Day Hike Essentials for Each Child’s Backpack

Day Hike Essentials for Each Child’s Backpack

Kids love feeling independent but when it comes to walking a distance, you need to quite literally baby-step them from being in a carrier with you all the way to walking independently with their own pack.

Around age 4-5, they can carry their backpacks for shorter durations. It’s important to ensure that their backpack is ergonomic, the right size, and lightly packed to prevent strain or discomfort.

Once our kids reach the age of 7 and up, they can carry backpacks equipped with everything they need for much longer distances. This is a significant milestone, as it allows them to develop a sense of responsibility and independence while exploring the world around them.

While it may not be necessary for everyone on a walk to carry their own first aid kit and sunscreen, providing the kids with these essentials helps them feel prepared and ready for any situation that may arise. It also instills a sense of self-reliance and teaches them the importance of caring for their well-being.

For older kids who are ready for more adventurous outings, they can have some additional fun items in their backpacks. These items include essential tools like flint and steel for starting a fire, a whittling knife for carving, rope or twine for various purposes, a fishing rod, and a small tackle box for fishing adventures, as well as a mini single camp stove for cooking their food or enjoying hot drinks in the wilderness.

Providing kids with the essentials they need in their backpacks prepares them for their adventures and nurtures their sense of independence and self-sufficiency. It’s an investment in their growth and development, empowering them to explore the world around them with confidence and preparedness.

6 Day Hike Essentials for Each Child’s Backpack

1. Water

Walking can make us thirsty, especially when it’s hot outside! To stay hydrated throughout the journey, stainless steel water bottles are a great choice as they are lightweight and help keep the water cool. If hiking becomes a regular family activity, you might want to consider investing in camel backpacks, which allow for hands-free hydration on the go.

 

2. First Aid Kit

Safety is always be a top priority for me when heading on an adventure. Make sure you pack a variety of band-aids, a small antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, tweezers or a “tick kit” for removing ticks, epi-pens if necessary, and 1-2 tablets of pain medication and antihistamine for any unexpected situations.

3. Sunscreen & Bug Spray

When hats and clothing aren’t enough. Compact and lightweight SPF sticks are convenient to carry and apply. Additionally, bug spray can come in handy, especially in areas with dense foliage where insects tend to swarm. I use reef-safe mineral sunscreen from Beautycounter and a deet-free bug spray on clothing when bugs are thick. 

 

4. Light High-Energy Snacks

Keeping your kids fueled and energized minimizes fatigue and complaints. Pack a variety of light and high-energy snacks that are easy to carry and consume on the trail. Consider including items such as apples, bananas, trail mix, nuts, granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, cheese sticks, and yoghurt. These snacks provide a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to sustain their energy levels throughout the hike.


5. Nature Journal, Guide Books, Map

For older kids, encouraging their curiosity and love for nature can be done by including a little pencil case, a journal, and some guidebooks in their backpacks. This allows them to document their observations, sketch plants and animals, and learn more about the natural environment they encounter during the hike. Maps are another essential to ensure everyone stays on the right track and navigates the trail effectively.

 

6. Hats, Hiking Shoes, Backpack

Hats provide shade and shield faces an necks from direct sunlight. Additionally, investing in a good pair of hiking shoes for both adults and kids is essential. KEEN shoes are popular as they offer breathability and versatility, making them suitable for water activities like canoeing. Lastly, a well-fitted backpack is necessary to distribute the weight evenly and provide comfortable carrying options for your child throughout the hike.

 

What would you add to this list?

 

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Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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