Child’s play: Sun protection, adjustability and comfort aim to keep kids content

Check out what's new and trending in outdoor apparel and gear for kids.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Current kids’ gear has two primary goals: keeping young adventurers comfortable (and, thus, happy) while satisfying parents’ desire for performance and safety.

With sun protection top of mind for many parents, the latest kid apparel items are being designed and tagged for how well they keep the sun’s rays at bay. According to Lisa Huang, Patagoniaproduct line manager for kids, the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is “huge” in kidswear. As a result, Patagoniaups the number of sun-protective kids’ garments it offers, with camp- and surf-inspired silhouettes that have a “fun quotient with a lot of technical features,” said Huang. “It looks like something kids want to wear, but with the protection that parents want.” The boys’ First Sun Jacket (MSRP $69) has a relaxed fit and UPF 40, while the girls’ Rashguard (MSRP $49), UPF 50+, is color blocked with printed sleeves and side panels. Huang also noted that to earn a UPF rating, a garment’s fabric must either have a treatment woven into it or applied externally. But even if a garment doesn’t have a UPF tag, she said, it still provides some level of protection.

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Marmot Waldren Shirt

Among Marmot’s new kids’ styles, rated UPF 50, are the boys’ synthetic, button-up Waldren shirt (MSRP $40) and performance-knit Accelerator Half-Zip (MSRP $35), as well as the girls’ lightweight, breathable Lateral Half-Zip (MSRP $45). Outdoor Research debuts two UPF-rated kids’ hats, the Radar Cap (MSRP $10) and Insect Shield Gnat Hat (MSRP $34) with a detachable neck cape.

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Lowa Innox GTX Lo

Protecting kids’ feet has potentially long-term implications, said Peter Sachs, general manager of Lowa. “If their feet are wet or hurt from rocks, they won’t want to hike and be outdoors. We will have made another customer for the electronics industry instead of the outdoor industry.” To that end, Lowa’s waterproof Innox GTX Lo (MSRPs $110/$120) covers the bases with a synthetic upper, stability enhancing midsole and grippy sole.

Almost all of Hi-Tec’s new kids’ styles, including the Sierra Lite Original (MSRP $60), have the dual-insole Big Fit System; removing one insole adds volume for growing feet. Keenadds color and texture to its kids’ line, as in the Chandler CNX (MSRP $55), a multisport style with a breathable mesh-and-synthetic upper and non-marking, traction-enhancing outsole. At Teva, the Barracuda Sport sandal (MSRP $38) adds toe protection to a popular style made of super-lightweight, injection-molded EVA with sturdy rubber outsoles.

As more companies enter the kids’ carrier market, even stalwarts like Deuterare working harder to distinguish their product. “We looked at some of the innovative technologies we were using in our other packs and saw ways to integrate those designs in our kid carriers,” said Christian Mason, director of sales and marketing for Deuter USA. The new Kid Comfort Air (MSRP N/A) has the sweat-reducing, suspended mesh back panel used in many of Deuter’s hiking packs and a pivoting hip belt, adjustable shoulder harness, and side-and top-load child-access points. The Kid Comfort II and III (MSRPs N/A) have redesigned frames and seats that fit a larger range of children.

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Kelty Big Dipper 30

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Eureka Balsam Jr.

Kelty updates its line of kids’ sleeping bags (MSRPs $65-$80), including the expandable Big Dipper 30, with bright graphics, softer-feeling insulation and a new categorization based on age and size, covering infants through tweens. Eureka adds two synthetic, rectangular bags to its Junior Sleeping Bag collection, aimed at teens (as well as adults up to 5-foot, 6 inches): the Balsam and Camellia (MSRP $56). CamelBak also addresses older kids with its Trailblazer hydration pack (MSRP $75), designed for those in between young kids and adult sizes. It has a 1.5-liter reservoir and 13.5-liter pack capacity.

For babes in the woods, new exhibitor Ciao Baby  offers a portable high chair (MSRP $68) with lap belt, a washable tabletop and built-in cupholder.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to ...read more