Adventure Ideas Gear Gifts Tips

31 Gift Ideas to Encourage Kids to Get Out and Adventure

Written by Stuart Wickes

31 Adventure Gift Ideas to Encourage Kids Outdoors

Kirstie Profile SmallChristmas. A time for mooching around toy departments in search of a family board game everyone will agree to play without a declaration of war. A time for buying e-gizmos that encourage kids to talk to you less and stay in their bedrooms more. A time for filling your trolley with sugar and standing back to watch as they climb the walls.

A time to go shopping. Or let me re-phrase that; a time for me to go shopping. Like many men in many households across the globe, Stuart doesn’t do shopping. He’s not a natural gift buyer and Christmas is something of a challenge for him, usually involving a last minute dash to the supermarket on Christmas Eve to grab a few bottles of bubble bath and some Green and Black’s. The consumerism drives him mad, and all the advertising get him in a lather.

“I’m not Scrooge,” he claims as the kids tease him about his miserly tendencies.

“Yes, you are,” they reply.

“It just has to be done with a little thought,” he says, going off to have a cup of tea and a think.

In my mind that’s progress. If he’s willing to get involved in sourcing gifts with a ‘point’, it saves me time and saves arguments when the bills come in. Although Christmas is on the doorstep, there are still empty stockings lying around and present shaped holes in my Christmas shopping list. And it’s not like I enjoy buying pointless gifts. If he can come up with the perfect gifts for an adventurous family then he should be encouraged. I make him a cup of tea. I heat up a mince pie and sit him down with a laptop.

“Right. A list of Christmas gift ideas that don’t cost the earth and make us a better family or at least get us out of the house. You have one hour. Go.”

Here’s what he’s come up with: Stuart’s list of things that give Christmas shopping a ‘point’ and his family a little adventure.

Stuart’s adventure gift ideas

20 adventure and active gift ideas to get kids outdoors

Stuart Profile SmallWhy shouldn’t Santa help inspire family adventures? After all the pre-Christmas season is even called Advent, a time of looking forward and preparing for the coming of something special; two activities that are always part of our adventures together. If you’re into gift giving there’s all kinds of possibilities for adventure inspiring gifts. I’ve been looking for things to suit all budgets, things that might inspire kids and families to get our and get active together. And this is the list I’m sending Santa, full of ideas for stocking fillers and larger gifts for teeny, tweeny and bigger adventurers. Of course I trust he won’t forget to add the chocolate coins, satsuma, energy bar and toothpaste. It wouldn’t be a proper Christmas stocking without them.

Gift ideas for teeny adventurers

An Adventure Book. Whether its fiction or non-fiction there are loads of books out there that stimulate the imagination. A good adventure book can help develop an interest in adventure without ever having to leave the house! And this may generate the enthusiasm needed to get out there and try it for themselves.

The The Boys’ Book of Adventure, published by Buster Books, is boyish in character but not just for boys. It’s full of activities designed to ignite the imagination and get kids thinking like adventure heroes. Once they’ve figured out how to deal with the challenges and sticky situations in this book, they’ll likely be keen to test their hard won skills in a few sticky situations of their own making. If they prefer fiction then why not try one of the Bear Grylls Mission Survival series of stories of outdoor heroics. Or point them towards old favourites like Swallows and Amazons, set on an island in the Lake District. Or for very little ones, what about Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books: five kids and a dog off out having adventures on their bicycles, like in Five Go Adventuring Again.

A Mountain Whistle. A small but important gift that’s good for more than just annoying people. A Mountain Whistle is an essential piece of outdoor kit for raising the alarm in an emergency. Get you kids one and teach them how to use it, not just to annoy you or each other but how and when they can use it to raise an alarm if in trouble outdoors. You’ll probably regret it around the house, but it could save the day if they end up in trouble outdoors.

Pocket Handwarmer. It’s not always easy to persuade kids out on a cold winters day. But what if it’s a chance to try out their new Pocket Hand Warmers Sometimes little things like this can tip the balance, making this a practical and perhaps inspirational stocking filler or should that be pocket filler.

Silk Balaclava. Great for SAS games but also brilliant for outings on cool days or as an underlayer when the mercury drops below zero. Braver souls could use this Silk Balaclava for camouflage on a night hike or to keep your head warm while sleeping out.

A Headtorch. Kids love torches, for reading under the covers, lighting a den or exploring the house with the lights out or in a power cut. So, why not equip them properly?

Buy them an LED Head Torch and take them out to test it on a local night hike. Head out on a local trail, perhaps one you know well to start with, and see how unfamiliar even the most familiar places can be on a dark night with only a torch to light the way. They’ll love strapping it on their head and leading the way, like a proper explorer.

Spork Kit. A neat cross between spoon and fork. Small children like the novelty of this and you may find they want to eat with it every day. Sporks are great for picnics and camping. For that extra special person, or those with destructive tendencies you could even go for the ultimate ultra-light, ultra strong  Titanium Spork 

Gift ideas for tweeny adventurers


A Swiss Army Knife. Every outdoor boy (and quite a few girls too) dream of owning their own Swiss Army knife. Everyone knows the original Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with its shiny red case emblazoned with the Swiss flag. Once they have one of these in their pocket kids will be desperate to go out for the day to carve sticks, etch their name on fallen logs, and shave tinder for a fire. And you’ll get to keep yours to yourself.

