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Our Favorite Upstate Gear for Warmer Weather

The dependable gear we use time and time again.

Our Favorite Upstate Gear for Warmer Weather

Enjoying the great outdoors is great until you realize you don't have the right tools to help you enjoy it to its fullest.

Since we work a lot we haven't gotten to take much time to do more traditional outdoorsy activities, but these are some of the things we use all the time when eating and playing outside (when it's not snowing).


Collapsible Wagon by Mac Sports

$125 at Amazon

Whether you find yourself toting groceries or kids gear or picnic supplies (or all of the above) this is definitely the little wagon that could. It folds down small, travels well even over bumpy surfaces, and even has a little flip-up drink holder/phone holder/tabletop.

This has turned what could have been exhausting experiences, into fun and joyful ones, just with four wheels and some clever engineering.

We also like to throw a sheepskin or Mexican-style blanket inside for extra padding. We've even cable-tied an umbrella to it in the rain :)

Folding Chairs

Easy Folding Chair by Neso

$114.99 at Amazon

Sitting on a picnic blanket can be fun––for a little while. But then your back or your butt inevitably start aching and your outing becomes a little less fun and relaxing. This becomes especially apparent if you're watching something like a concert and want to lean back at all.

This chair doesn't have any telescoping functions or magic tricks, it just folds up. It's fairly flat and has a carrying strap, so it's not too hard to throw over your shoulder, or stack in a rolling wagon. And it also happens to be pretty comfortable.

What's also great is the height... it's just high enough to keep your bum off the ground, but also very low so you can stretch your legs out and also not feel like you are blocking the view for people behind you. It's also a great height if you have kids since you'll be closer to their level and they can easily climb on which they always do :)

Note there is an XL size which has black legs, and a regular size which has silver legs. Price is for 2 chairs.

Waterproof Blanket

Waterproof Blanket by Oceas

$69.99 at Amazon

You know that feeling when you're all excited to go have a picnic outside, you spread out a blanket, and then after sitting for a minute or so you start to remember that it rained yesterday? Let's not let that happen.

We love this blanket for providing both a snuggly soft surface for laying on on one side and a lightweight waterproof surface for repelling water on the other.

It also has a handy elastic sewn onto it for easy packing and you can throw it in the washing machine. No more soggy butts, thank you.


Giant DIY Outdoor Screen by Carl's Place

$399.95 at Carl's Place

Want a super-giant screen for watching movies outside? Willing to do a little work of your own to get a clean-looking massive projection surface for less than $500? Then this might be a good solution for you.

We were originally looking for a large screen for projecting on the side of our live-work building that we could still disassemble and reassemble if need be. Ours is 245" diagonal (10.5' high x 18' wide) but they offer a number of different sizes. And of course, we spray painted our conduit black before assembling.

We hung ours between two trees with pulleys and sandbags, making sure to keep the bottom corners untethered so it moves in the wind and doesn't become a giant sail. The kit comes with a mix of screen fabric, metal connectors, and bongo ties and just requires some metal conduit (easier to acquire locally than to ship) to make it all come together.

If you're looking for something smaller, retractable, and more plug-and-play, though, check out this one.

Fire Pit

Giant Fire Bowl by Deeco

$485 at Amazon

Sometimes you want a tidy and contained outdoor fire with minimal smoke, and sometimes you want a giant raging cauldron. This fire pit is the second kind of experience.

At 47" diameter, this fire pit has plenty of room for minimally processed logs and branches from the latest wind storm. It's not picky about what you use or how you make your fire.

Note that the bottom ring of the fire pit is not attached to the bowl. At first, we thought something was wrong, but then realized it was very helpful for keeping your bowl level, even if the base is not on a totally level surface. Also, it's steel. It will eventually rust, but we like the natural look.

Don't forget your telescoping marshmallow tongs :)

Picnic Blanket

Circular Wipeable Picnic Mat by Gathre

$138 at Gathre

When you're introducing tasty food to the ground outside, creating a solid barrier between said food and the wildlife on the ground is an important part of a successful picnic.

We love this generously sized circular mat which is pleasant to sit on while also providing a water-resistant and easy-clean layer for spreading out your feast. It also folds up easily and is ethically and responsibly made with no PVC, phthalates, or lead.

This brand also makes lots of useful products from this same material including padded mats, placemats, diaper changing pads, bibs, and more.


