Best Kids’ Gear: Trail-Tested Favorites

Hiking By Brian Norton |

If you add them all together, the Blue Ridge Outdoors staff has approximately 158 children, ranging in age from new newborns with that new baby smell to college kids who won’t talk to us anymore. So, we know a thing or two about outdoor gear for kids. Most of us have spent countless hours in the backcountry, micro-adjusting baby backpacks or applying Band-Aids to blistered feet because of ill-fitting boots. Here, some of the parents at the magazine talk about the best pieces of kid’s gear in their quiver.

BOB Revolution Stroller | $460

The BOB enabled my kids to experience the wild woods at an early age. The rugged tread and wheels handled even the rockiest adventures. The pouch beneath the seat carried water bottles and snacks—along with rocks, pine cones, and other kid souvenirs from our adventures. The BOB was equally useful in town, enabling me to run while pushing the stroller on pot-holed roads strewn with broken glass. The ride was so butter-smooth that my kids usually fell asleep. Hand-activated drum brakes always provided safe, reliable control. The BOB Revolution is a durable, dependable stroller that has withstood a decade of heavy outdoor use. —Will Harlan, Editor in Chief

Minishades Polarized Sunglasses | $20

Nothing can ruin a fun family outing like grumpy kids complaining about the sun in their eyes. These kids’ sunglasses are cute, colorful, safe, and are polarized with 100% UV protection. These are the only pair of sunglasses that my friend’s son Porter will wear. They are so strong and flexible that he can’t break them, and they are so lightweight that he doesn’t mind wearing them. I feel good about protecting his eyes, especially at the beach and lake where the sun is powerful and reflecting off the water.  —Martha Evans, Senior Account Executive

ENO Indio Daypack | $50

My son (8) loves his ENO Indio daypack. He carries it with him just about everywhere. It’s great for hikes and kid essentials when out in the woods (such as elaborate LEGO contraptions and NERF guns). The outer bungee straps make stashing a jacket easy and accessible. He also uses it as a school backpack, because internal dividers provide enough organization, so it can pull double duty, which is important for any piece of kid’s gear.  —Dusty Allison, Digital Publisher

Deuter Kid Comfort 3 | $300

When we had our third little one I decided it was finally time to invest in a decent kid carrier. Previously I was using a cheap model found on Craigslist and my back was screaming at the end of every hike. While bulkier than other kid packs, the Kid Comfort 3 has a burly hip belt that actually keeps my chunky toddler in place while I’m trying to sidestep roots and rocks. It also has a padded backrest, which seems to keep my daughter happier for longer stretches. In this case, minimalism be damned. —Jedd Ferris, Senior Editor

Keen Chandler CNX | $65

We’ve outfitted our kids with nothing but Keens since they were old enough to walk. We buy a pair new for the oldest kid and they last forever, so we can hand them down to the younger siblings. My oldest (4) is wearing the Chandler CNX right now. They look burly, but they’re actually light and comfy enough for everyday use. They have a great sole, so they handle trails just fine too. I also like the drawstring system instead of laces, which saves a lot of time. Bonus: they’re also machine-washable. —Nick Noe, Sales Executive

Black Diamond Wiz Kid Harness $35

Given half the chance, most kids will get into rock climbing. Luckily, there’s great kid’s climbing gear out there. Black Diamond takes the best features from their adult harnesses and shrinks them for kids. This thing is feather-light and incredibly comfortable…my kids will spend hours in it and never complain, which is a bit of a miracle. It’s also super adjustable so you can hang onto it as your kid grows. For shoes, we go with La Sportiva Stickit ($48), which offers great purchase on the rock, but are adjustable so they can grow with the kid as he/she moves from one size to the next. So you’ll get two years out of each pair, instead of just one. –Graham Averill, Gear Editor

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