My husband does not backpack. I started my son's when they turned about 9. We took very short trips, about 5 to 7 miles, to lakes. I basecamped for about 3 days. The boys swam to their hearts content,took short hikes, and fished. I taught them stove safety,and cooking. They were fully qualified to solo at the age of 13. Dad was glad to get them out of the house.