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12 Pieces of Outdoor Gear Worth The Investment

A mom and her young kids hike together along a wooded trail.

We want to help you find outdoor gear that is worth the investment. Finding comfortable, functional gear can become expensive and sometimes is not worth the price tag -- especially when adventuring as a family. Getting out for the first time can be overwhelming just due to the fact of gear. We reached out to our explorer families to ask them what is one piece of gear they would suggest to new adventure families, and we've put their answers into a blog post for you, as well as some more price-friendly alternatives if there are some!

Disclaimer: all photos are clickable affiliate links that give us a little kick-back when you make a purchase through the link. These funds help us continue to create the community we all love, and we appreciate your support.


1. Comfortable Hard-Sided Carrier

Adrianna wears her son in her back in a nice hiking carrier.

A comfortable, sturdy, hard-sided carrier was by far the most thing suggested. Here is what the families had to say: 

  1. "A good, sturdy carrier is essential for getting out and adventuring with your little one! Even if you don't go big or expensive, soft carriers are great too. We LOVE our Osprey Poco AG Premium!" - @tam_neidich

  2. "+1 on the Osprey Poco (we have the Plus model). We were gifted it when the twins were born, and it somehow has survived our crazy through our youngest, too. Lots of storage, easy-to-use pop-out sunshade, sturdy and solid when on the ground. A good carrier makes all the adventures happen for that first year or so!" - @mountainmama_amk

  3. "I think that having a carrier with a pop-up shade and lots of storage pockets for water, snacks, and sunscreen is important. I’m adding Life Straws to my pack, pocket knife, and a mini fire starter kit!" - @jennyleefoo

  4. "Deuter kid comfort carrier. Hands down. Our son is almost 4 and we still use it all the time. Good in airports and grocery stores too!" -@jesscsproat

2. A Fully-Stocked First-Aid Kit

A close up of a first aid kit.

  1. "Never ever underestimate your need for a first aid kit and emergency supplies. You never know if something may happen on the trail. We have had our fair share of scrapes and bruises, and wasp stings and it has made me grateful that we have a lot in our bag. Thankfully nothing worse than that has happened on our hikes but we are always prepared, just in case" - @utahfamilytravels

3. A Camera or GoPro

Two people use a go pro to capture footage on a bike.

  1. "We've been through many carriers. The Ergo 360 was great for the first few months (including some double carry hikes I wish I had photos of) but our Deuter served us through the longest time. Paired with my trekking poles and there was nowhere we couldn't go! Now, we use a kinderpack or freeloader for when he gets tired since he has sized out of the Deuter. He can also still have his own pack with those carriers so he is learning to carry his own gear.100% honesty though, my favorite gear is my gopro bc I'm a photographer and I want to capture the best images on adventures - @califflifecreations"

4. A Multi-Sport Chariot

Side by side product shots of a Thule Chariot, one prepared for running, while the other is on skis.

  1. "The multi-purpose sport chariot! I bought one only when my son became too heavy to be carried long distances, but I wished I'd bought it much earlier!!! In winter, it provides a "shelter-to-go" for my son's nap, so I don't have to worry anymore about cold, wind, or bad postures... In summer goes behind the bike and has a mosquito net.. finally, it can be used as a trolley too. I am enthusiastic about it - Barbara from @backpackingmoms"

  2. "Thule Chariot Multisport it’s seriously one thing you will need. - @littleradadventure"

  3. "Hard not to say carrier on this one, but our Kids Ride Shotgun seat brings everyone in our family so much joy! All 4 of us (dog included) are pumped every bike ride. Nellie, at 19 months, mostly smiles and says more, more, more! - @terra.yxe"

5. Proper Winter Gear

A woman and her son are both on hockey skates enjoying a winter's day.

