The Adventures of Cracker Barrel and Paris - or - What Toy to Bring for Your 4-Year Old on a 10-day Backpacking Trip

A daunting task, isn’t it?  To think about what toys you can bring on a 10-day backpacking trip that will entertain your child and keep her happy in the wilds…and don’t forget you have to consider weight here.  My pack with just Skyla and some water weighs 50lbs.  Ryan’s pack with all our food and gear weighs in at 70lbs.  We have 65 miles to hike to document the Montana Remote Spot so toys are not really a high priority.  But a happy child makes for happy parents so there has to be a balance there.

Weighing in at under 0.1 ounce, Cracker Barrel and Paris made the cut.  Every child’s interests are different as is their ability to entertain themselves.  The best advice I have is to take something (super light!) they are familiar with that is open ended — a toy that doesn’t ‘do’ anything but that your child has to spend energy making it ‘do’ and can make up stories to enact.  A small car/truck, little doll, a favorite miniature animal figurine or two, you get the picture.

Each afternoon/evening we made camp and began setting up our tent and preparing for the evening, Skyla too got busy making sleeping arrangements for ‘the girls’ or gathering spruce needles, leaves, sticks for the dinner.  Same thing the next morning.

Because we are homeschooling and are never ‘out of school’, we also used the girls as teaching opportunities.  Here she is hanging them high in a tree so that a bear won’t reach them (similar to our food).

Here they are taking a dust bath (similar to the blue grouse we saw earlier along the trail).


From what kind of tree did those needles/leaves come?

How can you make your building more structurally sound?

How is this structure similar to those made by the Salish or Blackfeet Tribes that once inhabited the area?

What kind of bird might have made this nest?

Skyla does not consider this a toy because it is ‘her work’ but we also brought along a small, light notepad with a colored pen of her choosing.  She used her journal to record the days events or, when she found out I was going to name a blog The Adventures of Cracker Barrel and Paris, to write a book about ‘the girls’.   The journal proved to be another piece of essential gear!

We used it to practice writing …

and reading as well.  I made up short, easy stories and wrote them down so she could read them…much lighter than a book!

The possibilities are endless and so, hopefully, will be your child’s ability to entertain him/herself while you are backpacking.  Feel free to post other ideas, comments, and questions here…




Filed under Homeschooling, Outdoor Activities, Parenting

3 comments on “The Adventures of Cracker Barrel and Paris - or - What Toy to Bring for Your 4-Year Old on a 10-day Backpacking Trip

  1. A beautiful and educational story. Dust baths are a must for all dolls.

  2. Cracker Barrel and Paris have been members of the family for years . Skyla has taken them many places and provided a loving and comfortable environment for them always. I am always amazed at her creativity and nurturing nature. Miss y’all bunches.

  3. Absolutely darling…skyla rocks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


73,325 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

HTML tags are not allowed.