If you’re anything like me, before you had kids hiking was something you really enjoyed. The challenge was key, either distance of altitude (or both).  Nothing would put me off.  Wind. Love it.  Rain.  No problem.

However, once little people enter your family things change.

First off, with a baby, there’s all the stuff you need: nappies, wipes, bottles, feeds, dummies, etc., etc., etc.

When they do grow older and find their feet, you can’t go very far at all. Speed is slow.  Very slow.

Then when they get older still, you still can’t cover the ground you used to, but the game changes to encouraging them to carry on. “I’m tired” “Are we there yet?”

Then when they are teenagers, the job turns to getting them to come out and not hang out with their mates.

We’ve been there, and currently have kids from relatively young (though he’s just started school this month), through to pre-teen and a teenager.  I can’t promise any answers here, but here’s some of our suggestions and what we’ve found to work.

Why Bother?
Well, if you used to do outdoor activities and now had kids, this needs no answer.  But a lot of families are turning to outdoor activities once they have kids as concerned parents get worried about the growing childhood obesity crisis, not helped of course with the cutting of physical education in schools and the selling off of school playing fields for housing.

Getting your kids outside is good for them: the exercise, the fresh air, and even the day light is all beneficial.

Start them young, and they’ll want to continue.  In fact, if you have a baby that has difficulty sleeping, going on a hike may be just the thing (they may sleep through the hike, but then be restless when you’re tired later of course!).

Depending on where you go helps your kids get an appreciation for the environment and history.  Yes history.  The British Isles is an ancient set of islands, and you can’t go far without signs of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Saxon, Viking, Normal, Medieval, or even more recent WW2 items.  A walk with an ancient ruined castle is great for their imagination.

Hiking with Babies
Despite all the gear that you appear to need these days with babies, this is actually one of the easiest stages to take your kids hiking.
If you are a new parent, that statement may come as a bit of a shock.

We certainly recommend getting a Child Carrier.  We found the LittleLife brand very good.  Here’s one you may wish to consider: Cross Country S2 Child Carrier.

With a child carrier back pack you can set off pretty much as before, except of course for weather conditions.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  And of course make sure your little one is dressed appropriately.

Hiking with Toddlers
Now the fun really begins….and the pace stops.

For small toddlers you can still use the Child Carrier, but as they grow the weight will become noticeable.

Hiking now becomes about carrying them in manageable chunks between locations, and then stopping in places for them to ‘explore’.
The exploring is important, and gets them used to being outside, as well as getting some exercise.

Clothing – It’s Important
Just as the right gear can make a difference to adults, it can make it even more so with children, who can get cold quite easily (and too hot also).

You can pick up items from the high street, but just as with adult gear, you get what you pay for.  Some brands, such as North Face, create child versions.  If you are planning on doing an amount of outdoor activities, it is worth investing in the right gear for them.

Read our guide to kids base layers and getting a decent coat.

Continue reading: getoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-hiking/how-to-go-hiking-with-kids