A while ago, a reader who also hikes with his children, had asked me about what my son and I carry during our hikes. Since it would make a good blog post, I’ve decided to do one. Before we get to the lists, I would like to say, that this is the gear that works for us. It might not work for you, your family or hiking style. Much of what you do will depend on you and your family; since I do not know you or your children, much less your abilities, you will have to make judgments for yourself. Currently my son does not hike in the winter, although that might change depending on how he does with the new snowshoes he’s getting for Christmas. That said, this is what my 10 year old carries on a typical three season day hike:
- Extra shirt and socks
- Rain Jacket (not shown in photo below)
- Mini-Emergency Kit (this is a new item, at his request)
- Above treeline, even in the middle of summer, we add: Fleece, hat and gloves
We will be adding a headlamp after Christmas, which is wrapped and waiting for the big day.
My pack has a little more stuff, due to the fact that I’m the one responsible for both of us to get back home safely. For three season hiking, I carry:
- Extra socks
- Rain Jacket
- Map and Trail Descriptions/Compass
- Homemade Emergency Kit (first aid, knife, lighter, water purification, etc.)
- Bug Spray (during bug season)
- Bio-break supplies
- Above treeline: the fleece, hat and gloves
We also always carry some sort of treat for the summit. For 4,000 footers, it is usually a piece of chocolate, like a Lindt truffle. More recently, we’ve switched to hard candy (Werther’s caramels), which we get right before we leave the summit and see how far down the trail we can make it last.
In the car, we always have a cooler with drinks and snacks for the ride home. Packing the cooler is my son’s job. We buy Poweraide or similar drinks, along with bagels and individual cream cheese packets. It is my son’s job on the morning of the hike to pack the cooler with ice, drinks, the bagels in ziplocks, the cream cheese and plastic knives. It is a good motivator to know that a cold drink and snack is waiting in the trunk as soon as we get back!
Obviously, I carry more gear than my son does, but within a year or two he will be as big as me and capable of carrying as much as I can. We’ve been on backpacks where we’ve split all the gear, so I know he can carry more. For day hikes, what we carry works for us, and that helps to keep the hike fun. “Fun” is the key word here – if one hiking partner is too burdened with gear beyond their physical ability, it won’t be fun for anyone!