We love to take winter hiking trips on a shoestring with our kids. Hiking can be expensive when all of the extra’s are added into it. For example, gas, food, gear, socks, warming essentials, poles, backpacks and kid backpacks, and backpacks that carry kids. Our family has been taking extensive hiking trips for awhile so I have some good tips to share. My hope is that you will take your kids on winter hiking trips more often.
How to Keep Warm While Hiking
First, pack a hot water bottle to keep in the backpack with a child younger than four. If they are not able to walk on their own during the hike they will get cold faster. Setting a hot water bottle positioned comfortably between them and the backpack keeps them warmer. I have not found hot hands to be a good option for smaller children. Next, pack warm soups, cocoa, and noodles to eat. Warmer food is good for hiking longevity and helps to keep our bodies warm.
Take breaks more often. Kids get colder and don’t always tell us. I do a hand check to make sure they are doing fine. I have them take off their gloves and wiggle their fingers. This little exercise lets me gauge how much longer we will be hiking. If their hands barely move then they are too cold.
Another way that I combat cold hands and feet is to wear winter appropriate clothing.
How to Dress Warm on a Shoestring Budget
In addition to warm soups and drinks for kids, we layer up. Winter gear can be expensive, so I check for sales and frequent second hand shops. In the fall I stock up on snow gloves, knit gloves, thermal socks, long johns, hoodies, and snow boots. For each of my children I keep a supply of two. That way they always have a backup.
Next, I pack extra scarves, socks and gloves. Sometimes we need scarves that will cover our faces to keep noses warm. So in my “mom” backpack I carry the extra’s. Nothing is worse than someone getting wet and cold.
Hike Local Parks and Short Trails
I will be the first to admit that I love to hike in the winter. It is my favorite time due to the non-existence of bugs and snakes. I don’t care for hiking in the summer. Not everyone in our family likes to hike at the same time that I do. Also, we like to hike on a shoestring and longer hikes can be more expensive. Gas, mileage, lunch and park fees add up to a fairly expensive hike. Most of the parks we have visited lately have not held us to admission fees.
We wrote down those parks because it is easier to hike shorter trails that are free and close to home. Also, as far as our kids go, some like long hikes and others like to hike for miles. In the winter though, we try to be conscious of how far we hike and safety.
Likewise, we want our kids to enjoy the outdoors and not feel like being out in the cold is a punishment. In that regard we honor their request if they get cold and want an easier hike the day we go out.
Allow me to leave you with one final tip….as you cruise through summer and hit the garage sales, stock up on winter gear. Hiking poles and other items are quite pricey. To save money and hike on a shoestring, hunt for savings anywhere possible.
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