Last week we shared our tips to get you in the right headspace for hiking with your kids. Here we have some more practical tips for how to make sure you are prepared for your day in the great outdoors.
What to Wear
It's best to be prepared for whatever weather you may encounter. What will the climate be like where you are hiking compared to where your home is? Is it windy up on that mountain? Is it cooler by the lake or ocean? Layering with a base layer and an outer layer is best, even in the summer months, and comfort trumps all. Both cotton and linen make a great base layer when it’s warm out because those fabrics will keep your kids cool. If you are really creeping into those shoulder seasons have an insulating layer, like a fleece, in your bag and be prepared with hats and mitts for unpredictable weather.
Even in the heat of summer, pants may be a good idea. If you know your trail has a lot of brush and thorns covering the path pants will protect those little legs from scratches. And since it seems most of us are super paranoid about ticks these days, give yourself some extra insurance be tucking those pant legs into socks. Leave the jeans behind, though. They are too heavy and restrict movement. In the warmer months, look for a lightweight pant made from cotton, linen or a breathable synthetic material that will dry quickly. Convertible pants are also a great option for kids.
A lightweight jacket is key with kids – especially if you are hiking with more than one, if it’s not needed it doesn’t become a burden to pack away. Generally speaking, on and off the trail, it’s worth it to invest in a good jacket that covers all your bases by being windproof, waterproof and breathable. Bonus points for buying a jacket that is PFC free, like the fairechild Rain Coat or Anorak.
I don’t believe that your child’s shoes should ever stop you from going on a hike. Running shoes will do the trick. That being said, if you are at the point where you know hiking will be a big part of your family’s outdoor time, I would suggest investing in some hiking shoes. Sneakers will wear out fast on the trail and you don’t want their shoes to be the thing that’s making you do a U-turn for the car. Keep in mind, if it’s been raining a lot, it’s most likely that the trail will be wet. If that's the case, opt for a good waterproof rubber boot – something you don’t mind getting muddy.
Backpacks for All!
It’s never too early to start teaching kids to carry their own food and gear. Start small by letting them pack a few snacks in their backpack. As you may have read in our post full of hiking tips, snacks are really important! As your kids gain experience on the trail you can gradually add more things to their backpack - like that extra pair of socks or a long sleeve shirt incase it’s chilly. An added bonus, carrying a backpack just like you, will make your child feel like they are really a part of the adventure. Light, soft backpacks, as opposed to a rigid hard backpack, is a great option for a day hike for kids . . . it's also a great place for your kids to store their collected treasures! Something that is waterproof is super helpful so you don’t have to worry about it being slung off onto wet ground. You can check out our backpack here – it’s kid friendly and adventure approved!
Hiking in the Rain
If rain is in the forecast, don’t let some less than ideal weather hold you back from getting outdoors. Hiking in the rain is totally doable and very manageable even with your youngsters. You don’t even have to get wet! With the right gear your kids will stay warm and dry. A full body coverall or rain suit is a great option for this and also allows them to seize really great puddle jumping opportunities. Look for a suit that has a hood, elasticated cuffs to go over their boots and is 100% waterproof. Sealed seams are the true testament to the quality of your rain gear – I wouldn’t buy gear without them. fairechild has you covered with their Coverall and Rain Pants. No need for a second set of post hike clothes to change into, just peel of the outer-layer and your good to go!
Odds and Ends
I am a huge fan of buffs – a circular piece of fabric that fits around your neck. They are so versatile for you and for kids. It can be worn around your neck to protect from the sun, can hold hair back like a bandana and on those really hot days you can soak it in a stream and wear it to keep you cool. Sunglasses and hats are a must have for the summer especially on trails that aren’t shaded and bug nets can also be helpful to keep mosquito annoyances to a minimum. Never forget your sunscreen.
Oh and one more thing, make sure you have the right gear too! Squeeze in a bit of time to make sure you have what you need to be comfortable out there, you’ve got this!