outdoor photo collage with text "the best summer adventures and gear for outdoor fun

Best Outdoor Gear Reviews and Summer Adventures

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in my disclaimer.

#OutdoorFamilyGear Giveaway | This post is sponsored by Fenix and the brands within.

Summer is right around the corner and we’ve rounded up the best outdoor gear reviews to fuel your summer adventures. I’ve worked with four other family travel and outdoor content creators to come up with the best gear and adventures to make this summer one to remember.

After a year and half of craziness, we all deserve some summer outdoor fun, right? I hope the outdoor gear and adventures reviewed below help you in your summer adventure planning. Here in Montana, we don’t get many summer days, so we have to take full advantage of the long light to get outside and play.

This post is a collaboration with the following fellow outdoor bloggers: Jessica at Bring the Kids, Amelia at Tales of a Mountain Mama, Nicky at Little Family Adventure and Karilyn at No Back Home.


Best Outdoor Gear Reviews and Summer Adventures

Best Outdoor Gear Reviews and Summer Adventures

Fenix

Fenix lighting products are known for their high quality and being rich in features. I especially love that they are rechargeable so you aren’t throwing away batteries. We have three ways to light up your campsite or backyard in this summer gear guide.

best rechargeable camping lantern

Fenix CL30R USB Rechargeable Camping Lantern

This camping lantern is bright enough to light up your picnic table for a nighttime card game or an entire room in the house when the electricity goes out. Plus, you can charge phones, tablets, or speakers through the USB port.

There are five brightness levels plus emergency flashing.

Get the Fenix CL30R Camping Lantern here.

best rechargeable headlamp for camping

Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp

When you want to take your light to go, strap on the Fenix HL18R-T rechargeable headlamp. The sporty headband adjusts with one hand and the lamp has three levels of brightness: spotlight, floodlight, and SOS.

The Fenix HL18R-T headlamp is lightweight making it perfect for a night hike or run.

Get the Fenix HL18R-T Rechargeable Headlamp here. 

Fenix E28R Rechargeable Flashlight

Fenix E28R Rechargeable Flashlight

This flashlight can blast a maximum 1500 lumens a distance of 656ft, perfect for a night hike or to keep in the car for emergencies. It’s surprisingly powerful given its small size. Thanks to its ultrathin optical lens, the E28R creates a soft and balanced beam. There’s even a battery level indicator so you always know when it is time to recharge.

Get the Fenix E28R Rechargeable Flashlight here. 


best hiking boots Oboz

Sypes Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot | Oboz Footwear

I’ve been wearing Oboz Footwear for years and love it. It’s my go-to for hiking shoes and boots.

The new Sypes Collection combines all the things I love about Oboz — style, durability, comfort, eco-friendly materials — with a look that works for trail days and town days alike. And it’s pretty fun that the company is just over the hill in Bozeman and I have hiked the Sypes Canyon Trail many times.

Oboz shoes are one of the few brands where I don’t replace the insoles. Their insoles are made with Bloom Algae technology that uses sustainable algae biomass. And they are super comfy and supportive.

The laces and webbing on the Sypes shoes are made out of recycled plastic bottles and the add high-tenacity fibers to the uppers so they last a long time. The Sypes Mid Waterproof boot comes in men’s and women’s styles and fit.

Plus, they plant a tree for every pair of shoes they sell.

Get the Oboz Sypes Collection hiking boots here.


softest wool blanket for kids and babies

Adventure Blanket | Iksplor

The 48X48 inch Adventure Blanket is ideal for swaddling when they are little, sleeping under as they get older, traveling, or just having a good snuggle. Since it’s so big, it really works for all ages. It comes in midnight blue and teal (which you know I love.) It’s lightweight and easy to pack so you can take it anywhere -from the campsite to an airplane.

The Adventure Blanket is made from merino wool. If I could, I would have (almost) all my clothes made from merino wool because it is soft, antimicrobial, moisture wicking, and it’s chemical free. Bonus- it’s machine washable, but it doesn’t need to be washed as often as other fabrics.

Eco-responsibility is important to me, so I appreciate that Iksplor’s mission is “to minimize our environmental harm and leave our planet healthier and happier for future generations.” When you buy high quality, chemical free textiles it’s better for the planet. Since it lasts longer, you buy less, creating less waste.

