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At what age do most people start taking your children out on overnight winter trips in real winter conditions?
i.e. snow and ice on the ground , temps generally below freezing during the day, and say down to 0F at night or colder etc
So my son is 5(6 in may), and he now comes with me on all of my trips spring-fall for the most part. He's in the 98% for height, so he's about the size of your average 7 or 8 yr old. He is also a pretty rough and tumble tough kid. No issues at all in more moderate weather, and he thoroughly enjoys it. We typically will do about 4 or 5 miles max in a day over relatively easy terrain, or only 2 or so over tougher terrain. I carry the vast majority of the gear, but he has a small pack that he carries some basic things like a change of clothes, a water bottle, compass, whistle, flashlight etc. Nothing more than a few pounds.
I am a year round backpacker, rain , sleet, shine , or snow. I have been hesitant thus far to bring him out on an extremely foul weather trip, mainly because I am almost certain he wouldn't find it enjoyable just yet. He doesn't mind a little rain, but when it's a complete washout he just isn't to the point where he enjoys it yet. That being said, he has really been pushing me to take him out on a winter trip. We do go on winter day hikes with no issue, but then we are only out for 2 or 3 hours max.
My real concern is here in the northeast it can get pretty darn cold at night depending on the week and of course location. I don't doubt that he would have fun provided the weather was somewhat mild, but I am just hesitant due to how bad things can turn in the winter in short notice. I am also concerned with him truthfully voicing discomfort or problems in the event it was too cold for him etc, or I guess more specifically he telling me early on and not when he was already soaked from sweat etc. I don't have any reason to believe he would, I just know from my experience with winter backpacking that I need to do certain things as soon as I begin to detect them to prevent things from getting worse. Example: like if I start to get hot and sweat I need to shed layers etc
My gut is saying maybe wait another year or two at least, but I am wondering if I am just being overly cautious. So, what do you do?