Boots, mittens, hats. Wool layers, fleece layers, shell layers. Water bottles, backpacks, carriers. When it comes to hiking with kids, the list of bare necessities seems to be never ending, especially during the wintertime!
As we dive deeper into the coldest months of the year, it feels as though our hiking gear has grown exponentially. With the holidays barely behind us, our outdoor stuff is positively overflowing.
Over the course of November’s Hike it Baby 30 Challenge, I very quickly learned how important it was to keep all of that hiking gear organized and ready to go. In my experience, nothing killed a spontaneous outing faster than a lost boot or misplaced gloves. By keeping our things organized at home and having a good way to transport those items from the house to the car to the trail and back again, it was much easier for us to run out the door when opportunity knocked.
Here are 5 tips for organizing your hiking gear:
Have a designated space for your gear at home. This can be a shelf in your hall or bedroom closet, a basket near the door, or even a large backpack. The important thing is to have all of your boots, coats, hats, and mittens together in one place so you don’t have to go hunting for those missing gloves every time you want to head out for a hike.
Use containers to separate each person’s things. Inside of your designated space, further organize your things by person. If you keep your hiking gear in a closet, small boxes or baskets work well to house all of the little pieces of clothing and accessories. If you keep your gear in a backpack, utilize those pockets. In our experience, it is much easier to grab one box at a time, quickly pick out the items needed, then return the rest back to it’s place in the closet, than it is to sift through a giant pile of adult- and child-sized gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, etc.
Use a box or a backpack to transport your outer-most layers and accessories to and from the car. Once you’ve fished out the things you need for your hike and put on what you will be wearing in the car, put the rest together in a collapsible box or a backpack. (Keep safety in mind and avoid putting too many bulky layers on little ones in carseats.) Once you get to the trailhead, put on the rest of your gear and you are good to go. When you’re finished, shed the outer-most layers and extra accessories and put them back in your box.
Keep a tote with backup gear in your car at all times. Stock your tote with spare mittens, hats, and wool socks for both kids and adults, a change of clothes, a towel, a blanket, weather covers for your stroller or carrier, an umbrella, traction devices (such as YakTrax, etc), extra diapers and wipes, a spare soft-shell carrier, and extra trail bars and dry snacks. Only use these items if you or a fellow hiker forgets to bring them or if someone gets wet and needs to change. Bring your backup tote in the house with you after a hike if it needs restocking, then put it right back in your car.
Always return your hiking gear to it’s designated space when you get home. This is the key! As tedious as it may seem, take the extra few minutes to hang coats, connect gloves, and return those hats, scarves, and other accessories to their proper place. When the time comes to go out again, you will be so glad your gear is all in one place.
Jessie Emslie writes from her home at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she lives with her husband, her son, and her dog and cat. She is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her newest little adventurer in February. She is happiest exploring the outdoors with her toddler on her back, her husband by her side, and her camera in hand. Jessie documents her everyday adventures on Instagram and her blog, Two Kids in Tow, where she shares stories, tips, and guides to inspire other young families to go outside and explore the world together.