Hiking Gear For Kids: Essential Kids Outdoor Gear

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Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Travels with Kids

Having the right hiking gear for kids can open up a whole new world of possibilities.  Good kids outdoor gear can ensure they don’t get too wet, hot, or cold.  This means you can all focus on exploring the natural environment and discovering all the wonders of the world we live in!

So what sort of gear are we talking about?  In this guide, we cover products like kids’ outdoor clothing and accessories, as well as essentials like a decent water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a medical kit.  We also list some items you’ll need when hiking during cold weather.

Hiking Gear For Kids: Essential Kids Outdoor Gear

Children’s outdoor clothing for hiking can include kids’ hiking shoes, sandals or boots, hats. and a decent kids’ outdoor backpack.  Your list may also include additional items like kids’ trekking poles. Kids’ rain gear is an obvious essential for keeping little ones warm, dry, and therefore comfortable.

Read on to discover all the best hiking and camping clothes for kids, so you can all stay comfortable and protected on the trails.  As well as clothing, we also cover hiking gear for kids’ such as water bottles, sunscreen, hiking poles, and more.  Want to go hiking with children?  Gear like this makes the experience so much more enjoyable for everyone!

Buying kid’s outdoor gear can make a great kids’ gift.  For other kids’ travel gifts ideas check out our The Best Gifts For Kids Who Travel: 29 Top Picks.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.

Hiking Gear For Kids: Essential Kids Outdoor Gear

Buying Hiking Clothes For Kids

You may be fortunate enough to find good quality second-hand kids’ outdoor gear, so buying new isn’t always necessary.  Decent outdoor clothing for children should last for years.  As they tend to outgrow it sooner than that, it can often be found at used prices.  If you do invest in brand new items, though, don’t forget that you can always pass these on to siblings – or even sell them yourself.


Kids Outdoor Gear Essentials


Layering Is Key To Any Kids’ Hiking Outfit

For adults and kids alike, the key to all-day comfort when hiking is to layer your clothing.  We have been Trekking In The Andes for years – all well as at various locations across the world.  When I hike, I now have a very specific set of clothing.  Especially when trekking in colder areas.

This includes lightweight, quick-dry trekking pants with zip-off legs.  When Visiting The Andes,  we wear a complete set of thermals beneath those loose hiking pants.  During cold mornings, we are thus wearing two layers.  When the temperature rises towards the middle of the day, you can unzip the trouser legs.

On top, we tend to wear a lightweight tight t-shirt, followed by a thermal layer, with a fleece jacket on top.  The final layer is an outer jacket – usually, a rain jacket that can be rolled up small for carrying.

You can read all about our family adventures hiking the Inca Trail here in our post, Trekking The Inca Trail With Kids.

Find out more about Hiking With Kids in this post.


Kids Outdoor Gear Essentials

Kids Outdoor Gear Essentials

These kids’ rain gear and other kids outdoor gear are items we’ve always found necessary when taking to the trails for a day hike.


Kids’ Rain Jacket

The number one item on any list of kids’ hiking gear would have to be a rain jacket.  Ideally, this will dry quickly, and for when you need to carry it on the hiking trail it’s best if it’s lightweight.  This saves on space in your day pack while keeping the weight down too.  We like the following options.  The Columbia Silver Ridge range is highly popular among hiking adults, and their kids’ wear is also top quality.

Columbia Evolution Valley Jacket

This Columbia kids’ outdoor jackets features Omni-Tech breathable, waterproof fabric.  It has a detachable hood plus reflective accents for safety.  The hem and cuffs can be adjusted, there are zipped pockets and the main front zipper is PU coated for improved water resistance.

Click here to see the Columbia Evolution Valley kids’ rain jacket.

Columbia Glennaker Rain Jacket

Tailor-made for young male hikers, the Columbia Glennaker kids’ jacket has a tough, waterproof nylon shell that can withstand a downpour as well as a brief shower.  This lightweight jacket is great for layering and has an elasticated hem and cuffs plus two zipped pockets.  It also has reflective elements and a hood.

Click here to view the Columbia Glennaker for boys.

