Hiking with Kids- 10 Tips for Hiking with Children
Hiking with Kids- Tips 1-5
There’s no greater joy than sharing the outdoors with your family. Hiking with kids adds a whole new perspective to a day hike or overnight hike, allowing you to see the mountains through their excited eyes. Hiking with children is no easy task- it will test your patience, and theirs as well. Special considerations will have to be made, adding extra weight to your pack. The extra weight and hassle is definitely worth it-you will build memories that last a lifetime, provided a few extra precautions are made, and a few extra provisions carried.
1.) Hiking with kids is about one thing- fun.
Hiking is usually about objectives- you often set an objective before you even start down a trail. You plan to hike to a lake, creek, waterfall, or to the end of the trail. When children are on the trail, the objectives change. You no longer place such a high priority on reaching a destination- the priority becomes the children’s experience. Most of the tips in this article surround this one crucial tip- keep hiking fun!
2.) Bring warm clothes, and extra clothes.
Kids are great at finding water, and promptly falling into creeks, lakes, and mud puddles. Prepare for this by packing a spare change of clothes, as well as a warm waterproof jacket. Rain storms are all too common in the mountains, and children lose body heat faster than adults. Warm hats (beanies) are great, and can be reused for sleeping gear if you’re staying overnight. Thermals are also great for night time sleeping gear, and a warm sleeping bag is an absolute must. Pack a bag for a child that is rated at least 10 degrees below the temperature you plan to camp in. This means that you would pack a 20 degree bag if you expect the night temperature to be close to freezing.
3.) Freeze dried foods taste terrible- bring the tasty, heavy snacks.
No one really enjoys anything that is freeze dried; the texture is horrible, and the flavor is mediocre. When you hike with kids, you need to keep this in mind, bringing foods that you would normally eat at home. Fresh apples, tasty sandwiches, and maybe even a soft drink, will increase your kid’s morale exponentially. Your back might despise the extra weight, but your kids will appreciate the delicious food.
4.) Don’t plan a backpacking trip as a first hiking trip.
Hiking can be overwhelming for some kids, especially if this is their first trip in the mountains. Fatigue, fear of the woods, irritability, and over stimulation are all common with kids- don’t make these feelings worse by forcing a backpacking trip on a young child. Instead, work with the child in steps- plan a few day trips at first, and maybe later on work in a backpacking trip. The key here is to work within the child’s comfort zone. Nothing is worse than camping with a kid who is terrified or fatigued, miles from the trailhead.
5.) Let the kids set the pace.
It’s easy to hike at a pace that is impossible for a child to keep up with. As an adult, your stride is three times longer than a child’s stride- meaning kids have to work three times harder to keep up with an adult on the trail. To prevent tiring your kids after the first half mile, let the weakest child lead the hiking party. If you have multiple kids on the trail, and one is a teenager, put that kid in the rear. In a hiking party, the rear of the party is perhaps the most important position- the rear hiker makes sure that no one drops anything important, and makes sure that everyone stays together. That being said, no one really enjoys the back of a line, so rotate positions with the kids every other mile or so. In bear country, make sure that the kids also know to stay close, and drop to the ground if there is a bear on the trail.