So Christmas is almost here and if your kids are anything like mine they are a little excited. Making constantly changing lists of things to ask for… apparently my oldest is asking me for everything this year because he said “Santa works really hard and needs a break.” Thanks buddy, but what about my break?!?
Anyway, I thought that I would put together a list of things that are great little (and not so little) stocking stuffers or add ons that will be fun and useable tools for your kids when you are “out there”.
This is just a small list. I know there is a lot more than this but I wanted to focus on useable items, not just things that would sit in a backpack for years and years.
Here we go…
- A pair of beginner binoculars – Often we find ourselves on the edge of the ocean or on a mountain view point and can see something in the distance. Whether it’s a bird, or a whale, or a deer, binoculars allow our children to explore even more. Our kids are curious and this is a tool that puts even more power of observation into their hands. It is especially fantastic with birds because it allows them to pick out the finer details for identification.
2. Waterproof Outdoor Journal and pen (this is great for adults too!) – Why not get your kids recording about their adventures, what they saw, where they saw it, how it was different. With these journals they can pull them out in the rain or snow and still write. If they drop it or their pack gets wet… no problem! And the next two items are pretty good to accompany it.
3. Any kind of field guide – This is a simple track identifier that you can laminate and throw in their backpack, but you could get a bird book, plant guide, etc. for your local area. These don’t have to be expensive and you can even make your own with a little internet research and a printer.
4. An Instant Camera – Yes… you could just let them use a digital camera, or your phone to snap photos, but there is something cool about having the photograph in your hand. Plus, if they snap photos of tracks, plants, insects, or just the view they can tuck that instant photo into their journal to go with a little description of the moment. It gives them something tangible to hold, flip through, go back and compare… and really, when was the last time you developed your digital photos.
5. A Compass – What better to teach your children than direction? Strap a compass to the side of their pack and they can always see which way they are going. Use this in conjunction with a map of the area you are hiking and they will acquire an outdoor skill that is timeless.
6. Mini waterproof First-aid kit – Do I need to explain this one?!?
7. Gaiters – I have written posts before on the importance of layering and being able to adjust to changing conditions. Gaiters are light, packable accessories that are perfect for when it starts to rain or throw them onto your kids waterproof boots before snowshoeing to prevent snow from getting in.
8. Headlamp – Yes a flashlight is great but when it comes to hiking and camping it’s always better to go handsfree. Headlamps are light, bright, and very useful. For kids they are perfect because the light goes exactly where they need it… where they are looking. Be careful though, if your kids are like mine every once in a while they will turn to ask you a question and you will get a blinding shot of LED light to the eyes.
9. LifeStraw water filtration system – I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to getting my kids to drink water. It is important for them to hydrate. The LifeStraw is a great survival tool to teach your kids to use. Again, it is something tangible that they can use and learn about.
10. Fire Starter – There are many different kinds of these and they all work pretty much the same way. They are safe and simple to use. If your little adventurer always wants to help light the campfire this is a great way to let them without the worry of a lighter or matches.
11. A Buff – When it comes to versatile hiking, trekking, camping, ski/snowboarding equipment you really can’t beat a Buff. It’s a face-mask, a neck-warmer, a bandana, a headband, etc… They make them in all kinds of great patterns for kids so you should be able to find one that they will love.
12. Swiss army knife or multi-tool – Okay, some of you might be thinking “Give my kid a knife? Are you crazy!?!?” – No, I am not. It is important to explain to your kids that these are not weapons, they are tools. However, these are useful and a great way to show your kid that you trust them and will give them the responsibility of carrying something they will have for a long time. (I still have my first Swiss army knife)
As I said, this is a small list of some simple useable stocking stuffers. Of course there are others and if you have any that I haven’t put on this list please leave me a comment and I’ll add them for next year!
Happy Holidays and Happy Hiking!
The Walking Dad