Traveling and Hiking Adventures With The Deuter Kanga Kid and Kid Comfort III
In a previous post I wrote about the Deuter Kanga Kid, I remarked “Just like with my personal climbing and hiking gear, choosing the right piece of gear for a trip and understanding its strengths and limitations is crucial. The gear that works with children is a moving target, as each child is unique and is constantly developing and changing.” During the planning for some recent trips, we have had to weigh the pros and cons of our child transport gear to balance functionality and portability, while taking into account the current needs and preferences of our son, Cedar.
Trip 1: Switzerland- Deuter Kid Comfort III. The pros: The best choice for passenger and carrier comfort when hiking is part of the plan. How could we go to Switzerland and not want to hike? The cons: It is large and not as easy to travel with as our Kanga Kid, does not fit well in compact European cars, and is a bit unwieldy when you are browsing the trinket shops full of Swiss flags, wooden cows, cow bells and chocolate.
Cedar had a great time visiting Switzerland. We had spent 1.5 years living in Switzerland before he was born and it was fun to return to some of our favorite places. He saw the Eiger up close and took a train ride through the middle of it. He ventured briefly onto his first glacier and discovered that snow is very bright if you refuse to wear sunglasses. He experienced Swiss sledding, watched base jumpers in the Lauterbrunnen valley, saw a lot of cows (Moo!), and indulged in his love of cheese with fondues, raclette and chunks of Gruyère straight from the block. He spent a bunch of time in the Kid Comfort III, interspersed with opportunities to stretch his legs and explore on his own.
Trip 2: Mexico- Deuter Kanga Kid (http://www.deuter.com/en_US/backpack-details.php?category=125&artnr=46171). Pros- perfect for traveling light on short excursions and carrying the essentials for an active toddler. Cons: None for this trip. The Kanga Kid served as a carry-on diaper bag and was perfect for days at the beach and visiting ruins. The optional sun hood was a must-have to keep him shaded from the hot sun. In my previous blog entry I had noted how it was difficult for Cedar to sleep in the Kanga Kid. One day while touring the ruins at Tulum, he managed to catch a quick nap in the pack with his head leaning straight forward between the shoulder straps.
Trip 3: Colorado- Deuter Kid Comfort III. Pros- See Trip 1. Insert “Colorado” for “Switzerland.” Cons: Becomes an oversized diaper bag when your toddler decides he is more interested in hiking than riding. In theory, this was the best pack for the trip and it was well worth toting when we had a passenger, but we spent a lot time carrying it empty.
On our first day we hiked the Perimeter Trail around the mountain town of Ouray (the self-proclaimed Switzerland of America). Cedar walked for the first ½ hour until the trail became too steep for him to easily navigate. He rode for 1 hour until we stopped for a diaper change and then picked up my trekking poles and proceeded to hike for the next hour. He had not eaten for hours and was starting to show signs of tiring, but stubbornly insisted on continuing on his own. I was happy to have the pack as I set it down like a mobile high chair and strapped him into it to contain him long enough to eat some food. After a quick snack, I picked up the pack and started walking with him kicking and protesting. He fell asleep in less than 5 minutes and I finished the hike.
The next day Cedar was up early. “Shoes” was the first word out of his mouth and he grabbed a set of collapsed trekking poles and was out the door. He walked for an hour around town while we took turns eating breakfast and getting ready to go hiking. We drove up into the beautiful Yankee Boy basin and hiked the Weehawken trail, where we were rewarded with beautiful mountain scenery and views over the town of Ouray from the top. On the way down we let Cedar hike a section of trail that wound through a large aspen grove. He hiked for 1.5 hours on his own and moved at a reasonable pace considering the length of his stride. He is 18 months old. It makes me wonder how much longer he'll be able to go in a few more years.
After the last trip, I have been thinking that our days of having Cedar sit contentedly in the pack for longer distances might be over. Remember that sentence about “moving targets” that I started this blog with? This week Cedar has learned the word “ride” and points repeatedly at our Kanga Kid and says “ride, ride.” Even if I am just carrying him around the house and washing dishes or taking out the trash, he has been enjoying the view from up high and the opportunity to keep my ear close to his mouth as he chatters away. I laugh and enjoy it for now because I know next week we will be on to something else.
–Jesse Cunningham (Family Ambassador)