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THERE'S THIS OLD quote from Abigail Van Buren, the “Dear Abby” manners columnist, that goes like this: “If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”

Pardon our manners, Abby, but this is kind of horseshit.

Any dad trying to parent well in 2023 knows that a hand-me-down set of wooden blocks and a rubber ball are going to last kids only so long. Now, don’t get us wrong; we’re all for backyard bug hunts, the public library, and family volunteering. But spending money to do cool stuff with your kids is also fun. And spending the right kind of money on the right kind of things can actually help you spend more time with your kids.

Think hiking packs, jogging strollers, and bikes. Think projects, board games, and books. Think Lego. And then think of all the little things, from snacks to day packs, that make your life as Dad less stressful and thereby your kids’ lives much more fun.

We contacted dads that think like us—doctors, dietitians, longtime lovers of fitness—for the best things they bought for their family (and, okay, for themselves) in the past few years. Then we mixed those picks in with gear that dads on our staff at Men’s Health love.

The result is the Men’s Health 2023 Dad Gear Awards, a collection of father-tested, kid-approved stuff that’ll help you spend more time with your children and help them turn out really, really well.

Jump to each section:





active adventure
Best Dad Shoe
Revive Active Recovery Shoes
Kane Revive Active Recovery Shoes
$75 at

Hard-charging dads know that good shoes make all the difference, and Kane’s Revive Active Recovery Shoes are breathable, durable, made from renewable materials, and way cooler looking than those other hole-studded shoes.

Best Kids Shoe
Dynamo Go Little Kids' Easy On/Off Shoes
Nike Dynamo Go Little Kids' Easy On/Off Shoes
Now 14% Off

This no-lace, squishy, stuff-in pair makes the infernal “Put on your shoes” battle far easier. They just need to make the colors in adult sizes now, too.

Best Dad Base Layer
Intraknit 200 Crew Base Layer Top
Smartwool Intraknit 200 Crew Base Layer Top

Merino wool is the base layer when it comes to cool- and cold-weather sports. This line of layer-on garb keeps you warm, dry, and comfortable during snow sports, cold-weather camping, or stargazing.

Best Protective Wear
Pro-X3 Knee Guards
G-Form Pro-X3 Knee Guards

This flexible padded gear is capable of withstanding soccer shin kicks, baseball elbow blows, and all manner of bike scrapes. But it’s also lightweight and formfitting and looks like something out of The Terminator—negating all the excuses of kids not wanting to wear pads.

Best Kid-friendly Sunscreen
Kids Mineral Sunscreen Stick
Blue Lizard Kids Mineral Sunscreen Stick

Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB, at SPF 50+, in a noncomedogenic formula that goes on clear and easy. Plus, it’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Best Diaper Bag
Diaper Bag
L.L.Bean Diaper Bag

Sure, you could shove a loose diaper and a slim pack of wipes into your back pockets and wing it. Or you could just wear this bag, which also houses a water-bottle holster, a changing pad, and tons of pockets. You know what the Boy Scouts say.

Best Kids' Ski Package
Flash Blue Complete Ski Package
Defiance Flash Blue Complete Ski Package
Now 44% Off

Skiing is expensive, but these packages pay for themselves in three weekends. Adjustable boots adapt as kids’ feet grow, meaning they’ll use them for at least two years—and no more sunk hours in the rental line.

Best Budget-Friendly Active Toy
Punching Bag for Kids
HanYoer Punching Bag for Kids
Now 30% Off

If you’re looking for a good way to help kids channel their aggression, this is far better than having them take it out on their sibling.

Best Dad Shirt
Metal Vent Tech Long-Sleeve Shirt
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Long-Sleeve Shirt

This shirt wicks sweat like its life depends on it, the mesh fabric is ideal for using your cuff to wipe your kid’s snotty nose when you’re out of tissues, and when you finally get a minute’s rest, it’s as comfortable as silk pj’s.

Best Jogging Stroller
Glide 2
Thule Glide 2

This sturdy stroller folds up on a hinge and unfolds with the twist of a handle—and a massive holding area beneath the seats can hold an entire diaper bag. The ride is smooth, the lockable turning wheel transitions easy from walk to run, and the adjustable handlebar snaps for the comfort of various pushers.

