The sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. You’ve parked the car, the trailhead is in sight and you look down at your very fair toddler and realize you’ve forgotten the sunscreen…

Don’t let this happen to you. Here is a list of what we pack for every hike, long or short, rain or shine. Most items can be kept in a designated hiking backpack then only a quick inventory is necessary before leaving the house.

With kids “hikes” may look more like nature walks and this list may seem like overkill. But the right gear can turn hike ending events into minor mishaps. A bandaid for a skinned knee, dry socks after a misstep in a stream, rain jackets when those afternoon storms pop out of nowhere- knowing you are prepared means you can focus on the beauty around you instead of those gray clouds in the distance.

  1. Sun Protection: Sunscreen, Hats Sunglasses, Lip Balm
  2. Bug Spray
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Water, LOTS of Water- We have our 5 year old carry her own filled bottle but we bring plenty to refill as necessary
  5. Clothing: Layers, Rain Jackets, Extra Socks (remember if you have a “rider” they aren’t moving so they might be chillier than the hikers)
  6. Navigation: Maps, GPS- most trails we’re going on are pretty straight forward, but I have a horrible sense of direction and trails often have intersections with other trails and you’ll want to make sure you aren’t turning your three mile hike with kids into a seven mile survival reality show.
  7. Snacks: We include some candy you may not normally dole out, makes it special and may give the sugar rush they need to finish that trail. We personally are not above bribery.
  9. Whistles: Get a whistle for each child to wear around their neck. On the off chance you get separated, they can blow the whistle to ensure they are found.
  10. Phone or camera, you may not have cell service but you’ll definitely want photos of your tiny hikers doing their thing.

Bonus Item: One Magical Item Some kids may need a little extra incentive to go for a walk. If a tutu, crown or wand provide that extra umpf to get on the trail and it won’t impede their progress, I say bring it.

What are your must have items in your packs?