Columbia Switchback II Waterproof Jacket

The Columbia Switchback II for girls has elasticated cuffs, as well as a drop tail hem.  The durable Hyrdoplus shell will keep kids dry, and there’s a great range of colors to choose from.  Again there are reflective details for visibility during rainy weather.  This product is a best-seller among those seeking reliable kids outdoor gear.

Click here to view the Columbia Switchback II for girls.

Regatta Pack-It III Kids’ Jacket

The Regatta Pack-It range has been popular for a long time and the kids’ version is now on its third incarnation.  Made with waterproof yet breathable Isolite fabric, this jacket wicks away moisture and has taped seams to avoid chafing.  This unisex option comes in a range of colors.

Click here to view the Regatta Pack-It III jacket.


Kids’ Fleece Jacket

Whether or not a fleece is essential hiking gear for kids of course depends on the climate.  Again we like the Columbia range of affordable yet very well-made kids’ fleece jackets.

Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket

The girls’ Benton Springs fleece layer by Columbia is offered in a huge range of colors, which shows just how popular it is.  For cold-weather hikes, this provides lots of warmth, and the super-soft fleece fabric is ultra cozy.

Click here to view the Columbia Benton Springs for girls.

Columbia Boys’ Steens Mt II Fleece Jacket

The boy’s equivalent is the Steens Mt II, which also comes in many color and size options.  Again it provides that essential layer of added warmth for winter.  This is also a best-selling item among kids outdoor clothing.

Click here to see the Columbia Steens Mt II for boys.


Kids’ Hiking Shoes

Kids hiking boots, shoes, or sandals must be next on any list of essential kids outdoor gear.  Which to choose depends on the season and climate.  We rate Merrell and Keen as we’ve always found their footwear to be well made and very reliable.

Merrell Chameleon Access Hiking Boots

These Merrell hiking boots are durable yet lightweight, with good grip and waterproofing.  They come in blue, pink, or neutral color combinations and a large range of sizes for little and bigger kids.

Click here to see the Merrell Chameleon Access kids’ boots.


Merrell Trail Chaser Hiking Sneakers

If you prefer footwear that’s more like a pair of trainers or sneakers than boots, the Merrell Trail Chaser is ideal.  Again this is a unisex product available in a range of colors and sizes.  The hook and loop closure makes these very easy for kids to get on and off.

Click here to see the Merrell Trail Chaser kids’ hiking shoes.

Keen Newport H2 Hiking Sandals

If you want sturdy, reliable kids’ hiking sandals that come in a range of sizes and colors, then we recommend the Keen Newport H2.  This is suitable for water wear as well as on the trails.  It’s ideal for walking in warmer weather as it’s very protective but offers more ventilation than a boot or shoe.

Click here to see the Keen Newport H2 kids’ hiking sandals.


Hiking Pants Kids

When you’re not sure whether you need hiking shorts or longer trousers, a pair of zip-off kids’ hiking pants provide the ideal solution.

Columbia Silver Ridge Kids’ Convertible Trousers

These Columbia hiking pants for kids come in a range of shades and sizes.  The Omni-Shade fabric is capable of blocking harmful UV rays, while Omni-Wick technology quickly wicks excess moisture away.  They can even be worn in the water and are made from strong ripstop nylon for durability.  There are girls’ and boys’ versions available.  These also make great kids walking trousers.

Click here to see the Columbia Silver Ridge kids’ hiking pants for boys.

Click here to see the Columbia Silver Ridge kids’ hiking pants for girls.


Kids’ Hiking Shorts

If you are trekking in warmer weather, then a pair of kids hiking shorts might be best for all-day wear.  An item like this can also double up as running clothes for kids for everyday wear.

Columbia Backcast Short For Boys & Girls

The Columbia Backcast also comes in boys’ or girls’ variants.  These are ideal shorts for wearing where there may be water – whether that may fall as rain or be due to hiking on a beach or by a river or lake.  A partially elasticated waistband ensures comfort and freedom of movement and the quick-drying fabric is UV resistant.

Click here to view the Columbia Backcast shorts for boys.

Click here to view the Columbia Backcast shorts for girls.

