We here at Dad Likes Gear Headquarters are self-proclaimed gear heads. We love exploring and discovering items that make our lives easier, more enjoyable, more exciting, you name it. The gear part of things is fun, but it is not the main point. The gear should help facilitate adventures with your family. Gear sitting on the shelf unused is not worth spending so much time researching and finding the best deal. That is part of the reason Jason and I started this blog was to help simplify the process and narrow down the search by highlighting and reviewing outdoor gear we think is worth your hard-earned money. As we’ve continued to write, we’ve found it’s been just as fun highlighting the ways you can get your family outside and enjoying nature. So along with pure review articles, we’ve started peppering in “how-to” and other such articles. We hope you’ve enjoyed them because our plan is to continue doing a similar mix of articles. We think it helps give the gear some context and maybe provides some extra motivation to get your family out on more adventures.

Speaking of adventures, I was out hiking with Jason and our families this weekend. The weather was nice, the sun was shining, and all the kids were excited to take a trail to a stream. The kids made easy work of the rocky terrain and no one was demanding to be carried. It felt like Kenny G was playing smooth, sweet jazz in the background, encouraging us to be at peace with the woods. We get to the stream and the kids are having a blast crossing over the rocks, investigating the water, and just getting along nicely. This gave us parents time to chat and enjoy being outside. Everything was perfect until it wasn’t. All of a sudden, there was a huge splash and yelling. We turn to see my son splayed out face first in the stream on top of the rocks. He was crying and we didn’t know if he seriously hurt himself or he was just so surprised at what had just happened. Luckily for all of us, it was the surprise of face planting in a cold stream on a very mild March day. How prepared was I for this? Ehh, somewhat. Let’s go over what I had and more importantly, what I didn’t have.

Not THE stream he fell into, but you get the idea.

Gear I had:

I had a backpack packed to the brim with snacks, water bottles, a small first aid kit, some paper towels and tissues, and fleece jackets for all the kids. Because it was so warm out, they all didn’t want jackets, but I figured the fleece jackets were lightweight and would be useful if it was chillier in the woods without the benefit of direct sunlight.

Not the best hiking backpack, but it gets the job done for short family hikes.
Basic first aid kit that I bring for short hikes, but I really need to revamp what I bring.

Gear I did not have:

One thing Jason has mentioned having in the past are a spare pair of socks. I did not have this with me, but it would not have made a difference. My son was wearing rain boots that were sopping wet. New socks would have just instantly saturated with water and been just as uncomfortable. Luckily my son didn’t care and just went sock-less.

While it would be great to have a complete spare pair of clothes, that’s pretty unrealistic to have for every kid in my family, especially since we weren’t far from home at all. If we were, a spare pair of clothes in the car would be a good idea. It does make me think about starting to pick up more clothing for the kids designed for the outdoors. My son was wearing full cotton sweats. Definitely not what you want for a rigorous hike, but fine for most occasions for a 4 year old. But as he gets older, some synthetic hiking pants that wick moisture when it’s hot out and can dry out faster would be high on my list.

Something I would have benefited from would be a lightweight camping/pack towel. This could have helped dry out the pants at least a bit more or at the very least clean him up a bit more.

Hit up REI this weekend to spend some of my dividends and pick up a bike for my daughter. Lots of different pack towel options out there.

So what happened?

At the end of the day, we all survived. The hiking trail is close enough to our house, the weather was mild, and we’ve tried our hardest to raise resilient kids. Everyone had fun on the hike, which is overall the most important outcome. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to look back and see how I would improve things in the future.

Any tips from other experienced hiking parents? Leave a comment below!