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.
Our area boasts literally hundreds of miles of trails, from an easy stroll to strenuous trails up mountaintops. Lots of these trails are perfect for kids and I’ve come to really 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.
Nature Equals Adventure
I wasn’t always so interested in hiking with my kids though. In fact, I didn’t even know much about all the wonderful outdoor adventures on our doorsteps here in the Upstate when I chose to move here. What an awesome surprise! I started hiking just a handful of times a year with my two kids and 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.
If you’re thinking of getting started hiking with your kids, we have a big Newbie Guide to Hiking, which you may want to take a look at first. And, the places in this post on hiking trails with young children are great for kids. Start with easy trails and be careful not to overestimate your – and your kids’ – abilities and get in a situation that you aren’t prepared for.
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. 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.
10 Things to Take With You When Hiking with Kids
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). 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.
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.
#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 an antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, and After Bite to deal with stings (this is the product I’ve used the most).
We do a lot of hiking and swimming in the summer and carrying extra sunscreen is important.
I always screenshot a map of the trail I’m planning to hike on my phone and then will 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 really love Gaia as it’s usually more accurate.
#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 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 Fire starter
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.