If you have a child who loves the outdoors, I am sure you have emptied plenty of rocks, bugs, and other “treasures” from their pockets. On our last adventure, my daughter found a beautiful garnet cluster, and my son had collected so many rocks that I thought his pockets would explode. All three of my children love to explore outside and exploring and enjoying the outdoors is so much more fun and easier if you have an outdoor adventure kit. More and more people are getting outside, because of health awareness and because it is easier to social distance outside. Why not make it more fun or easy with having your own outdoor exploration bag?
What is an Outdoor and Nature Adventure Kit?
An outdoor and nature kit is basically a kit that will help your child or even an adult, better explore nature and the outside world. Little naturalist or big ones too, can be better prepared and have everything that they need to get the most out of the experience. I get plenty of texts, messages, and phone calls asking me what type of rock this is or if I know what that type of animal was. I also often get asked what type of gear or equipment someone might need for a day outside in nature. Being ready for anything will just make your day outside even better. And I have found that if you are already ready to go, you are more likely to get outside. An adventure is also just fancy day pack but has all the essentials you need for a day hike.
Why You Should Make Your Own Adventure Kit
There are many nature kits that you can buy online or at the store. However, I always feel that there is always something missing, or any of the items are cheaply made. By making one yourself, you can tailor it specifically towards or a child. Children also grow and their interests will change, so having a good basic kit to add to over the years is important. Getting your child involved in making their own also motivates them to get outside more. Adventure kits also make thoughtful and practical gifts for all ages.
Outdoor and Adventure Kit Essentials
Even though my children are all different ages and I am a really big kid, there are ten basic things that we all have in our adventure kits/ day packs. Some of these things you might already have, or can even find for pennies or yard sales and thrift stores. Check out my older post on how to find affordable outdoor gear.
Backpack – Size and comfort matter. You will want to consider durability and also how long your child will keep growing. With my older kids, I want them to be able to use their day packs for years to come. For younger children, they often cannot carry as much. Backpacks are also more practical and easier to haul around than say a reusable grocery or duffle bag. Pockets are always a plus.
Binoculars – A small and basic set of binoculars is great to have for observing things that are far away. When we went to the National Bison Range last year, it is the one thing I wish we had remembered to bring. We saw a bear in the distance and something that could have been sheep or goats, but we couldn’t see them clearly. An expensive pair of binoculars is not needed. Hiking and kids are rough on gear. I have a really nice “daddy only” pair at home, that is put up very high for hunting or bird watching, and no child is allowed to touch them.
Field Guides – When we are exploring, there is usual zero service so if we have a questions about something we find, we have to wait until we get home so that we can Google it. One or two field guides are fun to have. For smaller children, any of the Backpack Explorer books are fun. There is less information on identification, but lots of activities and facts. For identification, Falcon Guides are my favorite. They have pictures or illustrations, facts and identifiers so that you can look up just about anything and are also small enough to fit in side pocket.
Bandanna – Bandannas can be used in so many different ways, such as a bandage, a head or face covering, to keep fragile items you find from getting broken, a rag, and more. Bandannas can even be found at the dollar store. I personally like bandannas because that are printed with useful and educational designs.
First Aid Kit – For the kids, I usually have them pack a few bandaids. Patch bandaids are made from bamboo and are pre-treated with activated charcoal, coconut oil or aloe, so I like these for the younger kids. For older kids and adults, a basic first-aid kid is more suitable.
Water Bottle – H2O is the most important thing that you need when being outdoors. It is the one thing you should never forgot and the top hiking essential. Smaller kids do better with collapsible water bottles (less weight and they have smaller packs) and teens and adult should have a water bladder for convenience and easier storage.
Whistle – In case of an emergency, everybody carries a whistle. You never know when someone will get lost or injured and you may need to signal for help. This should be essential for any outdoor adventure. It is important that you teach your children that it should only be used for emergencies.
Sketchbook/Notepad and Pen/Pencil – I love journaling. Encourage creativity by encouraging kids to draw or write about their adventures. Most often we take photos on our smart phones to document our adventures, but an adventure log or sketchbook are more tangible and to me, are more special.
Resealable Baggies – Baggies are fantastic for collecting treasures. They are also great for collecting trash or waste. Remember, leave no trace! I prefer Smelly Proof Bags, even for at home. They come in all sizes and are reusable, just rinse them out. Smelly Proof Bags seal in odors, so no smell.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray – Don’t forget to protect yourself and your skin. Sunburns hurt so much and sunscreen should be used often. If you are outside, there are probably bugs. The best bug spray that I have found and works best, is Proven. There is no smell, and it is DEET-free. Proven is safe for kids and lasts 12 hours. You can also get it scented or as a lotion.
Other things that you can include:
- bug net
- magnifying glass
- permanent markers
- small trowel
- walkie talkies
- sample boxes
Is there anything that you would add that I may have forgotten? Getting outside should be fun, educational, and exciting. It’s time to be screen-free for just a little bit and enjoy nature. Maybe with this adventure kit, you are inspiring the next John Muir or Ansel Adams. At the least, you are inspiring and nurturing wonder and adventure.