Gear Review: kid stuff

Kelty Pathfinder kid-carrier

Kelty Pathfinder

Patches of snow linger beneath the Douglas-firs and whortleberry as I hike up the soft path towards the high Absarokan saddle. The early summer sun is already gaining heat, but is nowhere near as hot as it will be in a few weeks.

Strapped to my chest is my four-month-old baby, Anders. From the time he was just a few days old, Anders has spent at least a little time, everyday in the Baby Bjorn. Because of this front-carrying pack, I’ve been able to walk the dogs, hike and even do the dishes while he snoozes away, comfortable and safe.

Before Anders was born, I was concerned that I might have to give up part of my outdoor lifestyle in order to care for him. But, a quick look around Peets Hill, the “M” Trail, Mill Creek and other popular outdoor recreation areas soon assured me that recreating with kids is possible.

There is a plethora of high-tech kid-carrying gear on the market today. This gear not only allows parents to keep on hiking, skiing, swimming and biking, but lets them get hooked on the outdoors right from the start.

Here are a few of Anders’ and my favorite things.

Pathfinder— – Kelty

This lightweight backpack gets kids up high where they can enjoy the view. I tested it with a neighbor’s child and she loved riding in it, and the padded shoulder straps and hip belt made it comfortable enough for me to hike all day.

The Pathfinder comes with a removable hood that protects a child from the sun and rain. A removable kids’ day pack is great for storing snacks, diapers and extra layers when toting a child around, and fun for a little one to carry when they are ready to hike a bit on their own.

A feature I haven’t seen on other backpacks—and really like—is the auto-deploy kickstand, which allows you to simply set the pack down with your child in it—great for when you need to get in and out of the pack by yourself. The harness system snugly holds a child in the pack and there are even fleece-lined leg holes and a washable burp cloth.

Baby Carrier Active and Diaper Backpack Active – —Baby Bjorn

While I love the original Baby Bjorn, I’ve become even more enamored with the Baby Carrier Active. It has all the same features as the original, plus cushioned and contoured shoulder straps and lumbar support that that distributes baby’s weight better. These added features reduce back strain and fatigue on longer hikes or with bigger babies (the carrier works for babies up to 26 pounds).

Like the original, it keeps the baby close and secure and provides plenty of head support. As the baby gets older and can hold up his or her own head, you can turn them around to face forward, allowing them to view the world beyond the parent.

The Diaper Backpack fits with (and matches) the carrier and is roomy enough to store all of baby’s needs on a day hike or a trip to the park. It comes with a changing pad, insulated pockets that are assessable without removing the backpack and is lightweight.

Baby Spring Float with Sun Canopy— – Swimways

Some days you just want to float around in the pool at Chico Hot Springs or cool off in Fairy Lake. The Baby Spring Float allows your baby to float along with you.

This is the first step in the Swimways Swim Steps program to teach children to swim. With a wide floating base and low seat, baby gets a safe introduction to water. Shade provided by the movable sun canopy assures that new skin won’t get too much sun.

Cougar 1— – Chariot Carriers

This contraption easily changes from a jogging stroller to a bike trailer to a ski trailer. It is easy to assemble and simple to morph from one use to another with the bike and ski conversion kits.

The Cougar 1 has an adjustable suspension system that ensures a smooth ride for your favorite passenger over almost any terrain. Plus, the five-point harness system keeps the rider snug and safe. The chassis sits low to the ground and feels very stable, even when taking a quick corner on skis or rounding the bend on a bike.

We also appreciate that the Cougar 1 seals up tight to protect Anders from the whipping Livingston winds, rain and snow. At the same time, side vents let in air to keep him comfortable in warmer weather. We eventually switched to Cougar 2 for carting Anders and Finn around.

Sun Protection Swim Suit, Sun Protection Hat and Baby BOPPA— – SwimEEZY

SwimEEZY focuses on two aspects of outdoor safety—sun safety and water safety. The Sun Protection Swim Suit and Sun Protection Hat are independently rated for maximum sun protection. The sun suit fits loosely so little ones are comfortable running around all day long at the Gallatin Recreation Area beach or on a surfing vacation in Baja. The hat provides both head and neck protection.

The Baby BOPPA is a personal flotation device (PFD) that supports baby’s head and neck and seems impossible to slip out of. The PFD keeps babies on their back so their face doesn’t roll into the water. The soft AIREX flotation foam means it is comfortable enough to wear all day long.
www.swimeezy.com

Montana Parent
June 04, 2007

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