The Kids Hiking Gear You'll Need For Family Adventures
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If you’ve been wanting to take your kids on fun family adventures, but aren’t sure what the best hiking gear for kids is, we’ve got you covered! Our founder, Preeti, is a mom to her own little adventurer and she’s told us what her favorite kids hiking gear is.
First off, you’ll want to make sure the gear is comfortable, weather-appropriate, that you layer their clothing, and that it’s bright and colorful. If they’re wearing brighter gear, they’re more likely to be seen if they wander off. You can also add a whistle to their gear so that they can use it to call for help if you get separated.
The checklist for kids hiking gear:
Your hiking gear checklist for kids (we’ll go into more depth and some of Preeti’s favorite for these below):
Waterproof and or snow boots
Sun hat or warm hat
Toys or activities
Extra underwear or diapers
The basics for kids hiking gear:
Hiking sandals, shoes, boots, and snow boots
Kids need comfortable (and weather-appropriate) shoes. The best shoes will be waterproof, lightweight, and comfortable. Preeti’s favorite for both sandals and hiking boots are Keen’s kids shoes and then she likes Kamik’s snow boots for winter.
Your kids will need some comfortable socks for their shoes too! A favorite for her son are Smartwool’s kids hiking socks during wintertime. The wool wicks away moisture while keeping their feet the right temperature even when wet.
When a shirt or shirt and jacket aren’t enough you’ll want to bundle them up in layers. You’ll want to make sure that their layers are comfortable, allow them to move, insulate them, and wick moisture away from their skin. For shoulder seasons, Preeti likes Uniqlo’s HEATTECH base layers. It's made from bio-warming material that converts body moisture into heat, keeping you comfortable all winter. In winter she likes Smartwool’s base layers.
Cotton holds in moisture, so try to find synthetic or wool pants for your kid to keep their temperature at a good level. Pants also help protect their legs from scratchy plants at the edge of the trail, or from too many scrapes from falls.
Again, be sure to try to find synthetic or wool shirts for your little ones. Have different shirts for summer vs winter so that they don’t get too hot or cold in either season.
Jackets, coats, rain jackets/suits, and snow jackets/suits
Outer layers will help protect them from wind, rain, snow, and any other inclement weather you may encounter on your adventures with kids. Kids have jackets or entire one-piece suits as options. One-piece suits make bathroom breaks harder, so Preeti prefers pants and bibs. They do work well for babies and toddlers still in diapers though! Preeti is partial to Tuffo’s Muddy Buddy rain suit, and to Columbia’s toddler snow bibs and jackets to keep her son warm and dry.
Protect your kids’ skin and eyes from the sun, or keep their head warm in winter with a hat. You may want one with a brim when it’s sunny or rainy, and you may prefer a beanie when it’s cold. Outdoor Research’s sun hats are some of Preeti’s favorites for her son.
To keep their hands warm, be sure to get some gloves or mittens. Mittens keep your hands a bit warmer because your fingers are all in the same compartment, but you don’t have as much dexterity as you would with gloves. Whatever you get, aim for waterproof to keep their hands warm and dry, as the kids will invariably want to touch and play with the snow.
If your kids are old enough to carry their own backpack, food, or water, you can get them one! You can get them a standalone backpack, and if they can handle the weight, add a water bladder to give them constant access to water on their adventure. Preeti’s son doesn’t yet have his own pack, but when he was being carried, she liked Deuter’s Kid Comfort to carry him and their gear.
It’s important to protect kids’ skin and health, so be sure to bring along your favorite sunscreen! We love whatever is strongest; Preeti’s favorite is Banana Boat, either the roll on or spray. Roll on stays longer although spray is sometimes easier to apply.
Make sure to bring extra water to keep your kids hydrated on the fun family adventure!
Bring lots of snacks too, whatever is their favorite. Trail mix is always delicious, or maybe applesauce that’s their current go-to. Don’t tell anyone, but we aren’t always above bribing with candy and other special treats for an adventure. You can always reward a skittle per trail marker.
Toys or activities
Bring along their favorite toys to keep them entertained on breaks. Who says you can't hike with a car or a doll in hand?!
Extra underwear or diapers
You know how often your kids may need a diaper or underwear change, so just don’t forget to bring these if you know you’ll need them!
Finally, considering adding a whistle to their jacket, around their neck, or to their pack to ensure that if they get separated, they’re able to whistle for help!
We hope that you’re able to go on a great family adventure with your kids and that this packing list for kids outdoor gear is useful. Tag us on social media with any fun adventure photos so we can see all that you’ve been able to do!