Best Hiking Gear for Toddlers
When it comes to hiking with toddlers, safety and comfort are top priorities. Here’s a list of essential hiking gear for toddlers:
Child Carrier Backpack:
Look for a comfortable and sturdy child carrier backpack with padded shoulder straps and a secure harness system.
Ensure it has a sunshade or a built-in canopy to protect your toddler from the sun.
There are several child carrier backpacks on the market, each with its own set of features. When choosing one, consider factors such as comfort, safety, durability, and additional features. Here are some popular child carrier backpacks that parents often find reliable:
- Osprey Poco Series:
- The Osprey Poco series, including models like Poco AG and Poco Plus, is well-known for its comfort, adjustable harness, and ventilation. It also comes with a sunshade for sun protection.
- Deuter Kid Comfort Series:
- Deuter offers a range of Kid Comfort child carriers known for their ergonomic design and padding. They typically come with a sunroof, adjustable seat height, and multiple storage pockets.
- Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier:
- The Thule Sapling Elite is a versatile and durable carrier with a fully adjustable back panel and hip belt for both parents. It has a hydration reservoir sleeve, a sunshade, and plenty of storage.
- Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Child Carrier:
- Kelty’s PerfectFIT system in their child carriers ensures a comfortable fit for parents of all sizes. It features a five-point safety harness, a sunshade, and ample storage.
- Phil & Teds Escape Child Carrier:
- The Phil & Teds Escape is known for its sturdy build and comfortable design. It has a fully adjustable harness system, a built-in changing mat, and a mirror for keeping an eye on your child.
- BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One Outdoors:
- While not a traditional backpack-style carrier, the BabyBjörn One Outdoors is designed for outdoor activities. It provides excellent support for the child’s head and neck and is easy to put on and take off.
- ClevrPlus Cross Country Baby Backpack Hiking Child Carrier:
- This affordable option offers a lightweight design with a durable frame. It has multiple storage compartments and a five-point safety harness.
- Ergobaby 360 Cool Air Mesh Baby Carrier:
- Although not a backpack carrier, the Ergobaby 360 is a popular choice for its comfort and versatility. It allows for multiple carrying positions and has a mesh fabric option for better breathability.
Before making a purchase, it’s crucial to try on the carrier with your child to ensure a proper fit and to assess your own comfort while wearing it. Additionally, consider the specific needs of your hiking adventures, such as the length and difficulty of the trails you plan to explore. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for weight limits and usage.
Invest in a pair of supportive and well-fitting hiking shoes for your toddler. Ensure they have good traction to prevent slips on uneven terrain.
Choosing the right hiking shoes for toddlers is important to ensure their comfort and safety on the trails. Here are some popular and well-reviewed hiking shoes for toddlers:
- Merrell Moab 2 Low Lace Hiking Shoe:
- Merrell is known for its quality hiking shoes, and the Moab 2 Low Lace is available for toddlers. It provides good support and traction while being comfortable for little feet.
- Keen Kids’ Targhee Low Hiking Shoes:
- Keen is another reputable brand, and their Targhee Low Hiking Shoes for kids offer durability and protection. They have a non-marking rubber outsole and a secure fit.
- Columbia Youth Newton Ridge Waterproof Hiking Boot:
- Columbia’s Newton Ridge Hiking Boot for kids is waterproof, providing protection in various weather conditions. It has a supportive midsole for comfort during longer hikes.
- Salomon Kids’ XA Pro 3D CSWP J Hiking Shoes:
- Salomon’s XA Pro 3D CSWP J Hiking Shoes are designed for young adventurers. They offer stability, protection, and a waterproof membrane to keep little feet dry.
- Northside Kids’ Rampart Waterproof Hiking Boot:
- Northside’s Rampart Waterproof Hiking Boot is a budget-friendly option that still provides good support and protection. They are waterproof and have a durable rubber outsole.
