…one of the best ways to ensure you and your family have a safe and enjoyable time together is to prepare yourselves (and your feet!) for the great outdoors.
As an avid weekend hiker, I’ve learnt the hard way that even a small amount of preparation can make a big difference to the overall success of a family trip.
I’m here to share with you my top 5 tips for keeping everyone right through from the kids to the grandparents happy and healthy as they explore nature.
– Updated 10/17/2019
5 Family Friendly Hiking Tips
Table of Contents
1) Carry Just the Essentials
The feet, ankles, and knees are considered to be the ‘weak links’ of the body, even if you’re strong and muscular! Too much pressure on the joints can not only directly increase the risk of falls and injury, but can also make you feel more tired which makes accidents more likely. That’s why it’s important to try and minimize the weight of your pack as much as possible.
Unfortunately, If you’re hiking with kids, this is easier said than done! The trick is to limit your pack to just the essentials: a cell phone, a small amount of cash, a torch, bandages and medications, calorie dense snacks like trail mix, and plenty of water.
2) Wear the Right Shoes
Regular sneakers (or even worse… sandals!) have no place on a hiking trail, even if you’re only walking a short distance. That’s because rugged terrain can make it difficult to get good traction, making falls more likely. The good news is that many hiking boot brands today offer child-sized shoes which can give even the littlest of walkers the protection they need on uneven ground.
Look for footwear with good arch support, and a firm heel cup for added stability. You may even want to look into inserts which can stop your feet moving around in the boot to reduce friction as friction is a major contributor to blisters.
3) Be Proactive
There is no point waiting for blisters to form before treating them. Instead, it’s important to be proactive and do what you can to prevent them from popping up on the trail, especially for the little ones who may not handle the pain quite as well as the adults.
While we can’t always prevent blisters completely, there are actually two great ways to minimize the risk. Firstly, you can use moleskin fabric to pad the areas of the foot which are most at risk (usually the underside of the toes). Secondly, you can wear waterproof socks and boots to reduce moisture on the foot. Damp skin is more prone to blisters than dry skin.
4) Take it Steady
When hiking with the family, it’s important to go at a pace that everyone can keep up with, even if this is a little slower than what you’re used to. Not only can this help to keep your group together (there’s safety in numbers, after all), but it also provides an opportunity to assess the trail ahead.
By going slower, you can take into account any ledges, rocks, slopes, or varying terrain coming up, and you can consider your next steps before jumping in head first. Racing off through unfamiliar terrain and conditions may result in falls, so go slower and keep your eyes peeled for any obstacles on the path.
5) Make Use of Handy Tools
However, there’s no reason why they can’t be used on shorter hikes if needed. In fact, they can be a great way to reduce the risk of falls and blisters.
Hiking poles can take significant pressure off the feet and legs, with your arms taking a little of the weight.
While poles may not be required for everyone in your hiking group, they are certainly an excellent choice for hikers who have reduced balance, such as the elderly, and for those who suffer with very weak knee or ankle joints.
A Safe and Happy Hike
Although falls and blisters can and do happen occasionally when hiking, by following my 5 simple tips above, you and your family can significantly reduce the risk, and increase your chances of enjoying a safe and happy hike in the great outdoors.
Setting off on that very first family hike can be a nerve wracking experience, but if you’re well prepared you should have a fantastic time exploring more of the USA.
Andrew Lowen and his family have been a part of the June Lake community since 1968, where they now own a Yosemite Gateway Chalet. They love June Lake and are eager to share the experience with those who appreciate the grandeur that the Eastern Sierras have to offer.