By Rebecca Brown
Getting to explore the great outdoors with your family is an invaluable experience. Fall is one of the best times to go for a hike with your favorite people due to its moderate temperatures, beautiful flora, and fewer crowds. Hitting the trails will bring the entire family closer together and more in touch with nature while spending quality screen-free time.
Depending on your fitness level and other factors, you can design a route that will suit everybody on the team. Planning is the best way to ensure you have a successful outdoor adventure.
Make sure your hiking day with your family is enjoyable and safe – check out the tips below!
Essential Packing Tips
Packing lightly is sound advice in some situations, but it doesn’t work when planning a hiking day with your family. Quite the opposite: you need to pack wisely and load up your backpacks with the worst-case scenario in mind.
This way, you’ll be well prepared for whatever may happen while hoping for the best.
Let’s go through the family hike essentials:
- A first-aid kit. There are many pre-made first-aid kits on the market that will keep you covered in most situations. Opt for compact ones with plenty of resources for unexpected situations and accidents.
- Navigation tools: a map and a compass are recommended by the American Hiking Society even if you have GPS, since the technology may fail you at some point.
- Extra layers like lightweight rain gear since weather can be unpredictable and change in no-time.
- Adequate water supply. Bring enough water and some purification tablets if you need to use a natural water source. Make sure everybody hydrates before the trip, and sips water throughout the day. It is best to stop and frequently drink during your hike.
- Snacks that are nutritious, like nuts and energy bars.
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen, especially if you plan to explore higher altitude tracks.
- Safety items. Regardless of your hiking route, it is essential to bring a flashlight, a multi-purpose tool or knife, a Firestarter, and a whistle.
Make Sure the Entire Family Has Proper Footwear
When exploring trails with your family, the right footwear is essential. With proper shoes, the hike will be a lot more comfortable and enjoyable for the entire family. Footwear with sturdy support is the best option for all-terrain fun.
If you are planning a summer hike, go with a light, comfy shoe that breathes while still protecting your toes. They should be quick-drying too. Also, regular socks won’t do, so make sure your family is equipped with quality hiking socks to avoid getting blisters.
Specifically designed hiking socks are made to fit perfectly and be supremely comfortable and non-slip. They also come with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties important for long-term use.
Useful tip: to make sure your little ones don’t get blisters while trekking, besides getting them proper socks, encourage them to break their hiking shoes at home.
Bring Multiple Layers
Layering up is one of the most important things to remember when preparing for a family hike. Multiple layers will allow you to adjust to temperature changes quickly and stay dry in case of a sudden rain shower.
A three-part system including a base layer (it should have excellent moist-wicking properties), an insulating mid-layer, and an outer one is the best way to go. The mid-layer is supposed to keep everyone warm, while the shell layer’s primary use is to keep the wind and the moisture out.
It’s best to opt for lightweight garments and avoid the ones made of cotton as they take a long time to dry. Instead, bring wool or synthetic layers, as they move the moisture away from your skin and dry much faster.
This way, you’ll be able to stay comfortable throughout your hike and add or remove layers as needed.
Get in Shape for Your Outdoor Adventure
Since the hike will work your family’s lower body for a prolonged period, make your trip more enjoyable by investing in your overall fitness. For starters, integrate stretching and balancing exercises into your schedule to keep up the pace while on the trails.
If you don’t exercise regularly, or at all, start with aerobic activities like brisk walking, cycling, or jogging for a couple of weeks before the hike.
There are also great cardio exercises you can do at home that require little or no equipment or special skill. Jumping jacks, high knees running, butt kicks, and many more will boost your cardio-respiratory fitness level.
There are many ways you can exercise together with your kids and keep them entertained during school closure while preparing them for the hike too.
Bear in mind that leg strength is essential when it comes to hiking, so include plenty of lower body exercises like squats and lunges.
Be Mindful of the Little Ones on the Big Day
Make sure everybody is well-rested, and start early in the day. You will need to slow down and let the kids set the pace as they have shorter legs. To make them feel special and part of the crew, give them their little backpacks.
A couple of more things are essential to remember: set reasonable hiking goals and be mindful of your little ones during the hike as you may need to change plans at a moment’s notice.
Make the walking an adventure by getting your kids involved in choosing trails and inventing games to play as you explore the outdoors. For a fun outdoor lesson in nature, bring a magnifying glass and examine insects and plant foliage with your children.
At some point, your kiddos may get tired, so be ready to carry them.
Stay Safe on the Trails During the Pandemic
Connecting with nature is vital in any crisis, as it can improve our physical and mental health. Still, you must hike responsibly.
To limit the spread of the Covid-19, stay at least 6 feet away from other hikers. If you hike alone or with your household members on tracks that are not overcrowded, this outdoor activity is considered safe.
Since emergency responders are limited, avoid putting yourself at risk by going to areas that might pose a hazard. Stick to the shorter treks close to your home, where you can be self-sufficient.
If you are experiencing any coronavirus-related symptoms, do not use trails or parks.
And finally, on your big day, make sure that your phones are fully charged, inspect all the backpacks, and check the weather to make sure there are no last-minute changes. When you’ve ticked all the boxes, you can head off to your family’s outdoor adventure safely.
Rebecca is a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. Her job has given her the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives her a chance to try to showcase some of them.