Hiking can be so fun especially when going with your little ones. Getting ready for a family outing can be not as much fun though. I always find myself struggling on my packing list (cause we all know with kids its more of a packing list than grabbing your bag and walking out the door). Packing light is usually out of the question as well. After several trials and errors I have finally figured out how to do so. Though I don’t go out as much as I would love to I have managed to make my hikes much happier and lighter. Here’s a few of my must haves for hiking with my little ones and why I choose to bring each of these items.
Hiking with kids means being ready for any scenario possible, especially if you are hiking with two little ones. My girls are 1 and 3 at the moment and I’ve had my fair share of stops, early turn around points, snack times, water breaks, and of course, the lovely potty time in the woods. Let’s start off with the most important one on my list.
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I can’t stress enough how important water is especially on a hike with your children on a hot summer day. The mornings can be nice and cool but towards the afternoon, temperatures can get up in the 90’s . Over-heating and thirst is a huge thing so hydration is a must. I usually take my Camelbak hydration pack, Hydro-flask, or Healthy Human water-bottle. A Camelbak is good for long hikes. My daughter has a small one that she carries and I have a large one for me making it easy for us to do our hike and cutting down on break times to hydrate.
Related Article: MSR Gear Water Filter
Let’s face it! You can feed your child a nice filling meal and not even 10 minutes later they are asking for a snack. At least my girls do anyways! I always try to pack up some healthy delicious snacks for them when out on a hike, or just anywhere really. Now I said healthy delicious snacks. Usually junk food will just go right through them not giving them the energy, calories, and vitamins that they need unlike healthy snacks. When your child is burning calories, hiking a mile or more, they need to get a healthy snack that will help them push forward on the trail and also keeps them fuller longer.
Related Article: Best Healthy Snacks For Kids
I like using reef safe, all natural sun-blocks. Knowing the ingredients going on to your skin can be very important. Did you know that the chemicals that your body absorbs through the skin take much longer to leave the body? Yes. Your skin is actually the largest organ in your body. Due to its porous surface, the lotions, creams, fragrances… that you put on your skin is absorbed. Many of these chemicals make it to your bloodstream as well. That’s kind of scary, right? Here are some sun-blocks that I highly recommend you use.
Related Article: Why You Should Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen
Now this may not be needed for all kids but they are definitely good to have when hiking with toddlers and infants. I recommend using the Ergo for many reasons. I tried so many baby carriers and all of them gave my awful back pains and even migraines. It was very unpleasant to hike with them and usually I ended up cutting the hike short. Not anymore. I made the switch to an Ergo baby carrier and it has changed our lives. No more back aches, migraines, and best of all it’s easy to use, good for my daughter by preventing hip dysplasia, and comfortable. You can read all the juicy details here.
Related Article : Ergo Baby Carrier Review
Most people use their phone and that is fine, I use them too, but I prefer to use my GoPro or my Canon when I go hiking. Hiking with your kids means making memories to last us forever. The best way to always go back to those days is through those pictures you take. So go and make those fun memories last you a lifetime. When taking your camera don’t forget to charge it, bring the memory card, and the case if it needs a case.
Related Article: 5 Reasons Why You Should Own A GoPro
This is the best part of the trail right? Getting torn up by mosquitoes and other random bugs!? No? Yeah, I agree. I hate dealing with bugs on the trail. Just like with sun-block though, it is good to get an organic and all natural bug spray. This is something that you will be applying to your skin so it’s best to use something safe. Here are some brands that I personally like to use.
Some hikes require some extra protections such as sunglasses, hats, special shoes or boots, you name it. It is always good to bring extra protection just in case. To best know what to bring, it is always good to do some quick research on the trail you plan to go to. Remember that going to a trail prepared can make all the difference in the world.
Usually some comfy sneakers work wonders for kids on short day hikes. If you plan on going on longer hikes I highly recommend getting some hiking boots that work good for your babies to prevent ankle injuries and better stability on the trail. I don’t recommend a specific brand of hiking boots as every child’s feet and preference is different.
HIKING WITH INFANTS
If you’re hiking with infants then that means bottles, stopping to feed, nursing sessions, changing diapers, and baby carriers. For diapers I usually put two in my Ergo with a small ziploc bag with wipes. I love using my Ergo baby carrier cause this way I can nurse my little one while I’m still hiking and cover her head up for comfort, stability, and privacy. Also beats carrying a bottle everywhere and stopping for feeding sessions. If you don’t breastfeed (we don’t judge here, many people can’t or choose not too and that is completely fine too.) then it is best to bring a bag with the formula and take feeding breaks throughout the trail. I have even seen a mom hold the bottle while her baby is in the Ergo as they continue on their hike.
Related Article : Baby Hiking Essentials
Another thing to always have handy is hand sanitizer. You wouldn’t believe that stuff kids want to pick up. My youngest picked up a snail once and tried to eat it. At first I thought it was a rock she was playing with until I saw her try to eat it. Yes! Very disgusting and I went crazy with hand sanitizer washing her down. My oldest has a thing with picking up sticks. She loves to collect sticks. You should see the trunk of my car. It is filled with rocks and sticks that they find on the trails. With that said, they are always touching the ground, their face, and everything around them. It is good to clean their hands before eating snacks or just routinely during the trip. Kids like to put their hands and fingers in their mouth so using hand sanitizer regularly throughout the hike is a good thing. It helps prevent getting unwanted germs in their system.
FIRST AID KIT
I’m sure we all have that one child that just trips with every root, stick, stone, or even their own two feet. I always have a small first aid kit in my bag and a large one in the car. When they have a scratch I wash out her cuts and scratches with hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes and put some neosporin and a band-aid till we get to the car. Once we get to the car I take a closer look at it depending how bad the injury was. It is always good to have a first aid kit with you even if it is for a small scratch. I know my girls get a small boo boo and quickly want a band-aid. You also never know when something can happen and being prepared makes emergency situations much easier.
Last but not least… a bag to put it all in. The Camel-Back that my daughter uses has a spot for the bladder as well as two compartments to put small items in. This small bag usually works well for me for short day hikes. I take my ID, debit card, hand sanitizer, phone, and snacks in the bag. Hand sanitizer is usually hanging off on one of the straps. Sunblock and bug repellent is usually applied before hitting the trails. Depending on how long the trail is I take them with me. If I am carrying everything then it is good to take a larger backpack. I highly recommend using this one or one similar to it. Here are some other good brands that I recommend.
LEAVE NO TRACE WHILE HIKING
It is important to always practice Leave No Trace Principles when hiking, or anywhere you go really. To recap very quickly, it is important to stay on the trail, pee 200 feet away from any water source, pack out what you packed in. You can read more details on how you can follow LNT principles here.
FREE HIKING WITH KIDS CHECKLIST
To go along with this blog post, I have created a checklist to help you get ready before heading out to your day hike. This is completely free to you. You can download it when you sign up for our newsletter here. Once you subscribe you will get a confirmation email and a welcome email after that with the password for you to access the Resource Library. The Resource Library has a free 21 page Camping Planner as well just for signing up.
Well I hope this helps all you be more prepared for you next family hiking trip. I’ve learned from all of my hikes and still learn from each one something new. Kids always keep you on the go. It might be something small like maybe I should try this snack and see how long she lasts before she says I’m hungry again, to something like how much water should I bring? Or maybe I should keep some alcohol wipes on me and band-aids. It’s different for everyone but this is what usually works best for me. Feel free to comment below with your tips and tricks or even packing list for your family hiking adventures. I would love to hear what works for you.
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