The Ultimate Family Hiking Checklist for Summer 2021

Are you and the family planning on getting outside and spending time in nature this summer?

With the kids out of school and on summer vacation, you might be looking for fun ways to spend the entire day with the family. Hiking is the perfect opportunity! Every excellent family hike must be well-planned, and that’s why we’ve created this list of what to pack for a family hike this summer. Use this checklist to ensure you bring all the tools you need for a successful family hiking day!

  1. Hiking Day Pack

A hiking day pack is an essential piece of gear to bring along for a family hike. It is vital to find a functional day pack that can carry enough gear for the entire crew. When searching for a day pack, think of size and compartments! You will need plenty of space for things like sunscreen, snacks, and water. A day pack with separate compartments is crucial so you can separate and organize the necessities for your hike. We love this Teton Oasis Day Pack as it includes a two-liter bladder for water! Day packs that include hydration pouches are a significant investment when taking a family hike. Do your research and find a day pack that makes the most sense for your family. Check out this article for more recommendations!

  1. Water

When thinking of what to pack for a family hike, water is probably the first thing that comes to mind. It may seem like an obvious hiking checklist item, but more goes into packing water for your hike than just grabbing a bottle or two! When packing for a family hike, many things need to be taken into consideration. How much water should you bring to ensure every member of the family is adequately hydrated? Where is the most efficient place to store water? What do you do if you happen to run out of water during your hike? When taking a family hike, it is vital to have a plan for drinking water to ensure everybody stays hydrated and safe. We highly recommend day packs with water bladders, as we mentioned in the first item on the checklist. Camelbacks are also an excellent option for family hikes, mainly because they have water backpacks for kids! If every family member has a Camelback, you will be able to hike with peace of mind knowing everyone will be hydrated and healthy for a family hiking trip.

  1. Insect Repellent

Hiking is a blast, but if you don’t load up on insect repellent, it can get a little itchy! When you venture into nature, you encounter a lot of different bugs. Always pack enough insect repellent to avoid anyone in the family getting any bug bites. Take some time to research the area where you are heading to hike to see what bugs inhabit the area! When purchasing an insect repellent, try to find one that is all-encompassing instead of just for mosquitoes. Chances are you will encounter more insects than mosquitos alone, and you want to be sure you are prepared to repel them!

  1. Sun Protection

Even if you are headed to a heavily shaded area for your family hike, sun protection is necessary for all family hiking days. Lather the entire family in sunscreen before you head out for your walk, and be sure to reapply every two hours. Even if it is overcast or doesn’t feel like you are getting burnt, the sun can still harm you, so don’t skip out on this one! Sun protection goes beyond religiously applying sunscreen. We highly recommend wearing hats to protect the family from the sun as well. Don’t forget sunglasses to protect everyone’s eyes from the sun!

  1. A Map

Always be sure to bring a map on your family hiking trip. Physical maps are the most reliable when hiking because chances are you will lose cell service, especially if you are headed deep into nature. This is also a great opportunity to teach your kiddos how to read a map! Be sure to familiarize yourself with the area before heading out on the hike to avoid getting lost. If you’re at a national park, maps can always be found in visitor centers and often are found at trailheads, too! Be sure to inform someone who isn’t coming on the hike of your hiking plans and location to be extra safe. If you and the family are hiking pros, it may be worth investing in a GPS device made for the wilderness. Another helpful trick is to bring a compass along so you always know which direction you are headed!

  1. Extra Layers of Clothes

When packing for a family hike, always be sure to bring extra layers for every family member. It is common for temperatures to suddenly drop when hiking in nature. If this happens, you don’t want anyone to be chilly, so be sure to pack a jacket! It is also essential to pack a functional raincoat for everyone that is joining the hiking fun. Weather can change at any moment, and even if the weather app calls for a sunny day, you want to be prepared if it begins to downpour. Pack a raincoat or poncho for each family member, so everybody stays dry in case it rains.

  1. Flashlight

Be sure to bring some sort of light when packing for your family hike. There are plenty of options for lights for hiking (we love headlamps because they are hands-free). Other great options include these clip-on lights for everyone’s packs and this solar-powered flashlight/phone charger combo! Choose the light that makes the most sense for your family and for your hike. Whatever light you decide to bring, make sure it has fresh batteries to last if you may need it!

  1. First Aid Kit

While we always hope for a smooth hike with no injuries, it’s best to be prepared for any situation. A first aid kit is a family hiking day essential. If you are making your own first aid kit, there are several things you must be sure to include. Check out this expert first aid checklist by REI for all the first aid essentials. If you don’t have the time to put together your own first aid kit for your hiking trip, don’t worry; there are plenty of adventure first aid kits you can purchase online. Adventure Medical Trips has a first aid kit for every type of adventure, so head to their site if you’re looking to pre-purchase a first aid kit for your family hike.

  1. Duct Tape

When hiking with the family, you want to be prepared for any rips or tears! Pack duct tape in your day pack in case a backpack or item of clothing rips or tears. If you’re headed out for a longer, more advanced hike, it might be a better idea to bring along an entire repair kit. Duct tape can usually mend a broken backpack strap for a shorter walk, but for longer hikes, the last thing you want is to be lugging around a broken backpack! Always ensure you are prepared for hiking gear to malfunction and have the tools necessary to fix anything that may fail.

  1. Food

Packing nutritious snacks and meals is essential for a family day hike. Nobody wants a hunger-ridden hike trip. It is necessary to fuel the body to provide the energy it needs to conquer the trek! We recommend packing nutrient-dense foods that don’t take up a lot of space for long day hikes; check out this article for snack ideas. If your hiking trip includes camping, you’re going to want to bring along a portable grill so you can eat delicious meals while you camp. Pack an electric cooler full of our delicious grill-ready meals so you can enjoy family mealtime. At the same time, you camp and adequately fuel your bodies before or after your hike. Our Summer Grilled Traditional Pizza is a great option to bring along for any camping trip. It’s also great to pack in a mini cooler for short hikes or day hikes that you want to bring for lunch.

Does your family have a favorite hiking trail? Tell us about it in the comments!