Hiking in the tropics is the stuff of bucket list adventures. But you wanna make sure you pack the right gear so the adventure is fun and comfortable. So here’s a list of what I wear when I’m hiking in the tropics with the sprogs!
Full disclosure before we get started – this page contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase clicking the links. Its really important to me that anything I ever recommend to you is stuff I’ve used and loved so all the gear recommendations you’ll find here are things that I currently use or have used for myself and the kids while hiking in the tropics.
I have hiking sandals for easy trails and waterfalls but I prefer my closed toe trail runners for hiking in the tropics because (a) there are leeches in the jungle and (b) because believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of when dirt and sand gets stuck under my toes and turns to mud with sweat, mmmmmm….nice 🙂 So more often than not I keep my sandals in the car and change into them after hiking. Choosing the right pair of shoes for you will depend on so many factors but ultimately you want them to be as comfortable as possible because if you’re feet are sore, its gonna put a damper on everything! Its also harder to be patient with little people when you’re not feeling so fresh yourself!
Salomon Women’s Outline Trail RunnersSALOMON Women’s Outline Trekking Shoes, Blue (Hydro./Atlantis/Medieval Blue), 3.5 UK
I brought my La Sportiva X Boulder approach shoes with me from Europe and I LOVE THEM! But not for the tropics. They’re breathable enough in a temperate country but here, where my feet get wet CONSTANTLY from sweat, river crossings and bush wacking through the jungle the suede upper takes ages to dry in the humidity. Forget waterproof or Goretex here and go for lightweight and quick drying. Its all about the mesh baby!
Like I said, I’m all about the trail runners for most of our hikes but hiking sandals are especially good for waterfall hikes in the tropics. In France I had a pair of Merrells but I didn’t bring any sandals to Indonesia. I recently bought a pair of Caldera hiking sandals from Indonesian outdoor adventure brand Eiger and I love them. They were cheap, they’re comfy and they fit my foot shape really well. They’re not on Amazon but if you’re Indonesia you can find them by clicking the link above.
Long before kids I used to trail run in France and Scotland. Alot of my gear from back then was Saloman and I’ve been using pretty much all of my trail running clothes (and some new bits) for hiking in the tropics cause the technology is similar and I didn’t wanna splash out on new gear all at once! Waste not, want not. Whether you’re trail running or hiking in the tropics you need layers that are light, breathable and effective at wicking sweat but also in the case of jackets waterproof for those monsoon rains!
I know alot of people prefer long trousers for the tropics, definitely makes it harder for leeches to attach themselves to your ankles. And while I have long trousers which I’ll get to in a minute, I love my shorts for most of our waterfall hikes mostly because they are quick dry and I can swim in them!SALOMON Agile Short W Athletic Shorts, Cerise/Dubarry, X-Large
Honestly sometimes I just wear an old cotton t-shirt when my icebreaker is in the wash, sweat through it and take a change in the car! But its definitely more comfortable to hike in a breathable, quick drying tee than a cotton one. I also prefer t-shirts over tanks nowadays to protect my shoulders not only from getting cooked but from the weight of the hiking carrier/backpack straps rubbing on my skin and chaffing in the heat.
I bought my first Icebreaker base layer to keep me toastie backpacking New Zealand in 2007. But a fine merino wool t-shirt is also awesome for keeping you cool in the tropics cause it wicks sweat away like nobody’s business and it doesn’t stink with sweat! Bonus! Mine is old and I can’t find it on their website anymore and its not on Amazon but if you click through to the Icebreaker website you can have a browse! They’re an investment but I still have items I bought in 2018 going strong so 🙂
Also, one of my super comfy go to t-shirts for hiking in the tropics is just a plain activewear t-shirt from H&M. Doesn’t break the bank and dries super fast. Actually just looking for the link I think it might be for pregnant mamas, hahahaha. That explains why its so roomy then! Either way, still love it!
