The Best Kids Gear of 2021
Keep family adventures tantrum-free
Helly Hansen Kids Bergen Rain Kit ($80)
The Bergen was our secret weapon during multi-day Oregon showers. It’s waterproof and boasts a remarkably athletic cut, while adjustable suspenders and stretchy stirrup loops make for a snug fit. One tester braved a puddly skate park with a scooter for a whole rainy hour and came home dry.
Sunday Afternoons Kids Wheelie Hat ($24)
Sharp looks and comfort—it has a soft top and back—made the Wheelie stand out in our test. But this lid took the win because when it wasn’t on our child’s head, it stuffed easily in a shorts pocket.
Polar Kids Insulated Water Bottle ($10)
Well-insulated water vessels are often too heavy for little hikers to haul. This one weighs just 3.6 ounces (it won’t weigh down your kiddo) and keeps water cool all day, even in full sun.
Patagonia Baby Standup Shortalls One-Piece ($55)
This practical play suit is made from the same materials as Patagonia’s workwear line, so it lasts long enough to hand down to the cousins. It stood up to hundreds of slide runs and dozens of spills. And, thanks to secure suspenders, it didn’t budge during even the wildest games of tag.
Manda Sun Paste Sunscreen ($28)
Most of the ingredients in this paste, like food-grade organic coconut oil, cinnamon powder, and cacao, could be found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pantry. In practice, this meant we applied it to irritation-prone one-year-old skin without any reaction. We also found that the mudlike substance protected little cheeks four to five times longer than other sunscreens in wet conditions.
Bogs Kicker Strap Dragonfly Shoes ($45)
With its stretchy neoprene upper and small hands-friendly Velcro tightener, the Kicker Strap Dragonfly was easy for our toddler tester to slip on and off by herself. Once secured, the shoe was comfy and sturdy enough for a multi-mile trek and playground rock-wall expedition. Best of all, it’s machine washable.
Fjällräven Kanken Art Mini Pack ($85)
We love the Kanken Art Mini for the same reasons we’re obsessed with its full-size parent. Its squat, square shape swallowed an entire change of clothing, a water bottle, and a snack, but it was sleek enough for our three-year-old tester to wear on full-day excursions without complaining.