- The North Face Kids’ Hedgehog Hiker II Waterproof Hiking Shoes:
- The North Face offers the Hedgehog Hiker II Waterproof Hiking Shoes for kids. These shoes provide waterproof protection and a comfortable fit for various terrains.
- Stride Rite Made2Play Scout Water-resistant Sneaker Boot:
- Stride Rite’s Made2Play Scout is a water-resistant sneaker boot suitable for hiking. It’s designed for easy on/off and provides good traction.
- Adidas Outdoor Kids’ Terrex AX2R K Hiking Shoe:
- Adidas Terrex AX2R K Hiking Shoe is a lightweight option with a grippy outsole. It offers support and comfort for young hikers.
Remember to consider the specific needs of your toddler, such as foot width and any potential preferences they might have. Ensure that the shoes provide good traction and support, especially if you plan to hike on varied terrain. Additionally, check sizing carefully and consider the fact that toddlers’ feet may grow quickly, so a bit of room for growth is a good idea.
Dress your toddler in lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable clothing suitable for the weather.
Consider layers for variable weather conditions.
Bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your toddler from the sun.
Use sunscreen on exposed skin, and choose a child-friendly and sensitive skin formula.
When it comes to sun protection for children, it’s crucial to prioritize products that are safe, effective, and specially formulated for young, sensitive skin. Here are some recommendations for pediatric sun protection:
- CeraVe Baby Sunscreen SPF 45:
- CeraVe is known for its gentle skincare products, and their Baby Sunscreen provides broad-spectrum SPF 45 protection. It’s free from parabens, sulfates, fragrances, and dyes.
- Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50:
- Neutrogena offers a Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen that is specifically designed for sensitive baby skin. It provides SPF 50 protection and is free of fragrances, dyes, and parabens.
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+:
- Blue Lizard is a mineral-based sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. It’s free from chemical ingredients and is designed for sensitive skin. The bottle turns blue in the presence of harmful UV light, serving as a reminder to apply sunscreen.
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+:
- Thinkbaby’s Safe Sunscreen is SPF 50+ and provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It’s free from biologically harmful chemicals and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30:
- Badger offers a Baby Sunscreen Cream with an SPF of 30. It’s a physical sunscreen, meaning it uses zinc oxide as the active ingredient. The formula is organic, and the product is cruelty-free.
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50:
- Aveeno’s Baby Continuous Protection Sunscreen uses zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection and is specially formulated for baby’s sensitive skin. It’s free from fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and dyes.
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30+:
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen is designed for those with sensitive skin, including babies. It provides broad-spectrum protection and is water-resistant.
- EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46:
- While not marketed specifically for babies, EltaMD UV Clear is a dermatologist-recommended option for sensitive skin, including pediatric use. It’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide and is fragrance-free.
When applying sunscreen to children, it’s important to follow the product’s instructions, reapply as recommended, and cover all exposed skin. Additionally, consider other sun protection measures such as hats, sunglasses, and clothing to minimize sun exposure. Always consult with a pediatrician if you have specific concerns about your child’s skin or if they have any existing skin conditions.
Snacks and Hydration:
Pack plenty of water to keep your toddler hydrated.
Bring easy-to-eat, nutritious snacks to keep their energy up during the hike.
First Aid Kit:
Carry a basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications for your toddler.
Depending on the location, use a child-safe bug repellent to protect your toddler from insect bites.
When choosing a bug repellent for kids, it’s essential to prioritize products that are safe, effective, and specifically formulated for children’s sensitive skin. Here are some recommendations for kid-friendly bug repellents:
- Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes:
- These wipes are convenient and easy to apply, making them suitable for kids. The formula contains 7.15% DEET for effective protection against mosquitoes.
- Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Gentle Breeze SPF 30:
- This product not only repels insects but also provides SPF 30 sun protection. The active ingredient is IR3535, and it’s suitable for children aged 6 months and older.
- Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent:
- Babyganics offers a DEET-free and natural insect repellent for babies and kids. The plant-based formula is non-irritating and suitable for sensitive skin.
- Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent:
- Sawyer’s Picaridin Insect Repellent is effective against mosquitoes and ticks. It’s odorless, non-greasy, and safe for use on children.
- OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent I Smooth & Dry:
- OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent with Picaridin provides long-lasting protection against mosquitoes. The smooth and dry formula is suitable for kids.
- California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray:
- California Baby’s bug repellent is DEET-free and uses citronella, lemongrass, and cedar essential oils to repel insects. It’s designed for babies, kids, and adults.
- REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent:
- This repellent uses oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant-based ingredient recommended by the CDC. It provides effective protection against mosquitoes and ticks.
- Natrapel 8-Hour Insect Repellent:
- Natrapel offers a DEET-based repellent that provides up to 8 hours of protection. It’s suitable for kids and has a mild scent.
Remember to follow the product’s instructions regarding application frequency and age recommendations. Additionally, if your child has any skin sensitivities or allergies, it’s a good idea to perform a patch test before applying the repellent more broadly. Always supervise the application on younger children, and avoid applying repellent to their hands to prevent accidental ingestion.
Even on short hikes, it’s good to have a map or GPS device to ensure you don’t get lost.
Bring a favorite toy or comfort item to help keep your toddler entertained during breaks.
Diapers and Changing Essentials:
If your toddler is still in diapers, carry an ample supply along with wipes and disposal bags.
Pack rain gear if there’s a chance of rain, and consider extra layers for colder weather.
Camera or Smartphone:
Capture the memorable moments with a camera or smartphone. Make sure to secure these items to prevent accidental drops.
Have important contact information and any necessary medical information readily available in case of an emergency.
Trekking Poles (optional):
Depending on the difficulty of the trail, trekking poles can provide extra stability.
Trekking poles can be beneficial for stability and support, even for kids. When choosing trekking poles for children, it’s essential to consider factors such as size, weight, and durability. Here are some recommendations for trekking poles suitable for kids:
- Black Diamond First Strike Trekking Poles:
- These adjustable trekking poles are designed specifically for kids. They have a durable aluminum construction and are easy to adjust to the child’s height.
- REI Co-op Tarn Trekking Poles – Kids’:
- The REI Co-op Tarn Trekking Poles are designed with a shorter length to suit younger hikers. They have a durable aluminum shaft and easy-to-use locking mechanisms.
- Leki Kids Vario XS Trekking Poles:
- Leki is a reputable brand, and their Kids Vario XS Trekking Poles are designed for children. They feature a lightweight aluminum shaft and an adjustable length to accommodate growing kids.
- Kelty Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles – Kids’:
- Kelty Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles are specifically designed for kids, with an adjustable length suitable for various heights. They have an aluminum construction for durability.
- Mountainsmith Frostbite Trekking Poles – Kids’:
- The Mountainsmith Frostbite Trekking Poles are designed for kids and are adjustable to accommodate different heights. They feature a durable aluminum construction and comfortable grips.
- Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles – Kids’:
- Black Diamond offers the Distance Z Trekking Poles for kids, featuring a lightweight and collapsible design. These poles are easily adjustable and suitable for a range of heights.
- LEKI Spin 2 Kids Ski Poles:
- While designed for skiing, these adjustable poles from LEKI can also serve as trekking poles for kids. They have a sturdy aluminum construction and adjustable length.
- REI Co-op Mountain King Trekking Poles – Kids’:
- REI Co-op Mountain King Trekking Poles for kids are adjustable and durable. They provide stability and support for young hikers.
When selecting trekking poles for kids, ensure that they are adjustable to accommodate your child’s height. It’s also important to check the weight of the poles to ensure they are suitable for your child’s strength and comfort. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use and maintenance. Additionally, consider your child’s age and experience level when introducing trekking poles for the first time.
Practice Leave No Trace principles by bringing trash bags to pack out all waste.
Always tailor your gear choices to the specific needs and conditions of the hike you’re planning. Additionally, ensure that your toddler is comfortable and happy throughout the hike to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.