What should I take on an overnight tramp with the kids?

Hi, I’ve just got home from an overnight tramp to a hut with a group of friends and their kids. There were 13 of us in total, 6 mum’s and 7 kids aged 10 to 4 years. For some it was their first overnight in the backcountry with their kids (more on this experience in the next blog!) In preparation for this I made the list below.

The trick is to take everything you need and as little as possible!

There is a tendency to take far too much. It can be hard to get some kids to leave behind the four soft toys and the cuddly blanket they need to take to get to sleep. Yes I am speaking from experience, but with a little encouragement about what an adventurer is and then perhaps letting them choose one special (hopefully small) soft toy to bring; most kids should be able to carry that and their own sleeping bag and then you will be off to a good start!


  • Adults need a large enough tramping pack/backpack to hold what is required, with chest and padded waist straps (note: there are women-specific packs). Kids can use their school bags or a pack if they have one.
  • A pack liner or large rubbish bag, this keeps everything inside your pack dry.
  • Boots are preferable but not essential, a pair of sturdy trainers, with good tread will do (make sure these fit so they are not constantly coming off in mud). If you don’t have boots bring two pairs of socks and be prepared for potentially wet, muddy shoes. Hut slippers can be useful if they are very light and you have room.
  • Sleeping bags for each family member. There are mattresses in the DOC huts.
  • First aid kit– check it’s up to date (liquid pamol if you have young ones).
  • Warm clothes (merino, wool or polar fleece are recommended. Not cotton.)
  • Waterproof jackets/rain coats
  • Snacks for the trail (in an easily accessible place-like the top zip pocket)
  • Water bottle + water
  • Duct tape -wrapped around your drink bottle-because you never know…
  • Plastic or aluminium mug, plate or bowl, fork and spoon (or spork) for each person
  • Torch + spare batteries
  • Personal toiletry items, don’t forget toilet paper
  • Food  e.g. fruit and nut mix (scorggin), crackers & cheese, or muesli bars, fruit (apples or oranges are good, but heavy, so you could take a dried option instead), maybe a few lollies and some chocolate. For dinner – something fast and easy to cook like rice or pasta, with maybe a tuna sachet + a little pre cut vegetables. Breakfast ideas – cereal, porridge, bread or fruit, hot choc, tea or coffee.
  • A small gas cooker, gas and pots
  • A lighter or matches and a candle
  • Newspaper and a fire starter if you need to get the fire going (check hut information as not all huts have fireplaces.)
  • Playing cards for kids and adults
  • A book if your feeling optimistic about some “me” time and maybe a little wine for later ; )

It seems a lot to take I know, so see if you can find someone else to come along with you, like we did, it lightens the load, shares the responsibility and enriches the experience. Each time you go, you will pick up another tip or trick for next time.

Don’t forget to check the weather report and always let someone know your plan.

Good luck – We’d love to know about how you get on in the comments.


6 thoughts on “What should I take on an overnight tramp with the kids?

  1. Tanya Gilchrist says:

    Thank you for sharing, I am loving your blog and starting to feel more confident about taking the kids, particularly overnight. What an awesome thing to be able to do with so many friends.


  2. Gemma Rice says:

    This is great! I just found your blog when searching for Otanewainuku trig track descriptions – I am walking up with my 3yr old tomorrow for my birthday and wanted to know which way to loop it for little legs. Then I kept clicking on because your blog is awesome! I’d love to do an overnight hut walk with my boy soon – need to squeeze it in before the next baby arrives 😉


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