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Hiking with kids: essential items to take with you on the trail

A lot of people love to go hiking. It’s great exercise whether you undertake it alone or in a group. It’s also a great family activity that kids of any age can take part in. But if you’re taking your children with you on a hike that, of course it means you’ll need extra gear too. You’ll want to account for everything you would take with you if you were hiking alone. But kids need a few more things that you wouldn’t by yourself. So what’s essential to bring with you and what can you leave at home when you go hiking with kids? For sure it’s more complicated than going on a lean-and-mean solo hike. You want to aim for thorough preparation without over-packing. So here’s a rundown of the true essentials you shouldn’t leave home without when hiking with kids.

A hiking baby carrier

If your kids are not yet of walking age, you’re going to need a hiking baby carrier. Yes, you can use a regular baby carrier, but according to, most regular baby carriers don’t provide the necessary back support for a long hike and they block your baby’s view of the hike. The key to a comfortable hiking baby carrier is getting it to match up with your torso length. You should also look for something with adjustable straps and suspension if a spouse or partner is also going to use the carrier so that he/she can customize it to his/her torso length.

Depending on how often you’re going to be hiking, you may want to consider a carrier with storage space so that you have extra room for things like diapers and snacks. ranked the Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier high in fit, comfort and storage space. This carrier’s arched design ensures that most of your child’s weight is on your hips, which makes it easier and more comfortable to carry a child for long stretches of time. The Deuter also offers ergonomic cushioning, a pillow for added comfort and naps and a safety harness system that uses color-coded buckles.

Hiking footwear for kids

Kids who are of walking age don’t need a baby carrier, but they do need comfortable footwear. The ideal is for a kid’s hiking shoe to be water resistant, lightweight and have good traction. According to Bring The Kids, you want your kids’ hiking shoes to support both their arches and their toes and you want the shoe to reach at least the mid-point of their ankles so that they can avoid rolling their ankles. Bring The Kids recommends the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Kids Hiking Boots and rated them as the best kids hiking boots on the market.

A travel-style changing pad

An on-the-go changing pad or cloth, like the Pronto Signature Changing Station, will make diaper changes a breeze even if you’re mid-hiking trail. It folds out into an extra-wide, cushioned changing pad and has a pillow and two side flaps to provide some extra floor (or ground) space. It also holds your diapers and ointments and includes a wipe case.

A wet bag

Sometimes garbage cans can be hard to find when you’re in the middle of a hike, which is why a wet bag comes in handy. This is a reusable waterproof bag for holding, not only diapers, but also wet clothes and bathing suits so that your other hiking gear doesn’t get wet.

Hand sanitizer and wipes

Running water and a sink can also be hard to find when out on a trail. That’s why it’s smart to pack plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes so you can keep your kids’ hands as clean as possible. recommends the Keepin’ it Clean Alcohol Wipes from The Honest Company. They kill 99.9% of germs and contain aloe, which keeps your hands from getting dry. There is also the Grove Collaborative Kids’ Hydrating Hand Sanitizer that comes in scents that kids will like, such as watermelon and pear.

A first-aid-kit

Since kids are more accident-prone than other, you can’t go wrong with bringing a first aid kit on a hike. They don’t take up a lot of space and often contain everything you may need (ie: band-aids, tweezers, gauze) in the case of a minor emergency.

Kid sunglasses

Even though they’re often thought of as a fashion accessory, sunglasses are actually an important hiking essential, even for kids. This isn’t an area you want to skimp on either. Be sure to choose sunglasses with UV protection, as these block ultraviolet rays from reaching your eyes and causing any potential damage.