Hiking with children is an activity that many parents take for granted. However, it can be a major challenge for parents without proper gear and advice to become overwhelmed by it all. I’ve prepared a guide to what to wear while out hiking with kids for you to read now.

This is part of a 3 part guide to hiking with kids. You can find the rest of the guides down at the bottom of this post.

When COVID restrictions ease and eventually go away completely, then getting outdoors with your kids in West Lothian (or further afield) is definitely something you should be doing.

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Children hiking with little backpack on

Guide To Clothes To Wear When Hiking With Kids

Summer – Warm Weather Hiking

When hiking in summer (or generally just warmer weather), then wearing loose, breathable clothing is a must. As you will more than likely sweat more, then quick-drying clothes are also positive to have. Having lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that breathes well will help your body regulate temperature.

This also depends on how hot you/your children normally get. I know for a fact I can be wearing a warm fleece as I’m cold and my boys will be in a t-shirt moaning they are hot!

Also if you are easily burnt (like me), then even though it is hot a long sleeve/loose-fitting top works better for protecting you from the suns rays.

Children hiking on beautiful summer day in alps mountains Austria, resting on rock and admire amazing view to mountain peaks. Active family vacation leisure with kids. Outdoor fun and healthy activity

  • Children’s Base Layer – This will be your main layer in hot weather hiking. Make sure it is breathable.
  • Children’s Mid Layer – You don’t have to wear this all the time but having a fleece or light jacket for when it gets a bit chilly
  • Children’s Outer Layer – If hiking in the UK, then the weather can change pretty quickly. A light packable waterproof is good for carrying in your backpack in case you get caught in a rain shower.
  • Hiking Trousers/Shorts – This is a personal preference. You can start your hike with trousers on and then if they are convertible, change them to shorts and store the bottom parts that have detached in your hiking backpack.
  • Accessories – You will need a good pair of hiking socks and it is best in warm weather to have a spare pair in your backpack (for those kids with sweaty feet – yuck).
  • Other hiking accessories to have in warmer weather are a sun hat, sunglasses and of course suncream/sunblock (factor 50 for kids!)

Winter – Cold Weather Hiking

Unlike hiking with kids in hot weather, winter hiking you need to plan and layer up to keep warm. In cold weather, you need clothes that will help regulate your body temperature but also clothing that wicks your sweat away from your body.

Merino wool or synthetic fabric works best. Again, just like the hot weather hiking, it may take a few attempts to get the right amount of layers depending on the person/child. If you do find yourself cold you need to think about adding a mid-layer to your layering system.

Children hiking in Alps mountains. Kids look at snow covered mountain in Austria. Spring family vacation. Little boy on hike trail in blooming alpine meadow. Outdoor fun and healthy activity.

  • Children’s Base Layer – long sleeve base layer is a must. Something that wicks sweat but also is breathable. Stay away from cotton.
  • Children’s Mid Layer – Normally this is a thicker layer to wear like another long sleeve top or a thin fleece
  • Outer Insulating Layer – Normally made of wool, down, synthetic down, or fleece to help keep you insulated. You can also try a softshell jacket too.
  • Outer Shell Layer – This will be your layer that will keep you dry.
  • Base Layer Trousers – Think long johns, a layer to keep your legs warmer than usual. Thermal tights/thermal bottoms
  • Hiking Trousers – To wear over your base layer bottoms. Depending on the weather you could wear waterproof trousers or normal hiking trousers which are quick drying.
  • Accessories – A thick pair of hiking socks, a hat, gloves and a buff also come in very handy. For gloves, you can wear 2 pairs (thin) instead of one thick pair as sometimes it can be hard to grip with thick gloves on.

Again, the above will depend on your personal preferences and just how warm/cold you get while out hiking in cold weather. It is always best to take a few extra layers, as it is easier to take off a layer than it is to try and add one when you haven’t got any more to add!

child tying his blue hiking shoe laces

Kids Hiking Footwear

The best footwear from children for hiking I find is hiking boots. Hiking boots can come in a few different styles – Mid boot and high boot. Both provide the ankle support which really is needed for out on the trails.

If you didn’t want a hiking boot then a children’s low style shoe (think trainers style – but not trainers!). These don’t support the ankle and are usually lightweight which can be good for younger kids.

Always get your kids to walk in them first as blisters are horrendous to get while out hiking and you don’t want your kids getting a blister too! Wearing a good pair of hiking socks can help minimise blisters from happening.

girl hiker sitting and looking at the snowed mountains. Dolomites, Italy.

Kids Hiking Backpacks

A hiking backpack for your child is not essential. Especially if they are toddlers. However, an older child might like to feel more responsible by carrying some of their own items (extra layers of clothing, their camera/mobile, their water etc).

You can buy child hiking backpacks which are designed especially for children and they are really cool. My eldest loves his hiking backpack, just make sure not to overload it as otherwise you may have them moaning about their sore back.

Relaxation and summer hiking concept. Blue jeans school backpack standing on green grass with travel mug near it and beautiful meadow flowers inside it

What To Take With You Hiking

I’ll be writing up an article very soon about what to pack for a family hike. So make sure you come back for more details.

You can see the full Hiking with Kids Guides below, which you may find helpful in your quest to get your kids outdoors.

Hiking With Kids – The Guides

Is there anything else that you wear in the summer or winter months while out hiking with your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

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What to wear while out hiking with kids - Winter and Summer Hiking