5 Rules for Hiking With Kids
Hiking with kids can be an amazing experience. Here are the 5 rules for hiking with kids that we’ve learned from trekking all over the globe.
Hiking with kids can be an amazing experience. Spending time outdoors together as a family is a great way to bond, learn about nature and learn important life lessons. We’ve spent countless hours together on trails around the globe and have loved the stories and adventures that have come from our family hikes at home and while traveling.
Here are some lessons we’ve learned from our time spent outdoors.
- Be Prepared for Emergencies While Hiking with Kids
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in sticky situations and learned hard lessons together about being prepared while hiking with kids! There was that time we got lost in the woods of Oregon, or ran out of water on a 100 degree hike in Montana, or that time in Alaska we had no band-aids and ran out of food, or that time I accidentally went on a 7 mile hike in Scotland because I hadn’t read the trail map properly!
So many things can go wrong when you’re spending time outdoors, and even in today’s world of cell phones and instant gratification, all that can go out the window when you’re spending time in the wilderness. There may be no cell phone service, you may have a dead battery or there simply may be no one nearby to help you. It’s always best to do everything you can beforehand to be sure you’re prepared for an emergency on the trail.
We always take our VSSL Essential Camping Gear with us when we go hiking.
The VSSL is nice and compact and contains a first aid kit, rope, razor blade, candle, fire starter, mirror, trail markers, whistle, wire saw, can opener, water purifier, fishing tackle, all inside a military spec aluminum canister that also doubles as a flashlight and compass!
The VSSL is the ideal survival kit to keep in your hiking backpack, suitcase, or even in your car. We’ve taught our kids how to use everything inside the VSSL so they can feel confident in an emergency.
The VSSL also makes a fantastic gift for any traveling or outdoor enthusiast on your list. Use this link to get 15% off VSSL on Amazon.
- Pack Snacks and Water when Hiking with Kids
Besides being a survival necessity when hiking with kids, bringing enough snacks and water can really make or break the enjoyment of a hike for the whole family. If kids are hungry or thirsty, it’s really difficult for them to enjoy much else (ok, I struggle with this as an adult too)!
Pack plenty of water that is easy to carry. We like the Camelbak water backpacks for our kids. Be sure that if you’re going on a warm weather hike that the water has a way to stay cool. Hydro Flask water bottles are great for keeping water cold for 24+ hours!
Pack snacks high in protein to keep little bellies full. Nuts and trail mix are great. We love these Snack Boxes that offer a great variety for different tastes. It’s always a good idea to bring something that kids are familiar with and love, like a hiking comfort food! CLIF Bars are my kids’ favorite hiking snack and they’re full of protein to give them energy. Take plenty of snack breaks BEFORE the kids get hungry and tired (ie: before the whining begins).
- Dress Appropriately when Hiking with Kids
I can’t emphasize this enough. Nothing will make hiking with kids more miserable than being too cold, too hot, too wet or having sore feet! Check the weather before you head out and dress accordingly. Wear layers that can easily be stripped down and carried. Here is some of our favorite gear for hiking with kids.
Jackets: This jacket from The North Face is awesome. It’s waterproof, reversible and soft all the way through on the inside. We also love The North Face Thermoball jackets for the boys.
Shoes: We are huge KEEN enthusiasts and love their sandals, hiking shoes, and boots and use all of them when hiking with kids, depending on the weather. But there are lots of great brands too. Check out this list of best hiking shoes for kids.
Socks: I’ve learned the importance of a good wool sock over the years, for myself and for my kids. You can have awesome shoes, but your feet will still get sore and wet if you don’t have the right socks. The problem I always had with wool socks for the kids is that they are generally itchy. I found these ones last year and am in love! Plus, they last forever! For myself, the ladies wool socks at Costco are my favorite!
- Know Your Trail when Hiking with Kids
Study your trail route and surrounding area before you set off for your hike. Know where the trail will be difficult and where it will be easy so you can plan breaks accordingly. We love using the AllTrails App which provides trail maps including distances, difficulty levels, elevations at each mile and GPS tracking. We love using these features, but you should always carry a paper map in case of phone failure.
Check any safety hazards on your trail before going, such as possibilities of bears or other dangerous wildlife, landslides, etc., and always let someone know that you are going hiking or post a picture at the beginning of your hike on social media so if anything were to happen, someone will know where you are!
- Keep it Fun and Educational when Hiking with Kids
Hiking with kids doesn’t have to be all work and no play! Keep your hiking fun and educational by bringing scavenger hunts and playing wildlife spotting competitions while on the trail. Let the kids be kids, and try to channel your inner-child and have a little fun with them!
- Be Prepared for Emergencies While Hiking with Kids