Gearheads, just because you have kids now doesn't mean you have to give up your lust for state-of-the-art, techno-worthy stuff. Welcome to outdoor parenthood.
When it comes to overall comfort, the leader of the packs is Kelty K.I.D.S.'s Trek ($140) with its padded waist belt, adjustable shoulder straps, and fleece-padded shoulder harness that keeps your child safely in place. This pack even has toy-attachment loops and a zip-off kid pack with bottle holder. A major plus: The seat height adjusts to grow with baby (up to 45 pounds). Seven different accessories are also available, from a sun/rain hood to a diaper bag/fanny pack. Tough Traveler's top-of-the-line Stallion pack ($160) is the best choice for tall parents and big babies (it fits adults up to 6-foot-6 and kids up to 60 pounds). Plus, it has the most comfortable hipbelt, bottle holders, and a security pocket for keys. It's the only model that can be converted — for just under $100 — into a full hiking pack after your child's outgrown it, though you may need a degree in rocket science to do it. Gerry's Trail Blazer HP ($135; fits children up to 45 pounds) features a nylon carrier that removes easily from its lightweight plastic frame for washing, a detachable diaper pack, and a sun/rain canopy. The Tortuga kid carrier ($155), made by Ferrino in a handsome navy-and-red combination for kids up to 45 pounds, has padded back support made from a special mesh wicking fabric and also has adjustable seating positions for the baby. For nighttime visibility, L.L. Bean's forest-green Child Carrier ($99; up to 40 pounds) comes with light-reflective trim.
Baby Jogger II, for children one month to four years old or 75 pounds, is the original all-terrain stroller that's been upgraded. It's now collapsible to fit in the trunk of most cars and available with 12-, 16-, or 20-inch wheels ($240-$310). Accessorize by adding a sun canopy, a mesh basket, or a clear plastic wind/rain canopy ($40 for each), or convert your stroller into a bike trailer with a special kit ($198) that comes with lots of safety features, including a child's helmet. Kool Strides' All Terrain Jogging Stroller ($335), which collapses down to 12 inches high, has a five-point harness for added safety, an innovative zip-back seat that lets your child sit up or recline, and a sun canopy with a see-through window and mesh basket.
The Chicco Super Skate Set of pre-in-line skates will get your roller diva or dude gliding safely and confidently in no time. Three settings speed up the process: Lock all four wheels for simple walking, set the wheels so your child can just skate forward, or set on "free" for regular skating. Kids wear their own sneakers in these bright primary-colored skates with easy-to-fasten straps. Set includes helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and a transparent backpack/carrier. Fits shoe sizes 6 1/2 to 12, or three- to six-year-olds ($40).
Photographs by Clay Ellis