The late, great parenting sage George Carlin once lamented the state of modern play thusly: “Do today’s kids even know what a stick is? You sit in the yard with a f—king stick and you dig a f—king hole … I don’t think there are any sticks left.” That’s unfortunate, because it turns out there are more kids toys and gear for tiny outdoorsy people than you can shake a stick at, if only … well … you get it. These outdoor gifts are guaranteed to get your kid playing outside, and if you think that’s a weird objective during the winter wonderland of Christmas time, recognize that kids are actually gaining weight during summer vacation. The time to play outside is always now, and there’s plenty more than just sticks to play with.
Slackers Night Riderz Zipline Kit
The neighbor kids will line up to ride this so fast you’ll be able to start calling your backyard “Dadland” and charging admission. The outdoor gift is covered in LED lights for night zipping, so your kid will feel like Batman and put Kevin McAllister to shame. Just to make you feel old, that movie is 25 years old and you probably still wish you could zip line into your treehouse.
Burton After School Special Snowboard
While the name of the board is definitely for you (pretty sure they stopped making after-school specials in the ’80s), the deck itself is most assuredly for your kid. It’s made of softer, more flexible material for better control, with extended flat zones that make balancing easier. All of it is enabled with something called “Easy Rider” technology, so your kid can learn yet another one of your outdated references.
FirstBIKE Cross Balance Bike
Balance bikes allow kids as young as 18 months to put their feet down before they ever fall; they literally coast their way to badass 2-wheeler status. This really should have always been the method, since balancing is how you avoid falling, and falling sucks. The only explanation for it taking this long is generations of dads secretly enjoying watching their kids careen into mailboxes while pretending to chase them down the street.
Lucky Bums Toboggan
This classic toboggan will give your kids an appreciation for the good old days, when men were men, kids played with sticks (which, incidentally, were made of wood, much like this sled), and sleds only traveled in straight lines at dangerously high speeds. When you’re done for the day, it makes a handsome above-the-fireplace piece for your chalet.
Celestron COSMOS 90GT WiFi Telescope
This telescope offers all the technical features necessary for outstanding views in a portable, 20-pound package. And because Carlin was right, it’s also the first Wi-Fi-enabled telescope for amateur astronomers, with an accompanying app that identifies the star or planet your phone is pointing towards while the telescope centers on it for easy viewing. It’s the ultimate tool for your modern junior stargazer.
NEMO Tango Sleeping Bag
A backyard campout where the kids don’t sleep is just a colder way of staying up past their bedtime. The Tango offers 3-season comfort through multiple protective layers to keep them snug when the temperature drops and air gets damp. It’s more portable than that mummy wrap thing in your attic, and features easy-zip exit and entry and extenders for when they grow. Because they always grow, damn it.