Monday, April 1, 2013

Explorers Blog Hop: Meandering Essentials

I'd never call us hard-core hikers. We're just a family who likes to get out for long walks in the woods, sometimes through marshes and along lakes and sometimes up small mountains. We meander. It's not about making the summit or finishing the trail, but about exploring wherever we are. But some things can make that exploring much more enjoyable.

Our Top 5 Meandering Essentials...And Some Extras

1. Backpack
It's simple! Choose a backpack that feels comfortable and holds what you need to bring. You don't need anything fancy or expensive (unless you're doing more than meandering through the woods for a few hours). And your little kids? Get them one too! They'll love wearing one like everyone else! And having them carry their own water, snacks and jacket will lighten your load.

2. Footwear
Depending on where you hike, you may need some sturdy hiking boots with "grippy" soles, but if you're on flat, "park" trails, then supportive sneakers will do the job. I wouldn't recommended open-toed sandals or flip fops.

3. First Aid
We have yet to use our first aid kits, but they're there and they're important. Don't leave home without them! I purchased EACH OF US a Johnson and Johnson Mini Kit from Walmart for $1.20 and then added some other things such as antihistamine, mole skin (for blisters), tweezers, and a tick remover. We also have small bottles of DEET and sunscreen as well as unscented baby wipes, Duct Tape and a Swiss Army Knife. (Obviously don't give young or untrained kids knives. All my saplings have had supervised training with their SMALL, simple knives and understand that they are only used in emergencies.) Oh, and don't forget a map of trail, compass (if you know how to use it) and your cell phone. But as important as these supplies are, don't forget to tell someone where you are going and when you anticipate returning.

4. Layers
Certainly dress for the weather, but be prepared for sudden changes. We have LL Bean waterproof jackets OR cheap Dollar Tree rain ponchos in our backpacks in case of a pop-up shower as well as long-sleeved fleeces or thin sweatshirts for temperature dips. Depending on the season, we have hats and gloves or baseball caps. And bring an extra pair of socks, preferably wool or synthetic, because wet feet are the worse.

5. Energy Builders
Water, water, water! In addition to water, bring some snacks. Everyone has their favorites, but make sure it's something that can take bumps in your backpacks as you meander along. I often pack our stuff in small reuseable plastic containers with locking lids so I don't have to worry about something getting crushed to crumbles.

6. Extras
My saplings like to bring binoculars and some hand lenses along for viewing wildlife and plants up close. Field guides help to answer those probing questions about what a plant is called...or, in our case, who "pooed in the park"...and nature journals can be a fun keepsakes of your adventures. And I never meander without my camera.

But no matter what you bring or where you meander, it's the having fun and enjoying your walk in the woods with kids that's the best!


  1. Great list of essentials! I think you covered all the bases with that list. I'll have to refer back to this next time we go hiking to make sure we are prepared!

  2. Trail shoes definitely make a difference for us, too. I bet you could make a whole post on those "energy builders!"


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