Growing up, my mom encouraged me to spend time outside which was easy to do in Lancaster County Pennsylvania which has lots of scenic farmland. Whether it was riding my bike along the country roads or helping pick strawberries in our family garden, I spent part of my day outside. Today it can be harder to fit that time into a kid’s schedule – between school, homework, and extracurricular activities, it seems like kids just don’t have time to play. So let’s change that! Inviting your kids to go hiking with you is a great way to help them get active, get outdoors, and get an appreciation for the natural world. I’ve found that a big motivator for trying out a new activity is a fun new gadget or piece of gear to go along with it. So I’ve assembled a few eco-friendly pieces of hiking equipment that would be perfect for the kid in your life!
The rise of Pinterest (which I’m on, follow my boards!) has lead to an increased interest in Bento boxes. For those who don’t know, Bento boxes are single-portion home-packed meals that are popular in Japanese cuisine. With their rising popularity, the fancier bento boxes have been getting more attention – after all, who can resist a smiley face sandwich or a panda bear rice ball? So when you’re packing a snack or a lunch for your little hiker, put it in a tough, durable, and eco-friendly bento box. This stainless steel 3-in-1 is BPA free, lead-free, and is made from food safe stainless steel.
Obviously your kid will need something to drink – hiking is thirsty work! I know I’ve spoken out against plastic water bottles, but let me reiterate: it takes more water to make the plastic bottle than can go in it, and it’ll likely end up in either a landfill or the ocean. So save the planet and say no to plastic! This array of stainless and recycled glass water bottles has plenty to offer, whether your child is a young beginner or an experienced teenage hiker. A few even come with bag clips, so your kid can stay hydrated while keeping their hands free!
Speaking of bags… If your kids already have durable backpacks, then stick with those. But if your kids like taking messenger or tote bags to school, consider getting them a more functional bag for the trail. Backpacks made from recycled PET water bottles come in tough styles for the trail expert, or more stylish models for your fashion-conscious kid. If your kid is already an environmentalist-in-training, or even just a techie, they’ll love the OffGrid Solar Backpack whose solar panel can store 4 watts of solar power that can provide up to 48 hours of music playback.
If you’re going to stay out overnight, you need a good quality bag to kip in. The EcoGear Yosemite sleeping bag is rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, is constructed of PVC materials, and is colored with non-toxic dyes. You’ll keep your body warm in the coldest weather, while you warm your heart with the eco-friendliness of the bag. Win-win!
As for keeping your kids entertained on the hike – while I wouldn’t recommend a rousing rendition of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, a good game of eye spy can keep them interested. You can also bring along a birding guide for your region, and make a game of who can spot the most species. I hope some of my suggestions help out this summer, and that you have a good time hiking with your whole family!