Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What to bring on a day hike with kids

A successful hike ensures that you wear the right clothes and
bring the proper gear, navigational tools, first-aid kit and more. 
Knowing the answers to the questions that go into determining where you’ll hike – weather, trail conditions, features you’ll see there – will help you determine what kind of clothing and gear to bring. The age of your children also will play a significant role in making these decisions.

Generally, you want to go as light as possible. The more you carry, the heavier the load and so the greater the physical exertion. A lighter load also decreases the chance of injury and means you can go farther. In addition, the more you bring, the odds increase that you’ll lose or forget something.

Among the items you’ll want to consider bringing:
• Clothes – Unless a warm, sunny day, you’ll want to layer your clothing. Make sure you have hiking boots and wool socks. Headgear and sunglasses are a must on sunny days and during winter.
• Gear – If your child is an infant or toddler, you’ll want a baby carrier and a fanny pack. If you have older children, get yourself a backpack. A trekking pole also is vital.
• Navigational tools – Carry a topographical map of the area as well as a compass, even if you have GPS.
• Food and water – You’ll want to bring canteens that can hold 2 pints of water per person for every hour of hiking. Be sure to bring trail mix as well. If you have an infant, be sure to bring milk formula.
• First-aid kit – At a minimum, a first-aid kit should include adhesive bandages, antibacterial ointment, gauze bandages, medical tape, tweezers and possibly poison ivy cream.
• Sundries – Bring diapers, wet wipes, a pad, and re-sealable plastic bags for carrying the waste if your child isn’t yet potty trained. A camera also is a great idea. A safety whistle also is wise. If carrying an infant, don’t forget the pacifier.

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