Do you want to take your family on a multi-day hiking adventure but have some questions about hiking gear for kids? Are you trying to foster a sense of inclusion and responsibility by letting your children carry some their own gear while hiking? But how do you avoid putting too much weight, and responsibility, on their backs?

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we understand your need to balance education, fun, and safety on your family backpacking trip. It’s fun playing hiking games and examining nature along the trail, but children also need to learn that backpacking is, sometimes, serious business, requiring skills learned over a lifetime.

Nothing teaches this better than encouraging a child to carry their own pack. Here’s a list of the essential gear to put in it.

 

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

HOW TO USE THIS PACKING LIST

Before we discover the essentials of packing for an overnight or day hike with your kids, here’s a run down on how to get the most out of this list. Next to each item, you will see a few categories. Here’s what they mean.

PURPOSE: What the gear is designed for.

ESSENTIAL ITEM: Is the item something your kids must have?

PRICE RANGE: How much does it usually cost?

LOOK FOR: Some quick tips on how to choose the best gear.

OUR PICK: Our choice based on the value and quality of the item.

LEARN MORE: A full article on how to choose that particular piece of gear and the best models of the year.

 

 

1. CARRYING

OVERNIGHT BACKPACK

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Amazon

PURPOSE: So Your Child Can Carry Essential Gear On A Backpacking Trip

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $80-$150

LOOK FOR: The Right Fit, Comfort, Lightweight, Plenty of Pockets

OUR PICK: Deuter Fox 40

BEST MODELS: Best Kids Hiking Backpacks of the Year >>

 

 

 

DAY HIKING BACKPACK

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Amazon

PURPOSE: So Your Child Can Carry Essential Gear On A Day Hike

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $40-$125

LOOK FOR: The Right Fit, Comfort, Lightweight, Water Reservoir

OUR PICK: CamelBak Scout

BEST MODELS: Best Day-Hiking Backpacks of the Year >>

 

 

 

RAIN COVER

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Rain Out Of Your Child’s Pack On Backpacking Trips

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Only If You Expect Rain

PRICE RANGE: $15-$50

LOOK FOR: Fits Your Kids’ Backpack, Waterproof

OUR PICK: Deuter Rain Cover II

BEST MODELS: Best Backpacks Rain Covers of the Year >>

 

 

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2. SLEEPING

SLEEPING BAG

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Amazon

PURPOSE: So Your Child Can Sleep Comfortably On A Backpacking Trip

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $50-$150

LOOK FOR: Right Temperature For Your Region, Comfortable, Lightweight, Packs Down Small

OUR PICK: Big Agnes Little Red

BEST MODELS: Best Sleeping Bags of the Year >>

 

 

 

SLEEPING PAD

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Amazon

PURPOSE: So Your Child Can Sleep Comfortably On A Backpacking Trip

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $50-$150

LOOK FOR: Easy To Inflate, Comfortable, Lightweight

OUR PICK: Them-A-Rest Trail Scout

BEST MODELS: Best Sleeping Pads of the Year >>


 

 

 

3. EATING & DRINKING

SNACKS

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child Fueled And Happy On The Trail

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $5-$15

LOOK FOR: Mix Of Salty And Sweet

OUR PICK: Trader Joe’s Trek Mix

LEARN MORE: Ideas For Camping Meals

 

 

 

BOWL

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Amazon

PURPOSE: For Your Child To Eat Out Of, Carry, And Clean

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $5-$20

LOOK FOR:Lightweight, Easy To Clean, Durable

OUR PICK: Sea To Summit Delta Bowl

 

 

 

CUP

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Drinking Hot And Cold Liquids

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$20

LOOK FOR: Spill-Proof Lid, Sleeve, Lightweight

OUR PICK: GSI Fairshare Mug

 

 

 

SPORK

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Utensil For Eating Meals

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$20

LOOK FOR: Right Size For A Kid, Durable, BPA-Free

OUR PICK: Light My Fire Spork

 

list of hiking gear for kids

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/nadezhda1906

 

 

 

4. CLOTHING FOR HOT WEATHER

QUICK DRY PANTS OR SHORTS

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Allows Your Child To Hike In Comfort Even After Getting Wet

