Alright, if you’ve read my blog you have heard me talk about kids in backpacks. I’ve been amazed how few people internationally know what the heck I’m talking about and how often we’re asked on the streets about getting around with kids on our backs
My husband and I are Colorado Natives, born and raised in the Centennial State where children accompany their parents at the youngest age on treks over the mountains and through the woods in every season. While jogging strollers have gotten to be very good with nubby tires and strong suspensions, they’re really no match for rough trails or snow. In our home state it’s not uncommon to see parents on skis or snowshoes with young kids bundled warmly on their backs.
When we set out traveling we did bring the big beast of a double-jogging stroller and then it sat motionless, lonely in the corner of our kitchen the whole time we lived in Beirut. It turns out metropolitan sidewalks and crowds are not very conducive to strollers and that this Mama is not comfortable pushing her two kids out into moving traffic to cross the street. While it was not always simple we abandoned the stroller for backpacks. Since then we have comfortably used these packs in 6 countries, shopping malls, bus terminals, airports (even through security), amusement parks on trains and in restrooms, yes, restrooms (the logistics are less complicated than you’d think).
So, what are these backpacks, you ask? Well, many people ask…in fact, we’ve been stopped on the street, in shops, even customs agents aren’t immune; there are times when we answer more questions about our packs than our entry into a foreign country.
Ok, here it is:
The packs we use are made by Kelty, a Boulder, Colorado company (insert your favorite ‘buy local’ slogan here). Our specific model is called the FC 1.0 and it fits like an external framed backpacking backpack. The fit can be adjusted for torso length (on Mom and Dad) and it rests on the hips and shoulders comfortably on both men and women. These packs have an additional gear storage compartment with 18.9 liters space that eliminates the need to lug around an additional diaper bag. For baby it has an adjustable 5-point harness system and no-pinch hinges. The pack itself weighs 3.3 kg and can hold kiddos up to a maximum safe weight of 50 lbs.
Kiddos sit pretty high up in this pack which allows for a better view of goings on (I know my kids love being eye to eye with our neighbors). Since kids are up high it does change Mom and Dad’s center of balance, so it can take some getting used to in order to feel comfortable for long periods of time. Oh, we’ve used them for long periods of time too; in fact, recently we took a train to Batu caves in Malaysia and the kids were comfortable for several hours during the trek, even falling asleep on the way home. The only issue we’ve found concerning kiddo comfort is that their feet can fall asleep if they don’t get down and walk around. The only issue we’ve found for Mama and Papa comfort is that the pack can feel heavy after a long day of a walking.
We gate check the packs for flights at the airport just like we would a stroller and we often ask that they be available to us as we exit the aircraft at our destination. We have often worried about their safety in the cargo hold because of all of their toggles and straps but we have had no issues, no rips, no tears. Backpacks allow us to move quickly through terminals and allow us to avoid time consuming obstacles like locating a lift instead of using escalators or extra checks as security since these fit through the x-ray scanner.
It’s a matter of fact, hiking trails are rarely paved, historical sites have dirt or stony paths, castles have stairs and kids get heavy. If, like my kids, yours aren’t ready for walking full time but are too big to be hand carried all day, a backpack is the perfect solution.
Strollers are great for pavement and consistent sidewalks but if you’re going to get out and really experience the world, whether you step off the beaten path and into nature or walk the hallways (and stairways) of history, look into wearing your kid on your back, it will open the world to you and your child in ways a stroller would jus cause frustration.
Enjoy folks, get on out there and see something new with your kids, leave the stroller at home. 🙂
Categories: Kids and Travel