“Bring only what you need” is a common phrase we hear for all occasions, but did you know that it is applicable to hiking as well? Hikes use up a lot of energy, and having excess baggage can slow you down or tire you out quickly. You may be surprised at how little you really need to bring along. These tips can be an important learning opportunity for children too, because they can learn how to pack for future hikes or outings!
Go for travel-sized
If you are going to be carrying any liquids such as sunscreen with you, try moving them into small travel sizes to decrease the weight of your bag. These small containers are available in most stores and will significantly decrease your baggage weight.
Beware of excess sweat
It’s a good idea to carry a small towel and spare shirt when you go! Sweating is normal for any activity that requires physical exertion, but when sweat cools on skin it makes it a little harder for our bodies to regulate our temperature. Wipe off your sweat with a small towel, or change your shirt if it has become too damp. This is true for children as well, who might not be able to regulate their temperature as well as adults. If necessary, take small breaks so everyone can catch their breath!
Have bandages in everyone’s bags
The most common accidents during hikes are falls, so carry some in each bag to be prepared for those just-in-case moments. It’s also a good idea to assign someone to carry a proper first aid kit, for the instances that require more than bandages.
Distribute the food evenly amongst your party
A few granola bars each in three or four smaller bags are a lot lighter than twenty granola bars in one bag. Children should be encouraged to carry their own snacks! A good rule of thumb is to pack each bag as though it were for a solo trip so that if anyone gets separated from the group, they can manage on their own until you can regroup.
Attach a whistle to each bag
Some hikes are so dense with nature that reception can’t reach, so if anyone separates from the group instruct them to stay still and blow the whistle until help arrives.
The most important part of any, any activity that requires lots of physical exertion, is water. Being more active uses up more water in our bodies, so it’s important to always replenish! For adults, a good estimate is about 500mL to 750mL every hour, but this also depends on the intensity of the hike, along with other factors such as body weight. Children are smaller and will need less water, but encourage them to drink about 300mL to 600mL of water an hour to make sure they are refueling adequately! The water will probably be the heaviest item in your bag, but also the most important.
Take these tips and adjust them as you go! Every hike is different, so always check the weather forecast and the difficulty of the hike before you pack to give you an idea of what you need to carry more or less of. We hope you and your family can take advantage of the longer daylight hours. Happy hiking!