May 1, 2012
Getting Started - Tips for Successful Outings
Things to Bring
by Venson

What are the must haves for a trip with Kids?  What type of clothing, equipment, food and books?



Hi-  Keeping kids hydrated, fueled up, warm and dry enough and entertained / curious about the world around them are the keys to happy adventures.  

Ever since my kids were little, they've carried their own age-appropriate little backpacks.  For a warm-weather outing, usually there's water, trail snacks, a rain jacket, hat (if it's not already on their head) and one or two kid-friendly, nature exploring toys (binoculars / magnifying glass / bug jar / scoop net / cheap camera.)  In our bags we have the bug spray, sunscreen and a little first aid kit for the unfortunate bumps and scrapes that sometimes occur.

We're big fans of Smart-wool type hiking socks, quick-dry everything (especially pants that zip off into shorts) and polar fleece layers.  We tend to stay away from cotton which can get soggy and lead to chilly, cranky kids.

Making trail snacks ahead of time is part of the fun.  In a big bowl mix together some combination of crunchy cereal, raisins, nuts (or Peanut M&Ms are a special treat) and dried fruit.  Everybody gets their own portion to carry and eat.

Have fun out there!


ktq02176 »
06/15/2012 08:11 AM

I have a daughter who just turned 3 and we are in that transition from her tagging along in the kid carrier to walking the trails on her own and exploring at her own pace.  It's been quite an adjustment for me going from my previous hiking experiences of 4K footers in the Whites to a much slower pace in local DCR parks.  I'm encouraging my daughter to enjoy the outdoors by looking at leaves, hopping over tree roots and hunting for pine cones.  I've discovered this age can be a bit challenging since she's now asserting her independence.  I've given in to her insistence on wearing flowery dresses and sparkly flip flops and choose our paths carefully, usually staying on a paved one depending on her preferred footwear.  Our goal is to just enjoy ourselves.  Sometimes our adventures only last 30 minutes and I often wish they could last a little longer.  Does anyone else experience this with their toddler?  What other items or games work at such a young age to keep them engaged?  I don't want her to get bored with our activities.

crooksie »
07/13/2012 10:57 AM

I have a 2 1/2 year old boy who's excitment for the outdoors is fantastic. However, the trips can't be too long or he will get bored easily. Like in previous comments, I make sure to cover all the bases regarding food, first aid, toys, and other items that can "capture" nature while we're out there. The best thing I've learned with my son is to act out scenes from his favorite show: "Thomas and Friends". We "chug" through the woods and I tell stories of Thomas' adventure I know from the TV series. He totally gets into it! The other day we were walking the woods behind our house and pretended that he was Thomas who has picking up items such as bark, tree cones, plants, rocks, sticks, etc. Of course I had to be the kaboose, who carried everything. :) But it was fun!

Diana »
07/19/2012 12:28 PM

I have spent more than my fair share of time as family pack-mule, but had a V8 moment (as in the slap-in-the-forehead, why-didn't-I-think-of-that-myself kind) last fall when I saw people from my boys' Cub Scout Pack's fall outing using carabiners and canteens to carry their water. Both provide you with hands-free hiking, which leaves you with some of your most valuable assets available for balance and/or wrangling wayward small hikers! Not only that: both make it easy to distribute some of that weighty water amongst your offspring, so you don't have to be bent over under all those full water bottles yourself!

virtualeditor »
06/12/2013 09:03 PM

I agree with all of this. We have used "make your own trail mix" successfully as a group activity. Just have bowls of everything (cheerios, peanuts, raisins, etc. ) and have each kid make their own mix of what they like in a ziplock sandwich bag with a grownup doling out the m&ms as a final flourish. 

Treetop Mom »
06/13/2013 03:59 PM

Even very small kids can start helping find the next trail marker (yes, we hiked a blue trail first and ended up calling trail blazes "Blue's Clues" for a year or two), it helps them feel confident. My kids always carried their own small packs; you can even get kid-sized hydration packs. 

We've used make your own trail mix successfully as a group activity - have everything in bowls (except the M&Ms, have a grownup dole them out) and let kids mix what they like in ziplock bags. 

Kid-friendly or small, basic field guides are great to have, as are magnifying glasses, small bug/critter containers and butterfly nets. 


Treetop Mom »
06/13/2013 04:01 PM

I keep a small bag of extra clothing in the trunk. This has proven especially useful when we have found ourselves at an unexpected beach or pond on a hot day.  The kids usually end up soaked even if they began just dipping their toes in the water. They can enjoy themselves and I don't have to worry about the puddles or mud in the car.  

ampfamily »
08/13/2013 04:46 PM

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