An uncomfortable kid is an unhappy kid, and we all know what that means–the fun is over before it starts. You know the saying: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So start looking for the gear you’ll need. That said, no need to go overboard! Many of these things can also be purchased used or acquired for free on local Buy Nothing pages. In our family, we have found the following items helpful:

  1. Good sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Don’t skimp here–uncomfortable shoes make for short and unpleasant excursions.
  2. Small day pack. My backpack is *always* filled with plastic bags and baby wipes (don’t leave this at home or I guarantee your kids will need it…), snacks, water for everyone, a map, a fully charged phone, and a small first aid kit (including any medicine, like EPI pens). Also, during COVID times, it’s smart to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some extra masks. Most kids do not like wearing wet masks, and sometimes after the exertion of hiking, they will be much happier with a dry one. Older children may enjoy wearing their own hydration backpacks stocked with their own snacks, extra masks, sanitizer, compass, and map of the trail.

Extra things, for summer:

  1. Bug spray–go with the DEET kind (I’m not a fan of wearing chemicals. But I’m even more NOT a fan of lyme disease or EEE or West Nile, all of which run rampant in our area. If you don’t want to spray it on, they have it in wipe form now too…)
  2. Baseball hats and sunglasses
  3. Bucket hat and mosquito netting. (Yes, you look stupid. But in the summer if you’re out in the woods during deer fly season, you’ll be glad you have it! Don’t try to wear it with a baseball hat–the netting will stick to the back of your neck when it’s muggy.)

For winter:

  1. Long underwear (BJ’s and COSTCO have them for very reasonable prices! They make all the difference in the world when it’s chilly out!)
  2. Mittens (so much warmer than gloves!) or, when it’s not too cold, stretchy gloves (these are cheap, so you won’t be as upset when one of them gets dropped along the trail…)
  3. Snow pants, but active kids can really overheat in these. They really only need them if they are snowshoeing or actively playing in the snow.
  4. Balaclava or a warm hat and neck warmer–they make a huge difference on a really cold day.

With these things, getting outside for a walk in the woods is much more pleasant. Too many people go unprepared, and when the experience is unpleasant, they give up.

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