I used to love hiking. In fact, I studied abroad in New Zealand as a high school student and spent a month at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre while there. But, I got away from it after the first of my four knee surgeries more than 15 years ago.
However, the pandemic–and a recent move near an incredible park with trails galore–got my family up and moving. So much so that my husband and I jetted off to Iceland for our belated 10th-anniversary trip to conquer mountain and volcano hikes this summer (more on that to come)!
Recognizing that our girls were not born into a life of hiking, we started by taking it slow, eventually moving to longer hikes that incorporated a lot of snacks and even picnic lunches. Here are my must-haves for family hikes.
A Lightweight, Water-Resistant (or Waterproof) Daypack
You need someplace to store your snacks, first aid kit, phone, water bottles and other items, so why not pick a cute backpack that’s not just water-resistant, but also folds up so it’s easy to travel with (I took mine to Iceland)?
This 40L backpack also has a wet pocket, chest straps and multiple compartments, making it a dream for moms on the go who have to stash the family’s belongings in their pack. The best part? It’s only $23!
Does this even need an explanation when kids are involved? Here are my favorites:
You can also buy other flavors and in jar sizes, but these individual packets help us all with portion control.
I was lucky to get a chance to sample these and OH. MY. GOODNESS…they are SO good! Even the kids like them (so, of course, I try to hoard them all to myself).
I first tried these bars during a layover a few years ago when I was on the hunt for some healthier food. I absolutely love the low ingredient count and my kids really like all of the flavors.
It goes without saying that you need to bring water on a hike, but I’ve found that there are certain stainless steel bottles my family likes (and won’t leak in my backpack). My hubby and I have these 18 oz. Takeya bottles from Target (under $30, but often on sale):
Our girls recently got these 12 oz. Thermos brand bottles that they can easily carry, have a pop top and a thin straw ($15-ish at Target, but also on sale a lot):
Letting your kiddos wear and use their own binoculars during hikes adds a new level of fun and engagement. My girls have really enjoyed looking for different types of birds on our hikes and these binoculars from Amazon are pretty rough and tumble and easy for little hands to manage ($26):
Natural Bug Repellent
My youngest and I not only attract mosquitoes like we’re the last meal sources on earth, but we swell like crazy. I tried a natural bug spray earlier this summer that smelled SO bad my kids told me they’d rather get a ton of bites. So, I reluctantly went back to the typical sprays, although I didn’t want to use them on my kids’ faces or heads.
So, when my friend, Shannon, introduced her Bug Off! all-natural insect repellent, I knew it was worth a shot. I have a lot of Shannon’s products already and they all smell amazing–and work–so, I figured, why not?
Well, let me tell you: a couple of spritzes on my girls’ heads and my normally chewed-up day camper has not had a single bite since! I’m not kidding. Plus, the spray smells INCREDIBLE! $10 or three (of any spray) for $24 plus shipping by contacting Shannon on Instagram.
Oh, and one last fun fact: Shannon is a #CommsMom of (soon-to-be) six!!!! Please support her small business by checking out Bug Off! and her other sprays and rollers on Instagram at @soulful_one111.
I love, love, love these $20 New Balance hiking poles…they were definitely lifesavers for us in Iceland. On our easier family hikes, we bring two sets and divvy them up so every family member has his or her own pole. The best part is that they’re easily transportable and fit nicely into our suitcases when we went abroad.
Merino Wool Socks
Have you ever worn cotton socks on sweaty feet while hiking? If so, you probably had the blisters to show for it.
For the kids, although only 55% merino wool, these adorable hiking socks are only $11 for six pairs–definitely worth it to keep pesky blisters away!
How many of you are stuck holding your kids’ jackets or sweatshirts when they get too hot? Well, you don’t have to worry about the extra baggage with BindBuddy.
BindBuddy attaches to any bag strap and can hold jackets, sweatshirts, toys and even yoga mats. It’s perfect for hiking and traveling, plus it’s small and lightweight. You can get it on Amazon and, as of the date of this publishing, it’s $19.99 with a 40% off coupon that can be applied!
Okay, so I want to know: what are your family hikes must-haves? Leave me a comment below!