Best Kids' Bike
4 Children's Bike
Woom 4 Children's Bike

When your kid’s ready for an upgrade from their first Huffy, this ultralight eight-speed bike rides safely everywhere, from paved streets to groomed off-road trails.

Best Bike Trailer
Thule Courier

This bike-trailer-turned-stroller does it all. The roomy cockpit seats two kids (or one kid and a ton of toys). When you’re ready to unhitch, it quickly converts to a traditional push-around stroller with drop-down wheels at the front. So it’s basically a Transformer.

Best Scooter
Mini Deluxe
Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe

Cheapo scooters jiggle and eventually fall apart—sometimes at the absolute worst time. This company pops two stabilizer wheels up front, and the kids turn by leaning, which is more intuitive and safer than handlebar-only steering.

Best Budget Stroller
Umbrella Stroller
Cosco Umbrella Stroller

Every dad needs a cheap, light, no-frills option for chucking into the back of a van and navigating nimbly through crowds.

Best Insulated Water Bottle for Kids
Rambler Jr. Kids Water Bottle
Yeti Rambler Jr. Kids Water Bottle

Cursed be the father who forgets to pack the water. This 12-ounce tumbler is ultra-durable and easy to clean, and the double-wall, vacuum-sealed design keeps cold drinks that way for hours.

Best Backpack Cooler
20 L Day Escape Pack
Hydro Flask 20 L Day Escape Pack

This insulated backpack cooler keeps its cool for up to 36 hours, which means you can pack it up well ahead of time. Plus, the watertight design guarantees zero dad-fails.

Best Balance Bike
Strider 12 Sport Kids Balance Bike
Strider Strider 12 Sport Kids Balance Bike

The simple design lets kids up to five years old push with their feet and steer with their hands to help develop balance, coordination, and confidence on two wheels.

Best Active Child Carrier
Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier
Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier

Hiking with a substandard kid pack makes the journey feel like a death march. This carrier has padding in all the right places and a lightweight frame and holds a kid up to 50 pounds.

Best Watersports Toy
Switch 2-in-1 Inflatable Kayak & Paddle Board
Isle Switch 2-in-1 Inflatable Kayak & Paddle Board

This rig converts from kayak to paddleboard on the fly. It can seat two (like a parent and a younger child who doesn’t have to paddle) and is light and stable enough for school-age children to use solo. No roof rack needed!

Best Portable Shelter
Quick-Set Venture Portable Pop-Up Outdoor Gazebo
Clam Quick-Set Venture Portable Pop-Up Outdoor Gazebo

This versatile “insta-gazebo” provides protection from the sun, bugs, and rain, whether you’re camping, tailgating, taking a beach day, or picnicking at the park with the family. It’s available in a handful of sizes and sets up in under a minute. Really.

Best Cooler
25 Quart Ice Fort Hard Cooler
Moosejaw 25 Quart Ice Fort Hard Cooler

This all-new takes-a-beating cooler holds 36 12-ounce cans (or like a million juice boxes) and includes a strap for easier lugging. It’s your assistant coach for pretty much any gameday.

Best Backpack for Dads
SEG28 Backpack
Matador SEG28 Backpack

Keeping your dad gear packed and organized is no easy task. The clever, segmented design of Matador’s Seg28 backpack separates it into four individual compartments to make organizing kid-friendly. Bonus: It’s extremely water resistant.

Best Lego Series
City Series Police Station
Lego City Series Police Station

Yeah, the branded sets are cool. But not even the Lego Millennium Falcon can match the fun of Lego’s City Series. Take its police HQ, which comes with a booking room, a convict pumping dumbbells, and a truck that can spring the perp by removing a wall of the cell.

Best Board Game
Forbidden Island
Gamewright Forbidden Island

In this board game, a group of adventurers descends upon a flooding island to swipe four idols before the whole thing sinks. It’s cooperative, so it’ll test your teamwork.

