Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hiking with our boys and the gear we choose

Jen and I love hiking and exploring in the woods. As a result our goal is to try and instill that same love for the outdoors into our boys. With that in mind whenever we have some free time on a day off we'll often pack up the Jeep and head out to explore a new trail, or visit an old reliable wooded area.

There's not much worse than a cranky kid halfway through a hike because no matter how you slice it, you have to hike back to the vehicle. So the gear we choose really is critical to our success.

Last Father's Day Jen purchased a frame style toddler pack. The Chicco Smart Support Backpack, available on seemed to have all the features we were looking for. My shoulder straps are padded and contain a lot of adjustment. The waist band is similar. When it comes to my 6"1" 230lbs frame I'm always skeptical when purchasing online, but this fits as it should. Anyone who has ever carried a framepack and knows how to adjust it, will have not problems with this pack.
The pack also comes equipped with a kick stand, so the pack can be rested on the ground, completely unsupported, even when loaded with a toddler.  Aiden is just over 30lbs now, and he rides back there very comfortably. He is sitting up and completely supported by the nylon seat. A previous cloth infant pack we used a handful of times made him appear as if he was strapped to my back. This pack he can clearly see his surroundings and can rest his hands on the frame, or my shoulders.
On the back of the pack is a detachable bag that we've used to carry small items. Our plan is to make that our First Aid kit to use during our smaller hikes.

Since everyone's happiness is a real necessity on family outings, Jen has taken to carrying an older JanSport backpack. These leather bottomed bags are ideal little daypacks. The one she's carrying I used while in college some 15 years ago, and it's still going strong. The main compartment is undivided and when unzipped opens up flat in order to view everything stored within. There are two smaller compartments on the outside, perfect for small items you want to keep handy.

In reality the biggest necessity for a successful hike with our boys is our preparation. We constantly keep in mind that they are much smaller than us, and physically can't keep up with our pace. Plus they need to be entertained. As an adult, I know the excitement of turning a bend and coming face-to-face with a wild turkey or a white-tailed deer, but they don't know that yet. They will easily get bored, so we are constantly pointing stuff out to them and making sure they are seeing all the interesting things around them. We stop frequently to point out natural habitats, and areas where animals have obviously left their mark. When it's time to rest, we find some downed trees and break out the snacks.

There's no time table when hiking with our kids, we let the day bring what it will, and most of the time it brings beautiful memories.

Happy Exploring
Scott M

No comments:

Post a Comment