Hiking with Kids – Fun for the Whole Family!
Whether you are looking to get away from screens, forget about your worries for a bit, lower your stress levels, or get healthy; hiking is a great pastime. And, assuming you have at least a basic level of fitness, you can enjoy hiking straight away without any need for training.
Even better, hiking is a great activity that you can enjoy with your kids especially if you’re tired of being cooped up indoors because of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
In this article, we’ll discuss why you should go hiking with your kids, what you can do to prepare for your hiking trip, and, most importantly, how you can make it fun for the whole family.
Why Go Hiking with Your Kids?
There are lots of great reasons why hiking is one of our favorite family activities. When your at home, you may not get a lot of time to actually bond with your children. While Covid-19 has had us all spending a lot more time together, our houses aren’t just home to our family, but to a slew of devices, video games, and distractions.
Kids age quickly. Every parent knows this. As they age, their interests change, their friends change, and their temperaments change. A day spent hiking with your kids provides an excellent time to catch up with them and learn new things about what is going on in their lives, device-and-distraction-free.
Hiking is also great exercise with relatively low risk of injury. Through hiking, it is possible to lose weight, lower your risk of heart disease, decrease hypertension, and slow down the aging process. As if that’s not incentive enough, getting fitter will also allow you keep up with the kids on their terms, allowing you to become involved more deeply. Whether it’s crawling around with a young school-age kid, tossing the ball with your middle-schooler, or jogging with your high-schooler, the better shape you’re in, the more engaged you can be.
It’s also one of the easiest things to plan last minute.
Let’s face it, 2020 has been a stressful year for everybody. Many parents miss their offices and many kids miss their school. Many kids, going back to school now, are having to navigate a completely different approach to it.
The stress is pronounced enough that the CDC has put out notices designed to help people manage it. Their list of ways to cope with stress includes taking breaks from screens & social media, taking care of your body, unwinding, and connecting with others. Hiking checks all the boxes!
Apps like (literally) point you in the right direction.are super friendly and can
Preparing For Your Hike with Kids
The first thing that you need to do when it comes to planning your hike is to find a route that you can walk. The American Hiking Society has a range of resources, including the ability to find suitable hikes near to you. You can also try apps like AllTrails or Traillink, which have generous free tiers.
Think about the distance that you’ll be able to walk, how long it will take, and whether your kids can do it. The younger the kids are, the more likely they’ll need breaks if you’re going more than a mile or two. You may have to plan for water breaks every 30-45 minutes.
Either way, make sure that you are realistic about what your whole family can do and don’t plan a walk that is too long or strenuous on your first outing. You can always build up to bigger and better hikes as you start to enjoy the hobby. When you’re starting small, be sure to bring wear comfy walking shoes, bring water, and apply bug spray and sunscreen for conditions. For short hikes, that should be all you need.
In terms of equipment, walking shoes can work. However, if you’re going to be on rugged terrain, you’ll want to consider investing in a pair of good supportive hiking shoes. Look for ones with durable, rugged uppers. They’ll be exposed to the elements, so look for waterproof materials or GORE-TEX. If you struggle with back or hip pain, maybe consider getting some supportive insoles for your shoes and be sure to give them a week or so to be broken in.
As you start to level up or consider making it a more routine hobby, you may consider investing in some other outdoor equipment such as:
- A hiking backpack to carry lunches, snacks, and gear
- Weatherproof clothing (or at least a rain jacket)
- A map, compass, and GPS
- A first aid kit
- A multitool
- A headlamp
- An outdoor lighter or fire starter
- And, of course, snacks (and water!)
If you have all of these things, then you’ll be kept safe throughout your trip. Again, for a family just starting out and doing a short hike, not all of this (or even most of it) is completely necessary.
Except, perhaps, snacks, water, bug spray, and sunscreen
Of course, ask your kids, and they’ll vote 100 times for snacks. Because very kid loves snacks. (Fortunately, Boxed makes it easy to get them quickly and cheaply!)
Get Out and Hike
Once you have a hiking route that you’d like to walk, take a page from Nike and “just do it.” Get out with the family and enjoy the time together. Just remember to download your route before you leave, so you don’t get lost.
You may also consider downloading some apps such as iNaturalist, Leafsnap, or WildLab Bird so you can document the trip and identify any cool plants or animals you happen to come across. Turn it into a game and show your kids some of the things they can expect to see before you head out. Keep score to see how many of the things each person finds. Or make it a scavenger hunt.
Your imagination is the limit.
The Messy Part
Hiking is all fun until it’s time to get back in the car.
With walks in the great outdoors comes muddy shoes.
And with muddy shoes comes dirty cars and dirty carpets.
To prevent trekking mud (or the seeds of invasive species) back indoors, consider grabbing a ShoeSling® for each member of the family. Simply put your hiking shoes in the ShoeSling® when you leave the house, change your shoes at the trail, and swap them back out when you’re done.
It couldn’t be easier.
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has forced us to spend more time with our families. For many of us, though, that time isn’t necessarily quality time. Hiking is a great way to spend that quality time together, connect as a family, and get healthy.
Oh, and if you do go, snap a pick and hit us up on our email, firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to share in your adventure with you!