Kids' Gear, Backpacker, Spring 2016 Gear Guide

KidGearESSENTIALS: Kids

[Boots]
adidas Outdoor AX2 Mid
“I’m spiderman!” exclaimed one boulder-hopping tyke while wearing in these kicks in Colorado’s Zirkel wilderness. The lugged soles, made with super-sticky Traxion rubber, provided outstanding grip on all surfaces—even wet rocks and roots. The boots proved totally waterproof during deluges, thanks to the Climaproof membrane. The mid-height cut boosts ankle stability and the EVA midsole delivers all-day cushioning, making the AX2 ideal for big trips. And a season of hard wear produced only slight scuffs on the reinforced toe—the hand-me-down prospects look good.
$90; 12 oz.; 10.5 (toddler) to 7 (youth); adidasoutdoor.com

[Pants]
Craghoppers Insect Shield Callie/Cargo Trousers
These quick-drying pants proved tough as armor: In Arches National Park, butt-slides down rock slabs and knee-slamming falls produced no rips or scuffs, thanks to reinforcement patches in key abrasion zones. The nylon fabric repelled drizzle and dried within 15 minutes of a dunking, which kept one five-year-old comfortable through marshy alpine meadows and stream crossings. The pants are treated with permethrin, a bug repellent, but we still used DEET when mosquitoes were bad. Growth spurt? Elastic tabs built into the waistband customize fit.
$55; 8 oz.; 5-12; craghoppers.com

[Softshell]
Stio Kids’ CFS Hooded Jacket
Think of all the reasons you love your favorite softshell—it’s breathable, tough, stretchy, weather-resistant, and so comfortable it’s the only jacket you want to wear all day. Kids feel the same, and they may need one even more than you since they rarely stop moving. Plus, you won’t have to help them change layers as often. “It let my daughter hike uphill without overheating, but also provided wind protection on exposed summits,” one editor says. The stretchy, 75-denier polyester (with 11 percent Spandex) fabric gave one kid-tester free reign for scrambling in Arches National Park.
$89; 8 oz.; 4-14; stio.com

[Hydration Pack]
Osprey HydraJet
Our five-year-old tester loved this pack so much, she slept with it at home. That’s because it looks just like the packs her mom and dad carry--right down to the built-in, 1.5-liter hydration bladder. That actually made everyone happier on the trail. “She definitely drank more during hikes, since she didn’t have to stop to open a water bottle,” her mom says. The mesh-covered, ridged foam backpanel provided adequate ventilation on hot days, and the 15-liter capacity (with a plethora of pockets) carried everything from snacks to stuffed animals.
$70; 12 oz.; one size; ospreypacks.com

[Sun Shirt]
Patagonia Baby Capilene Daily Long Sleeve Crew
Long sleeves in hot weather? This shirt makes sun protection practical, thanks to featherweight polyester (35 percent recycled, with 6 percent Spandex) that provides UPF 50+ sun protection. “Not only does it cut down on greasy sunscreen applications, but it does a great job of protecting my four-year-old’s arms from sharp twigs and underbrush,” one parent says. (Kid’s take: “It’s my favorite.”) It also dries within minutes, so it can pull double-duty as a rash guard for pool and beach wear.
$35; 2 oz.; baby and toddler sizes; patagonia.com