Welcome to Nature Week! We’re spending a week on tips for getting outside with kids which, I’m hoping, will lead to a spring and summer filled with outdoor adventures (around here, just getting there can be an adventure. We take our thrills where we can get them.)
And so today — what to bring when hiking with little kids. Though I feel it necessary to warn you — “hiking” may be overstating matters a bit. It’s a lot more like wandering…and stopping to look at bugs…and having a snack…and a drink of water…and it’s best to resign yourself to this and enjoy it rather than nagging the kids to hurry up and walk faster.
So. With that in mind, here’s what to bring on a hike:
-Sturdy shoes. In fall and winter, we wear hiking boots or sneakers. In summer, we like water shoes like Keens or Tevas, in case we find creeks that need exploring. Bonus tip — each year I buy one pair of unisex-looking Tevas for the oldest kid and that’s it. The shoes hold up so well that the rest can be handed down through all four kids. It’s actually cheaper to buy one quality pair of shoes than four cheap pairs that fall apart and have to be replaced each year.
-Water. More than you think, even when you’re not really hiking far. I bring a 32-oz bottle for me, a few 16-oz bottles for the kids, and a cooler for the car if there isn’t drinking water available.
-Snacks. We have a seven-year old hiking buddy who insists this is the best part of hiking. If you’re not bringing a lunch, bring some easy to eat snacks like granola bars, raisin packets, fruit, nuts, etc. We always pack a little treat (like a cookie) to have at the car to celebrate when we’re finished.
–Sunscreen. Always. Every single day. Even when it’s snowing. We like the sunscreen sticks for faces (lotion gets in their eyes) and lotion everywhere else.
–Sunhat. Sunglasses. We always wear sunhats or ball caps and we start out with glasses but everyone loses them. At least wear the hats, though.
– Nature journals and colored pencils.
– First aid kit and bug spray. We have a small kit for the car — you can buy inexpensive ones at places like Target. We mostly use the Band-Aids and Neosporin but it also has allergy medicine, aspirin, gauze and medical tape. And an emergency blanket because I’m a little bit paranoid.
–Sweatshirts/jackets/gloves. This one depends on where you live, but here in Colorado I keep our winter jackets, hats, and gloves in the back of the car year-round because you just never know in the mountains.
I’d plan on carrying most of this stuff yourself, but my kids do love to bring little fanny- or backpacks, so I put a granola bar and a few small things in each pack so they feel like “real” hikers.
What do you bring on a hike with kids?
(This is Day 2 of our Nature Week series. For Day 1, click here.)