What To Bring Hiking With Kids

One of the many promises I made myself when moving from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast was to get out and about and start enjoying nature again. After all, I’d just spent over a decade living in inner city Sydney where the most adventurous ‘hike’ I had been on was the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. Don’t get me wrong, that coastal walk has its challenges, but those challenges are softened by the knowledge that you are only mere minutes away from emergency care in the form of Paramedics, helicopters, life guards and every other fit body that is strutting their stuff up and down those stairs. If an accident is to arise you can feel confident that first aid will be rendered swiftly.

Now fast forward to a cold autumn morning on a back road in Kenilworth where myself, my 11 year old nephew, my 5 and 7 year old boys and my adventurous vet nurse sister are about to sling our backpacks over our shoulders, bid farewell to our cars and enter the Ghuerella Valley Circuit for an 8km hike in to our overnight camping spot. I should tell you that I’ve spent the last 37 years of my existence being an ‘indoors girl’. I was in foreign territory with my adventurous sister who lived and breathed doing things the hard way.

My sister had been in charge of packing the backpacks. This delegation was decided on when she saw me rock up with a wheelie suitcase of ‘stuff’ that I thought I might need for our overnight adventure into the wilderness. I was horrified to see her widdle away my belongings into a ‘we’re not taking this crap’ pile and pack our backpacks methodically with the bare essentials. I listened to her rattle off the (small) list of essential items required in each backpack; water, tent, food, snake bandage…

SNAKE BANDAGE! I realised that in my wheelie suitcase full of crap, I hadn’t even considered a first aid kit! Me, the paramedic, I totally dropped the ball! After all I was used to having access to first aid and emergency ambulance at my disposal living in Sydney.  My sister was not fussed.

“Relax!” She said… “There is nothing I can’t fix with super glue, iodine and compression bandage. Worst case scenario I have a PLB (Personal locator beacon) and someone will come to find us!” 

All of a sudden, my paramedic brain had switched back on and my mind started racing through all the previous rescue jobs I had been involved in through work. I started thinking about all the possible illnesses or injuries that might occur out there in the wilderness and although rudimentary, virtually any scenario I could think of those items in that tiny first aid kit she was packing would serve until further help arrived. My sister, the McGuiver of veterinary medicine, had reduced the need for an enormous oversized first aid kit down to a hiker friendly sized parcel.

So, what do you need to take for an overnight hike? 

  • Water! Everyone needs to carry their own water! Make sure you have water purification tablets in case you get stuck.
  • PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) – I’ve been involved in countless search and rescue operations and PLB’s save your life! Once you set them off a signal is sent to the authorities to notify them that you are in distress and the search and rescue effort will be activated.
  • Emergency Space Blanket – The temperature in the rainforest can drop sharply. Especially when the sun goes down! If you have an injury that is preventing you from moving to stay warm then these shiny tin foil blankets will make the world of difference in keeping your temperature stable.
  • Snake Bandage – Well this one goes without saying. Those danger worms are out there!  Fortunately, we didn’t see any browns snakes lying around this time, as the weather was cooler.  But it was worth keeping your eyes out when you came across sunny patches of rocks. As well as slowing venom, a snake bandage can double as a compression bandage in the event that you need to stop bleeding. Simply fold up a piece of material and wrap the bandage firmly over the bleeding site to apply pressure.
  • Odine – Good for flushing out a wound to get the bugs out.
  • Pain killers – I would also suggest carrying some form of pain relief. Either panadol or nurofen in case of any unforseen earaches or pains that may spontaneously arise overnight.

We survived the night with no more then a few scratches and sore muscles from walking. Despite the best efforts of my 5 year old son who seemed to lose his footing every 100m on the trail we escaped the Thilba Thalba walkers trail unscathed! This was an experience that I would recommend to everyone.