I get this question alot cause girls you know how hard it is to find a comfy bra but I’m still wearing the same climbing sports bra I’ve had since 2017! Its by a Swedish climbing brand called Holdbreaker and its hands down the BEST sports bra I’ve ever had. Its 4 years old and it hasn’t stretched out yet after being tested with 2 lots of Dolly Parton pregnancy and breastfeeding boobs and nowadays, my poor deflated spaniel ears. It does a great job of supporting my chest and its a really cool design. I get no side boob with it, no back fat and it doesn’t cut into my shoulders or get uncomfortable wearing it for hours on end. Its another investment piece but its sooooo worth the money. Check them out on Instagram here.
I’m not a hat person, I’ve got a tiny pea head so they never fit and just sit uncomfortably over the top third of my ears. But I love headbands for hiking in the tropics. Great for mopping up sweat, tying my hair back, keeping me warm around camp on cold nights in the north of the island AND drying tears and wiping faces of the kids 😀 I’ve got a few but the one I’m wearing all the time right now is by Eiger. Can’t find it on their website but here’s a useless picture for reference and inspiration so you too can be a cool headband wearing hiking mama 😉
I wore both my kids since birth. We live 8 degrees south of the equator, it’s never not hot 😂 so our carriers had to be comfy and cool for both me and baby. These are the carriers I used and loved in the tropical heat from soft structured newborn carrier right up to the hard frame hiking backpack carrier I use until now for Eia.
Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh
Big Ergobaby fans over here! I had Arlo in the Ergobaby 360 in Scotland and brought it to Indonesia but it was a bit hot so switched to the Omni and loved it! Call a spade a spade, any kind of baby wearing in the tropics is gonna be sweaty for everyone but I found the mash panels in the carrier made it cooler and breathable and lightweight! Also easy to wear with a hiking backpack cause its not too bulky! I think they’ve brought out a newer version since my babies were babies (I wanna say its called Omni Breeze…? That sound about right…?) I’ve not tried it myself but thought its worth a mention!
LittleLife Voyager S5 Hiking CarrierLittleLife Unisex’s Voyager S5 Child Carrier (Black) Back, One Size
Ok total honesty, I actually got mine second hand here in Bali and I have the older version of this. But I’ve used it on all our jungle hikes and I LOVE it. The mesh air flow back system is neat and the cushy straps are really comfy and it’s got LOADS of storage space ‑ enough for me to pack changes of clothes for the kids, nappies, wipes, sunscreen, mozzie repellent, first aid kit, GoPro, a little towel, water for all three of us and a truck load of snacks, plus a kid! It also has a small detachable day pack, great for when we stop to eat and I need the “baby bag” – don’t need to take the whole carrier! It comes with a sun shade and you can buy a mosquito net attachment – super useful for hiking in the tropics/summer! Like the Osprey Poco its not cheap so don’t forget to check Facebook marketplace for quality second hand carriers! It can be a gold mine of stuff 🙂
For the kids
Re clothes, I dress them in lightweight comfy shorts and t-shirt. Sometimes long sleeves when the bugs are gonna be bad but Arlo has hiked in his spiderman outfit before carrying a granola bar in one hand and an Elsa doll in the other so….. 🙂
They and therefore you will have the best time if they’re comfy and happy. We’re not hiking Everest so I’m not too worried about proper gear for them just yet. When that day comes in the next year or so, I’ll be sure to update you though!
Also, I didn’t go in for expensive outdoor brands kids shoes while they are still so young, Eia is 2 and Arlo is 3. Kids feet grow like weeds at this age and for me, the most important thing is that they’re comfortable and happy to give us all the best shot at them enjoying the hiking experience. So we’ve just been putting them in little lightweight mesh trainers we bought from Carrefour 🙂 They have The Avengers on the label and lights in the heels which FYI come in super handy to keep track of kids on the trail when you accidentally end up walking out the jungle in the dark! Oops.
We’ve got some big hikes and adventures in the pipeline and since Arlo will be 4 in December and he’s pretty much walking the whole hike nowadays, soon I’ll be looking for his first pair of “proper” hiking shoes. Will sling them on here once I get a pair and he wears them for a bit and I can review them!
Don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you have any questions or want more hiking with kids in the tropics tips and info in a post here or over on the ‘gram.