What’s in my backpack for summer hikes with the kids?


If you’ve seen my spring edition – whats in the car, you’ll know I like to be prepared. I’m a type A personality, so planning and being prepared comes naturally to me! But it also makes it so much easier to get up and out of the house on a hike or bike, especially if we make a last minute plan, if I have our kit ready to go. Here’s a simple list of things I keep in the bag, and things I always add as we leave.

Always in the bag

For most of these items, I use food storage bags, like Ziplocs. I have lots of bags made with reusable material that I prefer for picnics and snacks for school and camp. For backpack ‘set it and forget it’ supplies, however, when they will likely be in the same bag all season, I’m okay with using disposable. I love that they can compress down really well if you squeeze the air out of them before sealing, meaning they take up very little space in my backpack. I always buy clear ones and so it’s easy to spot which bag has what I need in it, without opening them all. Another big plus is that they are waterproof, so if anything leaks in my backpack it won’t ruin the contents of the emergency supplies. This is particularly important when I don’t take these bags out between uses, so wouldn’t spot if things had become wet after a small leak that I might not have spotted.

1. First Aid kit

I have a cute one I can move around as and when I need it, and that often goes in Red’s hydration pack now he has his own. But I like to keep a food storage bag with the essentials tucked into the bottom of my backpack, too.

My essentials are:

    • band-aids. Smalls is that age where every boo boo is cured by a band-aid, so I’ll have lots, especially when they are so small.
    • Neosporin wound cleaner foam.
  • 1 or 2 anti-bacterial wipes in single use sachets.
  • gauze and medical tape for bigger wounds.
  • 1 or 2 single-use sachets of children’s painkillers. These take up so little space, and the kids can suck the medicine right out of the sachet, so I don’t even need to take a spoon.
  • lollipops. I mean, who doesn’t keep these in their first aid kit?

I can fit all these into a food storage bag, squeeze out the air, and it takes up very little space and weight in my backpack. Normally I stick a couple of band-aids in an easier to reach pocket, because it’s amazing how often a band-aid helps a kid feel better if they’ve just taken a stumble and have a slight graze that doesn’t warrant the first aid kit. Anything to keep us moving on the trails!

2. Wipes (and diapers)

Smalls is mostly potty-trained, but I decided to leave a diaper in this season.  If an awful accident happened on the hills, I could at least change him into a diaper. I put a diaper, a couple of diaper sacks and a mini pack of wipes in a food storage bag, and the bag can seal in any stinky clothes if necessary on the way home. In the winter I sometimes carry a change of clothes depending on what we’re doing, but in the summer I don’t bother. Wipes can be used in a surprisingly large number of ways even when you don’t have a kid in diapers, so I always keep some on hand anyway.

3. Trail bars

I love that these have a long shelf life, and pack a great punch of calories. I always have lots of snacks for any trip but like to have a couple of spares, just in case. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to pull one out! This is probably the thing I’m most forgetful about restocking after a trip, as it’s the emergency supply I use the most, so if I have space I usually add more than I need so they can last through a few trips.

4. Sunscreen

I always apply before we head out, but I like to keep one of the mini spray sunscreens in the backpack just in case we are stuck out longer than we like or in case we forget to apply at home. Our Scottish bloodline means we are very fair-skinned and burn easily! Red, in particular, hates wearing sunscreen, and so I don’t like applying it if we start out on a trip when it’s cloudy. As a result, I’ve definitely pulled this emergency supply out the bag on many hikes!

Things we always pack on the day

1. Sunhats

I have these great sunhats for the boys. Bonus; they come in a 2 pack, which means no arguing over who wears which!

I love that the material is rated UPF 50+, they have wide brims all around, and are lightweight so easy to fold up and store in my bag. If we are hiking, chances are these are on the boys’ heads as we leave the house. If we are biking, I usually stick them in my backpack anyway, as we are likely to stop and play at some point and I know they’ll want to take off their helmets.

2. Water

Well, that’s an obvious one! I usually fill up Red’s bladder and one for me too, to make sure we have enough water. He got this great kid’s hydration pack for his birthday, and loves to carry his own water, and put all his ‘treasures’ in it, that he collects on a trip. Now he’s old and strong enough, he often carries all our water, particularly if we’re hiking and Smalls might end up on my back in the carrier.

I recently gave my husband a new water filter for Father’s Day, and next time we go on a longer trip, I might put this in the bag. To be honest, I’m pretty intrigued to try it out anyway, so we might take it even if we don’t think we’ll be stuck without water!

3. Snacks

kids not want to hike? Entice them with some trail mix!

All the snacks! I figure out what I think we’ll need (1 trail bar each) and then usually double it, or add in extra bags of trail mix. It never ceases to amaze me how much these boys eat while we’re out and about, and if we end up being out longer than planned, a snack is a great incentive to keep them going. I’ve written before about getting the boys to help make their own custom trail mix, and it’s one of Smalls’ favorite things about going on a hike!

Does this sound overwhelming? If you’re thinking about starting to get outdoors more with your kids, this might sound like a LOT of things to pack! But just go grab the backpack you’ll use, and fill it up. Right now – go on, I’ll still be here when you get back! Then you only have one or two things to pack if you decide to head out somewhere, and they are the obvious things (food and water). Once your bag is packed, you’ll find it so much easier than you think!

What do you like to pack in your emergency supplies? Do you have any great suggestions I should add to my list? Please comment if you do!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Alan says:

    Hi. May I also suggest that you might consider the following:

    1. A plastic whistle for you, Reds and Small. Good for attracting attention in times of emergency. Also if Reds or Small go “off-track|” and get lost.
    2. Lightweight compass (you probably have one as an App on a smartphone)
    3. Small solar charger/panel to attach to rucksack – for mobile.
    4. Lightweight solar powered light (mini-torch) on a keyring.
    5. Health requirements (tablets/allergies) on wearable wristbands.
    6. Contact details in case of an emergency.
    7. Box of matches/lighter.
    8. Multi-tool device.

    I would take many of these even on a day’s fishing trip. Probably “overkill” but better safe than sorry?

    Keep up your excellent blog.

    1. wee1one says:

      Thanks Alan, lots of good options here! I know the boys will be interested in lots of these!

  2. Helen Orr says:

    Doing great keep it up as it is so much about common sense and thinking ahead . M

  3. Andrea says:

    Don’t forget the bacon!!

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