The holiday shopping season is upon us and now is a great time to buy gear our kids will need for the upcoming hiking and camping seasons.
Packs for Kids
For new walkers–
The Brica By My Side backpack is perfect for new walkers. It is a small lightweight pack that features a detachable leash. The leash can be a useful tool for fearless toddlers that demand independence and do not want to hold a parents hand on the trail but still could use hands-on supervision. If leashing kids isn’t for you it easily clips off. The pack is perfect for small trail treasures, an extra layer or a snack, or just wearing when empty to get comfortable wearing a backpack. Keep in mind children should not exceed a pack that weighs more than 10% of their body weight.
For Little Kids
The Osprey Jet 12 is a great pack for mini-hikers. It has all the features adult packs have in just the right proportions for kids. It features a solid hip belt and sternum strap as well as hydration bladder compatible. I looked over a lot of small kids packs and I feel that this one is the best one available on the market. Also, it comes with the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee so if the pack becomes damage they will fix it for free!
For Older Kids–
For a daypack for older kids, my recommendation is the REI Tarn 18. It is an 18-liter pack with a padded hip belt with pockets, hydration compatible and a total of 8 different pockets for organization. For an overnight pack I would select the Osprey Ace (38, 50, 75), it offers a fully adjustable back panel that has over 5 inches of adjustment so that it can grow with your child until they are ready for an adult-sized pack. It comes in three sizes so families can pick the best option for their adventures. However, keep in mind older children should only carry 15-20% of their body weight.
Smartwool offers a full line of wool layers for kids. From infant socks, to long underwear, hats and gloves for winter layering Smartwool has your children covered (literally!)
Oaki Trail Suit Oaki (formally known as Oakiwear) is a favorite in this house. In particular the Trail Suit. This suit is an all season suit. It can be used as an outer layer to keep dry in the snow during winter months. In the other seasons, it is a quality rain suit that is ultra durable. The best part is you can size up for years of wear since these suits have adjustable cuffs and a drawstring at the waist. I bought Aubrey a 5T option when she was still wearing 2T clothing and while it looked like she was wearing Hammer Pants it still did its job and kept her dry from the rain. We have already given this suit two years of abuse and it is still waterproof and in excellent condition. They also offer many boot styles, winter wear, fishing and hunting clothing for kids, swimwear and have recently started offering rain boots for moms as well.
Stonz Wear makes great booties for non-walkers that have soft soles, waterproof and you can use them over regular shoes or add a liner for extra insulation. These can help keep the younger crowd warm and dry without the big clunky winter boots.
Preschool-aged children might be interested in learning how to snowshoe. There are some great options available for little kids, starting with small plastic options, to more serious trekking shoes that would provide enough traction for hiking up mountains. LLBean and Tubbs have a wide variety of shoes to fit the needs of any age child.
If you have older children It could also be the time to buy your child the first pair of Microspikes if you will be venturing off on a winter hike on icy or snow packed trails. The smallest size Kahtoola makes is an Extra Small which is for kids shoes 1-4 but be warned these are extremely hard to find. Hillsounds also makes an extra small for shoe sizes starting at Youth 4 and there is also a cheap version on Amazon that I have for Aubrey already and they appear to be fairly well made for the price point. They fit boots starting at a Youth 11
Toys and Gadgets
Ozark Trail Kids Tent from Walmart and Little Explorer Camping Gear are a great way to go “camping” in the middle of the winter. It’s a perfect play size and since it’s a “real” tent you could use it on a camping trip. We never tested it outside but I am sure it would do well on a good weather trip but would leave it at home if rain is predicted. The camping gear toys really cute and other than the cardboard box food they have held up well. The lantern has really impressed me as it features an LED bulb which means it has a long life. Aubrey likes to sleep with it on her nightstand and the bulb and battery are still going strong after a year of use.
The Garmin vivofit jr 2 a full functioning activity tracker that comes in fun designs and a dedicated app for a parents smartphone to help motivate and track their child’s activity level through the day. The battery should last a year and from personal experience with my vivofit2, the battery has lasted over two years!
Playmobile makes some great outdoor activity option like this Summer Fun Family Camping Trip. Lego also has a few camper option, I am partial to this Lego City Caravan set since it comes with a blue SUV (just like mommy’s!)
Milk and Honey Co just released a new 750 fill power goose down sleeping bag for kids 3m-3T. It features shoulder straps to help keep your children snug inside and it has a series of snaps and zippers to adjust the sizing. The zipper makes diaper changes a breeze and can also unzip the bottom so older kids can keep their feet out and use it as a warm layer around camp on a chilly morning.
Kelty makes a large variety of kids sleeping bags. From the toddler-friendly Woombie, to the Big Dipper (our personal fave since it features a grow-with-me zipper system that allows the bag to fit kids as young as 3 and even I can fit in it at 5’3”) and to the Little Flower/Tree which is designed for older kids.
NEMO Equipment has recently hinted that they will soon be launching a kids sleeping bag. I have a NEMO bag, and I love it. I cannot wait to see what NEMO will offer our littlest campers.
A State Park or National Park/Forest season pass is always a great idea. That way they can enjoy a year of hiking without having to worry about paying for parking fees every time.
The Onya Hipster is a small bag designed to fit on any carrier or backpack with a waistband so you can store items like diapers, snacks, keys, and wallet for hiking.
And probably one of my favorite things is the Leatherman Skeletool. It is super versatile and has practically any tool you might need for a camping. It had a knife, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers in two different bit sizes, a pair of pliers/wire cutters and most importantly a bottle opener!
Monkey Mat a lightweight and packable blanket that is perfect for tossing in a backpack or diaper bag, perfect for picnics and trailside diaper changes. It’s water resistant so it can serve as a dry place to sit on the wet grass. It features weighted corners so it won’t blow around, and also has stake out points so if it’s windy you can use stakes to anchor it.
Does child love to carry around a “lovey” or “friend” but sometimes they are too big to bring on hikes? If this is the case check out Arlette Laan’s Sock Dolls. These super creative dolls are the perfect size for bringing along on hikes and they love to take adventures! Did you know Arlette is also a writer here at Trail to Summit?! Check out her creations here!
This little headlamp by Princeton Tec is a perfect size for kids and would be a great stocking stuffer. It’s perfect to toss in their packs or for late night bathroom trips at camp.
The last item is my personal favorite The YayLabs Softshell Ice Cream Ball!
It is like a kickball that has an ice cream maker compartment in it. One side you fill with cream, sugar and whatever additions you want. Ice and rock salt fill the other side. Roll the ball around, and in about 30 minutes you have fresh homemade ice cream. It’s the perfect way to enjoy ice cream when away from a freezer.