Over the time I’ve been writing the Trail Family blog, I’ve given tons of lists about what to pack for different scenarios. I decided to flip the script this time and recommend a way to lighten your load. As in any industry, hiking and outdoors has its share of gadgets and gizmos that are cool and creative, but ultimately space wasters. You don’t have to look like you just walked out of a Cabela’s catalog photo shoot.
I’m reminded of the time Tim and I went camping in a state park for the weekend. The couple in the campsite next to us had obviously gone to an outdoor outfitters store and been sold everything but the kitchen sink. They gave us a little chuckle, and Tim helped them to not set their whole site on fire.
I’ve seen this item on several lists online, and it surprises me a little. It’s not good hiking etiquette to play your music or podcasts while moving along the trail. We should be mindful of others’ desire to enjoy the sounds of nature. It’s also not best safety practices. You need to be aware of your surroundings on the trail in the event that someone calls out for help or warns you about a bear.
You might say that a speaker is nice to have when you stop for a snack or lunch. That may be true. But I would suggest using that time to listen to the sounds around you. Try to identify birds and bugs. Listen to the water if you are near a river or stream. Enjoy the sights around too. Identify flowers and trees. You can extend this to an educational activity by looking up answers later. This kind of activity makes your children more aware of their surroundings and more likely to appreciate nature.
Personal Water Filters
I’ve seen personal water filtration straws on a few hiking pack lists too. It’s a cool idea, and I’d like to try one sometime. However, on a family day hike, you should be able to carry enough water for everyone.
Water Boiling System
I crave coffee as much as the next mom on a mission. And I’m definitely bringing a hot drink on an autumn hike. But It’s much more practical to make it at home. Even if you won’t drink it for a while, you can put it in a YETI to stay hot for hours. I’ve got a 16 ounce tumbler with a Mag-lock lid and a 12 ounce mug. The mug came with a sipping lid, but I replaced it with a Mag-lock lid to keep the heat in longer.
One last thing you can leave home: pumpkin spice lattes. Sorry all you PSL lovers. While I am a devotee of all things Autumn, I can only take so much pumpkin spice. Pumpkin pie is my second favorite at Thanksgiving, and that’s enough for me.
To Wrap Up
Keep in mind that I’m talking here about a family hike for a few hours or less. Some things on the list would be nice for a multi-day thru hike or camping trip. Little luxuries are fun to take along. But when you’re bundling the kiddos into the car for an afternoon of leaf-peeping, you don’t have to pack like you’re about to hit the Appalachian Trail.
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