A love of the great outdoors usually starts at an early age, and with so many trails open to toddlers, such as the spectacular Ferndale Nature Trail and the Portland Creek, it would be a shame for younger children to miss out. For this reason, keen hikers might want to introduce their toddlers to the world of hiking as soon as possible.
Spring, summer and fall hikes are a wonderful opportunity to let your toddler become familiar with the great, wide open. However, winter hikes will pose a unique range of obstacles. The following tips aim to provide some advice and guidance for gearing your toddler up for winter hiking, but always adapt clothing and equipment according to the temperatures, wind chill, location and length of time hiking.
Begin With Layering
Layering is the favored system among hikers, and it can be just as appropriate for young children. Like adults, toddlers will benefit from a clothing system that is lightweight and breathable but also insulating to help guard against the cold. Your toddler will also benefit from a system that is easy to adapt as temperatures rise and fall.
Hiking pros know that layering begins with a base layer, followed by a middle layer and then an outer layer. When choosing suitable clothing for your toddler, select materials that are gentle and non-irritating, such as natural wool like alpaca or alpaca and Merino blends; these types of materials are also easy to clean, and low maintenance, so they make ideal gear for both toddlers and adults. However, one-piece rain suits, or rain/mud pants can also be a useful addition, as are Oakiwear trail suits, which are designed for protecting your toddler from the wet when hiking and camping.
Remember: Accessories Go Along Way
As you undoubtedly know from experience, uncomfortable kids are unhappy kids, but accessories can go a long way to ensuring their comfort on a hiking trip. Warm, thick socks and gloves can protect tiny hands from the wet and cold, and a hat and scarf can give additional warmth, as well as providing protection from the wind and rain. If your toddler is walking, choose comfortable but sturdy shoes – Merrell, Keen and Solomon do a good range – and consider hiring/buying crampons or snowshoes if necessary.
There are some other accessories that might not be so obvious, such as sun protection. Even in the thick of winter, the sun can be harsh and easily burn fragile skin – and don’t forget to reapply it throughout the hike. Pack sunglasses too as the glare from the snow and winter sun can be damaging to young eyes.
Before heading out for the hike, moisturize your toddler’s skin. Pay special attention to the face, hands and any other areas of exposed skin to prevent chapping. And use a gentle lip balm to guard against sore, chapped lips. A further list of other essentials is available here.
Pack Plenty Of Snacks
A mix of instant energy foods and slow release carbohydrates are essential for everyone on the hike, especially children; fruit and cereal bars, yoghurt covered snacks, trail mixes and fruits are all good choices. However, don't forget warm foods, and take plenty of water as well; children can be quick to dehydrate and they don’t always recognize when they are thirsty. You’ll find some useful tips on assessing how much water you need on the Hike Safe website.
Layering, keeping hydrated, eating high energy food and being prepared are all essential components of gearing up for hiking with your children. However, in addition to the above tips, you also need to be prepared with an emergency shelter in case the weather conditions worsen. And don’t forget the smaller things: plenty of sunscreen, thick socks and gloves and suitable footwear can make being outside in the winter just as enjoyable as hiking in the summer.
Woop! Wear specializes in the sale of alpaca activewear clothing for outdoors lovers. To find out more about our range, to order an item, or to ask us a question, visit the Woop! Wear website today.