Get the Ikslpor Adventure Blanket here.


find a dude ranch

Dude Ranch Vacations | Dude Ranchers’ Association

We’ve stayed at a couple dude ranches and had such a good time. When I am helping people plan their trips to Yellowstone and Montana, I often recommend a dude ranch stay because it’s such a great family vacation.

There is something for everyone to do, whether that’s riding horses, swimming, hiking, archery, canoeing, wagon rides, and so much more. Some dude ranches even have spa services. Dude ranches are especially great for multi-generational travel because of all the different activities — there is something for every age.

If you are traveling with a group or planning a family reunion, you may be able to rent the whole ranch and have it to yourselves. And if you are traveling with just your immediate family, it’s a great place to meet new friends.

Check out the Dude Ranchers’ Association page to find the perfect dude ranch.


PepperLight 2-in-1 Flashlight Pepper Spray | Sabre

I already like SABRE for their bear spray and the PepperLight is just as useful. The PepperLight is a flashlight and pepper spray combo that’s small but powerful.

The the industry-leading pepper spray is part of a flashlight with the highest rated brightness and distance for a flashlight/pepper spray combination. It’s lightweight, durable, and water resistant. Just clip it to your belt and you’ll forget it’s there until you need it.

Police strength pepper spray provides maximum security in a powerful stream to reduce wind blowback and protect from a distance with a 10-foot range and 25 bursts (5x more than other brands). Refill pepper spray is available should you use your pepper spray or it expires.

Like bear spray, you hope never to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s available when you set out on a road trip this summer or are hanging around a campsite.

Get the Sabre PepperLight here.


glamping near Yellowstone

Glamping Hub

If you want to spend your summer vacation camping, but without having to sleep on the ground and use an outhouse, I highly recommend glamping. Wherever you want to clamp (can that be used as a verb?), Glamping Hub makes it easy to find a property.

Glamping Hub is a online booking platform that specializes in luxury outdoor accommodations. They are home to the most unique places to stay across the globe that offer a perfect blend of hotel quality comfort and closeness to nature.

There are several glamping properties around Yellowstone and Glacier, as well as all over the world. You can sit by the fire, star gaze, spend a day outside, and then curl up in a nice bed in a bell tent, a luxury forest cabin, beautiful treehouse, or unique tiny home, breathing the fresh mountain air in the morning, and still having a warm bath or shower at the end of your day.

Simply visit Glamping Hub, enter your desired location, dates and guests and find thousands of possibilities to make your next adventure a little more special. 

Find your glamping spot here. 


best fleece jacket for kids

Essential Mid-Layer Fleece Jacket | SHRED DOG

SHRED DOG believes that if you are taking your kids on your outdoor adventures, their clothes need to be as good as yours — that’s my philosophy too. Their direct to consumer model means their gear is more affordable than what you’d find in a retail store.

The Essential Mid-Layer Fleece is a full zip performance fleece jacket for boys and girls that is soft, warm, and durable. In summer, slip it on for cool morning and evenings around a campfire.

The grid fleece on the interior of the fabric creates air pockets for retaining heat while simultaneously improving moisture management and evaporation. The smooth, jersey knit face fabric provides the durability that kids need.

And it’s made with eco-friendly bluesign® approved fabrics.

Get SHRED DOG’s Essential Mid-Layer Fleece here.


best long underwear for kids

Foundation Kids’ Base Layer Top | SHRED DOG

SHRED DOG’s Foundation Base Layer Top is comfortable, durable, and moisture wicking. It works as a long underwear in the winter, but we use this type of layer all year. In summer it can serve as jammies on a camping trip and a lightweight layer to throw on over a t-shirt during the day.

The moisture wicking 4-way stretch fabric allows for rapid evaporation and full freedom of movement. When kids get hot, they can easily use the ¼ zip to let cool air in.

It’s also made with eco-friendly bluesign® approved fabrics.

Get SHRED DOG’s Foundation Kids’ Base Layer here.


the best insulated mug

Classic Legendary Camp Mug | Stanley

If you’ve ever seen me in real life, it is likely that I am holding a cup of tea. I drink a lot of this hot beverage and I am pretty picky about the mug I drink it from. This classic camp mug from Stanley fits right in to any camping, RVing, or outdoor situation. I even like it for indoor drinking since I like my Earl Gray piping hot.

