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Taking the Kids: A dozen + gifts for the outdoors-heading Dad

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Maybe the dad in your life is a committed outdoorsman. Maybe he hasn’t camped since Boy Scouts.

No matter. After months of sheltering at home with the kids and, maybe working remotely, he probably can’t wait to get outdoors. And local surveys suggest, he wants to take a road trip or go social-distance camping.

With Father’s Day coming, we thought we’d offer some useful gifts for the experienced outdoorsman—and the wannabes.

However you’re camping—in a tent in the backyard or a state park, in an RV or a cabin, you want items that serve multiple functions, suggests John Junke Jr., longtime REI co-op product expert who moderate’s the company’s digital community, and that’s not always gear that will inspire envious glances.

“For me, one of my most appreciated pieces of gear is my 24-Gallon Rubbermaid Action Packer. Not only does it keep my gear organized and together, but it has served as a table, a chair, a counter, a stepstool, and an anchor for a tent on a windy day,” Junke said. It won’t break the bank either at $39.95.

Ditto for a “smart” towel from Tesalate that is ultra-absorbent, quick-dry, compact and somehow made of fabric that resists sand and comes in all sorts of fun patterns ($59).


Another good bet: The GSI Outdoors Folding Water Cube ($12). “It is pretty great to have a lot of water at camp and not have to make multiple trips to a water source every time you need a drink, have to wash dishes, or brush your teeth.”

A favorite for kids as well as adults—a hammock. Junke said, “There is just something really amazing and relaxing about laying in a hammock in the woods, even for kids! We take an ENO DoubleNext Hammock ($69.95) on every trip. It packs down to a size smaller than a water bottle so it’s super easy to pack.”

Also consider a Tentsile, portable tree tent. If you’ve got a backyard with trees you could set up there as well. (For each tent sold, Tentsile plants 20 trees with partner organizations.)

If dad is determined to do more hiking this year, he will appreciate a hydration backpack with a water bladder from Camelbak, like the Cloud Walker that has a 2.5-liter reservoir. Another plus, it’s partially made with post-consumer recycled materials ($90).


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