Spring is here! We are all itching to get outside in the beautiful weather. Take the whole family on a springtime hiking trip this year and enjoy the great outdoors together. With this helpful packing guide, you’re sure to enjoy your springtime family hiking trip. Grab your backpacks and let’s go!
This one is for you, parents. We love that our little ones want to help—they may start the family trek wanting to wear a backpack and haul the family hiking gear together. But the reality is they'll likely tap out early in the trip and you'll be picking up the gear. So, invest in a good, sturdy, lightweight day pack. Make sure this pack has plenty of padding and is made from breathable materials. A pack with a chest strap or both chest and waist strap takes the weight off of your shoulders (you will thank us later).
Speaking of comfort, make sure you wear breathable materials yourself. Skip the jeans and sweaters, and choose your hiking outfit from your women’s activewear that will be fashionable and functional.
This one item is an absolute must for a safe, healthy hiking trip. If you are hiking near freshwater rivers or streams, consider also bringing a LifeStraw or other packable backcountry water filter to cut down on your pack weight and ensure that everyone has clean water to drink throughout the hike.
Don't forget snacks! Hiking burns calories hard and fast, so make sure everyone has fuel to keep going. We suggest bringing at least one snack per family member per hour of hiking—it's definitely better to have too much than too little. You can bring fresh fruit like apples or oranges, but we recommend dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits and veggies for the ultimate lightweight snack. Individual packets of nut butter are also a fun and delicious hiking snack that the kids will love. Jerky, meat sticks, and individually wrapped cheeses are great for a small, easy protein-dense snack. Of course, don’t forget your granola bars and trail mix. You can also have your kids do a fun family activity of personalizing trail mixes the night before your hike. Buy a wide variety of nuts, dried fruits, cereal, and chocolate candy bits and give each person a lightweight container or baggie to fill with their favorite trail mix bits.
You will want to pack a first aid kit in your backpack for your family hiking trip. We always want to be safe and prepared so it’s best to go above and beyond the typical sterile wash and band-aids for scraped knees. Head to a local outfitter store or ask a park ranger what someone in your area should have in their outdoor first aid kit.
Have some baby wipes and towels on hand for a quick clean-up before snack and meal times for the whole family. These are also handy any time you want to freshen up and sanitize and there aren't amenities nearby. Bring a couple of small face towels or Tek towels (quick-dry packable shammy towels) as well, especially if you are hiking near water.
You just never know when you will need a multitool. This item could be added to your first aid kit, or worn hooked on your cargo shorts.
Protecting yourself from the sun will also make sure your family has a comfortable hiking trip. Slather the kids in sunscreen on any exposed skin and wear hats and sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you are hiking somewhere that has a place to swim, make sure to bring layers for sun protection such as a rash guard with high SPF.
Spring is when everything is in bloom and all of the critters are back in action, including ticks and mosquitos. In addition to bug spray, especially if you live in an area with ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or leggings tucked into socks. Anyone with long hair should keep it tied up tightly, ideally under a hat.
Spring weather is unpredictable. Especially once you add in elevation if you are mountain-hiking. Dense cold fog or a sudden spring shower could roll in at any minute. Be prepared for anything by packing extra layers of clothing for everyone. Bring an extra fleece or kids hoodie for the little ones.
This list is, of course, a suggested start to your packing list and by no means exhaustive. What you need to bring to stay comfy and safe on your family hiking trip largely depends on where you live. Check the weather forecast before you go and see if you will need rain gear and raincoat. If you live in bear country, bring bear spray. In any case, have fun, stay safe, and happy spring!