Best Construction-Based Toy
Marble Run 130-Piece Maze Track
Marble Genius Marble Run 130-Piece Maze Track
Now 33% Off

We know what you’re thinking: 130 pieces? Marbles? Look, this construction set knows no age limit. So if you’re looking for something you can all do together, why not connect the spinny wheel piece to the toilet-bowl piece to the steps piece to the…

Best Educational Subscription Box
Monthly Subscription Box
MEL Science Monthly Subscription Box

Spark creativity and hone STEM skills with this kit-based service that goes way beyond your typical baking-soda volcano with projects that build infinity portals, gyroscopes, and space rockets.

Best Problem-Solving Board Game
Blokus Game

This clever board game takes just a minute to learn, so it’s simple but never easy. It’s a four-person game that challenges spatial relations for kids and kids at heart.

Best Kid-Friendly Gardening Kit
Pizza Garden Kit
Creativity for Kids Pizza Garden Kit

This kit includes seeds to grow tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Because nothing motivates like pizza.

Best Mini Guitar
S1 Uke Ukelele
Martin Guitar S1 Uke Ukelele

Dad learns three chords and becomes frontman for the family band. You know it’s always been your dream.

Best Easy-Cleanup Toy
Classic 100-Piece Set
Magna-Tiles Classic 100-Piece Set

They’re fun like Lego but easier for toddlers to handle, and they clean up five times faster because the magnets let you take one tile and basically hoover the rest up with a satisfying clacking noise.

Best Kid-Friendly Cookbook
Cook It! The Dr. Seuss Cookbook for Kid Chefs: 50+ Yummy Recipes
Cook It! The Dr. Seuss Cookbook for Kid Chefs: 50+ Yummy Recipes
Now 40% Off

Fifty kid-friendly recipes that include everything from Holiday Roast Beast to Pink Ink Drink to Green Eggs & Ham.

Best Adventure Guide for Kids
Catch a Crayfish, Count the Stars: Fun Projects, Skills, and Adventures for Outdoor Kids
Catch a Crayfish, Count the Stars: Fun Projects, Skills, and Adventures for Outdoor Kids
Now 22% Off

This new step-by-step guide covers everything from climbing trees to building bug hotels to tracking wild animals.

Best Architectural Toy
Fort Builder Kit
KiwiCo Fort Builder Kit

Strong wooden poles and durable plastic connectors form the frame for epic indoor and outdoor forts. Your furniture stays put.

Best eReader for Kids
Kindle Kids
Amazon Kindle Kids
Now 33% Off

Even if you’re wary of screen time, this library on a tablet is strictly for reading purposes. That means there are no games or even additional apps to download. The new 300ppi resolution is extra easy on the eyes, too.

Best Portable Power Bank
Sherpa 100PD Wireless Portable Power Bank
Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD Wireless Portable Power Bank

Speaking of devices, this charger is a battery lifesaver. It has a massive 25,600mAh battery capacity and restores power to laptops, tablets, phones, and cameras via USB.

Best Tool Set for Kids
Wooden Toy Workbench
Crate and Barrel Wooden Toy Workbench

Budding young carpenters will appreciate the hands-on design of this kid-safe workbench. And let’s be honest, is there anything cuter than a toddler with a wrench?

Best Kid-Friendly Tablet
Fire 7 Kids Tablet
Amazon Fire 7 Kids Tablet

This child-friendly device comes packed with a rich library of educational games, ad-free books, workbooks, and tons more cool stuff. Plus, it’s outfitted with solid parental controls to limit access and total screen time.

Best Peanut Butter
Chocolate Delight Peanut Butter
OmMade Chocolate Delight Peanut Butter

OmMade blends creamy, roasty peanut butter with other ingredients to make good-straight-off-the-spoon flavors like Chocolate Delight PB and Crunchie Munchie.

Best Snack Cheese
Mini Babybel White Cheddar Cheese
Babybel Mini Babybel White Cheddar Cheese

Babybel’s individually wrapped cheeses are shelf-stable and all good. Peel. Eat. Repeat.

Best Fruit Jerky
Organic Pineapple Fruit Jerky
Solely Organic Pineapple Fruit Jerky

Go beyond the traditional shoe-leather meat jerky of your thru-hiking days and give your kids this sweet, delicious, fruity snack with no sugar added.

