10 Things To Bring Along When Hiking with Kids

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If you’re out hiking with kids anywhere in the Upstate, SC – or anywhere actually – we’ve got a list of 10 things you may want to consider carrying with you.

Things to bring along when you are hiking with kids

Our area boasts hundreds of miles of trails, from an easy stroll to strenuous trails up mountaintops. Lots of these trails are perfect for kids! I’ve come to enjoy hiking with my family, rarely hitting the same trails twice because there are just so many to choose from.

I’ve been hiking with my youngest from the time she was just three months old and strapped to me in a baby carrier (she’s eight now) and time in nature is something that has become almost a weekly ritual for us.  There has been a lot I’ve had to learn, including what to carry with me when we hike.

Hiking Grandfather Mountain

Nature Equals Adventure

I wasn’t always so interested in hiking with my kids though. Hiking with kids is an adventure in itself. I started hiking just a handful of times a year with my two kids. I then added more and more hikes every year, learning something new every time.

Now it’s an adventure I take with my two kids that we all enjoy and love. Remember to start with easy trails. Be careful not to overestimate your – and your kids’ – abilities and get in a situation that you aren’t prepared for. Older kids can typically handle more challenging hikes, plus they can help carry more items!

But what do you bring with you? That’s what I’m going to cover here. Most seasoned hikers will tell you to bring the “Ten Essentials” – wise advice, whether its a local trail or national park. These essentials vary a bit and I’ll add some to this list but will also incorporate what I’ve learned in my years of hiking experience as well. 

Hiking in Greenville, SC with kids

If you’re thinking of getting started hiking find more tips for hiking in our Newbie Guide to Hiking, which you may want to take a look at first.

You’ll find places in this post on hiking trails with young children that are great for kids.

Hiking with young children

10 Things to Take With You When Hiking with Kids for a Successful Hike

#1 Water

Don’t forget the water, especially in the summer. Getting dehydrated should not be on your to-do list. Make sure all the tops of the water bottles are closed tight and aren’t leaking into your backpack (I’ve learned the hard way on this one). There are also kid-friendly backpack style water bottles like this one. In cases of emergency, I also carry a LifeStraw, a straw with a personal water filter you can use and drink safely from streams or other water sources. 

#2 Snacks

Snacks on hikes are vital. They almost made it to the top spot in this list. Kids are whining? Give them a snack. Kids complaining they are tired? Give them a snack. You want your kids to make it to the waterfall? Bribe them with a snack. Kids love a good snack after a long hike!

#3 First Aid Kit

I always have carried band-aids with me but have since added more to my little portable First Aid Kit – namely antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, and After Bite to deal with stings (this is the product I’ve used the most). 

#4 Sunscreen

We do a lot of hiking and swimming in the summer and carrying extra sunscreen is important. 

#5 Map

I always screenshot a map of the trail I’m planning to hike on my phone and then take a photo of the map, if available, at the trailhead, if I don’t have a hard copy. This is especially key in more remote places that are less traveled. I used the AllTrails app but love Gaia as it’s usually more accurate. Maybe even plan out a scavenger hunt along the trail for fun!

#6 Trash bag

I always carry a plastic grocery bag we use for trash, both ours and the trash we find on the trail. Pack out what you pack in – a big part of the Leave No Trace principles. If you have a kid in diapers, take those diapers out of the forest with you and dispose in a trash can. Same with dog waste – it’s not ok to leave waste on trails or in trash bags on trails.

#7 Flashlight or headlamp

I’ve never had to use this on a hike but always carry it just in case. In our area, it’s not uncommon to read local news stories about people getting lost in the woods, especially over the summer since more people are out on the trails then. 

#8 Pepper spray or some kind of protection

I’ve never had to use this but after an alarming number of loose dog encounters, I now carry both pepper spray and a small, handheld zapper. A lot of people like to carry bear spray in the off chance of an encounter with aggressive wildlife. 

#9 Rain poncho

Getting caught in the rain, especially if it’s cold or when a chance storm hits, isn’t fun. Keeping kids protected with lightweight rain gear is a good idea. 

#10 Firestarter

Bring matches and something to use for tinder (dryer lint works great) in case you need it. 

Some other suggestions that may be helpful are a knife, a plastic tarp you could use as a makeshift shelter, and extra socks. If you’ve got a baby with you, be sure to bring extra diapers and wipes.

So, strap on your hiking boots and get hiking!

Winter hiking

Hiking in Greenville, SC

Love to Explore the Outdoors?

Check out our Guide to Hiking Near Greenville, SC, with trails for all abilities and ages!

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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