With many of us turning to the outdoors for safe, family-friendly activities during the time of COVID-19, more and more families are taking up roller skating, running, and even backyard yoga. Another outdoor activity that’s seeing a spike in numbers is hiking.
And it makes a lot of f*cking sense! Hiking is essentially the dream activity to do during the pandemic because it’s exercise, you get fresh air, and stay more than six feet apart from others. It’s a meaningful solo or partner activity (for when you and bae just need some #CouplesTime), or it can be time well spent for families, too. And the numbers show — with or without kids — people are hiking up a storm.
So, grab a water bottle, stuff your fanny pack full of trail-friendly protein bars, and get ready to check out the best hiking essentials including hiking backpacks and the best hiking shoes for women. Oh, and you might want to download AllTrails, too, to keep from getting lost. Keep reading for more hiking essentials for the whole family!
The LifeStraw Water Filter is a must-carry tool for any outdoorsy situation you may find yourself in. Listen, we’re not saying you’ll have to use it – chances are your outdoor hike with the fam probably isn’t anything close to Into the Wild, but like, just in case, an emergency water filter isn’t a bad thing to have on hand. This handy-dandy tool removes 99.9% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns. It even surpasses the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for water filters. So, if you want the best of the best in a water emergency, you can’t get any better than LifeStraw. It’s better than iodine tablets or traditional bulky purifiers because of its efficiency, but also because of how easy it is to carry along on your hike. Just throw it in a zipper pocket in your hiking backpack, then break it out should you find yourself waterless.
Taking the kiddos out for a hike? They deserve a hike-worthy backpack, too, though you might want to keep their gear to the minimum. (You know, so it doesn’t get too heavy for their little spines!) Osprey is a go-to brand for outdoor activities, and hiking is no different. Use the Daylite Kids pack to store hiking gear, toys, and pop your child’s reusable water bottle into one of the backpack’s dual side mesh pockets. There’s also a small front pocket with a key clip – great for storing contact information if (God forbid!) you get separated. There’s also an internal name tag, a multi-functional interior sleeve for hydration, and of course, a fun and brightly colored design that appeals to kids. Once the summer is done and the fam slows down their outdoor hiking, the Daylite Kids pack can make an easy transition to back-to-school and traveling, as well. Either way, this pack is great for whatever you have going on as a family.
The most important part of hiking is like, the walking part. So, you want to make sure that your feet are as comfortable as humanly possible! That requires the right hiking boot/sneaker. Especially if you’re chasing after little hikers during your nature walk, you’re going to love the Vasque Women’s Breeze LT Low GTX Gore-Tex Waterproof Breathable Hiking Shoe. It’s a streamlined hiking shoe designed for fast and light trail walking, thanks to Gore-Tex waterproof technology that blocks moisture from the outside and allowing inside moisture to evaporate. Made from synthetic microfiber and a rubber Vibram mega-grip outsole, your feet will never feel claustrophobic in these hiking shoes. Instead, you’ll feel all-day breathability, a relaxed fit that provides comfort even on the rockiest of hills and steepest of mountains, stability and sure footing on just about any terrain, and the best possible traction a hiking shoe could give.
Doggos deserve to go on hikes, too! After covering your pup in anti-tick treatment, be sure to strap the Outward Hound DayPak onto their back. It’s made to securely hold all your walking and hiking essentials (doggie poop bags and treats included!), so that you can hike hands-free (except for their leash, of course). Store your keys, ID cards, phones, and poop bags in the dog backpack’s expandable pockets. The straps are totally adjustable, too, so you don’t ever have to worry that your pup will be uncomfortable hiking along. Available in two different colors and three sizes, it also features reflective piping to give you enhanced visibility of your dog – day or night at all times. With your hands (and pockets) free, you’ll be able to better enjoy each individual stride and the sight-seeing during your hike. And when you can better enjoy your hike, you make unforgettable memories whether you’re with the kids or it’s just you and dog.
Outdoor Voices is a trusted athleisure brand known for their bold color-blocking and awesome leggings and now that they’ve ventured into hiking wear, the RecTrek Hiking Shorts are no exception. With five stars and all other color combinations sold out, people – especially hiking moms! – are absolutely loving the breathability, durability, and water-resistance of these hi-rise, relaxed fit shorts. Sure, you could unearth your old Soffee shorts from your high school cheerleading days from the depths of your wardrobe, but when it comes to hiking, the RecTrek Hiking Shorts reign supreme thanks to a 3-inch inseam, mesh side pockets, and a secure back zip pocket for storing snacks and keys. Unlike other “sporty” shorts designed for outdoor activities and sports, the RecTrek Hiking Shorts also feature an adjustable belt to ensure the best fit and to keep them from slipping down when you’re hopping over rocks and climbing uphill. It helps them look more on-trend, too!
No, the Hydration Bladder isn’t an on-the-go reliever, but rather, it’s a 100% leakproof water bottle – but like, a bladder – with the largest opening on the market. With a bigger opening for drinking, you can more easily pour the water into a bowl or water bottle or take a quick sip as you chug along. Made of premium material that’s taste-free, BPA-free, SGC certified, and 100% food grade, this 2-liter reservoir is tested to comply with international safety standards and has a double sealing side technique with high-quality durability. The reservoir – or ahem, “hydration bladder” – features an anti-dirt cover to keep out bacteria and a high flow bite-valve that allows water to flow out at a faster rate so that you can get the hydration you need ASAP. To use, just add ice cubes from a fridge ice dispenser and cold water. Your purchase also comes with a free bandana!