It’s made tough with Stanley’s double-wall vacuum insulation, so your favorite drinks stay hot or cold longer. The secure press-fit Tritan™ lid also prevents splashes so you can sip easy. I also like that it comes in five colors, so everyone can keep track of their own mug.

Get Stanley’s Legendary Camp Mug here.


cork handwarmers and batteries

Electric Handwarmer Powerbank | Ravean

I love when one item serves multiple purposes, as is the case with Ravean’s Electric Handwarmer Powerbank. This good looking, cork-wrapped device gives off a significant amount of heat while also charging phones, smart watches, tablets, speakers etc. with a 5 volt/2-amp USB charging port. It charges small mobile devices up to 1.5+ times.

The cork material repels moisture and has over 30 percent more heat conduction than other hand warmers. It has three heat settings and can keep your hands toasty for up to eight hours. The whole things weighs only 5.1 oz.

Get Ravean’s Electric Handwarmer Powerbank here.


best camp rocking chair

FirePit Rocker | GCI

Take your campfire gathering up a notch with the FirePit Rocker – a camp chair that rocks. Thanks to patented Spring-Action Rocking Technology this chair rocks smoothly on just about any flat surface (grass, sand, light gravel, etc). So sit back, put a cocktail in the cup holder, and get ready to chill out.

The FirePit Rocker sits lower to the ground than a standard chair for a relaxing sit. Plus, the mesh backrest and padded arm rests ensure you will be comfy all evening long. The chair folds flat for storage and has a carry handle, making it easy to move around. The Limited Lifetime Warranty means you will be sitting pretty for years to come.

Get GCI’s FirePit Rocker here.


quick dry phone case

Wet Electronics Rescue Pouch | Absorbits

Summer outdoor activities often involve water and you don’t want to miss out on a photo of your kiddo splashing in a lake, paddling a canoe, or ripping down a waterslide. We keep one in our raft kit. You also don’t want your phone to get wet, but sometimes that happens. That’s where the reusable Wet Electronics Rescue Pouch from Absorbits comes in.

Using patented Bone-Dri Technology, you can dry out your phone, key fobs, earphones, etc. in a matter of hours. Absorbits moisture absorber phone drying bags can be used multiple times, making them must-have mobile accessories.

Have these on hand before you play outdoors, just in case your electronics have a run in with water.

Use code “TRAVELINGMEL” for 20% off.

Get Absorbits’ Wet Electronic Rescue Pouch here.


camp cot bunk bed

Kid-O-Bunk® and Duvalay  | Disc-O-Bed®

The Kid-O-Bunk is perfect for families on the go this summer, whether that means camping, staying at a vacation rental, or having a sleepover. Use it as a bunk, a bench, or two single cots to make the most of small spaces. Assembling the Kid-O-Bunk quick and easy with no tools, and it packs away into two easy to carry bags.

The Duvalay is a luxury sleeping bag that is the perfect accessory to the bunks. The memory foam sleeping pad with attached duvet improves sleeping comfort anywhere. The Duvalay is offered in three sizes and four unique patterns.

Get Disc-O-Bed’s Kid-O-bunk here and their Duvalay here.


multi tool for summer fun

M.250 Hex Drive Toolkit | TACTICA

When you are planning your summer adventures don’t forget the tools you need to make quick repairs to your equipment. Keep the Tactica M.250 in your car, RV, camping kit, or at home so you always have this multi-tool when you need it. It includes 12 distinct tool bits and a 2-inch extender, all in a small, easily stashable size.

This is perfect to have on hand when you need to make a bike repair or tighten something on the camper. Or when your camp stove starts to act a little wonky just as everyone is getting hungry. It also comes with a magnetic holster to keep it attached to your belt for easy access.

Get Tactica’s M.250 Hex Drive Toolkit here.


kids swimwear

 

Boys & Girls Swimwear | Reima

Summer fun means splashing and swimming. For that you need kids’ swimwear. We love the swim suits from Reima because they are are high quality, comfortable, and durable.

For girls, the Karibia SunProof Bikini with Decorative Frill is cute and will stay in place. The Uiva Boys’ Short-Sleeve Swim Shirt Rash Guard seems unisex to me and can pair with the Palmu Kids’ Quick Dry Swim Shorts. All the pieces mix and match and come in bright, fun colors.

The Reima swim collection is sunproof (50 UPF+) and made from recycled plastic bottles to keep both the kids and waters protected.

