“In The Open 2015” consists of the gear we choose, use and abuse every time we step out the door, winter or summer. It is the gear we love and need. The gear we’d recommend.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and we have by no means tested or tried every great piece of gear out there. This is simply what we love and quite simply can’t adventure without. We hope it helps you “gear up” for your next big adventure.
Deuter is onto something here: They are making excellent packs at even better prices. For $185, you can have a backpack which you can use for climbing approaches, long day hikes, and week-long trips. It carries loads comfortably and has all the features you need, with nothing you don’t.
The SL is Deuter’s version of a woman specific fit. I found it incredibly comfortable. Sits on my hips without rubbing or bruising on the hip bones. Shoulder straps are narrower = very comfortable on my shoulders. I’d highly suggest this pack just for this reason.
This is my go-to adventure bag. A small compartment with room for my DSLR camera and 1 extra lens + large cargo area up top for extra layers, food, etc. Also hydration system compatible and very comfortable.
This is by far our most used, most versatile kid’s pack. It easily fits 3 kid harnesses, shoes, chalk bags, and helmets. This is also the perfect kid pack for multi-day trips, with just enough room for a sleeping bag, pad, and some clothing, without allowing us to accidentally overload our young kids on the trail.
The all new Kid Comfort Air is Deuter’s first kid carrier to integrate the Aircomfort back system which maximizes ventilation and helps reduce perspiration by up to 25%. In short, this pack has everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Compared to “fully loaded” packs like the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 or the Kelty Pathfinder, this is a very simplified pack. It has one storage compartment under the seat and a suspended mesh panel on the back. You can put a hydration system in the main cargo area easily.
These backcountry quilts are amazing for the whole family! If your kids toss and turn, this is a great option for keeping them warm and centered over their sleeping pad. The synthetic options are fantastic if you are worried about the quilt getting wet and needing to retain warmth or if you want to spend a little less. Overall a fantastic product. We’ve been won over to the backcountry quilt movement!
This tent truly is a four-man tent. In fact, with three of our people being kids, we could easily fit my husband and the dog in the tent as well. Making it a 5 man plus one large dog tent! And it weighs in at 6 lb 8 oz. Sure, there are a few tents lighter (by only 1 lbs.) but very few family tents are that light!
This is a great pad across the spectrum of ages. I used it all summer. But it’s also a secret bullet for kids whole wiggle so much they cannot stay on a pad or in a sleeping bag. The air chambers create a “cradling” effect, that keeps the kids in place all night long.
Layering Up or Down
The Skida hats, headbands and gators we have tested are lined with warm fleece but also lightweight and less bulky than many other winter hats. They are perfect for high alpine backpacking in addition to our normal winter regiment of skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. Not to mention awesome patterns for the whole family!
I love this hoodie. For some (most?) people $160 on a hoodie will seem outlandish. And, if you want one to just sit around the house in, it is. However, this is not just a basic hoodie. It is functional beyond its peers and performs better than most technical jackets. And it looks sharp. As long as it holds up (only time will tell), I’d drop the cash on it.
This is the best technical layer I’ve used and maybe the most versatile. It fits and wears like the hoodie you always want on. Performs like a rockin’ wind shell. Is tough enough to handle night after night of climbing granite cracks in early spring, but also looks cute enough to wear as an everyday jacket. I would highly suggest this jacket and it will be my best buddy on all the backpacking trips this summer!
Merino is our new best friend. And IOMerino claims to have the softest merino on the market. After owning a variety of brands, I agree. Their merino is super soft, high performing, and the layer I find myself choosing over others.
Sunday Afternoons makes and designs a fantastic line of sun wear for the whole family. A great buy for the family looking to limit sunscreen usage, and wanting higher quality clothing that will last through many kids.
Evert piece of Stonewear Designs clothing I own, I love. Period. But the Rockin’ Pant is my favorite pant for hiking and climbing, with a zippered leg pocket perfect for my Iphone, and a high waist that doesn’t move or bunch under a harness. The Sprinter Tights are awesome for hiking, wearing as a layer under ski pants for touring, and dress up with a tunic or sweater for night son the town.
My oldest daughter wears her Nuu-Muu exercise dress everywhere. Climbing. Backpacking. Hiking. Over jeans to class. It is comfortable, quick dry, versatile, and completely adorable!
