The beauty about your new adventuring hobby? It does NOT have to break the bank. In fact, if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Personally, I’m all about budgets and saving money, so I’m the last person to tell you to rush out and buy 100 new items before you step foot outside. Instead, I’m offering up a quick list of the gear that I actually think you’ll need before setting off. For items you don’t have, I recommend borrowing, renting, or substituting gear before purchasing your own. It’s always better to try before you buy to ensure that you’re actually going to get the use out of the items before you invest. As you fall in love with adventuring, you can always add to your gear, but there’s no need to buy an REI before you hit your first mile.
- Child carrier/hiking backpack: If your babies are too young to hike, this one is a must. Although soft carriers (Ergo carriers, Lille Baby, etc.) are the bees knees at home or on the town, a framed child carrier made specifically for hiking will save your back and your sanity. I own the Osprey Poco AG carrier, and it’s honestly worth it’s weight in gold–I’ll do a full review on this one sometime soon. From the sunshade to the water bladder insert, I can’t imagine carrying my 25 lb. babe up a mountain in a soft carrier.
- A water bladder: It doesn’t sound glamorous, but it’s heavenly. Brands such as Camelbak make specific water bladders that can easily slide into a backpack. A long hose with a bite valve allows you access to hands-free hydration. Bladders hold much more water than a standard water bottle, yet they are easy to access while on the move. Hydration is so important when you’re outdoors, so don’t forget the H20.
- A supportive pair of hiking boots: Unlike standard tennis shoes, hiking boots offer better ankle/foot support which is key when exploring uneven terrain. Hiking boots vary in terms of cost, but don’t feel discouraged. I’ve found some of my best boots on sale at TJ-Maxx, so keep your eyes peeled for brands such as Columbia, Merrell, or Vasque that have a good reputation. Be sure to try them on and walk around in them before taking them home. Waterproofing is a plus!
- Upf clothing or sunscreen: You’ve likely got one of the two on hand, so put it to good use. Sunscreen is so important for both you and your kiddos, especially at altitude where the sun’s rays are harsh and unforgiving. Apply it, pack it, and apply it again. Your future, less leathery self will thank you.
- Trekking Poles: Trekking poles seem excessive to some, but I’ve found that when I’m hiking with a baby on my back, trekking poles increase my confidence & build a little arm muscle. Any extra weight (be it a baby, a backpack, or a baby in a backpack) can throw off your center of gravity and increase the risk of injury or fall, so do yourself a favor and grab a trekking pole. Can’t find one in time? Any old walking stick will do the trick just fine. Little tip: Costco is currently carrying a two-pack of Trekking poles for around $25.
- The All Trails App: Ok, so this isn’t gear, per se, but it’s definitely a must-have. This free app shows you hundreds of nearby trails, and ranks them based off of difficulty. The app’s navigation feature makes it easy to find the trailhead, and the live time map helps you know exactly where you’re at along your hike. All Trails users can add comments to review their hikes, and these comments are incredibly useful when planning your trip.
- A good rain jacket: It looks sunny outside, there’s no chance of rain. Right? Wrong. Oh man, I’ve been caught in some pretty unsuspecting rain storms without a rain jacket, and I’ve definitely paid the price. Regardless of the forecast, always pack a rain jacket. Always. Some day you’ll thank me for that one.
- Gaiters (for winter adventuring): If you’re heading out in the snow, be sure you’ve got a good pair of gaiters. Gaiters go over your hiking boots/snow shoes to protect them from snow falling in the tops of your shoes. Whether you’re snowshoeing, hiking, sledding, or walking, gaiters help keep your feet dry and warm without adding significant weight or bulk. Top brands sell gaiters for over $100, but you can find a reliable pair on Amazon for about $16-20.
Do you have any gear you can’t live without? Share it in the comments below!