The Best Gifts for Outdoorsy Kids

Give the kid in your life the gift of the outdoors.

Updated October 12, 2022

6 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars
A couple of kids enjoy hot cocoa on a snowy day in Boulder, Colorado.

As outdoors-lovers, we spend as much time exploring, observing and just plain savoring time in Mother Nature’s wild spaces as possible. As caretakers and parents, we do our best to pass on that love for outside-sy spots to the young people in our lives. This collection of snuggly, sporty and even safety-first gear like helmets (don’t worry, it’s kid-approved too) will help you in your adventuring quest.

 

“Once upon a time, a shy moose disappeared into a snowdrift.” What happens next? Your little camper decides! The Mountaineers Books Campfire Stories Deck–For Kids! includes a collection of 25 character cards and 25 action cards—all with outdoor themes—that serve as prompts to make up a story. Take turns drawing one card from each set to get the creative juices flowing and then spin a tale all your own.  

 

Any puzzle offers a great outlet for quality family time over a shared task, but bestowing the “Explore Our National Parks” 1,000-piece from Lantern Press uniquely incites reflection on past outdoor adventures: “Remember when we saw a grizzly in the Grand Tetons?” “Those cascades in the Great Smoky Mountains were incredible!” Plus, the whimsical imagery of our public lands may just inspire your family’s next trip. 

 

What kid wouldn’t want a shiny new bike? Younger riders who are ready for handbrakes and shifting will love how the gearing on the Cannondale Quick 24 makes it easier to charge up hills and find speed on the flats. That, plus a lightweight aluminum frame, stable handling and 24-inch multisurface tires make this our pick for cyclists ages 7–12.  

 

If this is the year you surprise your child with their very own two-wheeled steed, make sure they have a noggin-protector to go with it. Parents, you’ll appreciate how the Thousand Jr. Bike Helmet provides coverage to the occipital bone (that’s the one around the brain) and features an adjustment dial that lets the helmet grow with your kiddo. Littles will love the packet of reflective, removable stickers that turns their new helmet into a veritable canvas. Want to be twinsies? Snag a Thousand Heritage Bike Helmet for yourself.  

 

Giving your kids underwear for as a present is considered totally taboo. Gifting them ubersoft long underwear, however, is definitely inbounds—especially when it comes in their favorite colors and funky patterns inspired by the outdoor places where they play. Enter the Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Crew Base Layer Top, which provides next-to-skin comfort, breathability and natural odor resistance. 

 

Snow-day sledding excursions, chilly study hall rooms or just lazy Saturday-morning pancake-eating: The Trailsmith Fleece Jacket from REI Co-op is ready for it all thanks to breathable, fast-drying and ultrasnuggly Polartec® Micro Series fleece. Retro zipper pulls (authentic to the design's original 1992 release) add a dash of panache. With adult men’s and women’s versions available too, the whole family can kick it old-school. 

 

It’s finally here: the year your youngster will undergo the rite of passage that is carrying their share of the backpacking supplies. Just make sure they have the right equipment—namely a good-fitting backpack. The Osprey Ace 50 Pack delivers with key comfort-enhancing features like a frame that effectively transfers the load from the harness to the hipbelt; a springy, mesh back panel that allows plenty of airflow; and up to 5 inches of torso adjustability to ensure a Goldilocks-approved “just right” fit. This hauler also houses 50 liters of gear-carrying capacity and hipbelt pockets for easy snack access. 

 

Keeping track of your kid’s sunglasses is about as hard as remembering the whereabouts of their left sock, which means there’s no way you’re splurging on expensive pint-sized sunny-Gs—even if it is the holidays. And yet, you also know how important protecting their little peepers now . It’s a conundrum, but thankfully, one solved by the folks at Knockaround. Their polarized kids’ shades ring up at just $22 but block an impressive 99–100% of UV rays and reduce visible glare from water, snow, sand and pavement. 

 

Baby stuff is always cute, so it’s not the adorable bear ears that set apart this Patagonia Baby Furry Friends Hat. Rather, it’s the warmth-boosting, double-layered fabric at the hem; the snuggly, high-pile, double-faced fleece; and the fact that the materials are 100% recycled and Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. 

 

The bright yellow (read: easy to find), spiral-bound Rite in the Rain Outdoor Journal is the perfect place for your budding ecologist to record all of their observations about the natural world. Whether they write in pencil or pen, their tallies of goldfinches or sketches of aspen trees will hold steady without bleeding on the 32 sheets (64 pages) of all-weather paper, no matter the conditions—even a near-hurricane, as one reviewer whose journal survived a serious soaking will attest. 

