When the weather’s nice, one of my family’s favorite ways to spend time together is on a trail. That’s not entirely true. We love to hike as long as we have the right supplies. My children want snacks, my daughter a journal, and I want a bag to hold all of the bug carcasses, rocks, and other treasures they’ll find and ask me to hold. We’ve found the easiest way to keep a family hike from turning into a disaster is to be prepared. Hunger, cuts, and wet clothes make everyone miserable. Hiking with children requires essential gear.
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1. Backpack- or a bag that feels good on your back or shoulder. Choose something small. If you have little kids, you’ll probably be carrying them too at some point, so keep that in mind.
2. Water- this is where weight comes in but it’s a must.
- Tip: A water bladder makes carrying water easy. We’ve carried something like this Coleman for years.
3. Snacks- My family often takes a hodgepodge of whatever we have on hand. A handful of dry cereal, raisins, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips (these are vital), coconut flakes, almonds, kale chips. Bring foods that are easily eaten on the trail.
- Here’s an easy DIY for making snack bags. Affordable and sturdy, these bags can hold anything from grapes to trail mix.
4. Exploratory items– a magnifying glass, compass, a handful of colored pencils, nature journals (small notebooks), and small baggies for collections are all fun ways to encourage exploration.
5. Nature guides– We love these waterproof, lightweight pocket guides
6. Other items to consider -trash bags, extra clothes for little ones, wipes or toilet paper, first aid kit, maps, camera
Kids can pack and bring their own nature bags too. Encourage purpose and less is more so they have room for all those rocks they’ll want to bring home.
We keep our hiking bags packed and by the back door year round, so when the weather and right time call, all we have to do is fill our water bladders and grab some snacks to get out the door.
When hiking with children the right gear and supplies are essential. Keep the focus on exploring and adventure, grab your hiking bag, and repeat often.