How To Raise A Hiker With The Kid Comfort II And The Deuter Kid's Pack

CarolM_Hiker_pic2-200x300Our family consists of the big kids and the babies. The big kids, Liam and Aoife, are six and eight. They are strong and athletic. They love to hike, and while there was a long period where they were both slung into backpacks on most Sunday afternoons, nowadays they both eagerly attack any trail we take them on with fantastic energy and enthusiasm.

When they do, they put together a little pack of things they might need on their hike, and being of an age where they understand what those needs might actually be, Greg and I regularly trust them to put together their own belongings before our weekend hikes.

And then there are the babies. There was a time, nearly a year ago, where one baby was newborn and the other had just learned to walk, and the category babies truly did suit Maeve and Fiona just fine. But now Maeve is 10 months and Fiona is two, and as she’s become a walking, talking little girl, my cheerful, go-with-the-flow Fiona is longing to change categories.

Despite her diminutive, 23-pound frame, she longs to be able to do the things her older brother and sister can do. I try to sculpt her world to provide her with as many opportunities as possible to feel grown up.

CarolM_Hiker_pic1-200x300On our family hikes, Fiona is always still carried in a backpack (we use the Kid Comfort II) More and more, though, she wants to walk. Greg and I find ourselves telling her that she can walk when we get to the bottom, almost home, because it’s hard to corral the older kids (and ourselves, I admit) to travel at her pace for long distances when we have ground we’d been planning to cover.

But it goes without saying that our goal is for her to be an enthusiastic hiker, and so I’ve been making a point of taking her on frequent, age-appropriate weekday hikes when the big kids are at school. We’ve had so much fun.

Fiona has her own, tiny pack that is just her size. The Deuter Kids pack is a real, functional backpack that fits a tiny child. It makes her feel just as cool as the big kids, and she takes her packing seriously. When we headed out this morning she thoughtfully included a doll, two play silks, and a few books. Because who knows what you might need on a hike? I always let her put exactly what she wants in her pack. She won’t even attempt to put it on if it’s too heavy, so she self-regulates the weight. Sometimes, she even carries it empty. It doesn’t matter to me. I just see this adorable little girl feeling so proud and competent as she prepares for her hike.

Then we go out the back door and follow the trails that lead back from our yard into the hills. She leads the way. We rarely use what she packs, and we rarely walk for longer than 20 minutes. But this is a start, and this is Fiona becoming a big kid. Maeve’s pack is in our gear closet, ready to go. She’s just starting to pull to stand, and I have a delicious vision of my two “babies” this fall with their purple packs strapped on their backs, heading out the back door, feeling just as important and accomplished as Liam and Aoife.

Until then, she’ll watch from my back until she can follow in her sister’s footsteps. It’s all such fun.

–Carol McMurrich, (Family Ambassador).

How do you get your kids excited to explor the outdoors?

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