One of the best tips of advice I had from other outdoor families was to make my kids carry their own backpack as soon as they started hiking on their own. I love this idea since it has given my young kids ownership over the hiking experience and lightens my load. Sometimes I get asked if I end up carrying the backpack for the majority of the hike. I usually do not carry my 3 year old’s backpack at all unless the hike is extremely challenging like when she tackled Joffre Lakes hike in BC last summer. While she does not carry much in her backpack, she does carry a few important items and it has helped a lot especially when I am hiking alone with my two girls aged 2 and 3 1/2.
*If all your toddler can carry is the backpack that is a really good place to start!
Packing YOUR Toddler’s Backpack
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Waterbottle or Hydration Backpack
Have your child carry their water while hiking. Our favourite waterbottle for kids is the Camelback kids .4 Litre waterbottle. I have tried (and lost) many waterbottles over the years. This one as managed to stay leak free and when the straw and spout need replacement I can get those at MEC. I also know lots of people that get their kids to wear the CamelBak Kids Mini M.U.L.E. Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Azalea/Aruba Blue, 1.5 L/50 oz and love that their children can drink on the go! Just make sure to only fill the hydration pack halfway or less for the little ones or it will be too heavy to carry.
Let your toddler carry one of the snacks that is for them on the hike. My 3 year old loves knowing that she has a snack in her backpack and gets excited when it is time to take it out and eat it. We often back her snack in one of our reusable Gogo bags. Her snack varies from apples, cheerios or granola.
Start teaching them about safety and attach a whistle to their backpack. Try the Shoreline Marine Emergency Survival Whistle and make sure that everyone in the family has one.
If your little one is getting used to the backpack then let them start by carrying their own light jacket. This may be too much depending on the day but I love when my oldest can carry her own jacket while hiking. It lightens the load just a little bit and creates some extra room in my backpack.
Since we cannot leave our beloved Husky the Husky Dog or Pan the Panda at home the girls are required to carry them in their backpacks. Honestly I doubt they would have it any other way.
Do your toddlers wear a backpack while hiking? What do you get them to carry?