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What Hiking Gear Do Kids Really Need

There is a lot of fulfillment in hiking with your kids over the weekend. It presents you with a chance to enjoy quality time with them and carry lasting family memories.

Nevertheless, you need to select the right hiking gear for your kids to ensure you are all happy hikers.

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Kids’ hiking gear depends on their personal preferences, age, and physical abilities. Essential items include a backpack, water bottles, snacks, shoes, and a change of clothes, among others.

As you pack the hiking gear for your kids, consider how much weight they can comfortably carry.

I’m going to help you decide what items are essential hiking gear for kids, as well as share helpful tips for hiking with kids, and figure out how much weight your child can carry when hiking.

Essential Hiking Gear For Kids

You don’t have to break the bank and buy everything sold in the stores just to have a fun hike with your family. There are, however, a few things that will help as you hike with your kids.

Here is a list of essential hiking gear you should have for them.

A Good Backpack

A backpack is the first thing you need when setting out for a hiking adventure. The bag should have enough compartments and straps that are super comfortable for the shoulders.

A small bag is okay if you go for a day’s hike.

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You can encourage your kids to carry the backpack, although you should be ready in case they get tired along the way and request you to carry it for them.

Water Bottle

Having enough water is essential for everyone when hiking. Pick a bottle that is sturdy, light, and designed for outdoor use. If you get an insulated one, it will be better because it will keep the water cold for a long time.

Additionally, the water bottle should feature comfortable handles in which the kids can wrap their fingers conveniently.

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Another option to consider is a water pouch system such as a CamelBak. This makes it feel easier to carry the water in the backpack and is easily accessible for drinks without having to stop to pull out a water bottle.

Hiking Shoes

A comfortable hiker is a happy hiker, and that’s why you should be careful when choosing hiking shoes for your kids. Poorly fitting shoes may spoil the hiking mood, especially when doing long hikes.

If you are hiking on rough and muddy trails, they will need closed shoes to protect them from water and bites.

Also, if the hiking will be on mountains, your kid will need a shoe that offers stability and support. You don’t want them to twist an ankle or fall along the trail.

» MORE: Do Kids Really Need Hiking Shoes?

Hiking Sticks

Although a hiking stick is not really an essential item, most kids seem to really enjoy having it along when hiking. The stick helps distribute your weight and the backpack, thus increasing your balance.

Additionally, a hiking stick pushes branches to one side if the hiking trail is overgrown with bushes. Ensure you pick a sturdy and easy-to-carry straight stick for them to hike easily.

This one doesn’t even have to be something you buy. You can easily find a good hiking stick along the trail, and if it’s an especially good one, your kid can bring it home to take along next time.

Energy-Giving Snacks

Hiking is a tiring activity and demands a lot of energy from hikers. This means that your kids will get hungry often, and that’s why you should pack high-energy snacks in plenty. You can also pack some more substantial food, but snacks will keep them motivated since most kids love them.

First Aid Kit

Hiking involves running, exploring, and jumping, thus exposing the kids to a high risk of accidents.

A first aid kit will be helpful in case they are scraped. If you have an adhesive bandage handy (with some antiseptic wipes), you can all continue with your adventure without dampening their moods.

The first aid kit should have essentials to serve everyone because grownups are also not exempted from accidents.


Our hiking gear list for kids wouldn’t be complete without including a whistle. It may seem to be something small, but it can save a life if something dramatic happens as you hike.

For instance, your kids might get lost or separated from you. But if they have a whistle clipped to their clothes, they will blow it and make it easier for you to relocate them.

Change Of Clothes And Jacket

You should consider the weather when hiking with kids because it can change anytime. You never know when it will start to drizzle, and therefore a change of clothes or a jacket is not a bad idea.

Consider carrying a fleece jacket to keep the kids warm when hiking in the morning and a rain jacket in case it starts raining. This of course depends on how long your hike is and what type of terrain and climate you’re hiking in.

Hiking Hats And Sunglasses

Sometimes it gets scorching in the hiking fields, and your kids will need hiking hats and sunglasses to shield their heads and eyes from the sun. It’s a good idea to have a hat that covers their ears and neck.

These two items will help protect from sunburns and glare headaches by giving them adequate UV protection.

Hiking Tips For Kids

Kids can quickly get bored out on the hiking trail. To combat this you can look for ways to keep them moving. Here are hiking tips to ensure you have a successful and fun-filled family day out on the trail.

Prepare And Plan Properly

Proper planning prevents problems that could ruin your day. It involves choosing a trail whose condition and location are favorable. Trail-map or guide books can help you in this.

Engage your kids in choosing the trail so they can take a little ownership in the activity. This way, they will be more interested in meeting the hiking goals.

Also, ensure the hiking shoes fit them well and that you have all the hiking essentials.

Talk While Hiking

Talk about what you’re seeing, talk about what’s happening in their lives. Play eye-spy with little kids. Play “would you rather…” with school-age kids.

Choose topics based on what they like or are currently engaging in. It could be about their favorite activity in school or at home.

This tip will work perfectly for your kids and keep their moods up for hours. Besides, it will help you bond more with them.

You can also give them the map and allow them to navigate as you chat your way up the trail.

Keep The Environment Clean

Keeping the hiking trail clean is an essential gesture for both adults and kids. You will be an excellent example to your kids by making sure to take all your trash away with you.

Additionally, it will give you an ideal opportunity to teach them the importance of a clean environment. Pick up all the waste you have accumulated and dispose of it correctly.

How Much Weight Can Your Child Carry When Hiking?

The weight that a kid can carry depends on their age and body weight.

For instance, if you have preschool-aged kids, they should not carry more than 5% of their body weight. Older kids between the age of 10-17 years can carry a pack of 10%-15% of their body weight.

This means that a 35 lb 4-year-old shouldn’t carry more than 2 lbs on a hike. But a 60 lb 10-year-old could reasonably be expected to carry 6 lbs or more in their backpack.

Hiking presents you with an opportunity to bond with your kids as you teach them about nature. Nevertheless, it can be exhausting or even dangerous if you don’t have the right hiking gear.

Remember to bring some energy-giving snacks, enough water, a whistle, hiking sticks, the proper clothing for the weather, and appropriate shoes.

You will remain more focused and have nothing to worry about if you carry the right hiking gear for your kids.