 Kids’ Sun Shirt

For hiking in a hot climate, a specially designed sun shirt is a great idea. It can protect the sensitive skin of your child from UV rays while keeping it cool.

Columbia PFG Bahama Sun Shirt

This long-sleeved sun shirt from Columbia is great for boys or girls and features the brand’s own Omni-Shade technology to safeguard them from damaging UV rays.  It will also help shield them from biting bugs.  A relaxed fit and concealed shoulder vents ensure it’s cool to wear, and the fabric is quick-drying.  For hotter places, we suggest picking white or lighter colors from the 16 available options.

Click here to view the Columbia PFG Bahama boys’ shirt.

Columbia Tamiami Sun Shirt

If you would like a more feminine fit for girls, then go for the Tamiami instead.  It also comes in a range of colors and sizes, including white plus bright or pastel shades.  With all the same moisture-wicking, UV blocking, and quick-drying abilities, it’s a top pick among hiking clothes for toddlers – or even trekking teens.

Click here to see the Colombia Tamiami girls’ shirt.


Hiking Hats For Kids

If your hikes ever take place during sunny weather, then you must pack a good sun hat.  This will help keep kids cool and comfortable while protecting them from potentially damaging UV rays.

Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Sun Hat

This all-purpose kids hat is ideal for the trails and playing as well as days at the beach.  It’s fully adjustable for a perfect fit and the wide brim protects their neck from burning.  For safety, there’s also a quick-release chin strap.  It’s also easy to roll down into a cone shape, or can be folded flat for carrying.

Click here to see the Sunday Afternoons kids’ play hat.

Kids’ Hiking Backpack

We have already written a complete guide to choosing the best kids’ travel backpacks.  You can read this article, featuring a number of Kids’ Hiking Backpacks, here.  There are plenty of options listed, complete with our reviews and recommendations.


Hiking Gear For Kids: Essential Kids Outdoor Gear


Kids’ Hiking Carriers

If you need to carry a young child during day hiking trips, then investing in a hiking backpack carrier is one of our top hiking tips.  You can find out all about The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking In This Post.  As hiking with baby gear goes, this can make the difference between going hiking and it not being an option!  This should always be included in your hiking kit for kids.


Kids’ Hiking Backpack

Hiking In Cold Weather

There are various essentials that you will need when hiking in colder parts of the world.  These include microspikes for kids, worn for walking on slippery, icy terrain.  Warm base layers and socks can also be necessary.  Hiking in cold climates comes with its own set of challenges, but wondering what to wear needn’t be one of them!  If you are hiking in the cold make sure to invest in some good kids outdoor gear.


Kids’ Base Layers

Meriwool Kids’ Thermal Top

The best thermal tops are made with wool, as it’s so efficient at keeping the body warm.  This top will ensure their core stays heated, no matter how low the outside temperature gets.  It is made from 100% merino wool and can be worn at any time during the day and night as well as when hiking.

Click here to see the Meriwool kids’ base layer.

Meriwool Kids’ Thermal Bottoms

Meriwool also makes lightweight wool long johns to go with the top.  Buy the set and your kids could wear them as pajamas at night and to keep warm during the day.  They’re odor-resistant, so there’s no need to worry about washing them too often.  Despite being ultra-warm and snug, the natural wool fabric wicks away moisture and is breathable.

Click here to see these Meriwool kids’ long johns.


Kids’ Hiking Socks

Meriwool Kids’ Hiking Socks

To complete the set, Meriwool also makes kids’ hiking socks.  These come as a three-pack and are available in a range of colors.  They contain 75% pure merino wool, with added nylon for strength and stretchy elastic for movement.

Click here to see these Meriwool hiking socks for kids.


Kids’ Ice Cleats

MerryXD Ice Cleats For Shoes And Boots

Also known as microspikes, these ice cleats fit over a pair of hiking boots to give traction when walking on slippery surfaces.  A must for walking on ice, whether you’re trekking on a glacier in New Zealand or hiking in Banff during winter.  This pair is highly rated, affordable, and available in kids or adult sizes to suit all the family.

Click here to see this pair of ice cleats for kids.


