You don’t need to spend a fortune to get your family ready for a hike. Products made for hiking and outdoor activities such as quick-drying pants, waterproof hiking boots, wool socks and a wicking t-shirt are great, but not necessary, especially if you’re just starting out and only going for short distances.
Everyone will need sturdy walking shoes, but regular runners should be fine on well-made trails.
Wear comfortable clothes, including long pants (but definitely not jeans) to protect legs from insect bites and scratches. Even in summer, I always wear pants when hiking. Dress in layers in cooler weather so you can all peel off clothes as you warm up.
What to pack
- A rain jacket – I’m a Melbourne girl, which is famous for four seasons in one day, so even if the weather looks fine when I set out, I always pack a light right jacket… just in case.
- A fleece or warm jacket – temperatures can rapidly change when you’re no longer at sea level and even a few hundred metres up can be a different climate to the ground. This is especially worth keeping in mind if you drive up a mountain to your hiking destination.
- Sunscreen and a hat – regularly reapply sunscreen, too.
- Insect repellent – help keep the nasty bugs likes tics and mosquitos away.
- Food and drinks – bring enough water and snacks for you and the kids. It’s great to bring their favourite treats as a reward for their efforts.
- A basic first aid kit –
includea compression bandage for snake bites and crepe bandage for sprains.
- A map – if you’re going more bush.
- A camera – get the kids to visually document the hike.
- A mobile phone– did you know you can call 112 from anywhere in the world to connect to emergency services? Even if your telco carrier isn’t in range, but if another telco is, you can connect to emergency services. You can also use an app like Strava or Map My Hike to track your walk.
- An activity for the kids to enjoy – make up a list of things for the kids to find during a scavenger hunt. These can be anything from
- A backpack carrier – if your kids are really young, then a baby or toddler backpack carrier like the Osprey Poco Premium is brilliant.
- A day pack – put all your goodies in a daypack. Get the kids to carry their own gear as well, though you could take the heavier stuff.
The Parks Victoria website (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au) provides information on parks all around Victoria. Check your own state or territory government’s parks and recreation website for details of hikes in your local area.
Preparing kids for a hike
I think of kids’ hiking abilities in terms of their age. Like a 4-year-old could hike 4 kms and so on. I also think of this in terms of how much they can carry, but I halve their age. So a 4-year-old could comfortably carry 2 kgs.
Of course this is not a blanket rule. It’s just a guide. Some kids will be able to hike much further and others not as far. Some will easily carry more, others won’t. You’ll need to work out your kids’ limits.
If your kids are active and play regular sports, then hiking shouldn’t be too strenuous for them. If you have a trampoline in the yard, all that bouncing is great exercise to prepare them for hike.
To test their fitness, take them for a 30-minute walk in a flat environment and see how they go. Are they tiring? Are they still full of beans? This will give you a good idea of how far they can hike on a trail.
What tips do you have to help prepare kids for a hike? Share them below.
Last modified: December 8, 2018