear who has to carry it.

  11. Nice post. I can't wait to get out with my son. He has been sleeping in a small play tent at night at home for a while and i think he would enjoy such explorations as what you describe very much. And so would I.

    Re. sleeping bag. -- We have a Haglöf Slumber Toddler bag ( It packs small and is fairly light. He is now tree years old and last summer it was warm enough for him waring cheap wool/cotton base layer and iirc a wool sweater. The biggest issue was to keep him in the bag while sleeping. He had a tendency to worm his way out. I'm curious how he will sleep this year wrt that.

    The length is only 110 cm. That seams quite small but according to a crow-chart (like this he can fit it two summers more. That will be four summers all together. And at some points his little brother (emerging this summer) will inherit it.

    If one find this route silly, what most folks do is to use a junior bag and fold the foot box over the legs of the kid and tie it such that it doesn't slide down again. In that way one limit the extra room the kid need to heat and the bag can be used for a longer time.

    Re. sleeping pad. -- Interesting point about them sliding off. Maybe they that be tied to the

    Re. the your kids backpack. -- What is it?

    Btw. It's quite hard to get to comment on your blog. I had to make a blogger account for my g-spam-mail account.

  12. The backpacks are some sort of small multisport rucksacks of about 8 l capacity, Halti Airlite 1, bought on a local sale. There is no greater thought behind them, they were just light, cheap and suitably sized.

    Earlier the kids have slept on full length pads, but since I make do with a short pad despite my 192 cm I thought the kids could as well, but I was wrong. They obviously move around a lot when sleeping. The Z-Rest is not really a slippery sleeping pad.

    Regarding the comment, to avoid spam I don't allow anomynous comments, just like most bloggers.

  13. Your pictures are awesome again...really they are something special. Thanks again!