Hiking With a Toddler: 5 Tips and Essentials Checklist
This pass holiday, me and S tried our hands on hiking. I mean proper hiking, not just strolling on a paved path or muddy lane with a slight incline. It was intense! In the one plus week we were in Vancouver, we tackled not one but two mountains! Yep, you can sense I’m super proud of ourselves, right?! I know they are not the hardest of trails, but for beginners like us, it’s a darn good accomplishment. And we managed to do this with a 2.5 year old toddler on our backs, well mainly S’s back. So let me tell you, hiking with a toddler is possible and can be alot of fun too.
Here’s a few things I learned on our adventure that I hope will be of use to you too and won’t deter you from engaging in this wonderful activity.
1. Hike in good weather
Hiking is great exercise and you really can work up a sweat, but babies and toddlers on the other hand are not as able to regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Additionally, since they will probably be idle in a baby carrier for most of the trek, they are not really generating much heat. So make sure they are properly dressed and hiking in nice weather will help their little hands and feet from losing too much body heat. Depending on weather, think mittens, hat and leg warmers.
We quickly realised this when we had almost reached the summit and removed #JasperBean from his carrier and seeing him shiver like I’ve never seen before. We immediately wrapped him up and as the morning started off as a grey-ish day, we fortunately had packed woolies for him. It was really sunny and warm for us, but it was also our body heat that was keeping him warm. So remember to always bring extra layers. Even if the weather doesn’t change, the temperature in the shade can drop dramatically.
2. Bring food and plenty of water
Wherever you go with a toddler, you always have to be armed with a bucketload of snacks, but try to bring ones that are light and filling like cereal bars, nuts and crackers. You never know how long the hike will take and as we were novices, a one hour hike for a seasonal hiker might take us 4 hours and some more with a toddler. I’m definitely not keen on being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a ravaging hunger and dying thirst, and even if that’s not how you feel, I can guarantee that’s what your toddler will make it feel like. Dehydration can also set in faster than you realise when you’re hiking and this can lead to serious complications like heat stroke and exhaustion. So don’t take your chances and sip, sip, sip!
3. Make sure you have a comfortable baby carrier and harness
It is always going to be easier hiking with a toddler on your back rather than on the front or chasing after them. It also makes travelling from point A and B that much quicker. But practically, not only is it more comfortable for adults, it is also safer. You never know what type of path you’re going to come across, and not having a toddler in front blocking your view is essential. Having the load on your back also makes manoeuvring and balancing a lot easier.
We used a traditional mei-tai which worked out okay, but if we were regular hikers, I would definitely get a baby carrier that was especially designed for hiking like the:
Deuter Kid Comfort 3 Child Carrier which offers:
- precise load control for comfort
- ventilation and airflow
- integrated sun roof
- adjustable foot rest
- foldable for easier storage
- weight: 3.5kg
Or the Littlelife Adventurer Child Carrier which has:
- adjustable back system
- pivoting hip belt for comfort
- foldable for easier storage
- weight: 1.9kg
We also had a harness (ToddlePak) with us for times when #JasperBean wasn’t strapped into the carrier. We didn’t want to take any chances of him venturing off a cliff or beaten track. So depending on what sort of hiking trail you choose, you may not require this. This was just a safety precaution for our own peace of mind.
4. Plan for stops
Even if you don’t need to rest, chances are your toddler will and even more so if they have been in the carrier for long periods. You’re hiking, out in the wild and open exploring, taking in and enjoying the sights and sounds. Your little one needs that too. Hiking is no fun for them if they are not allowed to walk and/or explore. Stop and think. Why did you actually choose to go hiking. There are a million and one other things you could have chosen to do, why choose such a tiring activity?
Personally, I would love #JasperBean to embrace, admire and love what God has created for us and restraining him in a carrier not letting him touch the ground, venture, poke and prod or pick up dirty sticks just doesn’t make sense to me. If they are yet to speak properly, you will know they need to be released when they are constantly whining, fidgeting and no amount of snack, bribery or entertainment is keeping them happy.
Other reasons to stop may be to feed the hunger monster and change any dirty diapers. 🙂
5. Make sure you schedule plenty of time for your hike and then some more
Doing anything involving kids usually takes twice the amount of time anyway, and this is so very true of hiking. You’re bound to be walking slower with a toddler or heavy load strapped on your back. On our last hike, it took us just shy of 4.5 hours to get to the top and if we hadn’t rushed the last kilometre, we would have missed the gondolas/cable cars coming back down the mountain. We literally had 5 minutes to spare! Missing that, we would have had to walk all the way back down again! I definitely wasn’t keen on that especially since part of the route required rope lines to asisst us up. Alone with adults, yes. Hiking with a toddler? No. So make sure you have planty of time and some more, plan your route and check times.
Essentials checklist (Download PDF)
- Emergency shelter
- Food, including snacks suitable for baby/toddler
- First aid kit
- Portable charger for phones etc.
- Offline map
- Torch or headlight
- Wet wipes
- Plastic bag/Ziploc for soiled clothes, dirty diapers/wipes
- Anti-bacterial hand wash
- Changing pad/blanket
- Extra set of clothes
- Socks, but you know there will always be a puddle calling their name!
- Additional layers
- Weather cover
- Sunscreen/insect repellant
- Baby carrier
- Water/milk bottle
What are your hiking tips? I am a complete hiking novice, so would love to find out what else you consider to be essentials.
Thanks for reading and until next time…
Love MsMamaBean x
This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my Disclosure on the sidebar.
This post is linked up to the following linkys: