Hiking is one of our favorite family activity in the summer, specially in our backyard. And by backyard, I am talking about Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. 😉
However, hiking with kids is a different story all together. I’m sharing our thought process when planning a hiking adventure with kids – trails to consider, stuff to bring, etc. – so read on.
When picking a trail to hike, consider your kids capabilities and personalities.
Length & Time
For Kaeden and Kenzie, a shorter hike, that only lasts a maximum of 1 hour works best.
The promise of a water fall or swimming in the lake at the end of the hike also works well as an incentive.
Elevation gain is not really a problem with my kids. However, some kids have a hard time equalizing even on a low elevation gain. Kaeden has this problem on planes but not really when hiking up the mountains.
We also prefer hiking trails that are easy to navigate with kids – no walking on a ledge of the mountain while hanging on for dear life unto a rope!
My anxiety will be on hyperactive mode with that. LOL
So where do I find such trails to conquer?
We like using the All Trails website and app. You can search for trails depending on how easy it is to navigate, how short, and how kid-friendly it is. Get a free account so you can put trails on your favorites list.
I also like all the reviews written by actual hikers about the trails. It tells us what to expect when navigating the trail.
After picking a trail, I then head on over to Pinterest, to check out what bloggers have to say about the trail. There are a boatload of information on Pinterest! The bloggers that write about the trails have experienced them first hand, so reading their thoughts helps a lot with planning.
Now that you know where to go, next up would be what to wear when hiking.
Clothes to Wear
We always recommend to dress in layers when hiking. It can get cold when you’re under the cover of trees, but then it can get hot pretty fast too.
For shoes, Marc and I have invested on proper hiking ones. We’ve both had the same Under Armour Hiking shoes for the past 3 years and still loving them. (Note that the link is the newest style of hiking shoes from Under Armour, ours are not available anymore.)
Since the kids outgrow their shoes within a couple of months, we have not invested on proper hiking shoes for them. Both Kaeden and Kenzie just wear running shoes when hiking. We just make sure to spray their shoes with Rain and Stain Protector.
Another important layer to bring is water-proof jackets. This is specially important when hiking during spring and fall. Helps you to not be soaking wet when you get rained on during the hike. 😉
I invested in the Columbia Arcadia Rain Jacket, during their Black Friday Sale about 4 years ago. Marc chose the NorthFace Resolve Jacket. For the kids, since they outgrow their clothes every season, we opted for a more cost-effective rain jacket from Mountain Warehouse – make sure to wait for their massive sales!
We always have all of our rain jackets in our hiking back pack because Canadian hiking weather is just unpredictable at times!
Food and Water
We always carry a backpack full of essentials when hiking.
As for food, what and how much to bring will depend on how long is your hike and what your family prefers. Since we pick shorter hikes and we typically start early, I only need to bring snacks most of the time. After the hike, we usually have a picnic lunch in a spot nearby. If your hike is going to last through the lunch hour, it’ll be best to bring food that is easy to pack and can be eaten cold – a salad perhaps, an acai bowl, or maybe a power smoothie that you can keep in a Thermoflask 😉
Kaeden and Kenzie prefer either grapes or banana for snacks, coupled with some Gold Fish Crackers, Nutella Cups, or Oreo cookies. Marc and I prefer peanuts or protein bars – but we rarely eat snacks when hiking.
Other Stuff To Think About
Aside from food, there are other things you should consider bringing.
We always have a small basic first aid kit in our backpack.
Better to have it and not need it, than to not have it then need it!
Since we frequently hike in Bear Country – we always carry a bear spray in an easily accessible pocket of our back pack.
Make sure to learn how to use the Bear Spray when you purchase it. Also, know the safe handling and storage of it. We purchased ours from Canadian Tire.
Don’t forget your camera!
I have a Canon EOS M100 purchased from Costco – but I rarely take it with me during hikes. I prefer to use my iphone when taking photos during a hike. However, if the purpose of our hike is to actually take photos, then yes I bring the Canon and a tripod with me.
That my friends is the process I go through when planning a hike with kids. I hope you learned something new. Enjoy your hike!