Packing for a day hike with a toddler

posted in: Camping with Kids, Tips | 0



  1. Day Pack: Of course the first thing you’ll need is a day pack. I love this one from Gregory. It is big enough to hold what I need (though not much more will fit) and it is made for women so the straps are ergonomic. Use whatever pack you have and find comfortable. Comfort is key!
  2. Water: Since one person carries gear and the other carries our toddler, the like to carry our water in a camelbak bladder. This is far lighter than carrying multiple water bottles. We used to carry a separate water bottle for sprout (and sometimes still do, we like this one), but she loves drinking from the camelbak resevoir, so this works well for us.
  3. Bear spray: This isn’t necessary for everyone and we probably don’t even need it (we aren’t in grizzly country), but it doesn’t take up much space and I feel better having it on hand. I wonder how it works on cougars… I hope we never find out.
  4. Hand sanitizer: Sprout uses her whole hand when eating and sucks on her fingers after they are covered with PB&J. It is nice to be able to sanitize before she eats her lunch.  I like the ones that I can attach to a strap so it is easy for me to find.
  5. Food: Lunch and/or snacks. We typically go for snacks that are easy for Sprout to each while we hike and not too messy (who wants a sticky back?). It helps keep her busy while sitting on our backs. Crackers, freeze-dried fruits, raisins, Cheerios, and hard cheeses all work really well. We also bring granola bars for us, which we share with Sprout. We either pass snacks back to her one by one (one cracker at a time) or use little container that she can hold onto herself. Passing the snacks back really helps to prolong snack time, though. These little Skip Hop Snack Bags work really well for Sprout to hold onto, but also have a loop that can go through your waist strap to make passing snacks back even easier. The container with the green top is a Munchie Mug and works great clipped to a bag, is easy to hold, and is also awesome for road trips.
  6. Map or trail guide: You never know when you might end up on a poorly marked trail. It is a good idea to have a map, or at least a guide to help keep you on track (or find your way back).
  7. Pocket knife: Pocket knives can be handy for all sorts of things. I like to always have mine handy.blanket
  8. First aid kit: Mine may be bigger than most (for a day pack), but we often areas where we often have no cell service and may not see another person along the hike. I want to be prepared for anything that might happen, whether that be getting stranded over night (I have an emergency blanket in the kit), or just a little blister. I bought a fairly inexpensive first aid kit years ago and then added to it the things I felt I needed. However, Adventure Medical Kits makes nice first aid kits that are geared towards certain purposes such as hiking, backpacking, etc.
  9. Snake kit: There seems to be mixed opinions on how well snake kits work, but if it buys us a little time in the event of a bite, then I’m happy to carry it with me (again, we often don’t have cell service). If you don’t live somewhere with poisonous snakes, then this probably isn’t necessary.
  10. Small blanket: This is one of those things that I would not carry if I wasn’t hiking with a toddler, but is really nice to have. It serves as a cover up if it is chilly or raining (the back is made from PUL, so it repels water) and also as a little picnic blanket for Sprout. Not 100% necessary, but she loves having her picnic blanket. I made the one in the picture above, but you can buy something similar from RoSK on amazon.
  11. Spare hat/socks: Living in a mountainous region, we have learned that temperatures on our hike usually vary substantially and can be quite a bit colder in the canyons and up in the mountains than in the valley in which we live. After having had to turn back with a very cranky little Sprout last fall, when we encountered a cold spot and snow, we learned our lesson. I know pack and extra pair of socks (my wool socks, so that they can go over Sprouts feet and pants to really keep her warm) and a warm hat. I may start leaving these out in the summer, but we’ll have to wait and see. As even in the summer temperatures can drop quite a bit in the mountains.
  12. Wet bag with diapers/wipes (spare pants): I find keeping all diapering contained in a wet bag works really well to keep things a bit organized and insure that I always have a wet bag handy in case one is needed. Now that Sprout is in undies during the day, I will often stick a spare pair of undies and pants in the bag rather than diapers. It is nice to have the wipes for pottying and for after-meal clean up too.clips
  13. Comfort objects for nap-time: If you are planning to be out during your sprouts nap-time, make sure to bring any comfort items they usually sleep with. For us, this means Dr. Who (Sprout’s owl lovey) and a pacifier
  14. Clips to secure lovey and pacifier: Pacifier clips are easy to come by, but I haven’t seen many clips out there to hold gear onto carriers. We use a clip like this one that I made. It is great for bibs and securing loveys or blankets on the go. They are also super easy to make with a piece of grosgrain ribbon or a strip of flannel and these clips.


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