hikingwithkidsHiking with kids can be quite the challenge, especially when you are single mom like me.  Knowing what to pack for a day hike–and making sure you have stuff to solve every problem–can feel like a challenge.

I just finished reading an article by Traveling Mom with Toddlers Amanda and she talks about how hiking is more of an adventure than it is a hike when you have kids in tow. She is exactly right, while out on “adventure” as she puts it you cannot be too prepared.

After nine years of mommy hood, five years of hiking with two kids in tow, I think I have finally managed packing the perfect hiking bag. The things I put in my hiking bag is probably much different than the typical hiker, but I know what works for us!

Packing My Hiking Bag

The first challenge was finding the perfect hiking bag; I carry a large camera when we hike, so I wanted a bag that doubles as a camera bag and hiking bag.  I was lucky found one on clearance; my suggestion is an over the shoulder backpack that is large enough to put everything in it, but light enough that it does not weight a lot.  Experts say you need one that goes on both shoulders, that could be correct for posture purposes, but I have found that it is easier to move with the one shoulder bag….note you will need to be flexible while hiking with kids.

What Is in My Bag

Obviously, my camera, but I also back an assortment of goodies that come in handy along the trail.

First Aid Kit – I grab a small first aid kit from the store, I usually get a new one every spring and restock it midsummer with new bandages and such.

Bug Spray – well that is a no-brainer you would think, but I cannot count how many times along the trail I have loaned out bug spray to fellow families out hiking.

Hiking Puerto Rico's El Yunque National Forest photo by  Andrea Guthmann

Hiking Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest
photo by Andrea Guthmann

Aluminum Water Bottles – I used to carry plastic bottles until I had one leak all over my bag.  Now I carry reusable aluminum bottles with a screw top.

Baby Wipes – yeah my kids are way past needing baby wipes for their intended purpose, but baby wipes are the clean all, from getting spots out of shirts to wiping dirty faces they work perfectly.

Flashlight – I do not hike at night, but I do pack a flashlight, just in case something would go wrong.

Small Umbrella – I mentioned earlier I carry my big camera, well I would be sick if I got caught in a rain storm with my umbrella, and I do live in Missouri, we are famous for pop-up thunderstorms in the summer.

Snacks – I highly suggest “natural” snacks, things that do not require plastic packages that can get dropped along the trail.  I often pack nuts, chunks of cheese, pretzels, and fresh fruit.

Chap Stick – sounds silly, but when the sun is out my lips get dry, so I pack Chap Stick.

Hot Wheels Cars – pick out a few cars, trucks, tractors to throw in your bag.  You never know when you will find yourself sitting on a tree stump watching the kids build pretend roads.

Sunscreen – another no brainer, but you would be surprised people that think “I am hiking in the shade”, but then come out with a sunburn.

Now laugh if you dare, here are the things my kids do not want you tell you I have in my bag!  Fresh undies, a small amount of toilet paper, Ziploc bags, or those little bags they use for doggy bags.  Accidents do happen, especially after a bit of exercise, so to be on the safe side we prepare for in advance for a disaster.  In the car I also pack fresh clothes for the entire hiking party, I cannot count how many times we have gotten a little muddy, or caught in a rainstorm, so now I pack extra clothes to be safe.

What I Do Not Pack

It is easy to pick what to put in my bag, but what about what not to carry.  Candy, soda, and stuff loaded with sugar is not found my bag.  Not only are they loaded with sugar they also attract bugs.  Hand sanitizer, I know it is necessary sometimes, but the alcohol dries out my hands, I simply use baby wipes.

The final thing that will not fit in your bag, but is a must for hiking with kids is PATIENCE…I know as parents we are loaded with patience, but on the trail you will need double what you have on your very worst day!  With that said it is worth it, seeing those little eyes enjoy this beautiful world.

Happy Adventures and here is to a wonderful hiking season!