While you definitely don’t need to go out and buy a whole bunch of gear to enjoy the outdoors there are a few things that will make your child’s experience remarkably better. Mittens being the first thing that comes to mind. A well fitting hat also tops my list.
Hand-me-down gear is fantastic if it gets the job done. We have a gear swap page and I strongly encourage you to head over to Facebook Marketplace and search for some of the items mentioned below.
Of course the best gear is the item your child will wear 😉 comfort is key.
Our favourite gear list!
Keep in mind that of course we can’t list all the brands of great gear out there and there are certainly solid substitutes for things on this list. But since you’re asking…..
A good pack has:
- A chest clip
- Side pockets for a water bottle
- A large main compartment with two zippers
- Is no wider or taller than your child’s torso.
* If it hangs past their bum with the straps properly adjusted it’s too big for their body.
A pack smaller than 10L isn’t going to be good for much. 12-18L packs are perfect for preschoolers.
The easiest place to shop for packs is MEC while they historically haven’t made great packs for kids themselves they do stock Deuter and Osprey packs.
I’ve never met a Deuter pack I didn’t love. We use the Junior in our house and many Kikki’s have been through the program.
Here are some other favs:
- Osprey Jet 12
- REI Sprig 12
- MEC finally got it right with the EYAS
- MEC Pika (ok)
Wearing a wool base layer while camping or spending a lot of time outdoors will change your life. Silk is super fancy and soft for picky children.
- Locally at Costco – Paradox are affordable and solid if you can hit the right season
- Stripes is a BC company based in Comox – bonus 10% of your purchase supports our scholarship fund
- Mountain Warehouse – wool base layers for $25 a piece or sometimes less!
- Hands down the BEST of the BEST – Patagonia Capilene
Here in semi-desert Kamloops we honestly don’t really need high quality rain gear. This is one area where you can get away with regular children’s brand rain pants and coats.
We do not recommend “muddy buddies” or “newt suits” for kids 3 and over. They are hard for children to zip on their own and hard to toilet in.
A leg with an elastic cuff on the ankle saves kids from wet feet and a lot of boot dumping. There are few things better in life than children freely enjoying their shoulder season days in a pair of bib rain pants, muck boots, a capilene top and a sun hat.
If you are keen to own amazing rain gear read on….Unfortunately rain gear is one area where brand names make a big difference. MEC, Patagonia, Columbia, Helly Hansen, outdoor gear brands are what you are looking for.
Mittens absolutely MUST have a long cuff that can go over top of their coats sleeves. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- MEC Toasty Mitts – little ones – bigger little ones
- The North Face
- Columbia Chippewa long
- Mountain Warehouse long cuff – Fox
Noteables: Stonz are bulky and hard for children to wear but they are the warmest mittens out there.
Kombi are affordable and easy to find but wear out quickly so buyer beware.
Winter Coats & Snowpants
Anything soft, light and packable “puff” – stay away from bulky kids winterwear it makes their lives difficult and they are likely to not like playing outside.
- Paradox at Costco
- The North Face Puff
A shell over top of a puff coat or rain pants over top of snowpants on wet snow days works amazing to keep kids dry.
We have a NO gum boots policy. Kids trip, get sore feet and blisters.
Stay away from any winter boot that does up with velcro and save yourself the headache, you’re welcome.
- The MUCK boot company – Arctic (available at the Horse Barn)
- The Northface Alpenglow
Mentionables: BOGS have terrible grip on the bottoms. Sorel Commander is a terrible boot, don’t waste your money.
Kids ski socks are pretty easy to find in local gear stores.
- Best Wool – Smartwool kids – available at Atmosphere or Big Boot Inn
- Best non-wool – Kombi
Mentionables: Mountain warehouse makes kids wool socks, I’ve not tried them. Wigwam shrink and we DO NOT recommend them.
Shoes & Runners
Once the weather warms and dries almost any well fitting runner works well.
- Curly laces for lace up shoes that need to be tied
- No slip on shoes
- No open toes
- Yes – closed toe sandals such as Keens Seacamp are fine.
Local Kid Friendly Gear Stores to try:
- Atmosphere or Sport Check
- Horse Barn
- Costco – very seasonal
Unfortunately that’s it.
I’d LOVE to open a retail store for kids gear….maybe one day.