Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Consider bringing along specific gear for desert hikes with children

Mojave Desert, Calfornia
As a dry, severe environment, deserts offer both incredible scenic wonders and grave dangers. Because of the former, they make for great hiking terrain…because of the latter, specific hiking gear and equipment is essential for a day hike there.

Whenever on a desert hike, be sure to have the following equipment or items:
g Boots – You’ll want footgear with ankle support, that breathes, and that has a soft, flexible sole to ensure traction. To that end, wear lightweight, breathable hiking boots. Sandals will expose your skin to sunburn, thorns and sharp rocks while running shoes lack the ankle support needed for crossing rocky terrain.
g Sun hat – A brim provides the extra protection needed to shade your face, not just to avoid sunburn but to prevent being blinded by the sun. Consider getting a sun hat that includes a flap to keep the sunlight off your neck.
g Lighter colored clothing – White and other light colors will better reflect the sunlight than black and dark clothing, which absorb it, resulting in more heat upon the body.
g Sunscreen – An SPF 50 is essential as the sand reflects sunlight back onto the body, resulting in a burn. Sweat will wash away sunscreen, so you likely will need to reapply it during rest breaks.
g Lip balm – The lips also can be burned or chapped by sunlight as well a wind. An SPF 30 balm will protect them. Reapply the balm after drinking water.
g Extra water – Any arid environment requires that you take in more water than usual. Consider carrying it in collapsible canteens to lessen the weight or in a hydration pack, which kids are more likely to regularly use as they can more easily sip water as walking.
g Insect repellent – Usually dry areas are low on bug count, but don’t be surprised to run into sand flies and midges or when near a wet area into mosquitoes.

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