  1. "Good quality winter gear is a must! In Ontario, we can get a LOT of snow, so we always make sure we are prepared and have all the gear we need to keep us warm. - @withlove_duqettes"

  2. "Hands down, a full-body bunting. We like the light weight ones for the PNW and put layers on underneath if needed. This is our 2nd year with a blue suit. It goes on walks, in the stroller, to the Park, on hikes! Basically like a full-body jacket for kids! -"

  3. "No doubt a full-body bunting for kiddos! We are on our second season with this one because the sleeves and feet can be rolled over for smaller children and rolled up to pair with boots and mittens. Keeping them warm (and full of snacks) makes for much smoother adventures. This is a versatile must-have for cooler climates. It also doubles as a sleeping bag for cooler camping nights. - @itsthatgoodgood"

  4. "Proper clothing! Especially warm gear for the winter. A full-body bunting suit is so great for layering under and keeping kids warm! Sizing up definitely gives you the option to wear for multiple years and buying used isn't a bad thing. Ours is second-hand from a cousin, and it is still basically brand new! - @kerrychasse"

6. Soft-sided carrier for the younger years

A mom holds her young baby in a soft-sided carrier while hiking.

  1. "We always needed and still need a carrier. We love our Babue Baby Carrier that was gifted to us. You can roll it up when you aren’t using it, so it’s perfect if you don’t need to carry your kiddo all the time. - @kufamba_thetravelingtribe"

  2. "Our Ergo 360 and Solly wraps were great for the tiny stages too - @tam_neidich"

7. Individual Backpacks and Hydration Packs

A young girl wears her own hydration pack.

  1. "Having a good hydration pack that is comfortable enough for our kids to carry themselves on longer hikes was a MUST for us when traveling through the western US earlier this year. My kid crew loves their SoJourner hydration packs, and we make sure to keep the pockets stocked with hiking snacks! - @7wildhearts"

  2. "Small backpack for the kids so they can start carrying their snacks and water - @lovelife_abroad"

8. Hammock to relax in

A woman relaxes in a hammock with a great view of a woods and lake.

  1. "This is something that is fun. Hammocks rule the world for both adults and kids. Rocking is extremely soothing and we've all had many great naps and cuddles in ours. Plus they pack up easily and you can take them everywhere! - @alifemaspicante"

9. Hiking Poles -- for both parents & littles!

A pregnant woman hikes with hiking poles.

  1. "Hiking poles! They've saved us all from rolling an ankle or two, helped on a steep incline and kept us from falling in A LOT of rivers when crossing."

10. Proper Footwear

Four kids wear KEEN shoes while eating ice cream.

  1. "Shoes with good support and traction — that could be a hiking shoe or boot or simply a supportive running shoe for walking. I personally love my Keen hiking shoes and boots for their support & grips, plus they’re waterproof, so I feel confident with every step I take carrying my baby on our hikes! - @tsliwk"

  2. "The first thing that came to mind was a camera for the photo memories, not really gear but it's where my soppy brain went. Aside from a comfy carrier for wee people, I'd say well-fitting, comfy SHOES for everyone - they don't need to break the bank, but if your feet are sore, no one is gonna have a good time! Mine are Salomon (great for us in the tropics cause they're breathable and light). My hubby wears La Sportivas, and the kids are only 2 and 4 and don't need fancy hiking shoes quite yet - just comfy ones that they love to wear and can wear comfortably for long hikes! Arlo's have sharks and lights on them, so he's always stoked for hiking, and the lights come in handy when it's dark! We tried to pick ones with decent tread too so they're not slippy! - @wildadventuremum"

11. Mountaineering Helmet

A woman wears a Mountaineering Helmet while climbing.

  1. "While a hard structured carrier is always #1 in my book, I ALWAYS want to add the need for a little mountaineering helmet! Especially when you’re tackling the big peaks with an 80% grade or hopping through boulder fields. You never know what could happen or when you might lose your footing, no matter how skilled a hiker/climber you are! When you have a living pack that can literally shift his weight from left to right on a really steep slope or when you’re in the air jumping from one boulder to another, having head protection for your little one is a safe call. Even if you never need it, being safe is always the best move for your kiddo! - @harder_life"

12. Satellite Communication Devices

Garmin satellite communication device.

  1. "If you hike in areas where there is little to no service, having a satellite communicator can truly make or break an emergency situation. These devices can truly decide between a life-or-death situation if you are out alone. I highly suggest a Garmin InReach to anyone hiking outdoors." - @michelle.outdoors


Thanks for Reading About Out Thoughts on Outdoor Gear Worth the Investment

Thank you for following along with this week's blog post by Explorer Families and its great tips. What pieces of gear do you think are worth the investment? Happy Exploring!

Please be sure to follow us on Instagram at @kidswhoexplore and use #KidsWhoExplore and #KWE for your chance to be featured on our social channels. Happy adventuring, friends!

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