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $30-$70

LOOK FOR: Durable, Dual-Purpose, Quick-Dry, Fit, Lightweight, SPF 50

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Shorts of the Year >>

 

 

 

WICKING UNDERWEAR

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child Cool, Dry and Comfortable On The Trail And At Camp

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $15-$30

LOOK FOR: Wicking, Fit, Comfortable, Durable

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Under Armour Boxerjock

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Under Armour HeatGear Shorty

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Underwear of the Year >>

 

 

 

SUN BLOCKING SHIRT

 

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Blocks Sun And Keeps Your Child Cool And Dry On The Trail

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$40

LOOK FOR: SPF 50, Wicking, Comfortable, Fit

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Columbia Silver Ridge Tee

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Columbia Silver Ridge Tee

LEARN MORE: How To Choose A Hot-Weather Shirt

 

 


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5. CLOTHING FOR COLD WEATHER

BASE LAYER TOP

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Upper Body Warm On The Trail And At Camp

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $15-50

LOOK FOR: Warm, Comfortable, Wicking, Durable

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Lucky Bums Kids

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Ice Breaker Merino Oasis

BEST MODELS: Best Base Layers of the Year >>

 

 

 

BASE LAYER BOTTOM

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Lower Body Warm On The Trail And At Camp

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $15-50

LOOK FOR: Warm, Comfortable, Wicking, Durable

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Lucky Bums Kids

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Ice Breaker Merino Oasis

BEST MODELS: Best Long Johns of the Year >>

 

 

 

FLEECE JACKET

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child Warm On The Trail And At Camp

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $45-$150

LOOK FOR: Warm, Comfortable, Durable

OUR BOYS’ PICK: The North Face Denali

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: The North Face Denali

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Fleeces of the Year >>

 

 

 

BEANIE

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Head And Ears Warm

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$20

LOOK FOR: Warm, Fit, Durable

OUR BOYS’ PICK: The North Face Bones Beanie

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: The North Face Bones Beanie

 

 

 

GLOVES

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Hands Warm

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$20

LOOK FOR: Warm, Comfortable, Durable, Fit, Not Bulky And Constricting

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Columbia Thermarator

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Columbia Fast Trek

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Gloves of the Year >>


 

 

6. RAIN GEAR

WATERPROOF RAIN JACKET

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child Dry While Hiking In Rain

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $30-70

LOOK FOR: Waterproof, Durable, Packs Down Small

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Columbia Glennaker

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Columbia Switchback

BEST MODELS: Best Rain Jackets of the Year >>

 

 

 

WATERPROOF RAIN PANTS

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Legs Dry While Hiking In Rain

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $15-$50

LOOK FOR: Waterproof, Durable, Packs Down Small

OUR BOYS’ PICK: Columbia Cypress Brook

OUR GIRLS’ PICK: Columbia Cypress Brook

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Rain Pants of the Year >>

 

hiking gear list for kids

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/nataliaderiabina

 

 

 

7. FOOTWEAR

HIKING SHOES

 

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Protects Your Child’s Feet On The Trail

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $30-$80

LOOK FOR: Comfort, Fit, Durable, Lightweight, No Shoelaces

OUR PICK: Merrell Trail Chaser

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Shoes of the Year >>

 

 

 

HIKING SOCKS

 

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child’s Feet Comfortable And Dry On The Trail

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: Yes

PRICE RANGE: $10-$15

LOOK FOR: Fit, Comfort

OUR PICK: Smartwool Ultralight Crew

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Socks of the Year >>

 

 

 

GAITERS

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Amazon

PURPOSE: Keeps Your Child Dry And Protected While Hiking Through Snow, Water, and Rough Country

ESSENTIAL ITEM?: No

PRICE RANGE: $15-$50

LOOK FOR: Durable, Fit With Your Child’s Shoes, Lightweight, Packable

OUR PICK: Lucky Bums Youth

BEST MODELS: Best Hiking Gaiters of the Year >>


 

 

8. PERSONAL ITEMS & ACCESSORIES


 

 

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