By and far the best kid’s mitten I’ve found. They keep my kid’s hands warm and don’t fall off! The extra long sleeve that goes up to the elbow means no snow down or up their cuffs while playing or after a wipe out.
This is a lightweight, quick-drying PrimaLoft insulated jacket that is a perfect layer for use year-round or in mild climates. This jacket packs down small and is perfect for camping or backpacking in the summer. The rugged mini-ripstop shell repels water and snow making it a perfect choice for our fall hikes and as a layer under a hardshell for ski season.
Warm, packable, and high performing but with family friendly additions that make this mom happy. It is the only quality down jacket I’ve found with growth cuffs. It is perfect for the committed adventure family or those who don’t mind dropping the money on their kid’s gear.
For the Feet
One of my favorite shoes in my arsenal, and a great all-around shoe for those who want a lightweight, low profile hiker that is great for rocky scrambles as well. I have had not a single moment of “traction lost” including climbing and scrambling on exposed 4th class and 5th class. They held their edges and smeared like a dream.
When I first got these climbing shoes I thought, “Ugh Oh. They are far to comfortable to actually perform like I want them too,” And I have been wrong. They are comfortable AND have worked well on everything I’ve thrown at them: slab, sandstone, granite crack, etc.
Quite simply, these are the shoe we have and will continue buying for our kids. They come with an adjustable heel which allows you to customize the fit to your child and they are the best priced kid’s climbing shoe on the market.
These snowboots are rated down to -58 degrees F! A buckle around the ankle allows you to tighten if necessary. But my favorite part? They are still lightweight. Much lighter than any other pair of snow boots I’ve tried.
These shoes have weathered over two years of abuse from my son (a record) and are still his favorite shoes. In fact, they are the first shoe he has asked to get again, just in a bigger size. They are easy to get on off, have room, comfort and flexibility for a growing foot, and are rugged enough for day hiking and playgrounds alike.
If you are looking for a rugged and warm boot that fits more like a hiking boot, the Keen Basin WP is perfect. Unlike most snow boots, these fit through the foot more like a shoe, allowing comfortable hiking or long miles in snowshoes without the sloppy or sluggish feeling of a looser boot. Have I mentioned that have been through two kids and still look perfect for kid #3?!
Small but Significant
These are by far the best sun hats we have found for our kids. Our largest obstacles have been 1. that many sun hats are… hot and 2. They are “one size” meaning I need to purchase another the next year, or they are huge. Sunday Afternoons designs fantastic hats for every family’s preferences.
These mugs are great for hot or cold drinks, as bowls for backpacking, and can be used as measuring cups for cooking. The stow easily in a backpack and we store headlamps and eating utensils in them when we are on the trail.
This little LED “buggy” looking light is my newest favorite piece of gear…for all sorts of outdoor adventures. This small light can be clipped on the outside of a pack. With 4 mold-able legs, it can be attached anywhere, hung from a tent, fastened on handle bars, or used as a book light. And it is bright! I could see clearly 12-15 feet ahead of us, sometimes more. The best part? It weighs almost nothing and the kids can spend hours playing with it.
This is our go-to bottle for keeping cold things cold and hot things hot. I belive they are the best vacuum insulated bottle on the market. Just know this: they aren’t only water bottles, they are travel mugs, thermos, and beer grawlers too. And if you are looking to store food, well they make a whole line of food containers too.
The camera strap that allows you to access your camera quickly, while also securing it to your side while hiking, skiing, etc. The under arm strap allows you to bend over without the strap sliding, as well as keeps the strap from slipping off your shoulder when you are wearing “slippery” gear, like a nylon jacket. This strap is on 98% of our adventures.
- Stretchy band is light and comfortable. Metal ID tab slips on/off, so you can upgrade the color or size easily for yourself or your kids as they grow. Fits well under mittens/gloves/jacket cuffs. Perfect for water sports or active endeavors.
- Cost is minimal. Wrist Slim : $17.99 Replacement bands: $1.99
Headsweats Visors and Headwear
I learned this last year that not all visors are created equal. The headsweats visor has an elastic band that doesn’t require adjustment, slips on easily and stays in place. The main part of the visor is a terry cloth sweatband and the fabric used on the visor and bill does not stain from sweat.