Get Reima’s SunProof Bikini with Decorative Frill here, their Uiva Boys’ Short-Sleeve Swim Shirt Rash Guard here, and the Palmu Kids’ Quick Dry Swim Shorts here.


outdoor shoes for kids

Mukavin Sneakers & Rantaan Sandals | Reima

Kids like to be comfortable and these shoes fit the bill. The Mukavin sneakers are the most comfortable and light sneakers Reima offers. They are easy to pull on, breathable, and machine washable. Mukavin means “the most comfortable” in Finnish.

The upper is made of soft fabric and the flexible outsole guarantees a good grip. The also have removable Happy Fit insoles to help determine the correct size. These shoes are great for a summer hike, a trip to the park, or biking around town. And they look pretty cute. They come in blue, black, and fuchsia pink.

Reima’s Rantaan sandals are also super comfy and have great grip. They are machine washable, easy to put on and take off, and perfect for protecting little feet as they walk along the beach, cross cobbles riverside, or splash in summer puddles. These sandals are the next best thing to barefoot.

Get Reima’s Mukavin Sneakers here and their Rantaan Sandals here.


stretchy adventure belt

Adventure Belt | Jelt Belt

Jelt Belts are made from recycled plastic by a Bozeman, Montana company. I’ve been wearing them for years and love them. They come in a variety of styles for men, women, and kids.

What makes them a little different is that the stretchy belt has a grippy inner gel that holds tight to the pants. This is super nice if you have an extra-skinny kid. I also love them for me because it eliminates the gap in the back of the pants that sometimes happens with other belts.

Since there are no metal parts, they are extra light and you don’t have to take them off at airport security. Plus, they are cute! A portion of every belt sold goes to organizations supporting veterans, kids, and the environment. 

Get Jelt Belt’s Adventure Belt here.


cook food over a campfire with this wolfem roasting stick

Wolf’em Stick

Want to make cooking around a campfire extra fun and easy? Try the Wolf’em Stick for marshmallows, hot dogs, biscuits, or anything else you cook on a stick.

For a fun treat, wrap a piece of biscuit dough around the wooden cooking end, bake until golden brown, and fill the biscuit cup with your favorite dessert or dinner filling.

Product includes rotary handle, detachable hot dog/marshmallow roaster PLUS biscuit cup attachment. Backwards facing cooking fork makes for a safe way of cooking and no more marshmallows falling into the fire.

Get the Wolf’em Stick here.


full kids wetsuit

Kids Full Wetsuit | Mountain Warehouse

Even in summer, water can be cold! If you’ve ever swam in the Pacific Ocean or fallen off a SUP in the Yellowstone River, you know what I mean. And kids get even colder, that’s why I love this full body wetsuit from Mountain Warehouse.

The Full Wetsuit is perfect for young water sport lovers. It’s designed in 2.5mm neoprene fabric for full flexibility. The flat seams and close fit provide extra comfort while being in the water. This wetsuit is ideal for body boarding and surfing. It comes in seven colors, so every kid can find one they like.

Get Mountain Warehouse’s Kids Full Wetsuit here.


The Road Trip Survival Guide by Rob Taylor book cover

The Road Trip Survival Guide | Rob Taylor

If you follow Rob at @2TravelDads on Instagram or his blog, you know what a great resource he is for traveling with kids.

His new book, The Road Trip Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks for Planning Routes, Packing Up, and Preparing for Any Unexpected Encounter Along the Way, is the one-stop-shop for planning and navigating road trip travel today.

Features include road trip planning tips and tools, foreword by Samantha Brown of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love, road trip themes and prompts, packing, roadside safety, snack recipes, easy on-the-road meal prep/planning, and 18 road trip itineraries around the USA (10), Canada (5) and Mexico (3).

Get Rob Taylor’s The Road Trip Survival Guide here.


auto parts store

DIY Auto Parts | Pep Boys

I know a lot of us are planning road trips this summer. Make sure your car is in top shape before you head out to avoid any problems on the road. Pep Boys has all the auto parts you need so you can save money by DIYing it (and they are up to 25% off right now).

I’m not much of a mechanic, but I make sure my windshield wipers are in good shape, headlights  and taillights are burning bright, and I have radiator fluid just in case. I think it’s also smart to make an emergency kit with road flairs, jumper cables, and a battery charger.