A Local Map and Map Cover. Some people will tell you Paper Explorer Maps are old fashioned, but they’re still a great way to study and explore the local environment. You can look at them together, write on them, fold them anyway you want and they never run out of power. A large scale 1:25000 or 1:10000 map of your local area will show all kinds of details and is a great way to spot things you can go and explore, and for practicing navigation. And with a Waterproof Map Case you can get out and about whatever the weather knowing that even if you get wet, your map won’t.

Wind up Torch/Radio. If they’re going to take a gadget out with them, why not make it an eco-friendly, useful one. Our kids love tuning into comedy in the tent. And when they’ve finished winding up each other they love fighting over who is going to Wind Up the Torch Radio, so perhaps one each might be the answer.

Firelighter. Campfires are great fun but you don’t have to go camping to have one. And you don’t need matches to start one. Get your kids a Bear Grylls Fire Lighter and they can learn about and practice another great survival skill, starting fires, under appropriate supervision! Why not have a camp fire in the garden, roast some marshmallows, bake some potatoes, sing a song or two and enjoy a little camp camaraderie in your own back yard.

Hydration System. Keeping hydrated when out and about is important, especially if you’re exercising. Survival expert Bear Grylls says you can only survive a matter of days without water. But who’s going to carry it? Hands-Free Hydration Systems are a ‘cool’ way you can get kids to carry their own water. And if they carry their own it gives them a bit more responsibility and independence and means less for you to lug.

First Aid Kit or Book. Do your kids know what to do when they have an accident? Do they know how to treat cuts, stings and grazes? Do they know basic first aid and how to get help? With a First Aid Kit they can take some basic supplies with them on their adventures and learn how to clean and treat any cuts and grazes they pick up. Most first aid kits come with some basic instructions on how to deal with particular emergencies which can be useful for learning about first aid basics. If they want to learn more you could even add in a A Kid’s Book of First Aid. This present can even be adapted for the little ones. Our daughter loves Disney Princess Plasters and especially loves treating dolly’s cuts and grazes in the dolly hospital.

Silva Compass Expedition 4-360A Compass. Maybe this sounds a bit old fashioned in the days of Sat Nav, Google Maps and Handheld GPS Navigators, but do your kids know how to take a bearing or navigate if the GPS batteries run out? Do they know their East from West or how to figure out where they are using only map and compass? Get them a Expedition Compass and they can use it to learn the skills of navigation. With time and practice they’ll be able to find their way safely around even in the dark, without need for expensive electronic aids. These skills save getting lost and in the extreme save lives.

Survival Kit. Bear Grylls is a name well known to many kids not just as the Chief Scout but also for his reputation as a survival expert. He’s not a bad role model for kids interested in the outdoors and can teach us all a thing or two about survival. This little Survival Kit’s mantra is: Stay prepared. Stay alive. Enough said. If you want to live, you need this.

Bigger ideas for bigger adventurers

Day Sack or Rucksack. It’s about time they shouldered some of the load don’t you think? Older kids can carry their own waterproofs, snacks, drinks and spare clothes while little ones should at least be able to carry their own toys. A Small Daysack is a great multipurpose gift, useful for everyday activities like going swimming or to play sport as well as carrying gear on an outdoor adventure. If you want to encourage journeys a little further afield, then why not go big and get a Full Size Rucksack .

Pop Up Tent. Now you don’t need to go camping to go camping. But you do need a tent. These Pop-up Tents are not just in fashion, they’re practical too and often not too big for indoor use! Why not turn your living room into a campsite for a night, have your own mini festival, throw in some duvets and pillows and have all the comforts of home and the excitement of sleeping in a tent. No need for pegs or guy ropes. Or pop it up in the yard and camp in the garden. Or pop it in the car or on your bike and go camp ‘for real’. Kids love camping, and it’s especially exciting if they can do it in their own tent. And these ones really are a cinch to put up.

Survival Bag. More than just a giant plastic bag (although that’s what it is), a Simple Survival Bag is  big enough to get inside in an emergency to help keep you dry and warm until help arrives. They’re also pretty good for keeping your bum or your gear dry on a very wet day. Bigger kids could even use them for a night sleeping out under the stars, with an appropriate sleeping bag. If you want something to help survive  more extreme conditions (and are willing to spend a little more) what about a Blizzard Survival Bag. Or if you want something to help shelter the family if conditions get bad, or just for a more exciting lunch stop, what about a Group Storm Shelter?

Bivi Bag or Sleeping Bag. If you want to go one better than a survival bag, then what about a proper Waterproof Breathable Bivvy Bag, designed for sleeping out without need for a tent. With one of these in your rucksack and an appropriate Sleeping Bag, rated for the conditions, you’re all equipped for a night of luxury under a million stars. Add in a copy of the The Book of the Bivvy and it’s probably all the nudge you need to give older kids to get them out roughing it for a night or two.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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