As the last snippets of summer rapidly fade into fall’s rainy, unpredictable PNW weather, I can’t help but reflect on a summer so well-spent. We had so much fun this past summer, in large part because Ryan was actually home to experience a good bit of it with us. Last year, Ryan was deployed, and Mieke was still such a baby that exploring solo with three littles was, honestly, pretty far-fetched for me. This year, however, we made the most of all of it because, not only is this our last full summer/fall in the PNW, but it’s the first chance we’ve really had to dive headfirst into this adventure lifestyle we love. I’ve had a lot of questions on my instagram recently regarding what we take on every outdoor adventure, especially with young kids, so I figured I’d round up our most important must-haves.
What We Take On Every Outdoor Adventure
I’ve mentioned before that most of our adventures around JBLM require a bit of a drive. While Tacoma, Olympia, and Seattle are pretty close, the mountains take a bit of a trek, and it’s important to recognize that you’ll need to factor that into your trip. We try to schedule all our day trips around the length of driving, and we adjust things accordingly. Onto the good stuff though…what we bring:
1 // Multiple Layers (& Masks)
It goes without saying, but it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, and trust me when I say that I’ve definitely failed at this more than once. These days, when we’re prepping for any sort of outdoor adventure – whether that’s a hike, a picnic, or just playtime on the beach, we have an “extra” bag. That bag has extra clothes for the kids, as well as us, extra layers, including a rain jacket, hoodie, and warm jacket for everyone, and it even holds extra socks and gloves. It’s better to have too much in your car than too little because wet kids don’t travel happily. Trust me. These days, we also make sure we all have extra masks because, even outdoors, it can get crowded.
2 // Extra Water (& Snacks)
I learned while Ryan was gone that packing the car the night before was an absolute game-changer, otherwise I’d forget the little (but oh-so-important) things like snacks and extra water. Now, we travel with a water bottle for every single person, plus two extras, as well as more snacks than you’d image we’d need. I tend to pack sandwiches or bagels, as well, but I also have granola bars, cheese sticks, pouches, and plenty of easy to eat items for in the car.
3 // Carriers
This one is obviously dependent on the age of the people and/or kiddos in your party. We have young kiddos, so it’s important for us to be prepared for just about anything. When we hike or go on an adventure these days, we usually have one – three carriers in the car. We bring our Deuter for longer or more arduous treks, we almost always have our MiniMeis in the car, and I pack the Lillebebe in the car – just in case.
4 // Wipes & Trash/Wet Bag
I’ve preached it a million ways on this blog, but if you’re going on any sort of outdoor adventure, please be sure to pack in and pack out. That means you need to be prepared to do so. With COVID closing a lot of the stations at trailheads and such, we’ve seen a lot of the trash cans overflowing, simply because maintenance hasn’t been. We like to bring our own trash and wet bags to carry our trash. Sometimes we need to take diapers out. Sometimes we just need to dispose of wipes or lunch trash; whatever it is, be prepared to take it with you.
5 // Emergency Gear
This is probably a post in and of itself, but it’s absolutely essential to have an emergency kit for any sort of outdoor adventures. We make sure to have a knife and a flashlight available at all times, as well as a power bank for a charge boost if necessary. We also carry a first aid kit with the essentials. There are definitely ways to go more in-depth, and The Dyrt has a great breakdown of survival tools you should always have handy.
6 // Sunscreen/Sunglasses/Bug Spray/Lip Balm
Honestly, it doesn’t matter how much you prepare; the weather can be unpredictable in the best of times. We make sure to always have sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, and lip balm in our backpack or snuck somewhere in the Deuter. We’ve gone on a few outdoor adventures where we’ve forgotten one or more of these things, and we’ve always regretted that.
Since most of our outdoor adventures involve a bit of a car ride, we have some extra essentials, as well, like tablets to entertain the boys in the car, an iPod with pre-loaded shows for Mieke, more charging cables than you count, etc. In the end, the biggest thing we’ve learned is really that you can’t overpack, per se. More times than not, you will need one or more of these things that you’re iffy on, so it’s always better to take them…just in case.
Tell me – what do you make sure to take on any sort of outdoor adventure?