If you’re hitting the hiking trails soon these hiking tips with kids are good for any age no matter if they’re toddlers or teenagers! The past 12 years hiking all over the contiguous United States have taught us a a few things about what you in your first aid kit too!
Start small! Local trails can be as short as a tenth of a mile or as long as several miles! It’s not about how far you hike, it’s about being together outdoors and enjoying nature! We’ve seen everything from wildlife (deer, moose, etc) to wild mushrooms, waterfalls, ancient rock art and natural formations!
No matter where you hike there is always something to learn! I recommend staying on designated paths (unless you’re an experienced backpacker!) and if you’re new to hiking, start small! Use our recommendations below for making your adventures and hiking with kids worry free!
Hiking Tips with Kids:
first aid kit (see list below)
optional – hiking stick
bug spray & sunscreen
ALWAYS always always have water.
Trust me when I tell you it can change the entire attitude of some cranky kids if they each have their own water bottle. It also comes in handy to wash wounds out with. Personally we like CamelBak Eddy water bottles and Gatorade Squeeze bottles, but there are plenty of good brands out there!
Sometimes we pack hydration bladders and others we just designate a water bottle for each kid. I also always have a Life Straw with our family in case of emergency as well. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, I always recommend having water for each person.
A high protein snack is never a bad idea!
Having a good healthy snack is never a bad idea! I can’t tell you how many times a snack was the difference between whiny melt downs and happily resting in the car. Not to mention if you are ever lost you will be awfully glad you have a snack handy!
You WILL need a first aid kit!
A first aid kit is an absolute must, ESPECIALLY if you have kids. We have had to refill and restock our first aid kit so many times! I’ll give you a better look inside my first aid kit below, but it has helped everything from cuts to burns and everything in between!
Pocket knives are things you need most when you don’t have them!
Thankfully I have kids that carry around pocket knives so I don’t need to but I honestly should really carry one around myself. They double as protection as well as coming in handy for opening the craziest things.
Attach a whistle to your hiking pack.
Each one of my children have a whistle attached to their backpacks when we are hiking in case of emergency. A whistle can carry louder than a voice in the event they were to get lost.
Err on the side of caution and get a Life straw.
If you’re doing any long travel or off-path hiking I highly recommend having a Life Straw on hand. It will allow you to safely drink from any water source you come across without picking up bacteria or parasites. You can find them for about $15.
Learn how to use a paracord bracelet!
Paracord is useful for literally thousands of things. In a survival situation you can use it as a tourniquet, sling, restraint, tripwire, fishing line, fishing net, hanging food, hauling items, and so much more!
Nice to Have Items –
There are three items that we don’t always have with us but they are extra nice to have on hand. Sunscreen, bug spray, and a hiking stick! If you are hiking out in the open sun somewhere like Utah I absolutely bump the sunscreen into the necessary category! But if you’re hiking in the Midwest mostly under shade then it’s something nice to have on hand for when you feel you need it!
The same goes for bug spray! If you’re hiking in the swamps of Louisiana, you’re going to want to have that bug spray strapped to yourself! As for a hiking stick, I personally don’t want something else to carry but it can be extremely beneficial for those that need it or even something to keep your kids occupied with!
And lastly, for some areas of the country you may want to carry bear spray. Admittedly it is very pricey. Some parks will actually rent you a can of bear spray that you have to return if it’s not used.
Note – I am the first to be at fault for ALWAYS hiking in slip flops (I know I know!) – but wearing good sturdy shoes is really important. You’ll need to asses where you’re hiking and how likely your kids are going to be jumping in a river or stream too. Sometimes I have kids throw flip flops or water shoes in their back pack. For more rocky climbing, possibilities of snakes or other biting critters, high brush and tick areas – you’ll definitely be wanting those sturdy hiking shoes and sneakers.
What You Need in Your First Aid Kit:
A first aid kit doesn’t have to be fancy, although you can absolutely buy an all in one first aid kit and call it a day. I keep mine in my van inside an empty plastic container and fill it with what I think is necessary. In fact I have a “full” first aid kit that stays in my van at all times. Then I have a smaller “travel” first aid kit that comes with us while we’re out hiking or adventuring outdoors.
Below are some ideas for making your own first aid kit.
band-aids (small, large, odd shapes, butterfly strips)
oral pain medicine
glow stick / flare
emergency thermal blanket
alcohol prep pads
instant ice pack