There are few family experiences that match the fun and satisfaction of a perfect hike. Hitting the trail allows families to get out of the TV room and into the great outdoors, and proves that exercise and fun are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Still, one of the secrets to a truly great family hike is proper planning. By taking just a few steps at home, hikers can ensure their time on the trail will be perfect for everyone involved.
Before making any decisions about the location or duration of an outdoor expedition, a few key factors have to be accounted for. First and foremost on the list is evaluating the age, capability and physical prowess of the aspiring hikers. Some families may be ready for a grueling mountain voyage, but for most, and especially those with small children, the optimal hike strikes a more peaceful balance between natural beauty and casual difficulty.
Fortunately, the internet is full of sites devoted to helping individuals and groups locate hikes and trails that are the perfect fit. ThisHikingTrail even catalogs physical characteristics of different hikes, allowing users looking for a particular experience to find the perfect hike for them, be it one with a view of the ocean, waterfalls, or national forests.
Once a location is selected, families looking to hike together should check the 10-day weather forecast for the location they want to hike in. If wet weather is not an issue, the forecast is relatively unimportant, but families looking to stay dry should plan ahead, and also accept that Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the weather report. Early morning is an ideal time to take a hike, as the sun is out, but not at its scorching mid-day peak, and there are fewer cars on the road and hikers on the trail.
The last, and arguably most important, detail to settle on before actually hitting the trail is the issue of clothing. Outdoors enthusiasts will know that while nature may be readily available free of charge, the clothes necessary to optimize the outdoor experience are anything but. Hikers will want clothes in multiple layers that can be peeled off or put on according to the weather and time of day. Hikers will also want to steer clear of cotton as much as possible, as cotton retains moisture, meaning hikers wearing cotton clothing who encounter water will likely stay wet for the duration of their adventure.
There are several good ways to find quality outdoor gear without breaking the bank. One very good option is to buy used; resale shops and thrift stores see a large amount of outdoor clothing and equipment come in, often from owners getting rid of gear they never or rarely used. Yard sales can also be a great place to buy outdoor supplies, and add the additional perk of letting consumers haggle for their gear. Finally, the internet has a plethora of sites offering deals on outdoor equipment. SteepAndCheap.com, for example, posts deals on gear for as long as it takes for the sale items to sell out, allowing customers to frequently save of 50% or more on high-quality gear to outfit any hiking expedition.
Fortunately, the best step of preparing the perfect hike is the final one: once all the hiking gear has been acquired, all the logistics ironed out, and all the sunscreen applied, there is nothing left to do but actually get into the great outdoors and hike. With most endeavors, the more care is put into the preparation, the better the final product will be, and preparing for a hike is no different. With a little luck and planning, a family can take to the trail for a wonderful group experience.