Keeping safe on the hills is an important area. Rush out un-prepared and you may find that your not ready for changes in weather or for dealing with losing your way or even getting injured. We have compiled a list of our top 10 must-have pieces of camping and hiking equipment that every kid should have.
Good Hiking Boots
A good pair of camping boots are worth their weight in gold and, equally, poor quality or poor fitting boots can turn the most enjoyable hike into misery. First of all make sure that you are familiar with how to fit kids camping boots. A good fit will mean the difference between comfortable feet or painful blisters.
Make sure that your boots are capable of the type of terrain that you’ll see on your hike. You don’t want to use lightweight boots for a winter mountain hike. The chances are that they will not be able to support your ankles through the rugged terrain and they may well leak. While the leak will be uncomfortable, the ankle support could lead to a far more serious situation, even if it’s a simple sprain.
On the flip-side, you should avoid heavy camping boots if your trail is gentle and your expecting a warm day. Hot and sweaty boots can make for an uncomfortable journey.
Waterproof Jacket and Trousers
Kids / Childrens waterproof jacket and trouser suit (2 colours). Known as the ‘Shell’ layer, these are a must for any hike that takes you into the hills and mountains. Even if the weather forecast is fine things can change very quickly. You also need to plan for those unexpected issues that may extend your stay on the hill. All it takes is a twisted ankle or a slip and you may be staying out on the hills more much longer than you planned.
Staying dry will help you to stay warm, comfortable and happy on the hills. Golden rule ~ Take waterproofs with you even if you don’t plan on using them.
Layers of Warm Clothing
It’s far better to take a number of thin layers rather than one, or two, bulky items. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, you can add, or remove, the layers to get the right temperature for your comfort. Secondly, layering thin items of clothing can be warmer than a single, thicker, item because warm air gets trapped between the layers and adds to the insulation.
There are three layers that you will need.
- Base layer – this layer goes next to the skin and keeps it dry.
- Mid layer – provides insulation to keep you warm.
- Shell – this is the water and wind proof layer to keep you protected from the elements.
You would typically only use one garment as a base layer and one as a shell but, you can use a number of mid layers to suit the temperature and your comfort.
Map & Compass
Always have a map. Weather and visibility can change very quickly. One minute your walking along a clear path on a bright day and the next you may find yourself in the fog and off the path. This has happened to me in the past and a map and compass got us off the mountain safely.
Use the map to plan your route. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you don’t need a map because you all know the route – things may change and you will be thankful that you have something that will help you to get down safely.
Planning the camping route is not just about where you will start and where you will finish. You should also look for good shelter points to stop for a break, fresh water sources and most importantly emergency exits from the mountain. These are safe and direct exit points from the mountain that you can use in an emergency. Mark these clearly on your map.
These very small, cheap and practically weightless devices can lie in your pack unnoticed. If you find yourself in trouble a whistle can attract attention over very long distances. You’ll be glad you included one in your kit.
Gloves & Hat
These are more essentials to deal with a change in weather and keep you warm and dry. Choose a good quality make for your hat and gloves. Water proof ones will add that extra protection and comfort.
Safety equipment does not need to be expensive. This is another device that we hope we will never use. An emergency blanket is a very thin sheet that is sometimes coated in a metallic substance making it look a little like tin foil or aluminium.
If you are injured, or are forced to stop on the hike in bad weather you, or your friends may become cold very quickly. This is bad on a mountain. Wrapping up in the emergency blanket will keep you much warmer and may make a vital difference.
Survival Bag & Well Fitting Backpack
A variation on the emergency blanket is the survival bag, this a large plastic sack that you climb into to keep warm. Both devices are cheap to buy and you should have at least one of them in your pack.
Well fitting backpack. This one is about comfort and the stamina to be able to complete your hike. A well fitting pack will make the whole journey more comfortable and let you carry a heavier load.
Keeps your delicates dry.
This is another simple device. A dry-bag is exactly that; it is a bag that you place inside your backpack that keeps your kit dry. You shouldn’t worry about putting your waterproof gear in here but it’s definitely the place for your warm dry clothing and your lunch, phone, camera and all other delicate items.
There is little shade on the hills so if you get caught out in the sun then sunscreen is a must.