Text by: Samantha Bazely
As someone who spent some time living in Chicago, I was in for quite the hiking learning experience when I moved to Iceland. The concrete jungle was replaced with steep slopes, lava fields, moss beds, and gorgeous waterfalls. In fact, one of the first purchases I made upon landing here was a quality pair of hiking boots. My husband and I did our best to explore on foot in the first few years we lived here; and our dog loved running free through the mountain air.
I am a fairly confident hiker. I monitor the weather and always have a plan. I always carry a cell phone, and water. But nothing could have prepared me for the packing changes of trying to hike with my daughter.
Those of you who have kids probably understand that these tiny humans require a lot of things. Thankfully, we use hiking as a way to disconnect from our busy life and all those things. We love escaping the hustle and bustle of regularly scheduled programming to explore nature. However, it definitely took us a few tries to figure out what we really needed for our daughter.
- Baby carrier: This is a pretty obvious necessity, but there are many different choices from which to choose. I personally love my Tula Baby Carrier and it is my go-to hiking choice. I can wear her on my front, or my back. I like the versatility of this carrier because she is comfortable enough to sleep, but also happy enough awake. Please make sure you understand the limitations of your carrier, and practice wearing your child before you tackle a hike. Wearing any extra amount of weight adds a level of difficulty. Beyond the added weight a child has the ability to shift their body weight (to a certain degree) which can throw you off your balance. Try to be hyper aware of your footing and make sure your child is secured.
- Water: Not only do you need water to keep yourself hydrated, but you also need something from which your toddler is comfortable drinking. Our solution of choice is the Munchkin Weighted Straw cup. Make sure you pack enough water for the whole family, and although it will add some extra weight, pack an extra bottle in case of emergencies.
- Snacks: I don’t typically pack snacks for myself unless we are expecting a long hike. But I have recently learned that my 1-year old needs snacks packed for her. She may not be hungry, but she may need a distraction. We normally pack some type of finger food snack (cheerios, fruit snacks etc.) and whoever is not wearing her feeds her on the go We also typically include something a little more substantial for our mid-hike break when we take her out of the carrier (fruit pouch, lunch meat, or a veggie).
- Waterproof layer: The weather in Iceland is known to change unpredictably. I can guarantee one of the most miserable feelings is feel damp down to your skin. We always try to pack a wool layer to keep moisture at bay. Our pack also includes something big enough to cover our daughter with should it start to rain. We recently purchased a rain suit for her and will likely start packing her rain coat when we go adventure.
- Quality footwear: I mentioned this one before as being one of my first purchases from when I arrived in Iceland. You need quality footwear to protect your feet and ankles from the unfamiliar terrain. Now my daughter isn’t yet walking, but when she is, I will plan to pack good shoes for her as well for when we take those aforementioned breaks so she can explore a bit herself (safely of course).
- Any required comfort items: My daughter is still happily enjoying her pacifier. I know for a fact if we were to forget it and attempt to strap her to our bodies without it, we would be in for some ear-splitting disapproval. So – make sure you don’t forget your toddlers comfort item (within reason). We don’t hike with anything beyond her small clip on pacifier, but if your child is extremely attached to a blanket, or stuffed animal, you may have to choose to carry that for them.
- First aid kit: It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but please carry at least a small emergency/first aid kit with you when you are hiking with your kids. It is a good lesson for them to learn, and also good to have supplies on hand should anything happen.
Hiking in Iceland is one of those activities for the whole family to enjoy (for free which makes it even better in my opinion). Before you set out for your hike be sure to check the weather forecast and let someone know/write down your plan for where you are going to hike. These hikes can be some of the most picturesque adventures for you and your family.
Get out, enjoy nature, and be prepared for hiking with a toddler.