Family Outdoor Gear Essentials I Will Always Pack

This last weekend our family made a last minute decision to hop in the car for a 2,000 mile trip.   Yes, you read that right, a last minute decision for a road trip that most would never endure…

And it was totally worth it!

We drove through the night from Nebraska to Montana after packing the car for only about 20 minutes.  The whirlwind that occurred in that 20 minutes was exciting and pretty darn efficient.   Throw in some socks, clean underwear and a t-shirt or two.  Some diapers for our little girl, her favorite food pouches for the road and a light jacket.

Set for the long haul with smiles on our faces, we headed out for Montana.

Since our focus was family for the weekend, our lightning fast packing served us well until we went on a hike…

Then it was a little more obvious.

Here is what I quickly learned are family essentials when traveling and hiking outdoors.

1.Shoes Matter!  When you are hiking up a trail tennis shoes might be fine for a bit, but on a steep rocky surface (that every kid wants to climb), tennis shoes skid.  My son, who is quite great on his feet, slid about 5 feet because his tennis shoes could not keep a grip.  Consequently, I had sandals on and felt a little too exposed in the toes.  Verdict: Keens are the way to go.

2Don’t forget the water bottle!  Before we started our hike we all drank a good amount of water, but in the dry mountain air, you really crave some water when you reach your destination.  You don’t need anything fancy, just something that is super portable and can attach to a  backpack. Verdict: A wide-mouth bottle or if you really want your kids to stay hydrated a backpack with a drinking tube works wonders.

3. Get a Toddler Carry Backpack! While we actually lucked out and the trail we chose worked for a stroller, most trails won’t.  Since our family is planning on hiking a ton over the next year, a baby backpack carrier is a must.  Verdict: The fantastic reviews of this moderately priced backpack made my decision.

4. Sunscreen! First of all let me say, I am not a sunscreen fanatic.  I rarely put it on my kids and since they are outside a ton, they are tan and don’t really burn.  However, up in the higher elevation, my kids all got too much sun.  Luckily I had some with us for day two.  Verdict: The best non-toxic sunscreen out there.

5. Mosquito Repellent! While we didn’t run into too many up in the mountains, I was reminded of our lower altitude trips where mosquitos are pretty rampant.  Verdict:  Wrist bands are fun for kids or this all natural spray works great.

6. Pack Snacks!  We all love to eat on the go.  There is nothing better than a picnic on a hike.  Verdict: Everyone loves the taste, hydration and portability of pouches.  Kids and adults.

7. A Small Pack! For a day hike you don’t want to carry much, but we all have keys and phones and snacks.  Verdict: This seems perfect!

8. Dress Comfortably! From many trips of backpacking as a kid, I remember this one!  The great thing now is that clothing has evolved for the better and there are tons of great options out there.  I happened to have jeans on since we packed so quickly and I hated it.  Verdict:  This mom is going with a hiking skirt!  

9. A Great Camera! My iPhone is great, but there were times I wanted to zoom in to get a really great shot when my kids had climbed up on some rocks and I was still down on the trail.  Verdict: I’m looking for your input on this…There are so many great cameras out there, how do you choose?  Do me a favor and share your best camera suggestion in the comments below.  Thanks!

Happy hiking!


Summer and family



P.S.  Sunglasses should be on the list too, but that is pretty much a given.  🙂

Also, all links are affiliate links.  Thanks much for your support!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *