Active Outdoor

All Together Now

Left: Skidz Apparel, right: Insect Shield for Pets.

2020 was a year for family. As the world was turned upside down, we went outside to right ourselves and let loose.

According to the 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report (commissioned by the Outdoor Foundation), 53 percent of Americans ages six and over participated in outdoor recreation at least once in 2020, which is the highest rate on record. With a surge in getting outdoors, Selk’bag co-founder Cristobal Murillo saw a new opportunity for his wearable sleeping bag firm. He decided that fall 2021 was the ideal time to launch kids product.

“What the pandemic has done is to ‘accelerate’ people wanting to do more outdoor activities, including camping,” said Murillo. With Selk’bag, wearers stay cozy while still being able to move, making the wearable sleeping bag perfect for a movie night, bonfire or camping out in the backyard. Each machine-washable, DWR water repellent bag includes elastic hand closures, an insulated hood and a two-way double zipper for effortless entry. The shell, insulation and zipper are all made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Sustainable materials are important to Selk’bag’s customer base.

When it comes to purchasing family-oriented product, “parents are after the same thing they want for their kids — comfortable, everyday apparel for use at home and on weekend excursions,” according to Insect Shield VP of business development, Rick Hemmerling. With Insect Shield’s offerings, you also get “the added benefit of built-in insect protection during summertime when many hours are spent outside.” Hemmerling has witnessed “a big increase in sales through our direct channels” as a result of the pandemic.  

In 2003, Insect Shield was the first repellent technology to receive EPA registration as a Category IV on the toxicity review (very low toxicity), making product infused with it approved for use by children of all ages and women who are pregnant or nursing. While found in brands including ExOfficio, Royal Robbins and Buff; Insect Shield also manufactures its own line of lifestyle apparel for adults, kids and pets. As a result of the technology being infused into apparel, there is no reapplication necessary (like the topical repellents) — a big win for parents. The active ingredient in Insect Shield is permethrin, which is also highly effective against ticks. A Boys’ Insect Repellent UPF Dri-Balance Short Sleeve T-Shirt is quick to dry, breathable, offers UPF 30+ sun protection and shoulder seams stitched flat for comfort.

From top left down: Bern Nino 2.0, Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Play Hat. Right: Tadpole Hydration Pack.

Fit for a Hike

The trend in small group outdoor playdates has led to a record year for Keen’s kids’ business, with “sandals flying off the shelves in the early weeks of March 2021, a full month ahead of historical trends,” VP of Keen Effect, Erik Burbank, commented. Less organized sports and more casual activities called for an expansion in open toe styles like the Verano and Knotch River, along with a build out of the Newport franchise with the introduction of the Kids’ Newport shoe, which can be worn for year-round jaunts. The Newport Shoe features easy on/off straps and bungees, a toe bumper and removable anti-stink insole. Keen’s kids products are PFC-free, do not include unhealthy flame retardants, phthalates and bisphenol, and certain metals. The firm minimizes the use of solvents in the construction of kid’s shoes and have removed pesticides from insoles (relying instead on an eco-friendly anti-odor method).

A Father’s Day Keen promotion featured fun, matching shoe styles for parents and children. Burbank noted that “we’re definitely seeing a lot of matching photos coming in from fans this year and on our website, we’ve seen a healthy balance of multi-item purchases that extend across the full family.”

For over 30 years, Sunday Afternoons has offered hats thoughtfully designed with special features so users can stay outside longer doing the activities they love. CEO Sarah Sameh said that “our technical headwear and accessories are created with adventurous families in mind with intentional considerations such as UPF 50+ sun protection, lightweight and breathable fabrics, adjustable sizing systems, foldable brims and Sunglass Lock to enhance everyday adventures.”

The company launched its kids’ line in 2008, with the Kids’ Play Hat continuing to be a bestseller across its entire line thanks to its neck veil, floatable brim (for easy retrieval from the water) and stain resistant fabric. For Spring 2022, a Wild Birds collection for kids will feature tiny hummingbirds and majestic birds of prey. The team continued to innovate during the pandemic and launched several new infant designs into the collection. Childrens’ specific design details include break-away chin straps, crushable and stroller-friendly styles and lightweight, cooling fabrics.

Keen Newport Sandals.

Biking with the Brood

Growth in electric bikes, scooters and skateboards has helped Bern’s helmet business to also grow. Riders going at higher speeds has resulted in a new standard of head protection called the NTA-8776. Bern’s Hudson lid meets this standard and adds 25 percent more protection, “while still keeping the Bern core values of providing the ultimate balance of protection, comfort and style,” noted Dennis Leedom, founder of Bern. Protection is paramount in the Nino 2.0 for kids with a MIPS Brain Protection System and EZ fit. In addition, 13 vents allow for increased airflow, there is a removable flip visor and lay flat adjustable straps. Zip Mold Plus is a lightweight, liquid high impact foam exclusive to Bern that provides an improved weight to strength ratio in the helmet.

With 25 years invested in the industry as a racer and founder of Mount Tam Apparel, Justin Schwartz has seen huge growth in the sport of mountain biking. During a time of uncertainty, “I understood the time for Skidz was right now.” The line of exclusive bike apparel for mountain biking “features fashionable, functional, comfortable pieces for before, during and after rides in high-end technical fabrics well-fitted for the next generation of young rippers.” Schwartz included low GSM polyester fibers in his pieces for their durability and moisture management properties. Trail Shorts are crafted of three-way stretch fabric, are water resistant and have a Velcro adjustable waist. The Trail Jersey wicks sweat but retains the comfort of a favorite t-shirt.

Schwartz foresees a different back-to-school season this year – in a good way – with more kids biking to and from school, and wearing his pieces both in and out of the classroom.

Deep Sea and Flamingo Selk’bag for Kids.

Entry-Level Endeavors

For parents who have dreams of their kids holding their own bag on the trail, the Tadpole Hydration Pack from Outdoor Products is it. The pack is made of high density durable polyester fabric, has lots of compartments and includes a 1.5L reservoir. Kids stay comfortable with breathable mesh shoulder straps. Heavy duty zippers, utility style pulls and a top carry handle keep it functional.

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Jul 30, 2021


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