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The True Essentials for Hiking with Kids

Posted by Krista Dooley at Mar 01, 2012 03:25 PM |
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Pack the Ten Essentials, plus a few more, to ensure your next hike with kids is a winner.

Spring is right around the corner and kids are ready to get outdoors. As you start to plan your spring family outings there are a few things to keep in mind that will help make your hike a sure win.

There are the basic Ten Essentials that should go out with you every time you hike. But, have you thought about making sure you have a kid-friendly first aid kit?

Beyond the common Ten Essentials are a few lesser known items that help keep kids moving down the trail and excited to finish the hike. Be sure to pack:

  • A special treat or snack - Take an energy stop when you notice enthusiasm waning. M&M's or dried fruit are usually a big hit, as well as hot cocoa on a cool day.
  • An adventure finder - also known as a magnifying glass and/or binoculars. Children love to explore with special tools and get up close to nature.
  • Families Go Hiking enews signupPockets full of tricks - Keep some games and activities on hand to help kids experience the world around them.
  • Special friends - Sometimes the best outdoor adventures are those shared with a child's closest friend. This could be a stuffed animal that rides along in their backpack or a real friend to talk to while hiking down the trail.
  • Extra clothes and shoes in the car. If kids get wet or muddy on a hike they'll enjoy having some dry, warm clothes to change into rather than continuing to be wet.
  • Treats awaiting. Make it known that there are special treats waiting in the car or on the way home after the hike. Yummy fruit or an ice cream stop on the way home may be just the motivation needed for kids to make it back to the car when energy is low.

As you start thinking of spring adventures, take the time to plan some special surprises for your kids. The results will be some happy hikers and a desire to get outside again and again.

Some additional tips from our fans on Facebook.

Jim M. - "In addition to the other ideas, I advise packing your patience - their little legs aren't going to move as quickly as yours. Take breaks often to let them to explore and enjoy all the interesting things to see and touch (and hear!)"

Michelle D.
- "I hike with four, the youngest of whom is 12. We always carry extra clothing as well, with specific focus on things in case of a weather downgrade: lightweight insulating layers, winter caps...


Extra FOOD is our biggie. Oh, the food. (Never underestimate the power of home made brownies or a surprise bag of mini Nutter Butters!)

The kids also carry their own essentials: whistles; first aid; head lamps; we have two knives for five of us; etc.

Everyone has their own wipes so they can clean up and a sealable bag for trash.

The more independent and self-reliant they can be, the better our hikes.

We always have a change of clothes and different shoes in the car (flop flops in the summer) and containers of wipes so we can mop up trail grime before the journey home.

A sense of ownership in the hike has also been "essential" for us. My 12yo has a few hikes planned for us this coming summer... Their opinions count!"

Sarah K. - "You can never take enough photos either, My oldest is 14 years old, my youngest is 3 weeks. The 14 year old grew up hiking and I have a digital collection of him hiking from toddler to now. You won't regret THOSE photos. I look back and it is amazing to see the hikes Ford did when he was 4, 5, 6 and 7 years old. Also...don't under estimate kids. They can be taught to be strong hikers (with love and patience) and will out hike you at 13...hah!"

More great suggestions can be found here.

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