Get Pep Boys’ auto parts here.


swing out bike rack

Swing Away | Saris

The Saris Swing Away Accessory turns your favorite Saris hitch rack into a swing away. This is super useful when you want to get into the back of your rig without removing all the bikes to do it. It features 90° of pivot, making it easy to get in and out.

It can handle 250 pounds of rack PLUS bike weight. Compatible with some of the most popular Saris hitch racks, the Swing Away Accessory is the best way to add a family-friendly feature without needing to buy a new hitch rack. 

Get Saris’ Swing Away here.


sun protection for babies and kids

Baby and Toddler Sunwear & Diaper Bag| Stonz

Stonz has everything you need to keep you baby or little one protected from the sun this summer. Their Sun Suit keeps the sun away from your little one’s skin without chemicals. And we all know that putting a kiddo in a sun suit is so much easier than dealing with sunscreen. The two-way, full-length zipper makes potty breaks and diaper changes fast and stress-free.

Pair it with some unbreakable, kid-proof Sport Sunnies for eye protection and bring everything else you need in the stylish Diaper Bag. The Diaper Bag has a wet storage area, changing mat, easy clean lining, and lots of space.

Get the Stonz Sun Suit here, their Sport Sunnies here, and the Diaper Bag here.


cute backpacks for kids

The Explorer Kids Backpack | Wanderwild

The Explorer backpacks from Wanderwild are so cute and practical (I love the wild flower print!). They are perfect for summer hikes, airplane travel, or for keeping your child’s road trip essentials handy. And you’re ready to go when back to school rolls around.

Wanderwild backpacks have fun prints and the right fit for kids. Pockets where you want them, adjustable straps, and details made for kids’ fingers. I love the padded back for extra comfort.

Get Wanderwild’s Explorer Backpack here. 


best folding kayak

K-Pak Folding Kayak | Folding Boat Company

A kayak that fits in a backpack? Sign me up! The K-Pak folds down and only weighs 21 pounds, making it easy to take almost anywhere. Plus, it can hold both a parent and a kid so it’s great for family summer adventures.

It’s simple and quick to unfold and assemble the boat when you are ready to paddle. Plus, this kayak is super durable, so you’ll have it for a long time.

Get Folding Boat Company’s K-Pak Kayak here. 


Bind Buddy how to attach a jacket to a backpack

Bind Buddy

The Bind Buddy is a cool solution to carry a jacket hands-free when your backpack is already full. Like that sweatshirt your kids takes off five minutes into a hike and then hands to you to carry. Or the teddy that needed to join you.

BindBuddy is a simple device that easily attaches to any bag strap. It firmly holds any garment or soft goods (jacket, yoga mat, coat, sweater etc.), keeping them close and secure at all times so you can enjoy a hands-free commute. You can clip the BindBuddy to a backpack, purse, luggage, messenger bag etc. and have it at the ready.

It’s durable and built to last.

Get the Bind Buddy here.


Yellowstone Guide Book

First Time Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks | TravelingMel

Get DETAILS about where to go and what to see WITH Kids! Figure out options for flying, driving, camping, lodging and sightseeing. Copy parts of the trip you like – tailor to your own family style. 

Learn insider tips from a Yellowstone vacation coach who lives at the park’s doorstep. 

SAVE money on your trip by sticking to our simple and mostly free activities list. Save time a you normally spend searching through general guides for family appropriate advice.  Contains a grocery list, itinerary, and a packing list used on an actual family trip.

Get my Yellowstone and Grand Teton Guidebook here. 


Solo Stove campfire in front of an camper

Solo Stove

I have fallen in love with our Solo Stove over the last few months. I love it so much that I convinced a few friends to get them and now we all show up at a campsite or along the river with our stoves.

What makes them so special? 

  • Solo Stoves are almost smokeless. After a little smoke while the drum heats up, there is practically no smoke! The days of circling the fire to avoid getting smoked out are over.
  • Solo Stoves are portable. It depends which on you get, but we have the small one (the Ranger) and it fits in the back of our car on camping trips and on the raft. Our friends have the next size up (the Bonfire) and they bring it in their camper trailer and raft. The largest one (the Yukon) is probably best suited for living in a backyard. 
  • Solo Stoves look good. The shiny silver drum can take on a mid-century feel or fit right into a rustic style.

Get a Solo Stove here. 


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