Across Canada, from coast to coast, families are getting outside and exploring together. Our country is HUGE and the adventures are limitless. There’s something for every family out there, for every interest and ability. Need inspiration? Check out #CanadianOutdoorFamilies on Instagram to discover your next Canadian family adventure.
To help families explore our beautiful country, I’ve asked Canadian outdoor family bloggers from across Canada to share their “must-have” outdoor gear for family adventures. Whether you’re setting out on a very first family hike or going on a multi-day hike in the Canadian Rockies here’s what other adventuring families reach for before heading out.
Josée from Backwoods Mama (British Columbia)
Must Have Gear: Platypus Big Zip Hydration System (1.5 L)
Keeping hydrated is key to happy family adventures, but instead of reaching for water bottles, which can be uncomfortable to carry and prone to leaking, we use water bladders instead. My favourite water bladder system is the Platypus Big Zip LP. The wide mouth of the Platypus makes it easy to fill and easy to clean. The plastic is BPA, BPS, phthalate-free and taste free! The other great feature about the Platypus is the quick release hose. The hose can detach from the bag making it easy to refill the water bladder or to hook up to the Platypus Gravityworks filter system. While the Platypus is a great option for adults and youth, kids can carry their own water bladder with the CamelBak Mini M.u.l.e.. This water system can still fit 1.5L but is designed to fit young explorers.
Annika from Born to be Adventurous (Alberta)
Must Have Gear: Onya Baby Pure with the Hipster Attachment
I love that the Onya Pure is lightweight, compactable and easily adjustable for different body types. The material is breathable and great for hot summer days since there is a vent that opens at the front. The Onya Pure comes on most adventures I do with my two little girls. My 2 year old is able to jump in and out of the carrier and the lightweight material makes it easy to carry. The Hipster is Onya Baby’s fanny pack attachement that is large enough to carry a diaper, phone and some snacks for the girls. I actually have two hipsters. I’m not only trying to bring back the fanny pack look, but the double fanny pack look! lol.
Tanya from Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies (Alberta)
Must Have Gear: Dusckday One Piece Ski Suit
We’ve used the Ducksday rain suits and snow suits for the past several years and we love them for several reasons. Because they are one-piece suits, my son can play in deep snow without getting snow down his ski pants, inside his jacket, or anywhere else next to his skin. There’s no jacket/pant gap with these. They are very waterproof, extremely warm (and we’ve tested this down to -30,) and comfortable to play in. My son is very mobile in these suits and they don’t feel bulky. I also like that they run large, so we get two years out of each suit. We’ve used both the rain and snow suit in the snow – the only difference being that the snow suit is warmer and requires less layers underneath. Otherwise, we’ve done plenty of winter adventures in both. They are extremely durable too. Never a whole, a rip, or anything with our suits.
Where to buy Canada/USA: Ollie and Stella: Children’s Outfitters
Monica from Maman on the Trail (Ontario)
Must Have Gear: luv mother merino wool clothing
We absolutely LUV our luv mother merino wool clothing for all of our outdoor adventures. Merino wool is tough, breathable, odour- and stain-resistant, and works to keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. What more could you ask for from your clothing? Our toddlers, Huckleberry, wears his luv mother merino wool like a uniform for the outdoors – whether it’s -20ºc or +35ºc he’s dressed from head-to-toe in merino wool. And luv mother is a Canadian brand out of Montreal, which makes us happy as we love to support local as much as possible!
More merino luv: 12 Reasons to Love Merino Wool All Year Long
Karen from Off-Road Discovery (Alberta)
Must Have Gear: Grand Canyon Table
Our family of 4, including a 2 year old and 3 year old, enjoy a lot of back-country car camping in the Rocky Mountains during spring, summer and early fall. One simple yet essential piece of gear has made cooking significantly easier while camping, a table. We use and love the light weight aluminium fold away Travel Chair – Grand Canyon Table. We use the table when we pull over to have a picnic and to cook on when back-country car camping as well as in campgrounds. The adjustable legs allow for easy set up on uneven ground. Fold the legs lower and use it as a game table with camp chairs. The table offers a convenient space to cook on without taking up space on a picnic table and keeps the hot cook top away from where the kids are eating. It folds away very thin and comes in a carry bag so it easily slides between bags in our trunk or ski box. We couldn’t imagine camping without it.
Lindsay from Our Hundred Acre Wood (Alberta)
Must Have Gear: Exped Synmat Duo HL Sleeping Pad (size medium)
After years of competitive sports, planting trees, and lugging around small children, combined with some bad genetics, this mama’s back needs some TLC while camping otherwise I can hardly move the next morning. This sleeping pad has saved me this summer! Bonus, it’s super light, has an r-value suitable for spring to fall camping, and — my favourite part — it is a must-have if you are a co-sleeping and/or nursing mama! There are two cavities for air and I don’t feel my daughter move, she is close by and at the same level as me which makes tending to her night-wakings a cinch, even in the tent. I wouldn’t use the medium-sized mat for two adults, but it is perfect for an adult and a child, or luxurious for two children.
Sarah from Rockies Girl (Alberta)
Must Have Gear: Sunday Afternoon Hats
One of our favourite pieces of outdoor gear are our Sunday Afternoon hats. The kids love wearing them and they have a wide brim and a chin strap (with quick release snap) to keep them on their heads when it’s windy. Our other favourite is the Patagonia Down Sweater. While not worn in the picture above, they were packed in the backpacks we brought on that hike. They’re lightweight and take up almost no room but are incredibly warm and have lots of room to layer underneath.
Mar from To & Fro (Ontario)
Must Have Gear: MEC Happytrails Child Carrier Backpack
I love our BOB Revolution stroller, but sometimes, it just doesn’t do the trick. When our family wants to head off the beaten path, we rely on the MEC Happytrails Child Carrier Backpack. The adjustable straps of this carrier allow you to balance the weight, and the removable sunshield is key to keeping the sun off your child. It also comes with a removable daypack, which can easily double as a diaper bag. And, at only $159 CAD, it is affordable for the family on a budget.