Gear on test: Kit for kids

Jen and Sim Benson reveal the latest gear to help make walks with children and grandchildren of all ages a success, whatever the weather.

A girl walking along a path, wearing a coat and backpack

Babies and toddlers picks

Kidunk Hooded Top
Sizes 2–6 years
£34.99 (trousers, £24.99) kidunk.com

With its cool looks and innovative features, this tough, stretchy top is becoming a firm favourite. Durable and protective, with a soft and cosy fleece lining and removable hood, it’s ideal for all-day outdoor adventures. The asymmetric zip stays out of the way for uninterrupted playing, while the generous front pocket works well for warming hands or stowing treasure. Matching trousers (sold separately) zip in for all-over protection.

Thule Urban Glide 2 Buggy
Max weight 34kg
£575 thule.com

This tough yet lightweight multi-terrain buggy has large wheels and built-in suspension for a smooth, comfortable ride and easy pushing whether you’re on pavement or trail. It’s also good for running, with one-handed braking. It has a lockable front wheel, a reclining seat, 5-point harness, integrated ventilation and plenty of storage space, and it folds flat when not in use. Bassinet (for newborns) and car seat adapter available separately.

Vivobarefoot Primus
Toddler Shoes
Sizes UK child sizes 4–7
£55 vivobarefoot.com

These toddler shoes combine protective and super-grippy outsoles with lightweight, comfortable uppers. They’re ideal for learning sure-footedness and confidence across a variety of terrain, and there’s no heavy, chunky sole to trip over. They are made from recycled materials and have easy-to-operate Velcro tabs to keep them in place. The range goes up to a UK size 13 for growing feet.

 

 

Ergo Baby Omni 360 All-in-One Cool Air Mesh
Max weight 20kg
£154.90 ergobaby.co.uk

A good sling carries a child safely close to your centre of mass, allowing easy monitoring as you go. This model is suitable for use from birth – supporting the child’s body in an ergonomically correct position – right through to 20kg. From around five months, it can be used for forward-facing and hip carrying. Lightweight and stashable, the padded harness distributes weight brilliantly for all-day-long comfort.

 

Keela Puddlebug
3-in-1 Waterproof Suit
Sizes 6 months – 5 years 
£84.95 keela.co.uk

With its combination of windproof and waterproof outer shell and cosy zip-in fleece, this durable, versatile suit is ideal for year-round adventures. The shell on its own is great for keeping puddles and summer rainstorms out with minimal bulk, while adding the fleece offers warmth for winter excursions. Excellent features include a snug hood, reflective details for safety, and a pocket for all those essential bits and pieces.

Osprey Poco Baby Carrier
Max weight 22kg
£280 ospreyeurope.com

Based around Osprey’s outstanding suspended mesh rucksack design, this sturdy frame carrier has been updated for 2020. A good range of features includes a sunshade, rain cover and toy loops, plus plenty of easy-access storage. It is fairly bulky and heavy to use, but it’s also comfy, cool in hot weather and gives the child a good vantage point from which to see the world. Folds flat for storage.

The Original Muck Boot Company Babies’
First Mucks
Sizes 0–12 months+
£30 muckbootcompany.co.uk
 
Little feet can get cold quickly when taking their first steps outdoors. These warm, waterproof, fleece-lined neoprene booties are perfect for cold weather adventures with really young children. Rip-tape fastenings keep the boots in place, and a lightweight rubberised outsole offers grip and protection.
 
Pacmat Family Picnic Mat
From £29.99 rubbastuff.com
 
Incredibly useful and versatile, these great-looking, British-made mats come in a vast range of sizes and designs. They have a waterproof underside and a soft, quick-drying top, and pack small enough to pop into a rucksack or buggy. Some models also come with a handy mesh stuffsack. As well as being perfect for picnics, they make excellent lightweight playmats, and the smaller sizes work brilliantly for on-the-go nappy changes.

Kids picks

Isbjörn Rain Jacket
Sizes 18 months – 16 years
From £90 isbjornofsweden.com

Sustainable Swedish brand Isbjӧrn’s aim is to equip the adventurers of tomorrow. Its well-thought-out kit is made with top-quality materials and offers impressive comfort and protection. This lightweight, packable, fully waterproof jacket has a snug, adjustable hood and hem and a waterproof zipped pocket. It’s sustainably made using bluesign-approved materials and is treated with a non-toxic water repellent. Matching trousers available.

Craghoppers Akira 
Hybrid Jacket
Sizes 3–13 years
£40 craghoppers.com

This great-looking jacket combines a cosy, zipped, fleece hoodie with insulated panels on the front for extra warmth. It’s comfortable and versatile, working equally well as an outer layer for cool weather or as a mid-layer under a warm or waterproof jacket on cold days. The light, quick-drying fabric is made with recycled materials and treated with SmartDry Eco, a non-toxic water-repellent coating.

Isbjörn Husky Sweater
and Long Johns
Sizes 18 months – 16 years
From £35 each isbjornofsweden.com

A decent baselayer forms the foundation of a great clothing system – and there’s nothing better to put next to a child’s skin than super-soft wool. This versatile top-and-bottoms combo works well either under normal clothing when it’s really cold, or as cosy play – or sleepwear. Ethically sourced, naturally antimicrobial wool is mixed with sustainably grown bamboo to 
add durability. 

Patagonia Micro D Snap-T Fleece Jacket
Sizes XS–XL 
£65 eu.patagonia.com

Made using 100% recycled, Fair Trade- Certified sewn fabric, this cosy yet super-durable fleece takes grown-up specs and applies them to children’s clothing. It features snug, elasticated hood and cuffs, a full-length zip with wind flap, a snap-closure chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets. There’s even a hand-me-down ID label for charting its history.

