Well, the hot weather is headed our way once again, and every parent knows that means it’s time to find extra reasons to get our kids outside.
We highly suggest getting them into hiking. There are so many health benefits, both physical and mental. Plus, it’s not only fun but relatively cost-effective.
Getting the kids outside for the day means the house stays clean, and the kids come home tired. This means there’s little time left to mess up the house. Even though we know they’ll only need about half a second to make a mess. Hopefully, hiking takes the desire to build a mud factor in the backyard out of them.
Hiking isn’t all fun and games; there is a lot to prepare for. Those who show up unprepared for the heat, the terrain, and the sheer time and effort it takes to hike are sure to not only hate it but lose out on so much outdoor time.
That’s why we are here today, to bring you the lowdown on all things hiking. We have tips and tricks for preparing for a big hike with the family and the whole story on what you’ll need to wear to do your best.
Why Hiking Is a Great Idea
It may seem strenuous, but hiking really is a good idea for the entire family, as long as you pick a hike that is well-suited for all manners and ages of your hiking party.
Here are a few items to consider:
Hiking takes a lot of physical strength, and it’s also a great way to build a lot of physical strength. The best part is you probably won’t even realize how intense your workout actually is.
The scenery changes so much, and the fresh air will feel so great in your lungs that hiking won’t feel as dull as five miles on the treadmill. This whole distraction method of exercise works really well on kids too! You’ll get your little ones out of the house for the day and deplete their energy reserves, all while having fun.
Awesome for Family Bonding
Sometimes it can be tough to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Due to different interests and hobbies, we often struggle to truly connect with our kiddos, especially as they get older.
Thankfully, hiking is something the entire family can enjoy (including dogs!), and it’s also a fantastic avenue to build connections with kids. You’re out in the wilderness enjoying outdoor time without the distraction of technology. It’s pretty hard to watch TV and hold a phone when you need both hands free to keep balance on a trail, right?
This means you have at least one hour a week when you can talk to your kids, and without friends or other distractions around, they’re more likely to go ahead and talk back to pass the time. If you’ve noticed your kid is stressed about something lately, now is the best time to plan a family or one-on-one hike.
Starting young means as they get older, it’s almost second nature (pun intended) to have deep and meaningful conversations on the trails; your teenagers will look forward to that time and support.
Great for Mental Health
Hiking is, of course, great for your physical health, but it’s also an amazing workout for your mind.
Even if your kids don’t join you on the hike and you’re out there on the trails alone, experts suggest that hiking can boost overall moods, energy, and contentment in your day-to-day life. This study concluded that hikers that consistently hit the outdoors and push their bodies tend to feel better about the world (and body) they live in.
You may not be ready for a dedicated hiking lifestyle and prefer to keep things a little more random. That’s okay as well, as just the outdoor time alone with your thoughts will help you immensely.
Time alone to process recent events and moments of high stress is something we all need but don’t always get. Having this time to work through what’s troubling us is always a plus.
The Best Items To Wear When Hiking
Now that we’ve convinced you why it’s a great idea to hike, let’s get you geared up for the big day.
We’ve got all the details here:
Hiking boots or shoes are created specifically for hikes. Tree branches are strong, and so are rocks. Wearing flimsy shoes out on a hike can put you at risk for broken bones or a branch through your shoe.
Make sure you also break them in a little before wearing them on serious hikes, as this could lead to blisters and sore arches. If the hike is more of a “leisurely trail stroll,” you might be ok with a pair of quality sneakers.
It might make you sweat, but thick socks are the way to go on hikes. Thick socks add another layer of protection and help prevent blisters.
Make sure to invest in thick socks that are higher in length. Ankle socks are awesome for fashion, but the coverage helps prevent bugs, like ticks and fleas, out in the forest or brush from attacking your ankles.
Best Fabric for Clothing
There are quite a few good options for hiking clothes and a few that don’t quite cut it.
Spandex, while lightweight and easy to wear, is usually best left in the yoga studio. This fabric is ideal for insects, like mosquitoes, that are looking to make you a meal. Why? Spandex is one of the thinnest materials and easiest for bugs to bite through.
Instead, opt for items made of wool, fleece, or synthetic materials. In the dead heat of summer, materials like windbreaker jackets and pants are perfect for keeping you safe from bugs.
Sometimes it just gets too warm, and our shorts are too tempting in our closet. That’s ok! If this is the case, just stick a BuzzPatch or two on your pants and tops.
These stickers contain an all-natural blend of top essential oils to repel mosquitoes and other insect life. They’re easy to wear; they go on clothes, not skin. BuzzPatches last up to eight hours at a time — perfect for long, all-day hikes. That means you are safe from start to finish.
We definitely recommend wearing a hat on all hikes when the sun is high and the heat is strong. This will keep your head, neck, and face from getting sunburned and keep your eyes from straining all day in the bright sun.
Baseball hats will suffice, but the best option is a bucket hat, preferably one with a shade shield attached for extra neck protection. No matter what — even if it’s cloudy — don’t forget the sunscreen.
Extra Tips for the Best Hike
Now that you’re dressed for the dusty trails, quickly review these tips and tricks to guarantee the best hiking experience possible.
Here are a few items to consider:
Hikes take a lot of energy, so be sure to plan to bring a lot of water. Hiking canteens are perfect as they’re made to be carried on hikes. You can also find backpacks that can be worn that are full of water to keep you hydrated from start to finish. If you’re hiking with very young kids, you’ll likely need to remind them to stay hydrated.
You’ll also need a way to refill your belly while you hike, as the calories burned will be high.
Pack easy items like jerky, trail mix, nuts, and protein bars. These items are easy to carry and provide the most replacement for protein, good fats, and the carbohydrates you’ll need to keep going.
If you have kids, you’ll need a lot more food and water than just what you can carry for your personal use. So a lightweight, durable and expandable backpack is critical.
You’ll also want to make sure you bring a first aid kit. If there’s anything we know as parents, it’s that kids love to take risks and love to climb big boulders. Be ready in case a slip or fall occurs.
Depending on how far out your hiking takes you, it is in your best interest to inform friends what time you’re leaving, where you’re going, and when to check in when you return.
This way, in case anything dire occurs while you’re hiking, you’ll have a friend ready to check in with you quickly. If you don’t check in on time, they’ll be able to alert park rangers exactly where you’re located.
The forest and greenery are beautiful, and hiking is so peaceful. But that peace and quiet can fade fast if you or your kids suffer from environmental allergies.
Be prepared for sneezing and stuffy noses, and apply our AllergyPatch to everyone’s shirt. The all-natural essential oils in this patch will help quickly trigger responses in your body to combat the symptoms of environmental allergies.
This way, everyone can enjoy the hike without discomfort.
Have Fun in the Sun
There might be some planning involved, but hiking is so much fun, and the whole family will have a great time.
The Great Outdoors is the perfect place to introduce children to a great teacher — Mother Nature.
Motivation and mental well-being of long-distance hikers | PMC
Tips for Hiking with Kids | Washington Trails Association
Sun Safety: How to Protect Your Skin This Summer | Duke Today