Hiking With Kids: How to Get it Right
Hiking together can be an incredible adventure for the whole family. Spending time in nature and exploring the great outdoors can provide children with countless opportunities for discovery and creativity. In this blog post, Lauren Orvis, an outdoor enthusiast and mother of two, shares her experience of family hiking and why it’s important to them. She provides tips on how to keep the kids happy, including what to wear and must-have items to carry in a backpack.
Follow Lauren and her family @in.search.of.adventures as they embark on their hiking expeditions. Whether it's the Peak District or the Swiss Alps, their family walks are sure to inspire you to begin exploring the great outdoors with your own tribe.
"Hi, I’m Lauren, an outdoor enthusiast who shares a passion for hiking alongside my husband Andy and our two daughters, Rose (5) and Lily (18 months). Our home is in East Yorkshire, but you’ll find us venturing out to The Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District at weekends.
"I grew up on a smallholding with parents who encouraged spending time outside and with my brother in tow you would often find us scrambling up hay bales, mucking out animals or disappearing off on our bikes through the surrounding countryside. I believe this motivation to be outside sparked an interest in hiking when we became teenagers.
"Now, as a parent myself, I teach our kids the importance of spending time outdoors through hiking, camping and outside play. Hiking gives us an opportunity to enjoy the simple things in life, create memories as a family and interact with one another only surrounded by nature."
I started @in.search.of.adventures on Instagram in 2021 because so many people were asking me for tips and recommendations. In the same year we also became new to vanlife! So, we decided to set up our Instagram account as a channel to share our adventures with like-minded folk, and to help inspire others to hike with their kids. Since then, we’ve become part of an amazing outdoors community, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with some inspirational people.
Why we Hike as a Family
Hiking provides kids with countless opportunities for discovery, creativity and problem solving. Whether it be climbing rocks, collecting natural resources or figuring out the best way of crossing a stream. We’ve noticed a dramatic difference in Rose’s physical ability and confidence within the past year, which we believe is down to hiking and other outdoor activities we do as a family. She absolutely loves it too!
“I like hiking with my mummy and daddy because we jump in puddles, tell stories and play really good games” - Rose Orvis, age 5
Some of our fondest memories are from hiking trips which I think is down to us being in a peaceful environment with no distractions. We tell stories, play games such as I Spy, sing songs, talk lots and have fun together.
How we Keep the Kids Happy and Moving
From birth, Rose joined us on hikes and has since developed an ability to take on easy/moderate scrambling and can complete up to 6-mile routes. We adjust what length and grade hike we do depending on the season. For example, we save challenging mountain hikes for warmer months where we have longer daylight hours to enjoy plenty of breaks. In colder months, where there is often wind chill, we stick to lower to middle ground hikes.
Ensuring the kids are warm, focused and have good energy levels is key to them being happy on hikes. Applying a good layering system to your clothing is important for moisture management, insulation and weather protection. You can find more information on our clothing choices and the gear we use @in.search.of.adventures.
Along with correct clothing and carefully selecting what area we hike in, another thing that is key to keeping the kids happy is those all-important snacks - you can never have too many! Now that Rose challenges her physical strength more, she requires lots of pocket energy snacks. I usually give her items such as flapjack, jelly sweets and some dehydrated fruit snacks to pop in her pocket so she can dip into them whenever she needs them.
The Must-Have Items we Carry in our Backpack:
These are the items that we make sure to carry with us when hiking as a family to ensure everyone is happy:
- Spare Clothes
- Hats and Gloves (Season Dependent)
- Picnic Blanket or Sit Pads
- Waterproof Coats
- Baby Wipes/Nappies/Nappy Bags
- First Aid Kit
- Head Torches
- Suncream (Season Dependent)
- Power bank
- Water Reservoirs
- Flask of Coffee
- Lunch and Snacks
- Emergency Blanket
- Hand Warmers
Where we Plan to Hike Next
This year we plan to head on a summer road trip around the French and Swiss Alps in our campervan which is super exciting and will include some family hikes. We would also like to complete The Yorkshire Dales 30 and summit all 214 Wainwright Lake District fells so we will continue working our way through those whenever possible.
Our top Osprey Picks
A supportive, comfortable and well-ventilated carrier that I honestly couldn't fault. The large storage compartments enable me to solo hike with my youngest and enable me to carry everything needed for a full day hike. There are so many incredible features on the carrier but my favourite two are the sunshade and rain cover. They are easy to deploy when my daughter needs shade or shelter.
We have tested a few water reservoir brands over the years, but Osprey’s are by far the best. Osprey’s 2.5l and 1.5l are both slimline, lightweight and easy to use. The Slide Seal technology allows easy filling and emptying, something that was always an issue with other branded reservoirs. Because of the exceptional design of the bite valve there is a smooth water delivery, which both my children can use.
This is perfect for longer family adventures where we carry more gear and require something that is made specific to the activities we do. The AirScape™ backpanel can be adjusted to torso length and is breathable. It handles well and offers a lot of support when scrambling and hiking in challenging environments.
In conclusion, with careful planning, hiking with children of any age or ability can be a wonderful way to spend time outdoors as a family and create lasting memories. And there are many gear options available to make it easier and more comfortable for everyone. By starting early and incorporating hiking into family routines, children can develop a lifelong love of the outdoors and reap the benefits of spending time in nature.