Hiking Accessories For Kids

Hiking Accessories For Kids

There are various additional items worth considering when making your packing list for a hike.  You might want to take hiking poles, for instance, and a first aid kit is essential.


First Aid kit

Check that you have some first aid items before you take to the trail, especially if you’re heading off the beaten track.  Even in a popular location like a national park, it’s best to have quick access to supplies of plasters or band-aids, bandages, sticking tape, safety pins, scissors, tweezers, and an emergency blanket.

Click here to see a small first aid kit for hiking.


Kids’ Hiking Poles

Young kids love to look just like their parents, so if you take trekking poles then it’s wise to buy them a set.  They can help conquer whatever terrain the trail throws at them too.  We like the High Stream kids’ hiking poles, which have great reviews and come complete with a carry bag.  In red or orange, they also help with visibility.


Click here to view the High Stream Gear kids’ trekking poles.



Kids’ Water Bottle

It’s always important to stay hydrated on the trails, and no more so than during hot weather.  There are plenty of kids’ water bottles out there, but we particularly love this Yeti one for trekking with kids.  A water bottle is an important kids outdoor gear component.

Yeti Rambler Water Bottle For Kids

The Yeti Rambler is specially made for active kids and is one of the best hiking gear for kids products.  Not least because it can ably cope with being dropped on rocky ground and is also leak-proof.  It comes in some pretty colors too, such as reef blue, king crab, seafoam, and canyon red.

Click here to view the Yeti Rambler kids’ water bottle.




Kids’ Sunscreen

 For hiking in sunny climates, good sunscreen is vital.  Even when the weather is overcast, UV rays can do lasting damage to children’s skin.


Banana Boat Kids’ Sport Sunscreen Spray

This spray sunscreen is easy to put on.  It’s also reef safe – something we always look for in sunscreen.  As it’s designed for sport, this can stand up to lots of movement as well as sweating.  This twin pack also offers great value for money.

Click here to see this Banana Boat sunscreen for kids.



Kids’ Insect Repellent

 Insect repellent is a must if you don’t want your kids suffering from the kind of constant itching caused by insect bites – not to mention the well as swelling and redness!


Protector Mosquito Repellent Pack

This good-value pack contains two spare bottles of insect repellent and a ‘bug balm’ stick.  It is DEET-free and instead is packed with natural oils like lemongrass and peppermint.  The non-sticky formula comes from a US company based in Iowa.

Click here to view the Protector pack of insect repellents.


California Baby Natural Bug Repellant

 This one is formulated specifically for the youngest kids.  Again it uses oils like citronella and cedar to repel mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other biting insects naturally.

Click here to see this California Baby insect repellent.



Hiking Kit For Kids - Kid Adventure Kit

Hiking Kit For Kids – Kid Adventure Kit

While it may not be strictly essential, including some kids’ adventure kit on your list of kid gear for hiking can really help get them engaged, making the trip more enjoyable for everyone.  Having some child-sized versions of outdoor items can really get younger kids – such as those aged under 8 – involved.  They get into the spirit of things and it can really help them to look properly at what’s going on around them.

Unplugged Explorers Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Kit

This nifty little kit comes highly recommended.  It includes child-sized binoculars, a compass, flashlight, whistle, and magnifying glass.  There is also a bug collecting set and a guidebook and journal. It all comes in its own lightweight backpack, which can be carried as it is or rolled up small for tucking in a bigger bag.  This is a great hiking kit for kids.

Click here to see the Unplugged Explorers kids’ outdoor explorer kit.


Which Hiking Gear For Kids Will You Pack?

Which Hiking Gear For Kids Will You Pack?

Investing in some of these items can not only improve your experience of trekking with kids.  Many of these products can also be used as kids’ camping clothes, or even for daily wear when playing sport.

From hiking clothes for toddlers to kids outdoor gear, buying items made by the best outdoor brands means investing in kids outdoor clothing that will last a long time and can be either re-sold or passed on to younger siblings, cousins, or friends.

So don’t forget to use this kids outdoor gear guide as a checklist when packing – and you might want to make sure to stock up on healthy kids’ snacks before setting off too!


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Hiking Gear For Kids: Essential Kids Outdoor Gear

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About Us

Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.