Read these 9 Hiking with Kids Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Hiking tips and hundreds of other topics.
The best hikes with children are short, interesting hikes that keep the children interested and make them want to come back outdoors again. Remember, you should gear the hike to your youngest child's abilities. A child aged 2 to 4 can only hike about 1/2 mile to a mile or two, so don't expect them to hike for hours.
Kids like to stop every few minutes to rest and explore, plan for breaks about every 15 to 20 minutes. Pick easy, flat trails, especially in the beginning, and leave the strenuous trails for their older years.
Another way to keep the children's interest is to take self-guided nature hikes, where they follow a map and find different locations on the map. This keeps them interested, and they'll learn about the natural world at the same time. The best hikes with children are the hikes that make them want to go back and do it again!
One of the things to remember about hiking with children is how far they can hike in a day. Adults in decent shape can do 10 or even 15 miles if they push it, but children cannot keep up with that pace.
A good rule of thumb is not to plan more than five miles for the kids in one day. That won't stress them, and you shouldn't hear any whining at that pace, either. Another good rule of thumb when hiking with children? If the kids are whining and cranky, they may have passed their endurance level, and if your body is stiff and sore, it's a good bet the kids are feeling the same way or worse!
When hiking with children, don't go too far too fast, or you might just turn them off hiking for good!
Chances are, your little girl will want stylish shoes instead of hiking boots. Don't act on your urge to let her have her way. She needs sturdy girl's hiking boots on the trail, or she could injure herself.
Girl's hiking boots should fit well, and give the support she needs around the ankle and arch. She should be able to have the stability to carry a pack, and sneakers just don't offer that stability. Good hiking boots are created with the trail in mind, while sneakers are just for casual walking and play. Young children that really don't hike much can get away with wearing sneakers, but as your little girl turns into a young lady, make sure you choose the best girl's hiking boots that you can.
Kids enjoy family hiking too, but you have to be careful not to overload their young bodies with packs that are too heavy. A good way to figure how much your child can carry is to weigh them, and then divide that number by five. For example, if they weigh 100 pounds, divided by five, they can carry about 20 pounds.
However, if the child is overweight, you need to reduce the load. If the child's ideal weight is 80 pounds, but they weigh 100 pounds, they could carry 12 pounds of gear. You subtract one pound of weight for every five pounds they are overweight.
Overloading your child can create health problems later on, and they probably won't enjoy the experience nearly as much. If you want your kids to enjoy family hiking for years to come, make sure you know how much they can carry, and buy them high-quality pack that fits them well. Also, the younger they are, the less they should carry.
What happens if your family hikes turn into family disasters? If your child simply refuses to go on out of exhaustion or sheer frustration, there are several things you can do. First, if they're carrying a pack or anything else, take it from them to give them a break.
You may even have to pick them up and carry them for awhile, as well. Once they've rested, see if they can carry the pack to their goal, or stop for a while and enjoy the scenery before you head back on the trail.
Sometimes, as much as you love the outdoors, your kids just don't. Some families find it's better to leave the kids with a relative on camping and hiking trips, while other families wouldn't miss family hikes for anything. Whatever you do, don't force your child to hike if they don't want to. You'll only stress them out and turn them against hiking.
If you want your family hikes to be fun for the entire family, remember the kids need some stimulation along the trail. Try to find a route that offers plenty of interesting things to see and do along the trail, like waterfalls, rivers, historic sites and such, to keep the kids from getting bored along the way.
Make sure you stop frequently, too, even if it's just to look under a rock, behind a tree, or watch a bird in flight. The kids will enjoy the breaks, and it will keep their attention. If they get bored on longer hikes, plan shorter hikes from a base camp instead.
Plan your hikes with the kids in mind, you you'll enjoy family hikes that everyone can appreciate.
Probably the best thing to remember when you buy children's hiking boots is to make sure they fit absolutely perfectly, and give the best support they can. Your children's feet are still growing and tender, and you can harm them for life if you put them on the trail in ill-fitting footwear.
Make sure the shoes are wide enough, give room in the toes, and support the arch and ankle. Don't scrimp on the socks, either. Buy children's socks made specifically for hiking, because they fit better inside the boot, are lightweight, and help wick sweat away from the foot. Don't buy cotton socks, they stay wet and can lead to discomfort, blisters, and wet, soaking feet after a hike.
If your boys are young, and won't be spending a lot of time actually walking on the trail, you can invest in a good pair of sneakers and forgo the boy's hiking boots. However, as your boy's get older; don't scrimp when it comes to boy's hiking boots.
Buy the best boots you can, because they need the support and stability, especially if they are carrying packs. Hiking boots have soles that grip rocks and ripples in the trail, while most sneakers slip, which could injure your child.
Many of the top manufacturers offer the same boots for adults and children, so find a brand that fits your family and you can even all have boots that match!
Some manufacturers make toddler hiking boots, but they are mostly for show. First, toddlers really can't hike, and they shouldn't you should carry them, because they could take a tumble on the trail and really hurt themselves.
In addition, toddler hiking boots may look adorable, but they might actually be too rigid for your toddler's growing feet, and that would do them more harm than good, and could harm their feet permanently.
If you must buy toddler hiking boots, make sure they fit perfectly, and your toddler only wears them for a few hours at the most. Put your toddler in a carry-pack and let them enjoy the trail that way!
|Sheri Ann Richerson|