Getting the kiddos active and off of their devices can seem like a daunting challenge. Ensuring that you create a fun environment can make things much easier. A kid’s appreciation of nature can instill that love for years to come, and they’ll remember the amazing experiences for their entire life. Don’t feel that you have to put hiking on hold because you have children. It can be fun for the entire family. So here are 5 things to consider when hiking with kids.
1) Backpacks for Kids
If you’re planning on heading out with toddlers you’re going to need to consider a backpack that can not only take essential gear but also your child. Child carriers have a frame that allows for them to sit comfortably on your back. You’re going to want to make sure that your gear and your kiddo aren’t putting too much strain on your back, so try to get the weight of both to under 50 pounds. Check out this post from REI on how to find the best fit.
Once they’ve graduated from the carrier you can start looking into backpacks that are sized for your child. This will ensure proper weight distribution, and not strain their backs. Backpacks meant for kids come in a variety of fun colors, and some of them have checklists inside as great reminders for what to take on their hikes. They sometimes feature safety devices like built-in whistles on straps so they can be found if they stray off.
Additionally, if you’re child is too small for a framed backpack, I’ve definitely seen parents take children in their baby slings too. You just want to ensure proper circulation for when it gets hot out.
Snacks for hiking with kids would probably resemble snacks for a lengthy road trip. Something that their little bodies can use as fuel for when they’re hiking, but something they definitely want to eat. CLIF makes these amazing Z bars that have flavors more suitable for kids.
That being said, it’d be really easy to bring some homemade snacks that include nuts and berries. My daughter loves a good trail mix especially if it has some M&M candies.
You just want to ensure it has the proper mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber to give them the energy to keep up on the trail, and not get a little ‘hangry’.
3) Activities on the trail
When you’re hiking with kids, getting your child involved on the trail will create an immersive experience that will engage them, and hopefully, instill some knowledge they will take into their adult lives.
The first thing that jumps out is parks that offer interpretive trails. These will have markers along the way that will give insight into the types of plants that you may find.
Sometimes you can find activity centers that have additional information about the park, and what you can expect to see in terms of wildlife. At Guadalupe River State Park in San Antonio, TX, there’s a whole area called the Discovery Center dedicated to children’s learning.
Additionally, ask for a Junior Ranger explorer pack the next time you’re at a Texas state park. You can borrow packs that are filled with fun activities, which brings me to the next one….
Geocaches are an amazing opportunity to have your kiddos look for treasures throughout the park. You search for items based on coordinates and then find the box of items. In my Palmetto SP video, I talk a little bit about what to look out for.
Of course, you can make it as interactive as you’d like based on interest. Sometimes just playing some card games during lunch can spark delight, and there are also parks that feature playgrounds to burn off any remaining steam.
4) Teach the importance of safety
The earlier the better when it comes to teaching first-aid basics.
Teaching your kids about what plants to be on the lookout for, animal tracks, and how to use each item in the first-aid kit will make everyone safer in the group. As adults, we need to set the expectation that being on the trail can be fun, but has some important things to be aware of as well.
Knowledge can also be as easy as learning what each item in your box is, but also things like how to unlock your phone if you need to call 9-1-1.
5) Clothing for different activities
Clothing for kids is just as important as clothing for the kiddos, but there may be some additional clothing items you’ll need to pack just in case.
I know that when I take my daughter hiking or camping that I need to also consider swim clothes. I don’t typically jump in, but she will- always. So you’ll want to remember clothes for getting wet.
Speaking of getting wet…
One of the 10 essential items is taking additional clothing for those just in case moments. And if you’re a parent you’ll know that just in case moments mean accidents when you can’t get to a restroom in time. Just something else to consider when it’s time to pack.
I hope this information was helpful for planning the next hiking with kids adventure. Have any other suggestions? Drop a comment below! Also– a huge shoutout to my buddy Mara for letting me use her family picture from their recent hike!