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How to Enjoy Winter Hiking with Kids

December 14, 2017 4 min read

How to enjoy winter hiking with kids. I’d hike that is sharing 5 great tips on how to enjoy winter hikes with kids rather than dread them. Visit idhikethat.com and start planning your next family adventure.

Spending quality family time outdoors can be such an enjoyable experience, especially in the winter time.  

When little ones are involved in outdoor activities on cold winter days, it is important to be prepared.  This way, everyone has a fun time making lasting memories. Here are some great tips to keep in mind as you gear up for your next winter adventure:

1.  Have the right gear

It is important that you have the right winter essentials to keep your little ones warm on the trails.  Dress your kids properly in non-cotton thermal clothing, including hats, mittens, and a waterproof outer shell.  Having a good pair of snow boots is also very important.

Make sure you are prepared with lots of snacks and water for your hike.  Consider snacks that can easily be grabbed from pockets while wearing gloves, such as granola bars.

2.  Lots of layers

Keep your little one warm by being prepared beforehand with lots of layers.  This is important because as they are walking, they will warm up and want to remove pieces of clothing.  

Here is a basic layering system for infants & toddlers:  

  1. Base layer - This could also be called the wicking layer.  It is the layer closest to the body that should wick moisture away from the skin.  Nylon stockings are a great option for the base layer.
  2. Mid-layer - This could also be called the warming layer.  It is the layer in between the base and the outermost clothing that traps your body heat.  A good option for this layer would be a wool or fleece pullover, and wool or fleece pants.
  3. Outer layer - This could also be called the weathering layer.  It is the layer exposed to the elements that should be water repellent or windproof on rainy/snowy days so that body heat is not lost to the wind.  If you are babywearing, consider wearing something with zippers or flaps so that you can easily release heat without having to adjust the baby carrier.

Layer up the kids for winter hiking

Lots of layers!

3.  Keep it short and choose wisely

There are two factors to consider when thinking about the distance of your hike:  your littlest hikers, and the weather.  Keep in mind that everything takes twice as long when children are involved.  So if you are planning on a 30-minute hike, it will likely take an hour.  There will be many snack and water breaks, and little ones will want to stop and play in the snow.  

Also, remember that winter hiking is very different than summer hiking.  It is cold and snowy.  Keep it your goal to just get outside for a fun family adventure, and do that by preparing for a short winter hike.  Find a few trails in your area that are fun to explore with little ones. Remember, it's about the journey, not the destination. 

4.  Be prepared for your drive home

Have warm, dry clothes waiting for you back in the car.  Trust me, you will be so glad that you took the time to pack not only your backpack but your car for the departure back home.  Pack dry clothing, a fresh pair of socks, and blankets to warm little bodies up.  In addition to clothing, consider packing thermoses of hot cocoa or tea and snacks.  Your kids will look forward to their hot cocoa waiting for them in the car.


5.  Have fun making memories

Hiking in winter can be so much fun, especially if there is snow on the ground.  There are so many ways to make your winter hikes a fun, memorable experience.  

Let toddlers get out and hike.  Bring the carrier and there is a good chance you will carry them for much of the hike. Give them (and yourself!) a break now and then. Let them do some of the walking.  Sure, their little legs may slow your hike down, but enjoy the family time and let your toddler expand their outdoor skills.

Play games.  If there is snow on the ground, have a snowball fight, build a family snowman, or make snow angels together.  Sleds are light enough to pull and would make for a memorable family experience.  If you have toddlers in tow and it’s especially chilly, march, stomp, or hop to warm up little feet.  Make “train tracks” with your boots in fresh, untouched powder.  Sing silly songs and look for animal tracks in the snow.  Your kids will remember these moments forever.

Little hiker on the trail

Check out our gear for kiddos.

Next time you bundle up your little ones for an outdoor adventure, keep these tips in mind to avoid a wet, miserable experience.  

And remember to also check out 11 of the top winter hiking hacks for some other great winter hiking tips and tricks.

We know many in our hiking community have kids, so now we want to hear from you.  What other tips have you found helpful when winter hiking with kids?


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How to Enjoy Winter Hiking with Kids