Gear for Summer Family Hikes


It is never to early to hug a tree!
It is never to early to hug a tree!

Disclosure: REI has an affiliate partnership with Hiking Lady, and may receive a percentage of sales if a product is purchased at As always, companies whose products are being reviewed are not allowed to exercise creative or editorial control over content.

Summer is quickly approaching, and what better way to spend some quality family time than a summer family hike!  Now is the time to take inventory of what you already own, and add some quality gear so you can make your outdoor family adventures as fun and comfortable as possible!  Notably, REI is having their famous biggest sale of the year, their REI Anniversary Sale, May 18-May 28, 2018!  Members save 20% on one full-price item, and an extra 20% on one REI Outlet item with coupon code ANNIV18.

Must Have Gear for Summer Family Hikes!

Swim rashguard
If you can’t find UPF rated apparel in your toddler’s size, have him or her wear a swim rash guard..  They provide excellent sun protection and usually come in sizes as small as 2T.
  • Appropriate Apparel for the Kids. Often times parents are so focused on wearing the right UPF rated pants, shirts, and hats, that their children’s hiking apparel is an afterthought.  While it is challenging to find hiking apparel in toddler sizes, there are some brands that have small sizes for toddlers and young children.  Notably, a lot of toddler and kids’ outdoor apparel is most appropriate for winter. Here are the few brands that have good offerings of summer hiking apparel for toddlers and kids:
    • REI Co-Op: They have a wide range of shirts and pants, most starting at size 4-5T.
    • Patagonia: Most of Patagonia’s childrens’ hiking apparel offerings are for cold weather, but lightweight items like the Patagonia Baby Capilene (if you can afford the $39 price tag) are worth adding to your toddler’s summer hiking/camping backpack. Sizes 2T-4T.
    • Columbia Sportswear: Similar to the REI Co-Op brand, most spring and summer children’s apparel from Columbia start at size 4-5T.  If you need snow clothes for next winter, Columbia has a lot of infant and toddler sizes.
    • Special Hiking Baby Tip: If you can’t find UPF rated apparel in your toddler’s size, have him or her wear a swim rash guard.  It will save you a lot of time coating sunblock all over their arms!
  • A Trail Stroller or Infant Carrier. Depending on the age of your little one, he or she will want to walk and explore nature on their own two feet.  Personally, I love the Thule Urban Glide Trail Stroller (see the the Hiking Baby’s Trail Stroller Buying Guide).  There is also a lot of great info here about trail strollers and infant carriers in the Hiking Baby’s How Do I Hike With My Baby article.
Hiking Baby relaxing in his Thule Urban Glide Trail Stroller
Hiking Baby relaxing in his Thule Urban Glide Trail Stroller
  • Proper Footwear for the Kiddos. Adult hikers focus a lot of attention on the proper hiking shoes or boots. Just like adult hiking footwear, the most important factor for children’s footwear is a proper fit. For cool weather hiking, low top hiking boots are generally the most friendly for little feet. Both KEEN and Merrell have excellent options, such as the Merrell Moab FST Low Waterproof Shoes and the KEEN Oakridge Low WP Kids’ Shoes. While some children are willing to wear a mid top or high top boot, many resist, so it is okay to have them wear low top hiking shoes.
    Keen Newport H2 toddler shoes
    KEEN Newport H2s have solid rubber toe bumpers

    The two main things to look for in hiking shoes for kids are:

    • Good toe protection (ideally rubber in the front of the toe box).
    • Rugged traction (it will help prevent extra slips and falls).

    REI Co-Op has several options of hiking shoes for kids.  For hot weather hiking, consider an open sandal, especially if your adventures include dips in puddles, a visit to a waterfall, or a beach hike. Sometimes children can’t stand having little pebbles sneak in through the sandals, so keep that in mind as you consider your children’s footwear. The hiking sandals that Hiking Baby loves are his KEEN Newport H2s (see the full Hiking Baby review)

As always, have fun, and happy trails on your summer family hikes!

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