Gear of the Year - Rug Rat Edition

My Rug Rats get the lion's share of the holiday gifts, and honestly that is how I prefer it.  Nothing makes me happier than the giant smile on my boy's face or the squeal of excitement my little girl makes when it's time to dig the presents out from under the tree.

Now that the Holiday's are over, and you inevitably have "exchanges" to do, here are a few items the little ones will appreciate. Monster trucks and Barbie dolls are great and all, but here is a list of kids gear that will induce joy without couch-lock.

Old Town's Heron Jr. Kayak:  Looking to get your Mimi-Me out on the water with you?  This Jr kayak is no toy, it's the real deal only smaller.  Built to the same standards as their full-size yaks, this little guy will last for years.  Incredibly stable and easy to paddle, your kids will be able to build confidence and skill right out of the box.  When they are all tuckered out, the Heron Jr has a super slick "Tag Along Tow System" so you can pull them back to camp when the time comes.
MSRP: $350

Keen's Darby Boots:  Who says winter boots need to look like polar expedition equipment?  The Darby boots from Keen make living in the frozen tundra fashionable for even the littlest divas.  Perfect for everyday use, these rugged and warm boots have style to spare.  Real leather and plaid flannel provide both durability and protection from the elements.  A full zipper makes entry and exit a breeze, so no more struggling to get their little feet in these boots.  Available in Black, Java and Sweet Grape, your little princess can be the envy of the playground.
MSRP: $70

Liberty Bottles Kids Collection:  Juice boxes and disposable water bottles are so 1990.  Why subject your kids to the shame of drinking from some sub-par container.  Liberty bottles has a whole line of smaller (12 & 16 ounce) bottles with nearly 30 graphics any youngster will love.  Made to the same standards as their full size bottles, and from 100% recycled aluminum which is Deep Drawn for maximum durability and is 100% BPA free.  All are available with the secure 1/4 turn snap lock lid or their sport lid with integrated straw.
MSRP: $15 to $18

The Park Rat from StepChild Snowboards: Kids are hard on gear.  I know this is not a revelation, but keeping that in mind when choosing gear is a must.  There are a ton of brands making snowboards for the "grom" market.  Some are cheap, nearly disposable "snowboards" which aren't worth a darn, others are simply mini versions of adult boards with the price tag to prove it.  My 65 pound 8-year-old is absolutely in love with this one. The Park Rat steals all the technology and design of full size boards, making your little ripper instantly better.  The first couple of sessions on this deck and I couldn't wipe the smile off of wee-man's face.  Agile and responsive and incredibly forgiving, it was like he strapped confidence to his boots and was off.  Where StepChild really got it right was in the material selection.  This stick is practically indestructible.  It's been in all kinds of sketchy conditions and is still pristine.  StepChild calls it Armorcore (tm), not sure what it is exactly, but it seems to be working...  Available online for $220

Kamik's Kid's Sledding Boots:  Nothing cuts a day of fun outside in the snow short quite like frozen toes.  Keeping a munchkin's extremities warm may be the hardest part of enjoying winter activities.  Born from expedition worthy construction, these kids boots are rated to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The bungee lacing system helps kids get in and out themselves, but still hold tight to keep the snow out.  Rugged traction helps little legs get back up the hill and bomber water resistance keeps little toes dry.  If you are looking for all purpose winter footwear to keep the kids off the couch...  these'll do the trick.  MSRP: $59.50

Nathan's Knife Kit from CRKT:  I carry a pocket knife almost always, and teaching my kids to respect and use a knife as intended is no small task.  With Nathan's Kit I was able to show my son how a folding knife works, how to maintain  it properly and he gets to "play" with it all he wants.  There's nothing better than watching him share his knowledge with his little sister.  2 future knife junkies in the making. We did a full review of this kit which can be found HERE.  MSRP: $14.99

Ryder's Eyewear Remix Goggles:  I am not sure why there is such a huge gap between "kids" gear and "adult" gear, but goggles is one area where the space in-between seems huge.  The remix goggles from Ryders are simply made for smaller faces.  Scratch-proof polarized lenses protect little eyes from wind, snow and bright light.  Available in 7 frame styles and 3 lens options, you can get the set-up that's just right. Best part is MSRP is only $40...

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