A Quick Checklist For Taking The Kids On A Big Hike

Thinking about taking the kids along on a hike this summer?

Family backpacking is made easier with a great gear list to refer to -- because leaving something important at home is a big deal when you are far away from the car.


As a general rule, we stay away from cotton and go with synthetic or wool clothing. It’s worth the investment (and can often be found on sale or at consignment shops) and keeps everyone comfortable and happy!

Little ones out on a hike

This is the list we use for the kids for trips that are generally between one and three nights where it’s warm during the day and cool/cold at night. It can be easily modified for the needs of your family and your climate. Also note that many of these items will be actually worn on the child as they hike in.



Hike Clothing:

  • 1 pair of quick-drying pants
  • 1 pair of zip-off synthetic pants (so doubles as shorts)
  • 2 underwear
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • set of long underwear
  • 2 pair wool socks
  • puffy coat (easily doubles as a pillow)
  • rain suit (we prefer this to just a rain coat)
  • winter hat
  • sun hat
  • light mittens or gloves
  • sunglasses
  • Hiking boots
  • Sandals or slippers for camp



  • Sleeping pad (anything that light and packs down small is preferred)
  • Sleeping bag or quilt (we’ve found backcountry quilts are super light and very warm so usually go with those)
  • Pillow (use clothing stuffed in the stuff sack of your bag/quilt)



  • Waterbottle
  • Spork
  • Plate



  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Good pack that is fitted well and comfortable for the kids to wear. Our 6 year old uses the Deuter Climber and the 4 year old wears the Schmusebär.
  • Headlamp (parents can carry fresh batteries just in case)


Infant/Toddler Specific:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad (or something that doubles as that)
  • Front carrier that can be worn under the straps of our pack (or use a Kid Carrier)
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