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Taking the Kids: 17+ things you didn’t know you needed for your next road trip/outdoor adventure

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

There’s always one thing – one desperately needed thing – I’ve forgotten. A first-aid kit for the time one of my kids fell into a cactus while hiking, a rain jacket in a downpour, miles from the trailhead, cleaning supplies on the road trip when the pooch (not one of the kids) got car sick.

But until I cruised Outdoor Retailer in Denver a few weeks ago at the Colorado Convention Center, I hadn’t realized so many new products could make road trips and outdoor adventurers easier — and simply more fun – and help us to travel more sustainably.

More than 1,400 exhibitors from around the world came to showcase the best of what’s new in the largest U.S. trade show for the outdoor industry.

Reducing our carbon footprint (think backpacks and pants made from recycled plastic) is key, as is being able to be a nimble traveler with portable gear (a compact pellet grill/oven/smoker on collapsible wheels from CampChef).

If anyone has ever tried to make lunch out of a car on a road trip, check out Lawrence Bugg’s pandemic invention, the Tail Table, which locks onto the metal latch in your trunk and is sturdy enough to provide a cooking island, a chopping board and seating space for six, gaining 100 cubic feet of outdoor space ($249).

Leakproof PROOF underwear for women was designed by three sisters to protect against sweat, periods, and bladder leakage. It’s breathable and, according to the Caden sisters, will reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste. (Starting at $25.)


This at a time when interest in the outdoors — camping, RVing, biking and more – is sky high. And with the Delta Variant surging, we all just want to go someplace safe and away from big crowds. So, if you are camping, RVing or just on a road trip, that’s all the more reason to be prepared.

How about a Wolf Pack ($89) from Uncharted Supply CO, a dog collar that doubles as a first-aid kit? Their Park Pack is a hip pack (for humans) with integrated first aid as well as gear repair tools. ($159)

There’s also Quake Kare, a variety of Survival Go-Bags and multi-tools, and Tear Mender (starting at $7.99) that quickly repair almost any porous or waterproof material, including ripped sneakers and backpacks — all assembled by people who are legally blind with sales contributing toward Lighthouse for the Blind St. Louis, Mo., outreach programs for children who are blind.

For the kids who hate carrying a rain jacket, there are breathable, waterproof ones from the British company Joules. The jackets come in fun patterns (dogs, horses, flowers, etc.) and fold up into the jacket pocket, ideal for stowing in the bottom of a backpack. ($39.95 for kids; $69.95 for adults).


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