Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Don't overpack on day hike with children

Travel light when day hiking.
Perhaps the biggest mistake beginning hikers make is that they pack too much gear. We live in a culture obsessed with material possessions – not just with the acquisition of them but in our overdependence on them. You’ll be surprised, however, by how little we really need, especially on an outing for a few hours.

Simply put, packing too much gear makes for too heavy of a load that quickly strains your back and shoulders, leaving you to focus more on your pain rather than the beautiful scenery around you. And should you need to carry your young child for part of the hike, you’ll soon find yourself worn out.

The best rule when hiking is to travel light.

You can start by purchasing the lightest of equipment. Day hikes allow you to sacrifice sturdiness for weight, unlike a multi-day backpacking trip or a weekend campout.

Next – and what certainly will yield the most weight loss – is to adjust your attitude toward what you need. Before packing for the hike, make a list of the gear you’ll actually need. Then ask yourself if you’ll really need it. If you didn’t need it the last time you hiked, you probably don’t need it this time around.

That being said, don’t sacrifice water, a first-aid kit, or map and compass; you need those basics for the safety of you and your child.

Perhaps the second biggest mistake beginning hikers make is that they don’t bring the right gear. Hikes with Tykes includes several chapters about clothing, gear and sundries that you’ll need for a day hiking trip. It includes a packing list and recommends what can be cut.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.