In previous posts I have written about tips for hiking with children (and ultimately surviving the hike!), and the benefits of hiking with children, so in this post I want to provide a guide to packing – a hiking with children packing checklist. This is not really about what they are wearing, I’d like to assume they already have proper footwear and appropriate outdoor clothing for the time of year. This hiking with children packing checklist is more about what they are carrying in their backpacks.
Hiking With Children Packing Checklist:
- The backpack: We looked high and low for the backpacks for our trio. For the twins it was a lot harder to find something a little larger (but not too large as they were still only 6), with a supportive front clasp, enough pockets for good accessibility of things, robust enough to withstand the Swedish wilderness, and with some extra padding/comfort for the hiking. We eventually bought for our twins these backpacks from Elkline. They are fantastic. For our little lady we had a different issue….if we bought it for her size (a tall 9 year old at the time), she would fill any left over space with “stuff” that would then make it too heavy to carry, so we needed to be a little cautious on size with her too. It is a 22 litre backpack but with a good sturdy waist belt (that was a struggle to find one with that). It has a breathable back and comes with a rain cover attached. It is designed for 11-15 year olds so should last her a while yet!
- Water bottles: A very important vessel! I also carry a resupply of water for everyone, but it will not be too long into the future, once we are out for longer, that we will also need to look into water filter systems so we can resupply while out.
- Torch: Always handy for when you are out in the dark, whether to find your route through some tough undergrowth, help you pack up after a campfire to ensure you’ve left nothing behind, or to help you find that lost item that got dropped in the dark (and probably shouldn’t have left the house anyway, but is the most favourite tiniest toy EVER!). Oh and you can use the torch to signal for help. Despite a lot of our adventures being in daylight, this is one item that always remains in our backpacks just in case.
- Whistle: It is debatable whether my three actually need one of these (they are sooooooo noisy), but just to be on the safe side, they have it in their backpacks in case of getting lost.
- Compass: These come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. You can choose one to match your child’s age and ability to use it. We have gone for a simple version to introduce ours to the concept to start with. You can take a look at my post on learning how to use a compass for tips to get started with your little people.
- Outdoor Clothing: If you have not put your children in clothing such as rain gear due to fine weather, don’t forget to pack it just in case!
- Spare socks: Little feet get very tired and upset if they are uncomfortable, cold, or wet. With that in mind, dry socks is a quick fix to this grumble, and they don’t take up much room either.
- Hats/gloves: Obviously make the hat type appropriate to the season and weather!
- Binoculars: An optional item, but we always include them as a welcomed distraction technique when the whinging can kick in. These we purchased back in the UK from a well known toy shop (they were only £2.99, about 30sek), but have been absolutely fantastic and survived have being flung around. You don’t need to spend a lot for them to function well.
- Eating utensils: If you are cooking a meal or carrying a flask meal, don’t forget the implements to eat it with…..mine have been known in the past to try and eat spaghetti and meatballs with twigs. Now that was a challenge!! We carry sporks. My three think this is one of the funniest words ever. I think it is one the handiest items to carry….the 2-in-one function cuts back what goes in those backpacks (very important when you are only 6 or 9 years old!). We also have delightful tin Moomin mugs that make you smile when on the weary side.
- Snacks: If you don’t end up using these for filling tummies, they may come in handy for bribing further along the trail 🙂
- Sunglasses: We ALWAYS have these with us. Whether we need them to watch the sun rise or set, or the sun unexpectedly makes an appearance…anything less for them to moan about has to be a bonus!!!
- Tinderbox: We use a Kelly Kettle and love lighting campfires for our meals during our hikes. These pouches allow us to collect any dry useful tinder and store it safely (and rather smartly) on our pre-campfire part of the hike. Between 3 children and myself we should then have a fair amount….might as well put the children to use
- Base Layers and jumpers: We need this here in the winter to keep warm, but usually when hiking you can work up a sweat too. A good base layer will wick this sweat away from your skin keeping you comfortable. One less thing for them to moan about has to be a bonus right?! Need help choosing a set? Check out my review of Isbjörn of Sweden Husky base layer
- Bug Pot: Another optional item but there are always interesting things hiding along the trails. My three carry a very small pot so we can take closer looks, and also it can give them something to do while you are cooking a meal.
Hiking With Children Packing Checklist Team Items:
These items do not need to be carried by everyone. You can usually get away with one of each carried by someone.
- Insect repellent (we also carry after-bite/sting cream)
- Any cooking equipment/fire starting kit
- Food for meals
- Loo paper/wipes/nappy bags: You can carry a shovel to bury it, but having had a dog I am quite used to bagging up poo and paper and bringing it back with the rubbish!
- First aid kit
Hiking With Children Packing Checklist Seasonal Items:
Towels and swimmers!! During the summer months if we are hiking near water we always make time for a swim and a splash around 🙂
Every family is different and there are always other items that could be included or not, so you need to tailor your checklist to your tribe. I keep mine permanently written down in the kitchen as it makes packing a lot quicker. It also means when children are distracting me I am less likely to leave anything vital at home!! Let me know in the comments if there is anything vital I have missed off the hiking with children packing checklist.