Hiking with a toddler? The Piggyback Rider Scout Standing Child Backpack is a must-have for any nature-loving family with kids. The two-piece Standing Child Backpack comes with a Piggyback Rider carrier and a safety harness recommended for children anywhere from 2 to 4 years old, up to 50 pounds. Instead of encouraging your toddler to hike the whole way (or worse, thinking you can navigate a stroller through a rocky and bumpy trail), the Piggyback Rider offers children a break without having to halt the entire brigade. When the little ones’ legs get wobbly and tired, simply pop them on the back of the Piggyback Rider until their energy is restored enough to walk again. Not only will your kid love looking around from their newly afforded height – not spoiling their hike one bit! — they’ll be also be safe. With hand holds for small grips and an adjustable no-skin standing bar, you’ll never have to worry about your little one toppling over.
Let’s face it – if you’re hiking as a family, your kid’s Crocs just simply aren’t going to cut it. Even if you take the family-friendly trail with minimal bumps and lumps, you’re going to need to invest in actual hiking boots. The Merrell Ontario 85 Waterproof Hiking Boots for kids are waterproof, made of suede and mesh, and only weigh 1 lb. 3 oz so you don’t have to worry about your child complaining about how heavy their boots are half a mile in. With GRIP outsoles that provide incomparable traction, cushy and lightweight midsoles for comfort, and lace closures that keep the boots fitting snug, your kid will be happy to put these on! Pair them with a good wool sock (for comfort, warmth, and of course, anti-blistering) and your little one is good to go. Mount Hood? Sleeping Giant? Mount Everest? Eh, maybe not, but your tyke is still ready to take on the trail at hand!
A collapsible water bottle is another amazing hydration option, especially during a hike. The que Bottle can hold up to 20 ounces of water, but it’s unlike most other bottles because it’s sustainable and totally collapsible. When you’re done hydrating, simply collapse the silicone, BPA- and plastic-free bottle and stuff it back in your pack. It has all the other necessary amenities you could want in a sustainable water bottle – it’s shockproof, lightweight, has a compact design, and a totally recyclable aluminum top. If that wasn’t doing enough good for the planet (#EliminateSinglePlasticUse), the que brand also donates 10% of proceeds to The Rainforest Trust. That means that each bottle purchased helps acquire and protect one acre of land in the Peruvian Amazon Forest. Look at you! You’re hiking, reducing single-use plastic, and saving the planet one swig at a time.
Now, we’re not sure how much night-hiking you’ll be doing, but just in case nature’s lights go out and you find yourself still on the trailhead, it’s not a bad idea to have one of these babies in your pack. The GearLight LED Headlamp Flashlight S500 generates a powerful light beam with daylight color and definition, is powered by 3 AAA batteries, and has an impressive runtime of up to 45 hours on low and three hours on high. Should you get lost (knock on wood!) or should you maybe purposefully take a hike at dusk, this headlamp accessory will prove to be a lifesaver. It’s water resistant, shock resistant and features a removable, washable, and adjustable headband (which fits both adults and kids so if your little one wants to give it a go just for kicks, no harm no foul). You can also pivot the head different ways and choose from seven different lighting modes: white beam (low, medium, high, and strobe) and red beam (low, SOS, and strobe). BTW, not one but two headlamps are included!
Now that your dog and your child have a hiking backpack, it’s time for Momma to get one, too. The TETON Sports Explorer 400 Internal Frame Backpack is a best-selling Amazon favorite that has 2,700+ reviews and a stellar four-and-a-half-star rating. This versatile pack is perfect for men and women and can handle anywhere from three to five days’ worth of stuff. Made with a torso adjustment that fits a wide range of body sizes, the TETON Sports Explorer is also comfortable thanks to a durable open-cell foam lumbar pad. It features molded channels to make sure your pack has the maximum airflow, keeping you cool and also comfy. With gear ties, compression straps, a special sleeping bag compartment in case you’re hiking toward a camping situation, an included rain cover, and pass-through side pockets that double as gear loops, the TETON Sports Explorer has everything you need for a casual hike or a full-blown, serious hiking/camping moment with the fam.
The Welly Excursion Kit is the perfect first-aid kit to throw in your backpack for on-the-go emergencies. Hiking isn’t necessarily dangerous – although it depends where you’re hiking and what elevation you’re at – but it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand especially with kids involved. You know, just in case. There’s sticks, there’s rocks, there’s bugs – chances that you’ll need a bandage are slim, but someone in the fam is likely accident prone and you may run into an occasional skinned knee. That’s where the Excursion Kit comes in. Leave it in your backpack, in your car, or on your person, so you’ll always have it within reach, even if an impromptu hike breaks out at your local park. The Excursion Kit features 72 standard fabric bandages, 52 small fabric bandages, 18 waterproof bandages (in nautical patterns), and 6 rectangle fabric bandages, 1 roll of tape, 8 non-stick pads, 10 wound prep pads, 10 butterfly strips, 10 count triple antibiotic packets, 10 count hydrocortisone packets, and 1 vial of 16-count Ibuprofen. Consider your bases— covered.
Ready to get your hike on? Check out more mom approved wellness essentials.