10 Essentials for a Family Hiking

A family day hike can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's important to be prepared. You should set the example for your kids to follow. Adventures can be fun, but they can quickly turn into something more severe if you are not ready for a situation. Here are 10 essentials that you should bring with you on your next family day hike.
#1: Water - Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial, especially if you're hiking in a hot and dry environment. Bring plenty of water for everyone in your group. As a rule of thumb, plan on drinking about half a liter of water per hour of hiking.

Recommendation: Water bladders... we've dropped one too many nalgenes on trails. Kids will also remember to drink water.
#2: Snacks - Stay Motivated
Pack some high-energy snacks to keep your family fueled on the hike. Trail mix, energy bars, and fruit are all great options.

Recommendations: Welches Fruit Snack and M&Ms (Easy motivator to give along the trail)
#3: First aid kit - Accidents happen
Accidents can happen, so it's always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit. Make sure it includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications.

Recommendation: Travel first aid kits for the kids (aka band-aids). Adults can carry Adventure Medical Kit's Ultralight (has the necessities for an emergency)
#4: Navigation Tools - Stay on Course
Quest Trails Maps are great, but they are not a navigation tool. Even if you're hiking on a well-marked trail, it's a good idea to bring a map and compass. They can help you navigate if you get lost or take a wrong turn.

Recommendation: GaiaGPS is one of our favorite tools on the trail.
#5: Sun Protection - Stay Cool
Protect your family's skin from the sun by bringing sunscreen and hats. Look for sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and reapply it every few hours.

Recommendation: We use Neutrogena Beach Defense 70 (spray-on). Easy application and it doesn't make us breakout.
#6: Layers - Stay Warm and Dry
Weather can change quickly, especially in mountainous areas. Bring layers of clothing that you can add or remove as needed. ALWAYS bring extra socks!

Recommendation: We keep extra clothes in the car and in our bags we have rain gear and a compressible jackets. Kids can carry extra socks in a ziplock bag (see #8).
#7: Survival Gear - Stay Prepared
Knife: I carry a Leatherman Wave, currently my kids are too young for knives, but I look forward to gifting them swiss army knives in the future!

Fire: I carry magnesium fire starters

Shelter: I carry a $1 emergency blanket - lightweight and multi-use

Paracord: 50 feet... just in case.
#8: Dry Bags - Stay organized and dry
Keep your stuff organized and keep it clean by storing your items in zip lockbags. Bonus: You can also help pick up trash on the trail!

Recommendation: We use 1-2 gallon freezer bags and also carry a garabage bag with us.
#9: Headlamp
Plan to return before the sun hits the horizon, but headlamps are a must. Regardless of when you expect to return having a headlamp on hand with extra batteries is crucial.

Recommendation: Our kids have basic carabiner lights (easier for us to keep track). My husband and I carry Petzl headlamps for the family.
#10: Insect Repellent
Depending on where you're hiking, you may encounter mosquitoes or other insects. Bring insect repellent to keep them at bay.

Recommendation: Along with insect repellent, consider bringing allergy medicine if your kids suffer from skeeter syndrome.
Plan and Prepare
By bringing these 10 essentials on your family day hike, you'll be prepared for whatever comes your way. Kids surprisingly love a good packing list. Explain to them what each item is for and with age show them how to use each item. My kids have fashioned some pretty cool improvised tools with our "survival kit." With some planning and preparation, your family can enjoy a fun and safe outdoor adventure.
Previous slide
Next slide

Example Packing List

Post Author

Share this Article

Post Comments

Leave a Reply