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Backpacking with multiple creatures and 1 tent

I’ve scoured the reviews, blogs, and websites. I’m sure this is asked frequently, my apologies. 

My daughter is 5 now, we hike often, at least once a week. She can carry a backpack (just the deuter kikki) and go 2-3 miles easy. 
So naturally... it’s time to start backpacking. 
It will be myself, my 5 year old, and a 70-80 lb dog (our dog, not a random one 😉)... eventually it will also be my 3 year old. 

What tent do we need for the long haul (figuratively and literally, long haul)? We can’t afford to replace it, I’m selling ALL the baby gear to fund this (anyone need a stroller?)... 


I am assume our answer is the REI half dome 3+. But it seems heavy and bulky. But... so many buts... it’s less expensive and more durable than alternatives (dog claws). 


for fun... a couple pics of the kiddos... including my 3 year old wearing my Osprey Ariel ag 55 😂




9 Replies

Thumbs up for the Half Dome. My partner in the late 1990s had one and it was our preferred tent for mild conditions. 


assuming you will not be out and about in bad weather, you might consider a light weight tarp - versatile, can be pitched in numerous ways, and helpful in conjunction with a tent you will purchase later.  I'll bet you might favor multiple small tents in the future, so each kid can have their own....

If you can count on good conditions, sleeping under the stars has several good points.  in good weather, a tent is not crucial.

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This is a good point! 
We are in Oregon. Weather will be mild for the most part since we will be new to backpacking and I’ll have a dog and young kiddo in tow. 
but we also do much of our schooling outdoors (thanks to covid-homeschooling)... in our rainy climate, I already own a tarp like item with the seam sealed loops and such that we use as a canopy. 
now I’m going to learn how to use it as more of a tent type structure! 

You will find that adjustable hiking staffs (or equivalent improvised sticks) and lots of string - paracord is sufficient - will come in handy - perhaps a tent stake or three will also be useful.   Good chance to show some knot craft to the young 'uns.

Your kids look fabulous!!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@hikermor - Do you have a hiking staph recommendation? Every point of the gear selection process is proving to be so mind boggling. Lol 


This is the only set up I have down so far. Ha! I need to learn how to not rely as heavily on the trees... sticks and proper hiking staphs would be very helpful! 


When I see prices for a set of hiking staffs running to $200 or so, I am reminded of the virtues of plain old broomsticks - cheap and perfectly satisfactory for about 90% of potential uses....especially with a bit of thoughtful modification.

Such a pole can be free standing if firmly anchored (preferably in a tarp grommet) and two guy lines(why you need plenty of stout cordage).  Expense is negligible and you have $200 too spend ob something really essential like quality sleeping bags....

I like the tent setup you have pictured.  it is quite versatile and very fine in most conditions.

I get the impression you are trying to find the perfect set of gear and make one purchase and be done with it.  I don't think that is possible.  Gear that works well in some conditions is not so satisfactory in others, and you will find your preferences will change with more experience.  It is a good idea to beg, rent, or borrow stuff while you are reaching a decision.  Like most of us, you will probably have gear that is marginally useful and only used occasionally, while others are used all the time.  There is no one camp stove that is perfect in every situation.

Have fun and enjoy the outdoors with your kids!!!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thank you for all of this. 
man’s it’s true. 
my he cost of it all is daunting but I’m also nervous of not calculating our needs properly and being ill prepared... or purchasing the wrong gear and needing to re-purchase later. 

we have many things already as we are a camping and hiking family. Sleeping bags and such. But we mainly camp in a trailer at this point and have given much of our gear to friends and family... like the tent which would’ve required it’s own bag anyway 😂


so far I’ve only purchased a backpack and sleeping pad. Camp stove and such I figured we’d just pack simple foods for the first few trips... we’ll only be going a couple miles in and only a single night. 

but yes, it’s true, I was looking for a tent to last us years and years instead of just to get us started. Either way, they seemed expensive and I’m not finding much used right now in this category. 

I’m reassessing our tarp/tent right now. It should work perfectly for our initial needs. 


Growing kids = changing tent needs. 

Tarp is a good second spot - times to keep 'em separated.

Tent = Less bug adventures for the kiddos at night. Less itchy = less stress. 

This will definitely work! I need to try a couple more configurations and see if I can’t get some more floor space. Lol 


thanks for the advice!!