Memorial Day always signals that summer is just about here, and we begin to make a list of hikes that we want to cram into that small window of warm weather. With that in mind, we are reminded of past summers of hiking with kids. The intentions are good… to build a lasting love of the outdoors, to instill a sense of adventure and curiosity, to teach basic common sense skills.
But when it comes down to it, our kids need a little encouragement when it comes to hiking. That’s a fancy way to say that we have learned ways to curb the whining. I’m not sure about your kids, but ours don’t love walking long distances. They don’t love being bitten by bugs. And they don’t love being hot or thirsty.
They do love being outside. They love finding an adventure and discovering something new. So we put on our kid thinking hats (wide-brimmed sun hats, of course). We conspired ways to tame the whining, add adventure, and gear them up to feel like rock star explorers. We hope this Gear Guide helps get your whole family out and about this summer… and loving it.
Let’s start with the basics… water. If you are planning a long outing in the heat of the summer, it might be good to have each person carry their own water supply. A CamelBak is an awesome, hands-free way to do that. And who doesn’t like drinking out of a straw?
If you are the designated water Sherpa and your kids’ backs are available, here are some great mini backpacks for all of their gadgets, gizmos, and token stuffed animals.
And what sort of gadgets and gizmos should a kiddo love in her pack? We think this adventure pack has some sweet tools to get a kiddo excited about a hike.
And maybe some long-range walkie talkies for a slightly older kiddo who you’d trust to go ahead on the trail a smidge.
Don’t forget a hat. Some sun hats are made for hiking with a handy-dandy chin strap. But if your kid actually keeps their hat on, any brimmed hat will do. This one is sweet.
Hiking could also bring with it some insect pests, including ticks and mosquitos. Keep them away with light-colored clothing, long sleeves, hats, and bug repellent. Here is a natural option that we found and like.
And of course a good old tablet of paper and pencil is a backpack staple. You never know when you need to sketch or journal your findings.
Now with our kids all geared up, we find ourselves putting our expectations in check. For as much as we’d love to pound out some miles, the fact remains that our kids don’t hike quickly. They literally stop to smell the flowers and poke at bugs. And isn’t that the point? Don’t we want them to explore? And shouldn’t we remember to do the same? So we temper the pace, stop often, and forget about any sort of mileage. Here is a great book called Hiking and Backpacking with Kids: Proven Strategies for Fun Family Adventures. It talks about the realities of hiking with kids, from learning how far kids can realistically go to building personal responsibility.