Packing light and hiking light when you have kids is tough. But with some careful planning and thought it can be done successfully.

Age– baby —toddler

Seems the smaller the child the more the stuff. I can remember weekend trips when my daughter was a baby with the car packed so tight that we barely had room to add the baby. I would like to think that I have improved in the packing department. But I will admit that depending on the circumstances there are some trips when it is really hard to pack light. If you are heading on a day hike it is possible to keep things down to a reasonable amount. Know your terrain!

Are you heading on a tried and true hike, in which case you will need to pack in your baby
as well? Or are you heading to a place where it is possible to go with a sturdy baby carriage… In which case you will have extra storage under it or in a bag that fastens to the


If this is the case it is a little easier to add that extra sweater just in case baby (or you)
might get cold. Hiking through the forest or another non-baby stroller accessible? You can still manage. If there are two of you, one can pack your baby in a baby pack while the other packs the essentials in a separate backpack.

What is essential?

  1. Diapers, think about how many changes you may need in the time frame you are planning and add one or two extra just to be safe.
  2. Food: Invest in a small thermos so that the baby’s food will be at the temperature they are used to. (this applies to if you are a bottle feeding, or taking pablum—homemade or bought) Take a little extra if you stay out longer than you expected and baby gets hungry again. If your baby is old enough to eat snacks, be sure to pack some as well. Ziplock bags are an easy way to pack a small amount. Pack in food and snacks for yourself as well. If you are packing a baby and a full backpack you will need to keep your energy level up.
  3. Water: You will need water for your baby, but don’t forget about yourself. Take enough water to stay hydrated on your hike.
  4. Change of clothes for baby, or at least an extra layer. Be sure to check the weather
    report in advance and have baby dressed appropriately. If it is cool early on, but later will warm up be sure to have baby in layers. Bring one easy-to-pack extra set of clothes for baby if he spills or gets wet.
  5. Baby wipes: Baby wipes are excellent for cleaning up any kind of spills, not just cleaning up baby.

3 years 5 years

At this age things start to get easier taking children with you on slightly longer hikes. Children tend to cooperate if they are part of the planning process. Talk to your child about where you are going and why they are going to enjoy it. Over years of hiking through many trails and parks through Spain, —check some more tips about Spain on my blog —my husband and I have found many
ways to get the kids involved in the planning and hiking process of our trips. If they balk about the thought of going on a hike make it into a game. Get them to help you make a list of what you will need.

Give them their own small backpack that they can have their own water bottle and snacks.
This will not only help them feel involved, but will even help you with the weight of the pack if each one in the family takes at least one water bottle. Write out a scavenger hunt of things that you know you child will see on the trail. Adapt the list to each age level. If they aren’t yet reading, draw pictures. You can put on things like “a red flower, a purple flower, a butterfly, a mushroom, a stick that looks like a y, a rock in the shape of a heart, a bird” etc.

Give your child a walking stick. Children love having their own walking stick and it helps prevent falls.

Your pack

  1. Water: In your pack you will want to take enough water for you and your child(ren). If your child is carrying their own pack he may have just one water bottle but you can take an extra one for the way home.
  2.  Extra clothes: ( light materials that are easy to carry) in case it gets colder. Check the weather in advance so you can plan appropriately and not take too many clothes or the wrong type.
  3.  Sunscreen
  4.  Food: Pack a lunch that is not difficult to carry. Sandwiches are always the easiest. Other options are vegetables in a Tupperware dish, crackers and cheese, fruit that is already cut and washed, nuts or trail mix. Pack extra snacks as you might feel extra hungry from the workout

6 – 12 years

At this age you might find your children are actually starting to get faster than you. If you have taken them on hikes since they were little, they will probably be used to them and enjoy going.

By the time my son was 4 he was a little mountain goat and could climb better than myself
up most trails, and the steeper they were the better he liked them.

By the time the children were 6 we bought each of them their own backpack and put their own food, water and snacks in it.

Older children.

Once your children are older everyone can help out with their own backpack and share the weight. If someone has a special snack that they like and no one else does, they can keep it in their own pack. Choose your backpacks carefully to make sure you have the style that you need for the type of adventure you are heading out on.

Have fun!



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