Boy posing while out hiking on Islay

Getting outdoors with kids has become even more popular since COVID in 2020. Each lockdown has meant more families have been getting outdoors to try and leave their houses for something that means a little more freedom!

Children hiking in Alps mountains. Kids look at snow covered mountain in Austria. Spring family vacation. Little boy on hike trail in blooming alpine meadow. Outdoor fun and healthy activity.

Going out hiking with toddlers or even hiking with older children can seem rather daunting, however, a major tip for walking with kids is to be prepared. I’m pretty sure that’s the Scout motto! When you are going on a family day hike, you don’t want to bring too much, but at the same time, you need to make sure you are not caught out.

I find writing a list of items needed for your family hike and then getting the items ready the night before comes in handy. Trying to find that lost hiking boot when you are trying to get out of the house is not fun at all.

Mother and daughter with dog resting on wooden bridge in the mountain forest

I’m sure there may be a few hiking essential that I take with us that you may not find useful. However, on a family hike, I like to be prepared. If there is something missing that you always take with you while out hiking with kids, then please let me know in the comments below.

For more outdoor and family hiking tips you can check out the outdoor section.

Family Day Hiking: What to Pack

Hiking Backpack

A hiking rucksack comes in handy to put all your hiking essentials in. Depending on how many of us are going on the family hike will depend on what size of hiking backpack I take. I will take a larger 30-litre family backpack if all of us are going. My eldest son also has his own backpack which he loves to wear too.

Make sure to test your backpack out before you use it for the first time. Put items in it and see what it feels like on your back. Keep adjusting it until it feels comfortable for you.

Taking a break on a hike with kids

Hiking Essential 1 – Food & Water

The main hiking essential is food and water. Always make sure you take enough food, snacks, and water/juice for everyone who is going on the family hike. There is nothing worse than a hungry child and knowing you still have a while to go until you can get more supplies.

Have some snacks in your car for your return, which will work a treat when you get back and can give a “reward” for finishing the family walk.

Womens outwear, footwear (brown trench jacket, shuede hiking boots), backpack.  Outfit for traveling. Autumn winter collection. Fashion Shopping concept. Flat lay, view from above

Hiking Essential 2 – Spare Clothes

Depending what the weather is like, will depend on what extra clothes you will need to carry in your day backpack. Layers always work best for outdoors in colder weather as it traps the heat between the layers. An idea of what spares to take are:

If you have a non-walker in your family, then I would advise another layer if it’s chilly. Although always check on them to make sure they are not overheating in their layers.

Elisha Jacket by Trespass
Rain falling on the jacket

Hiking Essential 3 – Waterproof Clothing

Make sure to check the weather forecast in the morning before you leave in case it has changed. However, as we live in Scotland, even if it says it will be sunny, I usually take our waterproof trousers and a packable jacket. Always be prepared!

Map, gps navigator, portable radio, rope and first aid kit on a light background. Set lifeguard.

Hiking Essential 4 – First Aid Kit

The just in case hiking essential. It’s the essential hiking item that you don’t really want to have to use but it will be invaluable if you do need it. Anyone can have a fall and hurt themselves. Even more so little ones as they never seem to walk…they always love to run!

If you are planning on hiking Munros (mountains) then I would also suggest bothy (emergency shelter) and a whistle.

family looking at a map

Hiking Essential 5 – GPS/Map

Before I had the boys, I didn’t tend to use GPS devices. However, now I always have a GPS device with our route on it so I can reference against, but also a paper map. My dad is old school and uses the map while I tend to use the GPS. I am still trying to learn how to use a compass and map to get about, but I always forget what I have learnt. There are a great couple of videos on YouTube from OS Maps which I found helpful for learning more about a map reading.

A great app to have on your mobile device is the What 3 Words App. This can help in emergency situations. You can discover more over on their website.

A power bank charges a smartphone in a pocket of a black backpack, on a background of grass

Hiking Essential 6 – Battery Bank/Batteries

Every family nowadays has some sort of tech. It is always best to have spare batteries or a power bank handy. They do come in very handy and can also be used in emergencies. Tip: make sure they are fully charged too.

child walking in Austria

Hiking Essential 7 – Sun Protection

It might not seem like an essential, but sun protection is a must-have. There have been times when we have been on a family hike and got sunburnt even when it did not seem that sunny. Now to be extra safe I take sun protection for our family walks in the form of creams and sun hats.

Hiking Essential 8 — Binoculars

Spotting local wildlife is a great way to get your little ones more engaged with the hike — so be sure to bring a trusty pair of binoculars to observe from a safe distance. Whether it’s soaring seabirds on a rugged coastal path or cautious deer along a woodland trail, fascinating British wildlife is rarely far away when you’re on a family hike.

The only hitch is that standard adult binoculars often have sensitive lenses, meaning they can be a little tough to use, especially for small hands. Kids’ (or junior) binoculars, while far from toys, are much more forgiving because they’re lightweight and have larger grips. A pair of kids’ binoculars will also offer a wide field of view, making it easy to hold still while sharing the joy of wildlife. You can get some from RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), which is particularly great as the wildlife charity conducts vital conservation work across some of the country’s best hiking spots, including a myriad of national parks.

Child having fun

Family Hikes With Babies & Toddlers

If hiking with babies or even hiking with toddlers, then you will need some form of carrier or pushchair for them. Make sure you research your chosen route and depending on the terrain choose the most ideal option. There are many all-terrain buggies on the market which are great for hiking with kids. If you did not want a pushchair, then look into baby carriers for hiking. Again, there are many options from slings, baby carriers or proper hiking child carriers.

Is there anything that you take out hiking that I haven’t mentioned?

Related Hiking Guides:

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Items To Take Out While On A Family Hike|Going Out Hiking? Find Out What We Take On A Family Hike.

First Published: June 2018

About Author

I have always had an interest in travel and now I have My two boys I want them to see more than just the UK. I hope to give advice and tips to other parents who are anxious about travelling with their children.

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  1. Useful list. I’m trying to encourage my boys (6 and 4) to carry a smal rucksack to get them used to having a bit of responsibility. It works sometimes!

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