The Under $30 Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

With 4 years of parenting under my belt (what?? when did that happen?) I feel like one thing I have learned is that not many toys or gifts have staying power.  Or I should say don’t have the same appeal as a body of water and rocks. In any case, we love giving gifts but practically speaking I don’t like to spend a fortune if I don’t have to on things I know they’ll either outgrow quickly or grow out of playing with.

This Christmas, we’re hoping to keep to a lower budget and save the extra to spend on “experience” gifts like a family weekend away.  If you’re also looking for some less expensive items for your kiddos, here are my 5 top picks that are all under $30.

Sno Stompers Footprint Makers ($24.99 at Mastermind Toys)



When my eldest was just 3, we bought her kid MSR snowshoes.  She’s fairly small and they were too big on her to be fun. We’re saving them until she’s bigger but in the meantime, to get her used to wearing snowshoes and encourage fun outdoor play we have these footprint makers. They’re a huge hit with us and her as they’re easy to get on and easy for her to move around in. Not to mention the bonus of dinosaur or bear footprints! They do provide some “lift” in the snow as a snowshoe does but have no metal grips. I haven’t found this to be an issue so far as we are almost always on flat ground. My daughter has used them last winter when she was 3 and is loving them this winter at 4 too. Note, Canadian Tire also sells them for $19.99.

Kombi Animal Family Mitts ($26 at MEC)

kombi mitts

I’ve put this in previous gift guides but have to mention them again as these have been the mitts of choice for both our kids from 1.5 yrs onwards. They are fully waterproof, very warm, and stay on well. The animal faces seems to be the ticket for toddler & preschooler buy in (for us at least). I’m not sure for how much longer my eldest will be into animal mitts but for this winter at least (she’s 4), they’re a hit with both her and our almost two year old. He has hand-me-down moose mitts which my daughter wore for 2 winters prior so they also hold up well. Note, Carter’s also sells them for $30 though they often have sales.

MEC Neck Gaiter for Kids ($11 at MEC)


This is essentially a fleece buff but we love it for keeping necks and faces warm in the cold. Both happily wore it from about 1.5 yrs onwards.

Black Diamond Moji LED Lantern ($24 at MEC)


A friend recommended these to us for camping and it’s easily because one of our favourite multi-use pieces of gear! This mini lantern will fit in your palm and you can turn up or down the brightness. We used it this summer as a nightlight when camping (kids don’t like sleeping in the pitch black), and also as a nightlight when we travel. My daughter also uses it in place of a headlamp as she can hold it which is a fun novelty. Since it’s LED the batteries last forever. It lasted through 9 nights of camping easily.

CamelBak Eddy Kids Insulated Water Bottle ($20 at MEC)

camelbakI hesitated to add this to my list as we don’t have them yet but I think they look like good quality bottles. We currently have Foogo insulated straw water bottles which we love and I highly recommend but my 4 year olds drinks more water on a hike than they hold so we want to upgrade to a slightly bigger bottle. These will be the ones in their stockings come Christmas! Note CamelBak also makes an un-insulated version for $18.

ps – all my links are plain old regular links, not affiliate ones.

Looking for more gift guides? Check out these other outdoor families’ recommendations!


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  1. Those water bottles are our favs! I recommend them all the time! Great gift ideas!

    • So glad!!! We haven’t tried them yet so I was hoping they’d be as good as they look

    • Yup, we’ve been using those water bottles for the past year and they’re a hit! I hesitated to move to plastic bottles but my kids were smitten with the cute designs. They prefer them to their Kleen Kanteens because they can get so much more water easily with the straw drinking function that the sippy lid on the KK. Love the theme of the guide, so nice to keep the holidays as affordable as possible!

  2. Great selection of affordable gifts! We love those MEC fleece neck gaiters and wish we’d bought the snow stomper when our kids were smaller – so fun!!

    • The kids love them and while I’m sure they’ll grow into their MSR snowshoes, these are ideal in the meantime :) And can’t go wrong for an $11 fleece buff!

  3. Love the gloves, think the kids will actually want to wear them!

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