From the Cradle to the Trail

17 Outdoor Products for New Parents


June 18, 2015 Buying Guides By
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Luckily, you don’t have to invest in full-suspension bikes and carbon fiber stand-up paddleboards for your little tykes just yet. (You may consider creating a gear stash fund on par with that of college tuition, however.) But you do need a few key items to make getting outside with your baby safe and enjoyable. Think burly footwear for new walkers, rain- and wind-blocking outerwear, baby-toting carriers for trekking them up mountains, and more. Here are some essential products that will keep you and your baby or toddler outdoors until the sun goes down.

Wishbone Recycled Edition Bike

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If a kid’s balance bike could win an award for versatility, this would be it. The Wishbone RE Bike features the New Zealand-based company’s downright smart Rotafix Three-Way Adjustment: A simple tweak to the central bolt and a flip of the “main tube” make it possible to grow the bike with your child, from 12 months old to six years. Plus, removable rear wheels transform it from a trike into a two-wheeler as your little one learns to balance. Best of all, the RE bike is made of nylon sourced entirely from recycled residential US carpet, preempting 7.5 pounds of the shaggy stuff from ending up in the landfill.

Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp

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We’re pretty sure your two-year-old won’t keep this thing on, but the Wiz is the go-to when your child is able to reason and wants to see while camping without using a cumbersome flashlight. This 30-lumen headlamp comes chock-full of kid-friendly features like a child-safe screw closure, a breakaway elastic safety strap and an automatic shut-off after two hours. Mainly, it’s a simple on/off light that works just as well upside down.

Chaco Kids OutCross Shoes

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River trips, stream-ridden hiking trails, camping, the Chaco Kids OutCross slots easily onto any family adventure because of its durability. Created with all of the same burly features as the adult version, the Kids OutCross keeps kids from stubbing their toes, helps them ramble over uneven ground with four-wheel-drive traction and breathes exceptionally well thanks to open sides and airy mesh. We can’t think of better footwear for everything from the playground to rocky beaches. Available in toddler sizes.

Stohlquist Nemo Infant PFD

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Built for infants weighing less than 30 pounds, the Stohlquist Nemo Infant PFD calmed our nerves on a choppy paddle around Seattle’s Lake Union with our 20-pound 10-month-old. High-visibility colors like red and yellow paired with tons of float, an easy-to-grab handle and a strap system she couldn’t wriggle out of are just a few of the PFD’s key features. Bonus: our daughter was so comfortable in it, she fell asleep — the dual support collars moonlight as pillows.

Osprey Poco Premium Backpack

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Think of this as the Land Rover of kid carriers. The Poco Premium comes decked out with bells and whistles like a sunshade, integrated changing pad, detachable daypack, rain cover and more. On a six-mile day hike in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, our 10-month-old happily took in the view on the way up and then took a nap on the drool pad when she got sleepy. The best part? The pack harness is adjustable within an expansive six-inch range, which means mom and dad (no matter how far apart in height) can use the same pack. And, it’s incredibly easy to adjust on the fly.

Columbia Infant Packable Booney

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Every infant needs sun protection atop his or her dome because sunscreen is a no-no until six months of age. Of all of the sun hats we’ve tried, the nylon Packable Booney by Columbia had the largest brim, which meant our babe’s face, neck and shoulders were often shaded in full sun conditions. Lightweight, easy to strap on, and armed with UPF 50, the Packable Booney — which packs neatly down into its own fun whale shape so that it doubles as a toy — comes with us everywhere because it’s so easy (and small) to pop in any bag.

The North Face Reversible Grizzly Peak Wind Jacket

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With wind and water protection on one side and soft cozy fleece on the other, the Grizzly Peak was our go-to almost every time the weather looked sour. Whether for hiking or bike riding, the hood fit tightly but comfortably for extra warmth, elastic cuffs seal heat into the arms and around the torso and sprinkles of rain beaded up on the taffeta exterior. We didn’t expect to use this jacket as often as we did.

Cotopaxi 35L Volta Rolltop Backpack

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Cotopaxi will tell you this 35-liter pack is made for a single traveler who is packing it all into one bag or for long days around campus. We’ll tell you, it also works perfectly as a diaper bag, especially when you are jet-setting. Stick your laptop in the protected sleeve in the back and use the rest of the pack’s four pockets to micro-organize your necessities like diapers, wipes, cream, extra outfits and more. We found it particularly useful as a carry-on because it has multiple entry points into the large compartment, making digging for toys, books and pacifiers a cinch. A key tether and internal mesh pockets keep the small stuff in check.

Alite Designs Meadow Mat

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Keep your bottom dry and clean with Alite’s Meadow Mat, a waterproof picnic blanket that rolls up smaller than a yoga mat and has handles for easy toting to and from the park. Most new walkers and crawlers are more interested in the grass and bugs than staying put on the hip graphic print on the Meadow Mat; that’s why this one’s more for you than them. Windy? Tack down the corner with the stake-ready loop.

Thule Coaster Bicycle Trailer

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Big, shock-absorbing back wheels mean kiddos will be comfortable as they ride along in the new Coaster Bicycle Trailer, even on gravel or dirt paths. The roomy cabin — complete with seating for two — comes equipped with multiple layers of protection from the elements over the opening, including mesh overlays, rain-shielding plastic and a shade layer. The handlebar can be flip-flopped for height-adjusting comfort and a front wheel easily converts the trailer to a stroller when you arrive at your destination.

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