Can any spring possibly be considered complete without plenty of time spent outdoors in the company of the people you love most? Whether your family looks forward to an annual camping trip or it's all about hiking and picnicking, there's nothing like plenty of sunshine and fresh air for making the best memories. You never want to underestimate the importance of having the right gear on hand though, as your choices can make or break your experiences.
Yes, an afternoon or a weekend spent enjoying the great outdoors should feel effortless, but the trick to making sure everyone has a great time is lots of planning. Here, we'll touch on some of our favorite go-to essentials to have on hand when it's time to commune with Mother Nature as a family. Each is guaranteed to take your favorite outdoor activities up a notch or two for sure.
Dominate the Hiking Trails
When it comes to outdoor activities that totally deliver a little something for everyone, you really can't beat hiking. Mom and Dad get to satisfy their sense of adventure while the kids get a chance to see wildlife, interesting plants and spectacular vistas. As for the teenagers, there'll be no shortage of Instagram-worthy photo ops. Even the grandparents can come along if you choose a family-friendly trail that isn't overly challenging. Make sure your family's next adventure on your favorite trail is one to remember with the best hiking gear for the season.
Reliable Hiking Boots-If you've ever gone hiking in the wrong shoes, then you don't need to be told just how thoroughly inadequate footwear can ruin an otherwise great day. During the spring, good hiking boots are even more important because of how fickle the weather can be.
Treat your family to new hiking boots from Timberland or Sperry this year-your own personal insurance policy against tough terrain or unexpected weather conditions. Unbeatable support, superior moisture protection and ultra-tough construction will keep everyone comfortable from the first step of your adventure to the last.
Versatile Backpacks-Whether you're only going for a quick lunch hour hike or are planning to make an entire day of it, you don't want to hit the trails without a backpack. Backpacks make carrying everything you need to stay cool, comfortable, prepared and safe a snap, but you really need the right one for the best possible experience.
Try outfitting each member of your family with their own mini backpack from a brand like Kavu. They're lightweight, durable and fun to carry so you'll never feel weighed down or burdened. Plus, there are numerous pockets you can use to stow everything from your phone, to your keys, to your favorite trail mix.
Comfortable Hats-Whether you consider yourself a hat person or not, you definitely want to make sure you're protecting your head well enough while you're out there enjoying the trail. You want something that is comfortable, fits securely and will actually help block the sun's rays
The Bora Bora Booney hat from Columbia Sportswear is a great option. Not only is it comfortable to wear but it features an Omni-Wick sweatband to help draw moisture and sweat away and keep you comfortable during even the hottest days. UPF 50 sun protection helps protect you from the ravages of the sun. Last but not least, an adjustable draw cord keeps your hat in place to get the perfect fit.
Hiking Sandals-If you don't need the protection of a hiking shoe, it may be time to explore hiking sandals. They are one of the most useful items you can wear to the family's next outdoor adventure. They're everything you would expect from a really excellent hiking boot or shoe-supportive, durable, waterproof and comfortable. However, they leave your feet open and free, so you can enjoy the balmy spring weather. They are especially great for fording creeks or rocky coastlines. Outfit each member of your family with a pair for a treat everyone will appreciate!
Camp Like an Absolute Champ
While it's true that great camping experiences are all about "roughing it," we also think it's okay to want a few creature comforts. This is especially the case if you'll be camping with kids, older family members or relatives that might not be as hardcore outdoorsy as everyone else in your group. After all, the goal is for everyone to have a great time. Consider adding the following items to your family's packing list to ensure great experiences you'll be talking about for years to come.
Insulated Drinkware-If you're like most experienced campers, you already know how important it is to have a no-nonsense cooler you can really trust. After all, you can only eat so much peanut butter and trail mix, right? This year, consider taking your mealtimes to the next level by including some thermal drinkware.
We're talking top of the line insulated options like this stylish tumbler from Corkcicle. Triple-insulated technology makes it possible for it to keep drinks cold for up to 25 hours or hot for up to 12 hours. It doesn't freeze or sweat either, so it's perfect for camping. Use yours for everything from your morning coffee or treating the kids to plenty of ice cold lemonade to drink at the campsite.
Portable Lunch Totes-When you're camping with family, it only stands to reason that everyone won't want to do the same thing every single day of your trip. However, you definitely still want to make sure your teenagers and little ones eat a healthy, balanced meal if you're not going to be together at meal time. Portable insulated lunch totes make it simple.
Do your teens want to spend the day hiking on their own? Just fill each kid's insulated lunch tote with nutritious options from your cooler like sandwiches, salads, fruit or wraps and rest easy in the knowledge that it will all stay cold and delicious.
Portable Hammocks-Who says roughing it has to mean forgoing comfort altogether? Camping is that much more enjoyable when you can relax, unwind and regroup in comfort and style the same way you do at home. Trust us when we say you'll need it after a couple of long days on the trails.
That's where a portable outdoor hammock comes in. Camping hammocks are made especially for use in the great outdoors, and they can be set up absolutely anywhere. Just find a good spot and prepare to enjoy a few hours napping in the sun or reading your favorite book. They're durable, weatherproof and fold up to be incredibly compact, so they are great for a camping trip or a trip to the beach.
Make Your Day at the Beach Amazing
If you're lucky enough to live near a coastline or major body of water, then warm weather and family day at the beach probably go hand in hand for you. Just don't make the mistake of thinking the right gear isn't essential for long, lazy afternoons spent soaking up the sun. The following items are absolute must-haves when it's time to experience a little sand and surf as a family. If you're into hitting the beach on a whim while you're already out and about, consider keeping these in the trunk of your car so you're always ready to go.
Zippered Beach Bag-The beach is such a great place to spend time as a family because everyone can do their own thing. The kids can play in the surf and go searching for seashells while Mom enjoys her stack of magazines. Then everyone can come together later on for some sandwiches and some lively conversation. This spring, try ditching that old canvas tote you usually bring in favor of a zippered beach bag instead. It's perfect for keeping everything you need organized and all in one place.
Options like the women's Nooner from Scout are made of durable polyester-twill so they're capable of holding their own against the sand, sun and salt that come with any beach experience. They're also insulated, so you can use them to carry anything from a change of clothes for the kids, to your favorite reading material, to some cold drinks. Last but not least, it zips completely shut, so you don't have to worry about getting sand in your bag or having anything fall out by accident.
Lightweight Kimonos-Even if you're going to the beach to beat the heat, you definitely don't want to be caught without a cover-up. It's all too common for it to be windy or for temperatures to drop unexpectedly. Then there are those days that chilly beach fog rolls in out of nowhere! Naturally, no one wants to bundle up in a jacket or sweater now that spring is officially here.
Kimonos are the perfect solutions. They come in a wide variety of weights, patterns and colors, so it's easy to find one that can handle your needs and weather conditions. Plus, they're wonderfully roomy and flowy. Kimonos make amazing cover-ups for wearing poolside or throwing on over swimwear as well.
Durable Flip-Flops-If you're like most people, you probably think of flip-flops as those flimsy foam things you buy at the corner drugstore. This spring, leave those cheap dollar bins offerings behind and treat your family to some great alternatives from brands like OluKai, Chaco or Crocs instead. Not only are they comfortable and versatile, but they're infinitely more durable. Plus, they're actually supportive, so everyone will stay full of energy on family adventures.
As you can see, planning the perfect family outing doesn't have to be difficult. It just takes a little planning, forethought and creativity when it comes to anticipating everyone's possible needs. How does your family plan on making the most of the beautiful weather and sunshine this spring? What equipment do you depend on to make sure everyone has a great time?