Best Oatmeal Bar
Super Foods Oat Bar Blueberry & Oatmeal
HappyTot Super Foods Oat Bar Blueberry & Oatmeal

A chewy, tasty energy bar alternative packed with fiber and zero added sugar.

Best Meat Jerky
Snack Mates Pizza Sticks
The New Primal Snack Mates Pizza Sticks
Now 21% Off

Every pair of these savory sticks is made with minimal sugar and has a strong dose of protein.

Best Squeezable Snack
Kids Strawberry & Beet Squeezable Smoothie
Sweet Nothings Kids Strawberry & Beet Squeezable Smoothie
Now 25% Off

These squeezable smoothie snacks are made with only organic fruit and vegetables, so they’re plant-based, dairy-free, and ultra-tasty.

Best Freezer Pop
Organic Freezer Pops
GoodPop Organic Freezer Pops
Now 37% Off

They’re like the classic freezer pops you might remember as a kid but made with 100 percent fruit juice and zero added sugar.

Best Crunchy Snack
Bamba Peanut Snacks
Osem Bamba Peanut Snacks

Snacking on them is like eating air-popped peanut butter.

Best Potato Chip Alternative
Himalayan Pink Salt Chicken Chips
Wilde Chips Himalayan Pink Salt Chicken Chips

Ditch the salt-and-oil-heavy chips for these protein-packed, meat-based snack “chips.” They’re available in a variety of flavors, from simple and kid friendly (like Himalayan Pink Salt) to more adventurous (like Chicken & Waffles and Buffalo Chicken).

Best Nut Bar
YES Bar Six Flavor Variety Pack
Yes Bar YES Bar Six Flavor Variety Pack

They’re gluten-free and dairy-free, made with minimal sugar, and packed with protein.

Best Budget Crib
Sundvik Crib
Ikea Sundvik Crib

This simple, durable crib has a removable side and lowerable bottom, so it converts to a traditional bed as your kid grows. Proof nursery furniture doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.

Best Smart Bassinet
Smart Sleeper Bassinet
Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet
Now 32% Off

This wildly popular robo-bassinet gently and automatically rocks and soothes your baby to sleep—even if they wake up in the middle of the night. Yes, they’re pricey, but what would you pay for a good night’s rest when you really need one?

Best Earbuds for Sleep
QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds
QuietOn QuietOn 3.1 Sleep Earbuds
Now 10% Off

QuietOn’s latest earbuds feature active noise-canceling technology that’s designed to drown out everything from snoring to ambient room noise so you sleep longer, deeper, and better. Use them when your partner is “on duty.”

Best Nose Cleaner
NoseFrida The Snotsucker
Frida NoseFrida The Snotsucker

True to its name, this gadget does exactly what it promises. It’s designed to clear dirty noses safely, painlessly, and effectively. Bonus: It’s dishwasher safe. Thank God.

Best Humidifier
Cool Moisture Humidifier (HCM-350)
Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier (HCM-350)
Now 20% Off

So many baby humidifiers only send up wisps of moisture. This powerful unit chugs out humidity you can feel in minutes. Doubles as a white-noise machine, too.

Best Fabric Seat Cover
BabyBjorn Fabric Seat
BabyBjörn BabyBjorn Fabric Seat

Place baby in ergonomic baby chair. Sit down. Rock baby with foot. Appreciate quiet—and the ability to sit.

Best Kid-Friendly Meditation App
Smiling Mind App
Smiling Mind Smiling Mind App

Mind’s free mindfulness app offers a wide variety of meditative programs for adults and children that might just help you and your family sleep more soundly.

Best Noise Machine for Kids
My Little Morphée Meditation Box
Morphée My Little Morphée Meditation Box
Now 20% Off

If you’d prefer to go screen-free, this setup features eight meditation sessions and eight nature sounds to lull the kiddo to sleep.

Best Bedtime Story Book
Bedtime Adventure Challenge Storybook
The Adventure Challenge Bedtime Adventure Challenge Storybook

An interactive 62-page book with calming activities for ages three to eight. Sure beats another Berenstain Bears.

Headshot of Paul Kita
Paul Kita

Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.