 

Teva ReEmber Slip-Ons - Kids’

Teva Ember Moc Slippers

We know quite a few adults who refuse to remove their beloved ReEmbers, and now kids can enjoy the supreme coziness too. But these are no indoor slippers: The Teva ReEmber Slip-Ons have rubber outsoles like tennis shoes and collapsible heels, which transform the slippers into even-easier-to-pull-on clogs. We also appreciate the eco cred of the new ReEmber, which builds on the success of the venerable Ember Moc with a panoply of recycled materials in the upper, collar, heel, lining, midsole and outsole. Best idea? Twinning with your child. $59.95

 

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket - Kids’

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket - Kids'

Give your child the gift of lightweight warmth with the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket—a kids’ version of our longtime favorite. It has 650-fill-power down insulation, which provides furnacelike heat without sacrificing compressibility (it stuffs into its own left pocket). The polyester shell offers some wind resistance too, and a DWR coating repels light rain. Both insulation and shell contain bluesign®-approved materials; insulation also meets responsible down standard (RDS). $79.95

 

Electra Sprocket 16″ Kids’ Bike

Electra Sprocket 16" Kids' Bike

If your kid is ready for their first bike, check out the Electra Sprocket. It has 16-inch wheels and a comfortable geometry that allows riders to sit upright but still place their feet squarely on the ground for balance when needed. It also has removable training wheels, so your child can go from rocky to rocket in no time. Best for children ages 3–5. $360

 

Kids with warm feet are much happier than kids with cold feet. Thankfully, the waterproof Merrell Snow Bank 3.0 boots should allow children to tromp to school, craft magnificent snow forts and roll wicked snowballs without feeling a hint of chill. The secret is 200 grams of insulation in the upper linings and 400 grams of insulation on the footbeds, helping these boots achieve a comfort rating down to -25°F. They also boast a bungee lacing system that is pretty easy for younger children to navigate.  

 

Cold hands will ruin any outdoor adventure. Prolong yours by adorning your kiddo in these waterproof, windproof gloves from REI Co-op. With synthetic insulation, they’re like sleeping bags for little fingers. A polyester liner wicks sweat away from skin, and a longer cuff can tuck under a sleeve or cinch on top to help keep snow out. Nice: The poly liner contains bluesign®-approved materials

 

CamelBak Eddy+ Kids' Renew Water Bottle - 14 fl. oz.

CamelBak Eddy+ Kids Water Bottle

Spillproof water bottles rival the wheel when it comes to ingenious inventions. Not only does this one from CamelBak prevent your toddler from accidentally dumping grape juice in your car, but it also satisfies the pickiest of children with a multitude of design options. The flip-top bite valve is easy to use, and the 14-ounce bottle also has a handle perfect for little fingers. And praise be: The Eddy+ is top-shelf safe in the dishwasher. $15

 

At some point, your child will start carrying their own weight. When that day blessedly arrives, consider the REI Co-op Tarn 40 for the job. The main packbag can swallow a sleep system, layers, water bottles and even a stuffed friend who may want to join the adventure, while a toplid pouch and stuff-it pocket help kids stay organized. It has a padded hipbelt and back panel that are adjustable like technical adults’ packs, plus it’s made with a durable recycled ripstop nylon that will shrug off moisture.  

 

Outside Inside Backpacker Bocce Set

Outside Inside Backpacker Bocce Set

If you’ve ever heard your child moan, “But there isn’t anything to do!” while hanging out at camp, then this portable bocce set from Outside Inside may be the gift for you. At a mere 12 ounces, the set is light enough to justify bringing on a day hike and small enough to consider for backpacking (it’s the size of a paperback book). Better yet? Bocce is a quick game to learn. $17.95

 

A classic game of Mattel UNO can be a perfect outdoor activity on wind-free days once your kiddo knows their numbers and colors. If you’ve got little ones, opt for teams to start building number sense and strategic thinking. 

 

Prism Designs Pocket Flyer Kite

Prism Designs Pocket Flyer Kite

It doesn’t matter if your kids are 3 or 13, kite flying is always a good time and an easy way to soak in some outdoor time with your loved ones. We like the ultralight Pocket Flyer from Prism Designs for its simple design: A single line makes it easily navigable and the unique split-tail means the kite can handle rougher winds. It weighs less than 4 ounces, too, so your child can carry it to the park all by herself. $27

 

Shop All Gifts for Kids 

 

Need more inspiration? Check out our Best Gifts for Less Than $50, Best Gifts for RunnersBest Gifts for Outdoorsy Dogs (and Their Humans)Best Gifts for Campers, Best Gifts for SkiersBest Gifts for Hikers and Best Gifts for Snowboarders.