All the right stuff for toddlers

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

1999 Family Vacation Guide, The Itinerant Toddler

All the right stuff for toddlers
By Gretchen Reynolds

As new parents soon learn, the defining achievement of toddlers is not walking, it's willpower. If your little one can walk, he'll demand to walk. And if she can talk, she'll holler — usually "No!" Traveling with these pint-sized autocrats requires an ironclad sense of humor — and the latest gear. If you have the right stuff, trips with your toddler can be a riot. In the best sense.

Begin with gear for movement, the surest way to soothe and amuse a toddler. A child-carrier backpack is the standard here, the tougher and more capacious the better. It'll have to bear up under wiggling, dozing, and repeated apple-juice dousings. Kelty's Elite ($175), which now comes standard with a sun/rain hood and a child-size zip-off pack, is made of rugged ripstop nylon and has one of the best-fitting harness systems on the market. Hiking too slow for your little Knievel? Sling him into the new Sport Utility Stroller from BOB ($359). With its mountain-bike-like, spring-and-elastomer suspension, it lets you push him on dirt trails at squeal-inducing speeds. Later, when your three-year-old is ready to go where no tricycle-bestriding tot has gone before — i.e., onto roads — attach the Burley Piccolo ($350) to the back of your bicycle and, voilà, a toddler tandem. Don't forget a CPSC-approved child helmet, preferably an aero beauty such as Bell's new Half Pint Pro ($30). It's never too early to introduce Junior to the coefficients of wind drag.

At night, think familiar. Preschoolers thrive on routine, which is why the new portable and foldable Bumpa Bed ($140) from The Baby Jogger Company is so comforting. If your child naps between its foam bumpers at home, he'll snuggle down happily in the tent. Dress Junior in an insulating layer — such as Patagonia's Seedling midweight Capilene line ($12-$38), which is literally made with the scraps from adult underwear production — and finish off with a warm, clutchable blanket like the new hooded Windbreak Toddler Blanket ($52). Another sensible cover-up is the new Go-Blanket from Eclogue (toddler size, 30 inches by 36 inches, $29), which is made from Polarfleece with a backing of waterproof nylon Ultrex, and doubles as a play mat or changing pad.

For other essentials, think cute. Your toddler needs shoes, and he needs sun protection. Why shouldn't they be adorable? Midget Nike Air Madas ($36) and teensy Bollé specs ($20-$30) transform your child into the ideal outdoor fashion accessory. You'll be proud to traipse into the backcountry with him, even as he hollers at the top of his lungs, "No!"

Photographs by Clay Ellis

Copyright 1999, Outside magazine

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