Can you believe December is already upon us? Seriously, just a few weeks ago I was organizing my children’s candy collection post trick or treat. Now with a belly full of turkey, gravy, and potatoes, I am wondering if my family could live without Christmas lights this year. Maybe it’s a good time to load our backpacks and hit the trail. Actually, anytime is a good time to load a backpack and hit the trail. So, if this is your first time hiking with children, allow me a moment of your time to bestow my humble, trial and error, realities from personal experience with you.
Not every hike requires a backpack. I have spent hours on the trails with my children in multiple environments and have managed to have epic hikes. But there is an exciting transition when you put a backpack on your child’s shoulders and follow them down the trail carrying life saving essentials. But what constitutes an essential or must have item? It depends who you ask and in some instances whom they work for. In fact, gear companies will provide this “essential” information for free. For example, REI offers the ten essentials for hiking. Jack Wolfskin provides the twelve essentials and going a step further there is a thirteen essentials list provided by Redline Guiding. While I have no monetary affiliations with any of these, I will go on the record and say they are pretty much like the hundreds of thousands of other top 10 lists provided from other hiking families.
If I can be honest, which is my intent with these blogs, let’s get real. No list is perfect for hiking with toddlers. That is because there is more to a hiking trip with a toddler than what is in their backpack. So what does this dad recommend? Here is my top six that you will not find on any other website:
- Pack seven ounces of excitement. This will get you through the booboos, bug bites and rain.
- Six to eight ounces of imagination. Talking trees and alien rock eggs can keep a child motivated for great distances.
- Magnifying glass to look at extraterrestrial life on tree bark.
- A bug net to catch extraterrestrial life (take picture and release).
- Maybe ten ounces of trail mix. This can be a combination of gummy bears, cookies and chocolate chips.
- Their favorite stuffed animal.
Most importantly, the first step starts with us and ends with us. More and more children are unfortunately experiencing Nature Deficit Disorder. I understand that a lot of people are not comfortable going out in nature. Also, a high priced label on a jacket or a fancy balanced trail mix will replace a positive mental attitude. However, if you really want an absolute essential, allow me to at least write a no-cost prescription for you and the children; Vitamin N, for nature. Authored by Richard Louv, you will get more than what any essential gear list can provide. One of a kind guide, full of ideas and inspiration. Now go parents and turn your children into Tomorrow’s Stewards.
2 thoughts on “Hiking With Children: Part 3”
Well researched John. Outdoors is a life long way to be centered and present.
Happy trails. Madre
Well said Madre