Toddler Tested: Fall/Winter 2019

Between school starting and cooler weather descending upon us, we put the gear below to the test and give it all our hearty stamp of approval. It was used on snowy walks or cold bike rides to school, hikes amongst the fall foliage, and even a day of early season skiing up at Keystone. They have a magic carpet at the top of the River Run Gondola, the Kokomo Lift, with great beginner terrain.

Osprey Jet 12 Pack

For school or for trail, this little backpack fits 3-6 year olds who are ready to shoulder some of their own gear. This smaller version of the pack has a simple zipper opening, which is much easier for little hands to manage compared to the 18L with buckles on a clam top. Even before your child is old/big enough to really carry it around themselves, we found it made a good space to store their essentials (snacks, diapers, wipes, etc.) when traveling or dropping them off at a care center. The pack carries well and now that our tester is in Kindergarten, it is proving to be a touch on the small size to hold everything she needs like books, folders, lunch, and extra clothes—especially in the winter when cold mornings give way to mild afternoons and items like gloves and hats are shed. But it’s perfect for family hikes. | $50

Julbo Lily Sunglasses

If you’re wearing sunglasses, you kid’s sensitive young eyes should be protected as well, especially if you’re doing anything on the snow where light is reflected from below and essentially multiplied in brightness. Julbo has always been a favorite of ours thanks to their looping series for the very little and they continue to impress with this pair of sturdy and large lens glasses for little kids. Our one gripe: we wish there was a little more room on the arms to label a name to help make sure the sunglasses come back to us if they get lost. On the plus side, they come with little hole in the end of the temple arms to tie on a retaining leash. | $35

Stasher Bags

For kids and adults alike, these silicon eco-friendly baggies come in a range of sizes and colors. They’re perfect for minimizing single-use plastic from your household and have proven to be very durable. The zipper seal is very strong and totally reliable. They are microwave and dishwasher safe and can even be used as a boil bag. And they don’t just have to hold food. They can be used for little items of all sorts including as a dry bag for a cell phone or other electronics going out into the wild. They’re a 1% For The Planet and B Corp Company. | $8-12

Purist Maker 10oz Insulated Bottle

Ok, this might be a little on the pricey side to buy specifically for your kid to use, but we have found it works well across the ages. The main quality of note with all the Purist bottles (they come in three sizes) is the nano-millimeter thickness coating of glass on the inside so the drink is not actually touching the stainless steel. This will only matter to those with the most picky of pallet, but to a broader audience, the sophisticated design fits well in hand and in most cup/bottle holders. Purist also offers three top styles: the simple Element Top with a handle, the pop-and-drink style Union (this is the best for kids) ideal for cold drinks, and the yet to be released (Spring 2020) Scope Top (we received a prototype sample to test) for hot-drinks. | $40

Shred Dog Pups Girls Akita Insulator

Our little tester loves this jacket—in truth she loves all of her Shred Dog gear. But this is the piece she is able to wear beyond the ski slope. The synthetic 3M Thinsulate insulation provides great warmth for the weight and the smooth action zipper is easy for little hands to connect and zip up themselves. Shred Dog also has a great system for helping clothing last longer on kids as they grow. Their Adjust-a-fit system works both ways: as your kid gets older, let the sleeves out so they can keep using the jacket. Once they’ve outgrown the largest setting, pull the sleeves back to hand the jacket down to a younger sibling or friend (most sleeve extensions by other brands are done by ripping out seams and can’t be made smaller again). | $60

Lowa Kody GTX Jr 

A sure way to get kids to hate hiking is to put them in shoes with crappy traction and support such that they end up slipping out on trail inclines or not being able to manage rocks and roots on the trail. So, invest in not just your kids’ feet but also your future as an outdoor loving family with these Virbam sole and Gore-Tex waterproofed boots from Lowa. Our little tester has taken them on a few fall and winter (snowy) hikes and gives them a thumbs up. | $130

Columbia Infant Snuggly Bunny Bunting

This suit must be as cozy as it looks since our little tester looks pretty happy in there—and he would tell us if he wasn’t! It’s fleece lined, filled with 450 down insulation, and is all wrapped in Columbia’s Omni-Shield 100% Polyester Microtex Lite wind and water resistant shell. Our favorite feature are the built in hand (and foot) overmits so we don’t have to worry about little gloves or mittens going astray and his hands getting cold. | $65

Icebreaker Kids’ Merino 200 Oasis Leggings & Long Sleeve Crewe

We loved these base layers for our first kid and are glad to see Icebreaker still carries them. The 200-weight pure merino wool is so soft and cozy our little tester asks to wear it when just hanging around the house. They even have a slightly heavier 260-weight set for staying even warmer. | $55 & $60

Hydro Flask 22 L Soft Cooler Pack

This durable and sizable cooler pack by Hydro Flask has become a go-to staple on family outings and attending pot-luck dinners. It keeps food warm or cold while being big enough to bring all the gear needed for a proper picnic four our family of four (plus some extra room if we bring friends). We have also packed days worth of groceries from our Saturday farmer’s market visit in this bag and a dozen eggs in a carton fits perfectly on top in the 22-liter version. It has padded shoulder straps that make hiking with it easy (at least at a kiddos pace!), and the chest strap makes biking with the pack comfortable and practical. We have yet to go somewhere with the pack without some passerby commenting on the look, features, or construction of the pack, so you’ll look great while being prepared too! Also available in a 15L. | $200

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