The Best Kids’ Gear of 2022
A cool kit for eager little adventurers
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Children are some of the most exacting gear testers: they’re hard on their clothing and equipment and simply won’t tolerate poor performance in areas like comfort, breathability, and waterproofing (a rain shell that wets out is a first-class ticket to Meltdown Town). We enlisted a horde of active kiddos to put this season’s children’s gear through the wringer. These are the pieces that rose to the top.
Keen Newport Shoe Booties ($65)
Kids can now wear Keen’s classic sandals year round. The Newport Shoe features the same grippy, lugged soles and durable webbing straps, but with a neoprene liner that acts like a wetsuit in chilly creeks. (4T–7)
Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Sun Guardian Hat ($25)
With its three-and-a-quarter-inch straw brim, we assumed the Sun Guardian would be too unwieldy for our wee testers. But at under four ounces, with an elastic sweatband that dials in the fit, this hat quickly became a favorite for hot river days.
Knockaround Sunglasses Rainbow Blues Kids’ Premium Shades ($22)
Knockaround’s lenses offer UV400 protection (among the highest level possible) and emerged unscathed after months of being dropped and shoved into backpacks. Still, they’re affordable enough to risk losing.
Patagonia Isthmus Anorak ($75)
This two-layer shell kept one toddler dry during 45 minutes of light rain. The kangaroo pouch (snap-shut for boys, zippered for girls) was easy for little hands to operate, and the supple mesh liner played nice with sensitive toddler skin. (3M–-kids XXL)
Pact Going Places Joggers ($30)
Kids’ sweatpants tend to look schlubby and slip down from highly active waists. With slim leg openings and elastic cuffs, this organic-cotton pair fits like top-shelf athleisure and stayed up during intense playground chases. They’re also soft enough to double as PJs. (12/18M–10/12)
SOL Camp Critter Kit ($10)
The best way to start talking with your toddlers about wilderness preparedness? Give them their own survival kit. This is the first kid-specific one we’ve seen. It includes a compass, paracord, space blanket, and a rescue whistle, and comes in a cartoon-animal case they’ll want to carry everywhere.
Woom 2 Bike ($359)
At 12.3 pounds, the Woom 2 is about 40 percent lighter than most other kids’ bikes, making it easier for small bodies to handle. That, plus its low geometry, smoothed the transition from balancing to pedaling for one tentative tester. Knobby 14-inch tires are ideal for exploring campsites and mellow trails.
Black Diamond Capitan MIPS Kids’ Helmet ($95)
This dual-cert climbing and biking helmet marries MIPS technology with a low-profile head cradle that kept little noggins secure without pinching during hours-long bike and scooter adventures.
The North Face Toddler Thermoball Eco Hoodie ($99)
The kid version of this classic jacket has the same fully recycled synthetic fill as its adult counterpart. It kept one mini warm on a rainy 50-degree park day, while an elastic band held the three-piece insulated hood snug in place of a beanie. (2T–6)