Expert Essentials For Stress-Free Family Walking
When you’re heading out for a family walk, the last thing you want is to be caught short without the right kit when you’ve got the kids in tow. But if you're just starting to get everyone kitted out, how do you know what's essential, and what little additons can make it extra-special? Our experts can help. Here’s our guide to essentials for family walking, plus a few extras which will help make your walks stress-free and fun for everyone, including you!
Perhaps the most important piece of kit for anyone going walking, having the right footwear for your chosen activity is crucial to comfort and enjoyment. If you’re staying relatively low-level, for example in your local park, a sturdy walking shoe or trainer will do. If you’re heading off the beaten track, onto more uneven, rocky or hilly terrain, some mid-rise or high -rise walking boots will offer more ankle support, traction and avoid unwanted injuries. Plus, if the weather isn’t great, they’ll keep feet drier than a shoe. You can have the whole family fitted for the right footwear by an expert in-store, but when you can’t get to us, check out our handy expert guide to fitting your own footwear.
This often-neglected piece of kit is essential for all-day comfort when you’re on your feet and can make or break a family walking trip. You can avoid the dreaded blisters by getting the right footwear for your activity level and getting them correctly fitted too, but the right socks will also help to offer support and comfort. The type of socks you need will depend on the type of walking you’re doing, what footwear you’re wearing and other factors such as whether your feet run hot or cold. Check out our guide to buying the right socks here.
Those with children will already know that a pack is essential for carrying all the paraphernalia that comes with being a parent! But having the right pack is crucial, especially if you’re going to be walking for an extended length of time or over uneven terrain. Go for something lightweight with enough storage space for everything you need and decent back support, including sturdy and adjustable hip and shoulder straps to help distribute weight. If you have really little ones, consider investing in a good quality carrier to keep you and baby comfortable all day long. Check out our guide to buying a rucksack here.
Whatever time of year you’re walking, the chances are you’ll all need some kind of accessories to keep you warm, cool or protected. Hats are a must in summer and winter, particularly to keep the kids safe and comfortable. In winter, a walk can be cut short if little hands get cold, so gloves and hand warmers are always a good idea. Sunglasses are essential for sunny days whilst scarves and buffs are a must for cold weather.
Hydration And Snacks
If you’re already cold, hot or tired, not eating or drinking enough on a longer walk can really add insult to injury. Keeping kids fuelled is crucial to making sure they stay engaged in the activity and keeping yourself topped up is just as important. Make sure you’ve got a decent bottle or flask, which you can fill with cold or hot drinks depending on the weather, and make sure you take enough water, even in the colder months. Take healthy snacks such as fruit to give the kids a sugar boost when they need it, and slow burn carbs and healthy fats such as flapjacks, bananas or nuts to keep everyone energised and warm in winter.
The one item in your rucksack you hope never to have to use, but something you should always have with you, just in case. Most walks go without a hitch, but especially when kids are involved, a few bumps, scratches and grazes are inevitable so having a basic kit of plasters, wipes and creams is a good idea. Familiarise yourself with the contents and keep it stocked up and in-date.
Particularly in summer, protecting your skin from both the sun and any potential bites or stings is really important, even more so for children. Make sure you apply sun cream before you leave, even on days which look a little overcast, as harmful UV rays will still be present, and take it with you in your pack to reapply as needed. If you’re walking near water or anywhere where bugs might be any issue, make sure everyone is wearing insect repellent before you leave and again, take it with you to reapply if you need to. Wearing lightweight, long-sleeve clothing can add an additional layer of protection against both UV and insects too, so choose your and the children’s clothing wisely.
Nice To Haves
There are few extras which can help make your walk more enjoyable for everyone. Consider taking a picnic blanket with you, so you can stop halfway round for a rest and refuel. A blanket is lighter than chairs and much easier to carry! If you’re carrying lunch, you might want to take a lightweight cool bag to keep everything fresh in the summer months. Also consider taking some garden style games such as a frisbee, which can be played along the way or when you’ve stopped for a rest. For curious explorers, why not take some paper and pencils, so they can draw what they see (and for the creative amongst you, why not give drawing a go yourself)? Finally, don’t forget to capture the time you spend out there on camera and track how far you’ve walked on a smart watch so you can keep track and make memories wherever you walk.
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