Want your offspring to be ready for adventure? You’re in luck. We’ve found the best gear and outdoor gifts for kids.
Buying gifts for your kids can seem daunting. But after surveying our writers and staff who are parents, we’ve realized the best gifts are those that help you get outside together.
Here are some of our favorite gifts for the outdoorsy kid in your life.
For tots, freedom in the form of two wheels comes in a scoot bike. These pedal-less cycles are a modern day antidote to training wheels, offering a low-to-the-ground ride that teaches balance and control. Soon, a kid can graduate to pedals once the basics are learned on a scoot.
All of my kids started on Striders or other models and moved up to pedals, hand brakes, and gears at a young age, all thanks to the scoot experience. One Strider model, the 14x, allows a parent to add pedals once a kid is ready for the next stage (full review here).
Avid 4 Adventure Camp: Starting at $220
Say goodbye to screens and hello to outdoor adventure at Avid 4 Adventure Camps. With programs ranging from “Learn to ride a bike” day camp to a week long backpacking expedition, there’s something for everyone. Programs available in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Wyoming with ages ranging from pre-school to high school. It’s hard to beat an outdoor experience as a gift, especially one that launches your kiddo into a lifetime of adventure.
Based in North Carolina, Mount Inspiration has a wide array of shirts with fun sayings like “Future Tree Hugger” and “Future Dirtbag.” Sentiments we hope will rub off on the next generation. Our contributor got the whole family t-shirts this past summer and loves how incredibly comfortable they are. One of the coolest things they offer is their “always growing” program. Simply send your kid’s shirt in once they have outgrown it and they will send you the next biggest size! Gone are the days of buying your kid a t-shirt that they will only wear a few times.
Point a kid north, and they will hike. My little ones love to have a compass on the trail, as it engages them with a purpose of helping figure out where to go. A basic Silva or Suunto compass will do the job to teach navigation in the woods.
One option is the Suunto A-10 Recreational Field Compass, which offers a simple interface and standard liquid-filled capsule for a needle to remain stable and smooth on the move. Attach a lanyard to help a kid keep track of the navigational tool.
A pocket knife is a sign of responsibility for camping and hiking kids. A model like the Victorinox Swiss Army Evolution can be a good start. This $33 folder has eight basic functions, including a 2.5-inch locking blade with a tip that’s rounded for safety. The brand notes this knife is “not too big, not too small,” and we found it just right for grade-school-age kids ready for the responsibility of the blade.
Kids get thirsty, and little hikers love their own water source. We have found the Osprey Kids’ Moki to be a good option. The tiny pack holds a hose-equipped, 1.5L reservoir and has space for storing some small items. Put this on a kid, and they know it’s time for a mission into the woods. The utility of not needing to stop every half-mile and “water the kids” is advantageous for parents trying to keep momentum on a trail.
Ever since our little one’s first steps, his love affair with boots began. For the winter months, we have been loving the Baby Bogs boots. They are easy to slip on and off for both us and him. And they are extremely warm and seem to be very comfortable. Plus, they come in some great prints. Our 2-year-old is obsessed with owls right now, so, naturally, we got him the owl print. Our only complaint is we can’t get him to take them off once we’re inside — it’s a crying match!
How many times does your kid reach for your sunglasses, only to pull them off and drop them on the floor? And for some reason, they only go after your most expensive pair. Thanks to Sunski, you can now get your kids their own pair of mini “cool” shades that are polarized and UV resistant.
They come in two of the brand’s most popular styles: the Mini Headland and the Mini Dipsea. My advice is to gift yourself and your little one a pair and then open them at the same time. If they are 10 and under, they will surely still think that being “hip” like their parents is the greatest gift ever.
Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece ($69) & Tribble Pants ($59)
The first words out of our son’s mouth after waking in the morning are “outside, please.” With the days getting colder and colder, we like to make sure he’s dressed to play for as long as he wants.
Patagonia’s Baby Reversible Tribbles pants coupled with the Baby Retro Pile Jacket are our favorite outfit for outside play. They are warm, durable, easy to put on, and will grow with your kiddo for many months. While our little one wasn’t terribly excited to open a box of clothes, he was thrilled after I said they were his “outside adventure clothes.” And now, he knows that when they come out, we are going on an “adventure walk.”
Pura Bottles: $15-25
Finally, a bottle that grows with your child. These stainless steel bottles come in a variety of sizes and are 100 percent plastic-free and certified nontoxic. And with lids ranging from a baby bottle to a sippy cup or sports bottle, your kid can use this from infancy to adulthood.
Burgeoning baby and tot hikers will embrace this “barefoot-style” boot. It has a wide toe box and a sole with rounded edges. Merrell notes the boot follows the natural shape of a child’s foot “to allow for proper foot development.” The flexible boot has soft, unlined uppers and slips off and on easily with a single strap.
Petzl Bindi: $45
The Petzl Bindi is an ultralight companion for mini adventurers. As our tester concluded, “It’s perfect for EDC use, and the tiny size and minimal weight make the Bindi an excellent headlamp for kids!”
Helly Hansen K Isfjord Down Parka: $105-180
Norwegians know about cold, snowy days, and the proof is in this cozy down parka. The inner lining is soft yet downproof as claimed, with no feathers poking through. And the outer shell of the parka is extremely durable and has proven to take quite a bit of abuse going through bushes and scratching up against trees and rocks during play.
The hood is lined with faux fur and not only looks fancy but also helps protect the face from wind. Reflective elements are great considering the days are shorter when it’s colder out.
One of the best items we have for keeping kids happy in the cold is this full-body suit. The cozy, fuzzy, high-loft Sherpa fleece makes it comfortable to wear over just short sleeves and a diaper for mild temps. A snug hood and integrated foldover mitts and booties provide total coverage. And for littles who are using boots, the elastic of the ankle cuffs is just the right strength to keep in place without being too tight.
While this isn’t a waterproof suit for the rain, the outer Nylon Taffeta easily sheds snow (even if it melts a bit). It’s not super abrasion-resistant (not great for crawling on concrete), but it handles crawling through the snow just fine. The synthetic PrimaLoft ThermoBall insulation can tolerate a little precip moisture seeping through, but that probably means it’s time to come back in and get cozy.
Hydration is key for children just like it is for adults, especially here at altitude in the dry air of Colorado. This kids’ bottle from Hydro Flask is incredibly durable thanks to the metal bottle, thick construction of the spouted top, and the rubberized foot to help it stay where your nugget places it. It’s also easy for kids to manage, with a closed-loop carry ring and large tab to open the spout. Best yet, even with the spout open and lying on its side, leaking is minimal; it’s totally leakproof with the spout closed.
Pretty much all things little have a strong cute quotient, but something about these little overalls really takes the cake. Made from Carhartt’s durable canvas, they’re a little stiff when new but soften some over time. But they’re also incredibly durable. Our mistake was not having these sooner when our little one was crawling. He burned holes through the knees on a few pairs of pants, but I’m guessing these would have held up to all the crawling. We found these to size a little on the large side.
Warm hats are a prime example of something kids are likely to peel off their head even when it’s still pretty cold out — unless the hat is comfortable and the kid manages to forget about it. Along with a classic kid-specific design, this hat is lined with a soft PrimaLoft fleece headband for comfort and warmth.