5 Best Items to Pack for Outdoor Family Adventures

5 Best Items to Pack for Outdoor Family Adventures

If an adventure awaits, don’t forget to bring these essentials with you.

By: Mary Ellen

I find that there are generally three types of family travel: the relaxing type, the adventurous type and the type that falls somewhere in between. My crew tends to lean toward the kind of vacation that includes plenty of outdoor adventures. Just in case your family is anything like mine, or your kids are finally old enough for you to plan that first real adventure type of vacation, I thought it would be helpful to share a few things we like to pack when planning our trips. Listed here are five adventure essentials that we never leave home without!

1. Lightweight Outdoor Backpack
Before we head out on any vacation, we pack a light but sturdy water-resistant backpack into our suitcases. I recommend the REI Flash 18 backpack because it is affordable ($35), versatile, lightweight, easy to carry for both kids and adults, and holds up well in the outdoor elements. It also has plenty of room to carry a sufficient amount of adventure supplies for a family of four or more.

2. Sunscreen and Bug Repellent
No matter what type of adventure we plan (even those that take place during the winter), I always bring along protection from the sun and the bugs. In my personal opinion, bringing these items is one of the easiest ways to keep an exciting outdoor adventure from becoming a painful experience. Seriously, no one I know enjoys having their skin burned by the sun or being eaten by biting insects.

I recommend carrying at least one type of sunscreen lotion or spray (SPF 30 or higher), one sunscreen stick (looks like a fat, large-sized ChapStick and works great for faces, lips and ears as it won’t sweat off) and at least one type of bug repellent. Some people prefer to use natural types of repellent like citronella lotions, but I find that the ones containing deet really do work best.

3. Proper Footwear
If there is one thing that is essential for outdoor adventure, it’s having the right type of footwear. Without the good protection of a multipurpose closed-toe shoe and a lightweight sock, adventurers can get nasty blisters or other irritating foot injuries, and that’s never fun.

Because I am a minimalist when it comes to packing and don’t like to load my suitcase down with several pairs and types of shoes, I suggest finding one good multipurpose pair of “adventure shoes” for each member of the family.

I personally recommend the Lands’ End Oxford Water Shoes because they are a fully enclosed tennis shoe with elastic, no-tie laces and have decent traction that works well on almost any type of adventure, no matter if it’s wet, dry or somewhere in between. These shoes are comfortable, versatile (we have used them for rocky beaches, hiking, rafting, caving, zip-lining and more), and available for every member of the family (men, women and kids). They are also very easy to clean. I also suggest wearing some type of thin, nylon, no-show sock that dries quickly and easily, as this will provide an extra layer of protection against nasty blisters yet won’t feel terrible if they get completely drenched.


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4. Hats and Eyeglass Straps
Although everyone in my family doesn’t really enjoy wearing hats, I usually pack at least one or two just in case. Through personal experience I find that they can be very useful when trying to keep warm or provide extra shade from the sun, and in my opinion, that’s always a good thing.

I also suggest carrying are a few lightweight eyeglass straps. Inevitably these cords always come in handy (for regular eyeglasses or sunglasses) when trying to assure that glasses stay securely in place. We have used them on multiple adventures and they have saved us a fortune from not having to replace lost or broken eyewear.

5. Snacks
I understand that you probably don’t really know my family or me, so I want to let you know that we really like to eat and hate feeling hungry. Just in case someone may need a little energy during one of our adventures ­– like when we took that really long nature hike out in the middle of nowhere or when we explored a cave and were underground for several hours – we always carry plenty of snacks.

I recommend Health Warrior Chia Bars because they are small, tasty, healthy and full of antioxidants, protein and Omega 3s. For about 100 calories, each little bar (about 1.5″ x 3″) provides a satisfying pick-me-up, relieves a grumbling tummy and gives just enough energy to keep you going.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy your outdoor adventures, or ease your mind if you thought planning one was a huge undertaking. We would also enjoy hearing any additional ideas you may have to share.

Now get out there and get adventurous!

Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer for Hilton Mom Voyage currently living in Sarasota, on Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast. The youngest of 11 children, Mary Ellen has always had a passion for expression and a way with words!

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