We’re heading into the home stretch for summer. IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Grab your younger people and set out on a hiking adventure. We’ve made a list of all the kid-friendly hiking essentials you need to make sure you have everything ready for maximum fun.

Kid-Friendly Hiking Essentials: Your Backpack

This is the number one essential on any hiking trip, but when you’re with kids you want to make sure it’s comfortable, not too heavy (in case you end up carrying a kiddo) and you can easily access the main compartment and pockets. A tall order? Maybe, but here’s a suggestion: a cycling backpack. These are usually lightweight, adjustable, and fit snug to your upper body. Take a look at this one from Amazon: Cycling backpack.

What to put in your backpack:

  1. Water Bottle – Each hiker should have their own water bottle, and make sure your water bottles are leak-proof. A soaking wet backpack is no fun.
  2. Snacks If it’s hot, snacks that melt are probably not your best bet. (I’m talking to YOU, trail mix!) Some great snack options include granola bars, nuts, crackers, raisins, carrot and celery sticks, and maybe a small container of something to dip them in, such as hummus, peanut butter or ranch dressing.
  3. First AidA Ziploc® bag with the following: Band Aids, Neosporin, a bug bite relief medicine such as AfterBite, and small tweezers. This is a good place to keep sunscreen and bug repellent as well.
  4. Other Essentials – Bring along more Ziploc® bags, some toilet paper and wipes for those moments when the trail restroom is out of paper. I always think it’s wise to bring an extra pair of socks, underwear (things happen!) a bandanna, a pocket knife, and your insurance information. If you bring along one of your child’s friends, having a medical release from the child’s parents is always a good safety plan.
  5. A Garbage Bag – Be a good steward of the environment, and teach your kids the same. Bring along a small garbage bag to use for any waste you end up creating. Give a hoot, don’t pollute!
  6. Your Cell Phone – It’s easier to get lost than you may think. Your cell phone and a battery backup could save lives.

What to Wear:

  • A long-sleeved cotton t-shirt
  • Long cotton pants
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Comfortable, breathable socks. (How often have you heard, “My socks are wrinkly!” Lots? Me too.)

How Far?

You know your children best, but check out the trail in advance to get an idea of the terrain, and be prepared to take breaks along the way. The attention span of your youngest hikers isn’t long, so make sure you have an exit strategy. A young child could potentially go for a mile or slightly longer. As the children get older, you can take on more of a challenge, but it’s still a safe bet to make sure the terrain is doable for them. Complaining is the thief of fun.


Our favorite resource for finding hikes is The Sierra Club website. However, there are resources at your local library or bookstore for you to explore, as well as researching your state’s parks department for tips. Being from Portland, Oregon, one of our favorite places to hike is Forest Park, which is one of the country’s largest urban forest reserves.

Now is a wonderful time to get outdoors with your kids, and now you have all of your kid-friendly hiking essentials ready to go! Download this printable list for reference: 10 things to remember when hiking with small children.