When it's time to go outside adventuring with young children, even as an outdoor playgroup, there are so many gear options to consider bringing with you. In an effort to be minimalists and still have on hand what you need let's show you what's in our bags.
No matter what the weather, here are some constants that come with us when we're exploring in the great outdoors.
- We pack everything into an easy-to-wear backpack, even purse, keys, etc. So preferably it has a few pockets and buckles on the outside to hold gear in its many stages of use.
Snacks / Picnic
- If your adventures happen around meal time, bring food that packs a nutritional punch so more comes from less. High-protein and high-energy foods are key.
- A must. Choose a reusable water bottle that can easily fit (and not spill) in your bag or attach with a clip.
Baby Wearing Gear
- If one of your little ones might nap or want cuddles along the way, this is great to have on hand. Wraps can easily fit into a backpack. Carriers can fold down along your waist or fit / clip into your pack.
Wipes / Damp Soapy Cloth
- While not always needed, when it's needed, I'm always glad I have it. These cloths will come in handy if you step in scat, if kids are covered in mud or hands have who knows what on them.
- We need little in the way of human-made exploration tools at this age. Kids and their use of natural materials is exhilarating to watch. But, as your child grows, there are certain tools that may be a regular part of your budding naturalist's rhythm, including a compass, map, pocket knife, binoculars, journal, etc.
- Hopefully you never need this, but good to have a small kit on hand just in case. Tweezers, tape, band-aids, cleaner, gauze. We go with the basics, but choose what you'd like to add, based on personal preference.
Then there is gear we use based on the type of weather of our exploration day. Unfavorable weather doesn't usually change our plans (except in the case of extreme weather, such as severe lightening, heat waves or blizzards). Instead, we love the phrase, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
- Here, think rain boots, rain jackets and even rain pants / rain jumpers. These will be your best bet at keeping kids dry longer in their play and everyone happier for as long as you're outside.
- When your play is over, it's helpful to have a small towel to dry off with, and something dry to change into, as necessary, and a separate dry bag where you can put all the wet and dirty stuff.
- In the heat, you're often dealing with sun and bugs. Consider sun screen, hats, bug spray and lightweight clothing that covers limbs.
- Certainly not a necessity, but warm weather does lend itself nicely to laying a blanket in the grass as a base to picnic or for parents to sit while kids run off playing.
Ready for Water Play
- Along with the heat, there is much water play - think rivers, creeks or leftover mud and puddles. Depending on your location, plan with wet gear accordingly.
- Let's work our way inward. We have the outer layer of waterproof snow pants, jacket, boots, hats, mittens / gloves. This is our first line of defense from wind and wetness.
- Under all of that, let's wool up our layers. Keeping our core and extremities warm makes cold-weather play more accessible for longer periods of time. Consider wool socks, thermal underwear, wool gloves / mittens under waterproof shells, balaclavas, and neck protection.
- Along with your regular snacks and drinks, consider the power of a small thermos of tea, hot cocoa or soup to keep your explorations going.
- Afraid all that gear might weigh you down and cost you the arm and leg you're looking to protect? Start small and test out what works for your family.
- If you have a group that meets regularly, consider rotating or sharing the load of gear so you're not all bringing everything each time. You can also cut your cost by swapping gear as kids outgrow it.
- Also, if you're arriving to your outing by car, think about having two bags: one that stays in the trunk with gear to change into for the ride back home, the other comes with you full of gear for exploring the outdoors.
So, that's what comes with us on our outdoor adventures. What else do you make room for in gear bag?
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