Hiking 10 Essentials for Kids

Posted by Dawn Hessel on

Having essential gear on you when out hiking is a must. These items should be carried with you when backpacking or going on a day trip or even a quick hike!  I brought my 10 essentials kit out with me on a short, 2 hour hike, and wound up needing several items after my mom slipped in some mud and cut her hand.  

The Hiking 10 Essentials are as follows:
1. Navigation
2. Headlamp
3. Sun Protection
4. First Aid
5. Knife
6. Fire
7. Shelter
8. Food
9. Water
10. Clothes
I took the above list and adjusted it to fit around my ten year old, taking into consideration her abilities and knowledge of certain things.  Below is everything she carries with her on our hikes.
1. She carries around a simple mirrored compass.  I have given her a few short lessons on using the compass to familiarize her with using one.  On longer hikes, I will show her a map and explain to her where we are going and show her landmarks.  For example, if she know there will be a stream to our South and she gets lost, she can use the compass to head South to the stream so she can follow it to safety. 
2. I packed her an easy to use flashlight with extra batteries.  The spare batteries and the battery insert for the flashlight are kept in a ziplock back to prevent battery corrosion. 
3. In her first Aid kit, I placed a small sunblock stick. Not pictured, but on longer hikes we may add a baseball cap or bucket hat to her pack.
4. Which bring us to her first aid kit.  She has the basics, gloves, bandages, gauze, single use Neosporin packs, Benadryl, Tylenol, calendula salve, cough drops and tape.  I included little notes on how to use each of the medications. Depending on your childs' maturity, you may or may not want to include any drugs. At 10, she can read and is capable of understanding directions and how to swallow pills. I felt like this is a good, basic first aid kit for her.  There is more we can eventually add as she gets older, but this is a good start.
5. I have taught her knife safety.  How to make wood shavings, how to properly close a folding knife and how to handle a blade. This knife is hard to open, so I had her practice, but I will be getting her an Opinel knife in the near future. Along with adult knives, they also make junior knives that don't come to a point. 
6. Her kit contains several fire making items.  The easiest to use is a lighter.  She has practiced using lighters and is proficient in getting them to work.  We have worked on starting fires with a ferro rod, so I have included 2 ferro rods and a striker in her kit.  I also included two fire starters, a home made starter made from dryer lint and wax in an egg carton cup and two store bought fire starting sticks.
7. She has an emergency blanket she can wrap up in and use as shelter if she needs to get out of the elements.
8. and 9. are added the day of.  Don't want spoiled food growing mold in her pack in between hikes and clothes will be packed for the terrain and season we will be hiking in.
10.  She was given these easy to use water pouches should she find herself in dire need of water.  I thought these would be easier to use than the chemical water based tablets that I have in my kit.  Eventually, I will add a Sawyer or Life Straw to her kit as well. 
* 11. Not included in the essential 10, but I find it important, is a whistle.  A must have if we get separated. 
Everything here is lightweight and doesn't take up much room in her pack, but would still help her survive is she got lost or injured. As I touched on a bit under several topics, teaching your children how to use the items they are given is just as important as the item itself.  A ferro rod or even a lighter would do a child no good if they have never had to start a fire or giving them a compass without teaching them the red arrow points North would render the compass useless, if not even dangerous.  Same would go for carrying a knife.  A knife in the hands of a child who doesn't know how to use one safely can cause more harm than good.
If you pack your own child a 10 Essentials kit, I'd love to see what you included!  Tag me on Instagram or post in my Facebook VIP group

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