Fall is a magnificent season, with all its amazingly colored leaves and clear blue skies, but it also hides more dangers when it comes to hiking. And that goes double if you’re planning a hike with your kids, which means you need to take more care about how you pack and how you behave on the trail. Luckily, we’re here to help you with the planning, so at least you have all the right equipment.
You’ll want a cold-weather tent, possibly even one that’s for all seasons, depending on where you’re going, but the nights can get pretty cold and it might even snow. Rain is almost a certainty, so you need a weatherproof tent. Make sure it’s also easy to set up because the sun sets earlier now.
You’ll need warm sleeping bags for your kids, so check the temperature that they’re made for. We recommend getting rectangular two-people sleeping bags. The kids will enjoy sleeping together, and they’ll also feel warmer. You might need some sleeping pads for some added insulation, particularly if you’re spending more nights in the great outdoors.
You and your kids should be dressed in moisture-wicking, breathable, warm and insulating layers. Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not if you start with a merino wool first layer, top it off with a fleece middle layer and pack a windproof and rainproof jacket.
Make sure you all have scratch-resistant pants, manufactured from a resistant material like polyester. Don’t forget packing hats for everyone too.
Since the terrain will be difficult to navigate with wet leaves hiding rocks or small crevices, you need the best hiking shoes for kids, as well as for yourself. That means good ankle support, first of all, so make sure you get shoes that are a least ankle-high if not taller. Then, you’ll need to check they have a padded inner sole and a rubber outsole for increased grip, as well as reinforced toes and heels.
First Aid Kit
There are many small accidents that can happen when you’re hiking, but especially on a slippery terrain like that of the fall months. So make sure you’ve packed a First Aid Kit with everything you need inside in terms of bandages, medicine, gauges, and splints.
Food and drinks
You should get enough snacks for the way, you can prepare them at home or buy already made energy bars. Cans are also easy to carry and provide enough energy, but you can also bring some cooking utensils and a camping stove to provide kids a few warm meals.
You should pack enough water for everyone, but make sure you get resistant water bottles that don’t break easily. So plastic water bottles might not be the greatest solution, and you should consider hiking water bladders.
If you’re going on a prolonged hiking trip and it’s literally impossible to pack and carry enough water for everyone, you should consider a water purifier too. That makes it easy for you to drink water from streams and even puddles, making sure it’s no longer contaminated by micro-organisms. But even if you’re not going on a prolonged hike, this is a valuable, inexpensive survival tool.
A campfire is the pinnacle of every hiking trip for kids, but it might not be very easy to start one in the fall, because of the high humidity and wind. So windproof matches are a must, even if you’re not planning on setting a campfire. You might need them for boiling some water for a tea or for survival purposes.
With the sun setting so early in the fall, you’ll definitely need a flashlight even if you’re taking just a day hike. Otherwise, packing headlamps for everyone might be an even better solution.
These might not be essential for summer hikes, but you definitely need the added support during the fall. Just imagine it starts raining, you’re still a long way from the camp and can’t set a tent. Meanwhile, the leaves are getting slippery, so walking poles can be lifesavers now.
You’ll need a GPS for making sure you don’t get lost, even if you follow a set trail. It’s pretty easy to lose your way during fall hikes because some markings might be covered by fallen leaves or brush or because it might simply be too dark or foggy to spot them.
This is great in case you actually lose your way and don’t have a phone signal to call for help. A satellite phone doesn’t weigh much and is pretty compact, so it doesn’t burden your backpack.
For all those emergency alerts and weather warnings, you need a radio you can count on. Sure, you can install a phone app, but that’s not always a reliable measure for longer hikes. Your phone can lose signal, the battery might run out or the app might backfire. But an emergency radio will never fail you.
The name is “baby” carrier, but this can work for toddlers or preschoolers too. Most ergonomic carriers can help you carry kids as heavy as 60 pounds, without putting a strain on your back. Since the weather increases the trail difficulty, most young kids will want a piggyback ride at some point, so you might as well be prepared with something that helps you carry them safely.
Don’t forget to pack your kids favorite toys, but without adding unnecessarily to the bulk and weight of your backpack. The best solution is to ask each kid to bring just one thing they can’t leave without and that they can carry themselves. That will also teach them some responsibility and planning skills, which is great.
Hopefully, all that has helped you pack the perfect gear. So once you’re back from your hike, let us know what you used, what you didn’t really need, the comments are just below!