I’ll get straight to the point: we don’t believe you need a lot of fancy, expensive, new gear to adventure in the outdoors with kids. If you have been playing in the outdoors yourself for many years, you’ve probably splurged on some good quality clothing or the lightest pack available, but your intention was most likely to use it for the next 10-20 years. For example, I still have the Whisperlite stove I used hiking the Appalachian Trail over 20 years ago, and it still works great. But kids grow quickly and (unless you have a teenager) the gear probably won’t fit them in a few years, so it’s usually not worth it to buy them expensive gear.
Our recommendation is to use hand-me-downs and second-hand gear whenever possible or find deals at end of season sales or discount websites. This is why it is our philosophy on this website to share the types of things to look for in gear for kids rather than the exact brand name because you can’t predict what your friend will give you or what you’ll find at a discount. If you understand what characteristics matter to you, then you can decide which characteristics to compromise on and if the discount gear will work for you.
We believe in saving your money to buy new stuff in cases where you can’t find a used item, where the item is specialized or a safety item, when you know you’ll use it a lot and pass it on to your other kids, or when you know that a certain feature is really important for your family.
Examples of new items we’ve bought:
Here are some tips on where to get used or discount items (and I’ll keep adding to this list as I get more suggestions):
Go have fun out there with your kids, and don’t spend a lot of money doing it!
Helmet: used race helmet from a friend so we know the history of it
Goggles: new (we usually wear them until they fall apart)
Poles: new (cheap)
Skis/boots: Any Mountain season rental
Photo credit: R. Murphy
Thanks to RM, TM, and KR for the hand-me-downs!
Two Silicon Valley engineers who have had a love of the outdoors since childhood. Parents of two small kids, spending our free time exploring the outdoors with them.