Insulated Tumbler by Kinto

$45 at Amazon

I love an iced latte in the morning, but when I get distracted or interrupted constantly it means my latte usually ends up a watery melted mess before I get to drink it :/

Then I tried drinking it from this insulated tumbler and it was a whole new world. I've even left iced coffee inside overnight and there were still ice cubes in the morning!

This tumbler is in three parts: the main tumbler, a sipping ring that adds a more comfortable edge to drink from and a cover over the top, and then an additional top that seals the drink and gives you a convenient carrying handle as well. The manufacturer logo is also tiny and discrete, unlike most high quality insulated tumblers out there.

And although the manufacturer does not recommend it, I put all the pieces in the top shelf of the dishwasher with no problems.

Kiddie Pool

Kiddie pool by Liewood

$49 at Trouva

Every summer the discussion starts... "Should we start thinking about trying to make a pool? How expensive are those dumpster ones? Let's just make a stock tank pool! But wait, we really should get a filter for it, and maybe a liner... yet another project.

Oh wait, it's mainly Silas who we want to be able to play in the water. And he really just wants to splash around and cool off. Great, let's just get a blow-up pool––but are there any that aren't totally hideous?"

Yes, yes there are. This company makes a handful of options that are all in nice muted tones, as well as super-cute tubes. And then this company makes slightly larger ones in really cute patterns.

Since Silas is still small we prefer the smallest pools since it's so much easier to just dump them out at the end of the day and refill tomorrow (it feels a little wasteful and time-consuming to do that every day with the bigger ones, but some people may need more space). Anyhow, we love the simplicity of quickly filling this up and letting him splash around as much as he wants, all while not taking up a lot of room :)

Kids Rain Pants

Kids Rain Pants by Kuling

$36 at Babyshop

When Silas was first starting outdoor school there was a substantial list of gear that was required, including waterproof overalls. We didn't remember having anything like this as a kid so it felt a little foreign and initially was a little difficult to try to source.

But now that we know how great these overalls are (which seem to be a staple for kids in other parts of the world) we try to always have a pair ready in the car. Whether they're for a layer of windproofing in chilly weather, an extra layer of protection from ticks or pricker bushes, or just an excellent barrier for mud and dirt so your kid can feel free to dig around without a big cleanup production afterward, they are a welcome addition to our arsenal of weather gear for upstate living.

And once we found one of our favorite retailers Babyshop, we finally had an easy source for good-looking versions of this kind of gear which is often made from recycled materials and use fewer nasty chemicals. Definitely recommend grabbing a pair, or 5.


Everyday boots (unisex) by Blundstone

$195 at Nordstrom

When you start seeing the majority of people in an area wearing the same kind of gear, there's usually a reason. It's comfortable and it works.

Blundstones (aka Blundies) have been around for ages, but when you start splitting your time between the city and the country you really start to see the value in a shoe that can gracefully span both environments.

Protecting your feet from the elements while remaining lightweight and stylish, we wear these doing work in the yard, taking our kid to school, trekking through the city to the Natural History Museum, or going out to a nice dinner.

Once you own them you'll rarely find yourself wearing anything else.

Kids Crocs

Kids Crocs by Crocs

$34.99 at Amazon

We really never thought Crocs would be a staple of our wardrobe, and yet, here we are.

It really is great to have a pair of shoes that are so easy to slide on and off, and that are super easy to clean whether it's mud, dirt, chicken poop, or whatever the world sends your way.

And for kids who are constantly getting dirty or wet (especially in summer), these provide a fair amount of foot (and toe) protection and traction while still allowing their feet to breathe (and eventually dry).

And when it's cold, we also have the version with a fuzzy lining––they really are just so warm and cozy! Between Crocs, Bogs, and Blundies, we really don't need any other shoes.


Essential Cooler by Yeti

$299 at Amazon

Bear resistant, easy to open and close, comfortable carry handles (that make it easy for two to carry), insanely durable and keeps things cold for literally days... you really can't go wrong with this cooler. And it doesn't look to shabby either :)

There are lots of sizes and options (and colors!) available, but this particular size is great for groceries and beer runs and easily fits in most trunks.

Bear resistant, easy to open and close, comfortable carry handles (that make it easy for two to carry), insanely durable and keeps things cold for literally days… you really can’t go wrong with this cooler. And it doesn’t look to shabby either :)

There are lots of sizes and options (and colors!) available, but this particular size is great for groceries and beer runs and easily fits in most trunks.


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