Prepare in Advance

Being a parent is exhausting. Sometimes intentions wither at 6:05 AM on a Saturday morning. To reduce that and other barriers to entry, I find preparing in advance is extremely helpful. By front-loading the previous night with nearly all the logistics, it tips the scales in my favor and I see a lot of my hiking plans fruitful. When I don’t prepare in advance, hikes tend not to happen or not to happen as well as they could.

Finalize place, time, and party
The location and time of the hike determine what equipment and supplies will be needed. Since I hike regularly and track my experiences, I have a good sense week-by-week as to what kind of protection I’ll need from environmental conditions, how much and what kind of food will be consumed, and what other gear is ideal on the trail. But those vary based on the specific hike and knowing that in advance allows me to gather my things and pack the night before.

It’s fun to hike with others but this takes planning. When we hike with another party, we make sure to set the place, time, and a meeting spot. This allows everyone to prepare appropriately and reduces any delays on hike day.

Gather equipment and supplies
I don’t want to have to go shopping on hike day. I like heading out to the trail first thing in the morning, so I try to gather everything I need days in advance. There’s a lot of food options with shelf lives longer than a week and I stock up on those. Other supplies, like backpacks, band aids, toilet paper, shovel, camera, maps, compass, I purchase in advance and have well-organized in my house (I have a large closet just for adventure gear where I keep things that I am not wearing).

Pack your backpack and lay next-day clothes out
To make the morning as easy as possible, I try to pack up our backpacks with everything except foods that need to be kept in the refrigerator and water bottles. I set our backpacks near the door. Then before going to bed we pick out our clothes that we’ll wear the next day, including any jackets, hats, and gloves, and set those out in our rooms.


With everything in place, making it to the trailhead is a snap:

1. Roll out of bed
2. Walk to pile of clothes, put on, repeat with daughter
3. Walk to kitchen, fill water bottles, grab refrigerated food
4. Put water bottles and food into backpack
5. Pick up backpack, keys, wallet, phone
6. Walk out door

This is part of a series of Hiking with Preschoolers.

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