Going on a hike isn’t just a walk in the park. While you may not be doing lots and lots of miles or camping overnight, having a well-stocked backpack for a day of going up and down a mountain or through the woods is still just as important. And, when you have your kids with you, there’s plenty of things you’ll all need to pack to keep you all safe, well-fed and hydrated. What’s great about backpacks is they can go right on your back so you can balance out the weight and feel more comfortable while you climb. Even better news - your kids can use their school backpacks for hiking super easily! Here’s a list of things to pack in your kids’ school backpacks for hiking.
In case of any emergencies, minor scrapes or run-ins with poison ivy, having a first aid kit on hand is always a smart idea. Make sure it includes wipes to clean wounds and a topical antibiotic cream to put on after. Bandages are important to have in case anyone trips and falls. Gauze is also good to have for extra strength in covering cuts, scrapes or burns. Put blister ointment in there in case anyone’s shoes start rubbing. Ibuprofen is good to have in case anyone is feeling any pain or gets a headache. You may run into poison oak or poison ivy on your hike, so include some anti-itch cream. Put a pair of tweezers in the kit in case of any splinters or bee stings.
Towels can be used for many different things while out on a hike with your kids. They’re great for wiping off sweat or for laying out on a rock or log while stopping for a snack or while eating lunch. If it starts raining, you’ll be thankful everyone has a towel to dry off. And, towels are great for sitting on in the car on the way home if the kids got wet or dirty on the hike.
Another awesome feature on backpacks is the handy lunchbox loop. Instead of lugging a picnic basket or a cooler along on your hike, you can try packing everyone’s own lunch and snacks in their lunchbox and attach it to the lunchbox loop on their backpacks for easy carrying. That way, everyone will be responsible for carrying their own food and everyone will have a place to put any wrappers or containers when they’re done. It will be easy for your kids to grab a snack along the way without you having to stop and dig through the cooler, too. Plus, they’ll love having a lunchbox that matches their backpack.
The durable, mesh water bottles pockets on the sides of your kids’ school backpacks are a great place to put their water bottles or sports drinks. It is important for everyone to stay hydrated when going on a hike, so utilize the pockets on both sides of the bag to make sure everyone has enough liquids to last for the day.
If your kids aren’t at the age of having a cellphone yet, get them a disposable camera to take pictures of all the cool trees, plants and wildlife they may see while out hiking. If you have older kids that have cellphones, they can use that to take pictures, even if they don’t have service out in the woods or on the mountain. The front zippered pocket is great for storing any electronics if it starts to rain, or if you’re crossing a river. It’s a safe, dry place to put cameras and cellphones.
It’s probably summer if you’re going for a hike with your kids. Even if it’s fall or spring, sunscreen is super important to bring with you. Whether the sun is shining, or if it’s overcast, apply sunscreen to yourself and your kids before you even hit the trail. If you’re out there for a few hours, reapply, especially if you’re sweating or stop for a quick swim. Wearing a UPF 50 rash guard on your hike is another layer of sun protection you won’t regret having, either.
Your kids’ feet may be sore by the end of the hike and it’s possible their socks and clothes will get wet or dirty. Pack a change of clothes, fresh socks and a pair of easy, slip-on shoes in your kids’ backpack so they can be comfortable and dry on the way home. If you’re far from home and will be stopping for dinner, or for a bathroom break, having slip-on shoes will be easier than tying up their hiking shoes or sneakers again when they get out of the car.
When you get home from your hike, everyone can unpack their own backpacks and lunchboxes (you’ll probably get stuck with doing the laundry, darn). Leaving the first aid kit in their backpacks might be a good idea if they are heading to summer camp or if you’re planning another hike in the near future. Having sunscreen in there at all times is a smart idea, too. If there is anything else that you think is important to add, by all means, put it all in there! There’s plenty of room and pockets to fit them.