Outdoor Gear for Families
As a father of four, husband, and outdoor recreation professional, there is nothing more fulfilling and rewarding for me than sharing my love for the outdoors with my family. Being able to experience nature together and spend time together outside as a family is one of our favorite things to do together. Whether it’s hiking the trails at our local park, riding bikes on our local greenway, or spending a day at the beach, time outside together unites us as a family. As the REI slogan goes, “A life outdoors is a life well lived.”
A life outdoors is a life well lived.-REI slogan
Having the right outdoor gear is important for enjoying your time together outside. Just like you need the right tool for the job in work, you need the right equipment for outdoor activities with young children. The following are our favorite pieces of equipment that we have used with all four of our children to enjoy our time together outside.
1. Backpack Child Carrier
The first piece of outdoor gear we bought as young parents ten years ago was a backpack child carrier. We went with the Deuter Kid Comfort II. It has provided a decade of hiking adventures with all four of our children. We’ve hiked hundreds of miles at local parks and state parks in both Northeast Ohio (before relocating here) and across North Carolina. I began a tradition with our two oldest children by participating in the Metroparks Serving Summit County (Akron, OH area)’s Fall Hiking Spree, earning a hiking staff and hiking medallions for all three of us. Since relocating to North Carolina, we began a new tradition of adding hiking medallions from our state parks to our hiking staffs after our hikes. Hiking has been an awesome way to experience the outdoors together as a family. Quick tip: start with shorter hikes and gradually build up to longer hikes. Don’t get to the halfway point when your kid starts fussing or you’re in for a long second half of your hike!
2. Bike Trailer
A close second piece of outdoor equipment that has served our family well has been our bike trailer for rides on our local greenways and at the beach on vacation. We’ve ridden thousands of miles with all four of our children over the past decade. We went with an Avenir Sport Dual Bike Trailer with Stroller Kit. This is two pieces of equipment in one! First, it’s a dual bike trailer for 1 or 2 kids. Second, it’s a jogging stroller with detachable front wheel and handlebar. This piece of equipment has provided bike rides and runs for our family. Quick tip: for efficient packing while traveling, stow your bike helmets, pump, and other equipment in the bike trailer to take up less room in your vehicle.
3. Day Cooler
A third critical piece of equipment for all of our day trips to our local parks for hikes and picnic lunches, trips to festivals and NC Zoo, and long days on the beach is a day cooler. There are many coolers on the market, with RTIC and YETI being two of the top brands. We’ve used both the RTIC Soft Pack 30 and YETI Hopper Flip 18 and both have been great. It just depends on what you want to spend on a cooler. Quick tip: be sure to clean your cooler after each use and lubricate the zipper, especially after days on the beach. The sand can really take a toll on the zipper on a cooler!
4. Pop Up Tent
A fourth piece of equipment that has been extremely useful for our family, especially on our beach vacations, is a pop up tent. This provides a “home base” and plenty of shade during our 6-8 hour days on the beach during vacation. We went with a 10’x10′ E-Z Up Vista. We are on our second one now, since we typically visit the beach about 3-5 times in a season. It is easy to set up, durable, and provides lots of shade when our children need a break from the sun. Quick tip: be sure to rinse the tent down with a hose after you get back from the beach to prevent corrosion on the metal frame.
Spending time outside together on the weekends and on vacation is a great way to bond as a family. Having the right equipment can make it that much more enjoyable! These pieces of outdoor equipment have allowed us to make many memories with our family in the outdoors through the years. If there is a favorite piece of outdoor equipment you enjoy with your family, please share in the comments below.