Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas for Outdoor Children

Christmas is coming and it's impossible not to notice if you live anywhere near an urban centre.  Holiday music is already playing in most major department stores, decorations and trees are on display, 

Here are a few of my Christmas gift ideas for the outdoor children on your list.  Some ideas come straight off my own list for my son, while other items have been purchased for friends over the past year, or been enjoyed so much by us that I have to share!

Every Christmas tree should have a pair of skis under it

Our Favourite Outdoor Themed Books (for toddlers and preschoolers)

  • My first hike by Catherine Maria Woolf 
    •  Grandpa takes his grand kids for their first hike

  • Scare a bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin
    • A funny tale about scaring a bear out of camp

  • Duck Tents by Lynne Berry
    • A group of little ducks go camping and fishing

  • Sheep take a hike by Nancy E Shaw and Margot Apple
    • A cute tale of a group of sheep taking a hike together

  • Camping Day by Patricia Lakin
    • Dinosaurs go camping and get scared by monsters?

  • Hey Pancakes by Tamson Weston
    • Who doesn't want to read a cute story about children making pancakes when camping?

  • Going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
    • A classic!!  Your child will memorize this book and recite it to you on your next hike

  • Caillou Goes Camping by  Roger Harvey
    • Caillou camps in the backyard with Grandpa

  • Just me and my Dad by Mercer Mayer
    • Dad and his Little Critter go fishing and canoeing together

  • Just camping out by Mercer Mayer
    • Another Little Critter book - this one about camping

  • The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail by  Stan and Jan Berenstain
    • Who doesn't like a hilarious Berenstain Bears book?   In this one, Pa tries to help the kids earn their Boy Scout Merit badges for hiking

  • Curious George goes Camping by Margret and H.A. Rey’s
    • Fans of Curious George will love his camping adventures

  • Do Princesses wear hiking boots by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
    • A little girl asks if Princesses have to brush their teeth, have to clean their room, and - even if they wear hiking boots?  Great for the outdoor princess on your shopping list!

Story time at Camp

Give your children their very own gear - just like Mommy and Daddy 


  • A Sleeping Bag designed especially for children
  • Their own backpack for day hikes
  • Skis or snowshoes of their own
  • A Strider Balance Pre-Bike
    • Kids can practice inside through the winter or take it outside on warm days 
    • In Calgary, purchase your bike from CalgaryStrider.Com

  • A canoe or kayak paddle just their size
  • Their own headlamp for camping
  • Skates and a hockey stick cut down to size
    • Toddlers will do well on a pair of $10 BOB skates from Canadian Tire for their first season.  These double blade skates give them the confidence to get on the ice and have fun without fear of falling constantly.
    • For preschoolers, look at adjustable skates that will grow with your child over a couple of years.
    • Don't spend a lot of money on a hockey stick.  We bought a simple stick at Canadian Tire and then cut it down to size. 
The Kid's Deuter Day Pack


Give your child the gift of warmth this winter season


  • A Buff - the best scarf, face mask, neck warmer, head band, and bandanna - all in one!
    •  We got our son a children's sized buff from the Trail Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre last winter.  Best gift ever!!  He wears it as a neck warmer and then we pull it over his mouth and nose when it's cold instead of a scarf.  It's easier to breath than a heavy fleece scarf and just as warm!  We also use it to wipe his runny nose or wipe tears from his eyes as needed.  - It gets washed a lot!  He loves it and asks for it when we go outside.

  • Down Booties for backcountry trips
    •  Babies and toddlers can wear these in a sled instead of boots.  Older children can use these camping and as slippers when staying in backcountry huts or hostels. 

  • A North Face Reversible Perrito Jacket
    • If you are in Calgary, you can buy this jacket from the Great Outdoors Store
    • This is hands down the BEST jacket I have ever found for toddlers and preschoolers.  It's just as warm as a down jacket without the bulkiness.  One by one I'm converting all of my outdoor friends with children to this jacket.  North Face also sells a similar down jacket if you find that you need something warmer but we LOVE our Perrito Jacket and  my son wears it year round for camping, hiking, playing in the snow, and skiing.  There are a number of different colours for boys and girls available.

  • The MEC Toaster Suit
    •  My son lived in this his first couple of winters.  It's incredibly warm and there are no gaps for snow or cold to get in because of it's one-piece design.  They fit big so you'll usually be able to get two years out of them - bonus!!

  • The MEC Newt Suit
    • This is the best one-piece Rain suit you can buy locally.   My son wears it for puddle jumping, bike riding in the rain, hiking year round, and any time the weather looks variable on our trips to the mountains.
The MEC Toaster Suit

Not to be forgotten - here's a few outdoor-themed toys and fun items as well

  • Toy camping stoves
    • ToysRus has a model that looks fun called the Grill and Go Camp Stove
    •  Our son has a wooden model - the Camping Stove Play set - complete with pancake, hot dog, and S'more maker.  I believe it came from Chapters or Indigo.

  • Playmobile camping themed sets
  • Calico Critters camping themed sets
  • Lego or Duplo camping themed building blocks
  • Leap Frog Toys for road trips and down time while camping
    • Our son has a Leap Frog Tag Reader Junior and it comes on every camping trip with us.  He reads the books for down time, and it easily fits in a backpack for overnight trips with a few favourite books.
    • This year we are upgrading to a Leap Pad which will  be great for long road trips and even comes equipped with a camera.

  • Your child's very own camera for their next hike or nature walk
    • The Vtech Kidizoom Camera has good reviews 
    • Alternately, many families choose to give their child a real camera and have the child grow with it over the years.  Look for something that's durable and can handle being dropped if you go that route. 

  • A new Camelbak Kid's Water Bottle
    •  They come in various colours for both boys and girls. 

Birthday present last year


Check out my Complete Set of Holiday Gift Guides

A Holiday Gift Guide for Active Kids 



  1. this is super. Thank you! I was struggling btwn buying a tent or camping supplies for the boys. I think I will stick to the more individual presents and get the tent when I am ready to:)

  2. You definitely need to get Buff to give you some mom & kid sets to give away!

    1. On my list of people to contact. Was trying to line up our winter trips first. :)

  3. Phew! Thanks one heck of a list! Fantastic ideas, Tanya! :-)

    1. Thanks. Only took a few seconds to whip the list up. ;)

  4. Great ideas! And great pictures! "Sheep Take A Hike" is on our list for santa :)

    1. Thanks. I want to get most of those books too. We got them out of the library last summer and renewed them three times each!

  5. I think you've covered it all! I especially enjoyed your book list! Thanks!

    1. Thanks. Now I have to actually buy most of the books on that list. :) We had them out of the library most of last summer and read them over and over on every camping trip.

  6. I like this gift list too! Have been looking for good ideas for my kids and nieces. : )

  7. You've listed good gift ideas for outdoor. Superb!
    Clothes and gear like Piggyback Rider child carrier for your outdoors can be great.