 
 
Reima Spring Wetter Boots
Sizes EU 24–38
£65 reima.com
 
Good, waterproof children’s footwear can be hard to find. Enter these lovely boots from Finnish brand Reima, which combine a grippy outsole, comfortable upper and stretchy laces for a perfect 
fit, all with ankle-height puddle protection. They’re machine washableat 300C and come in an array of colours, all with reflective details for low-light safety.

 

Jack Wolfskin Force Striker Vent Low K
Sizes EU 31–39 
£60 jack-wolfskin.co.uk

Lightweight and breathable, yet offering all-round protection for growing feet, these trainer-style shoes are ideal for longer walks on technical terrain. The multidirectional tread pattern gives good grip on rock, grass and mud, while the full lacing pulls the upper around the foot for a secure fit. The synthetic materials and lightweight build mean they’re easy to wash and quick drying.

Black Diamond Wiz Headtorch
One size 
£22 eu.blackdiamondequipment.com

Designed for mini adventurers, this lightweight headtorch fits on a child’s head stably and comfortably with plenty of adjustment. The water-resistant two-LED light has full, dimmed, flashing and multicolour modes and tilts to work whichever way up it’s put on. The bulbs and batteries feature a child-safe closure, the elastic strap comes apart for safety, and it powers off after two hours.

Fjӓllrӓven Kånken Mini Backpack
One size
£75 fjallraven.com
 
This mini version of Fjällräven’s classic Kånken is fully adjustable to fit both children and adults. It’s not cheap but it is hard-wearing, comfortable, sustainably made and will last for many years of adventures in the great outdoors, while doubling as a practical bag for school. It has a generous main compartment, two side pockets, easy-access zip pocket, reflective details, and a foam sit cushion for lunch stops.

 

Silva Field Compass
£20 silva.se

Silva’s upgraded entry-level Field model is great for children, with an easy-to-hold baseplate, a rubberised bezel for extra grip and a safety release lanyard. It measures in mm and 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 for use with OS maps.

 

Isbjörn Rain Pant 2L
sizes 1-2 years to 12-13 years
£90-£100 www.isbjornofsweden.com

Made from a tough yet lightweight, two-layer, Bluesign-accredited fabric with a PFC-free water-repellent coating, these waterproof trousers are perfect for puddle jumping. With articulated knees, a soft elasticated waistband, and stirrups to keep them firmly in place, they’ll keep kids dry without restricting movement. This lighter version is best suited to warmer weather or wearing over warm trousers, while a heavier fabric model is also available for winter adventures.

Petzl Tikkid head torch
£27 www.petzl.com 

With its non-blinding yet useful 20-lumen beam and choice of three lighting levels, Petzl’s first child-specific headtorch is ideal for camping or after dark adventures. It features a single button for easy use, protected battery housing and automatic shutoff after an hour. The comfortable, elasticated headband releases under tension for safety. Supplied with three standard batteries, the TIKKID is also compatible with Petzl’s CORE rechargeable battery.

Hydro Flask 12oz Kids’ Bottle
£26.95 www.hydroflask.com 

Sized for smaller hands, this stainless-steel flask with double wall vacuum insulation keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and stays put thanks to a silicon base. The wide mouth opening allows for easy filling and cleaning, and can be used with a lid that features an integrated straw – although this is neither leak-proof nor suitable for use with hot drinks. Available in a range of fun colourways.

Primus Tupike stove
£225 www.primus.eu

With its sleek, oak-trimmed, stainless-steel casing, this stylish double burner brings kitchen-quality gas cooking to the campsite. A real joy to use, it’s very stable and features auto ignition, effective wind shielding and removable drip tray for easy cleaning. Supplied with a non-stick griddle, attached gas hose and adaptors for different canisters, it’s not cheap, but with its combination of top-quality materials and outstanding build quality it should last a lifetime. 

Jack Wolfskin Seaqual Ocean T Kids
£22 www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk

Made from a soft, lightweight, sun protective mix of 60% organic cotton and 40% recycled polyester (using plastic removed from the ocean) these cool looking, stretchy t-shirts have become a firm favourite in our house. With a fun yet important ‘Love the Oceans’ message and a smiley whale graphic, they’re ideal for active, eco-conscious kids keen to do their bit for their planet. Available in a range of colours.

Vaude Stupsi backpack
One size. £40 www.vaude.com

Kids love packing up a few essentials to take adventuring but finding a good rucksack small enough can be tricky. This great choice from Vaude is made with recycled materials and comes in a fun deer design. Padded, easy-to-adjust shoulder and sternum straps keep the pack stable and comfortable, even at high speed. Easy access external mesh pockets stow a jacket and water bottle while reflective details enhance low light visibility.

 

A girl lying on the ground with a backpack and flask

Buyers' tips

Making sure every family member has the right clothing and equipment is an essential part of making the great outdoors an enjoyable and safe place to be, whatever the weather. These positive early experiences can help to forge the foundations of a lifelong love of outdoor adventures. 

When it comes to choosing kit for kids, comfort, protection and the ability to move confidently and without restrictions are all key. So, whenever you can, it’s a good idea to try things on before you buy.

Getting children involved in planning and leading walks is a great way to fire up their enthusiasm. For excellent guides to navigation, Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside web pages have a wealth of useful information, while the handbook Maps and Navigation: Tips and Tricks to Survive in the Wild – part of the Bear Grylls Survival Skills series – is packed with good advice and presented in an engaging and easy-to-understand way.

Our experts 

 

Sim Benson is an outdoor author and photographer with an environmental science background. He is a kit expert with over 15 years working, testing and reviewing in the outdoor industry. 

Jen Benson is an outdoor adventure photographer and writer with an MSc in sport & exercise medicine. Jen is happiest when she is outdoors, and is passionate about exploring Britain’s wild places on foot.