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Geocaching with Toddlers


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The youngest cacher on our team is 16 months old. Though she can walk amazing distances without tiring, her internal GPS usually leads her in the opposite direction from the rest of us! So, Mom and Dad end up hiking at least twice as far as necessary. I'm looking into backpacks to carry her in, but want to find something comfortable and practical that will last (she's tall for her age). Does anyone have a backpack recommendation? Or maybe a better idea? Thanks! -Tired Mom

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My son is now 2 1/2 and we've been toting him around in a Kelty Elite backpack for the past year. At first, he wanted nothing to do with it. Now, when he's tired and doesn't want to walk, has asks to be put in it. It's also great at amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, etc., because he has a better view and can't wander off to far. :-)

I've done dozens of caches with him in the backpack. Sometimes it's awkward, but I've gotten to the point where it's easy to get it on and off without help and it has a nice stand so he can remain in it while on the ground. REI also sells a carry-on bag that it fits into, so I can check it through as baggage on the airplane.

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We use an Evenflo Trail Blazer. The Kelty models are very nice but were a little pricey for me. We've really enjoyed the Evenflo. In my opinion it's a better deal. My daughter is 23 months old and weighs about 30 lbs now. It is rated for a child up to 45 lbs. With the attached back pack full, I'd say I'm carrying 35 lbs or more. Not sure how much longer we'll be able to use it. I plan to keep using it as long as she'll get in and I can still carry it. There's a picture of it in my profile with the canopy removed..

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Hehehehe. Our 29 month old never ever goes in the wrong direction or stop in front of us for no apparent reason or beg to be carried after 100 yards...

 

I'll cast another vote for the Kelty Elite. It is the sturdiest backpack we could find and often have people stop us and ask where they could get one. It's not cheap but is a great value. By the way, those people who stop us usually have one of the cheaper kinds on their back at the time.

 

Also, both kids get tired when walking an open flat stretch of trail, but throw in creek crossings, climbing over a log in the trail or going up and down a ravine and they are ready to do 20 miles. Has anyone else noticed that?

 

John

 

[This message was edited by Fortner Family Cachers on April 03, 2002 at 10:13 AM.]

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Regarding the Kelty, yes they're a bit pricey, but it's extremeley well constructed and has adjustments out the wazoo, so IMHO it was worth it.

I do get lots of comments about it too...the first time we took Dan out to an outdoor festival with it, we were stopped by at least 8 people to ask where we got it and lots more made comments. To this day, I still get lots of friendly comments from folks when we're out at parks geocaching and stuff. I guess they're not that common...it took a little getting used to.

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My cachers have just turned 3 & 5. For the last 5 years, I've been using a Trek Transit for all my hiking excursions greater than a mile.

 

It is a bike trailer that converts to a runner (NOT a stroller) w/ a big 20" wheel in front. You wouldn't believe the terrain I've pushed/pulled this thing through!

 

Granted, it's an expensive option, but over the years, it's paid for itself. Saved my back, and I can carry a small cooler, fishing poles, etc. in addition to my geocaching pack and my 2 tired wee ones!

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We have used the same LL Bean backpack type carrier for all 3 of our boys. Can't recall the model # or price, but it has worked like a champ. The littlest one (21 months) now tries to climb into it whenever he sees it. Depending on the time of day he may stay pretty active (while talking in my ear) or just plain conk out - the rhythm seems to get to him pretty quick.

While I have no complaints with the carrier at all, it's not the easiest thing to transition a sleeping baby out of no matter how hard we try. A sling type arrangement might be better in this respect. The sling may be more awkward in any type of brush, however I have to be somewhat careful with lower branches at times with the backpack. Once you get used to this difficulty you just pick a different path to the target.

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Just one note concerning the EvenFlo carriers..

 

AVOID the EvenFlo models with plastic frames (the TrailTech and Trail Blazer). The ones with the metal frames are OK (Hiker and Trooper)...

 

I had a plastic model. The problem was in the waist strap adjustment. The latch was not very secure. What would happen is that when using the pack, the adjustable waist strap would adjust itself up. The weight of my 20-pound baby was enough to slip the latches.

 

I returned that pack as defective, and got another one which did the same thing. I returned it and got an EvenFlo metal frame pack, and have been quite happy with it, even though it does not have as much storage space.

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but we managed a lot of hiking with our first two kids with an all-terrain stroller. It has really big tires and we took it over some pretty rough ground. At times we'd have to pick it up (not hard with two adults) to lift it over a log but most of the time it worked really well. I don't remember where we bought it but we only paid around $70. Too bad you're not closer, it'll be going into a garage sale in a few weeks.

 

If you're looking at really rugged terrain, however, I'd go with a backpack. I could never talk my husband into one but a friend loaned me hers after our 3rd child was born. It wasn't a real expensive one but did have a metal frame and held up through her 3 kids plus mine. We have hiked places with it that we'd never have considered with the stroller.

 

Hoosiermom - team leader of GeoStars

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REI has it's own brand child back pack. I like the looks of it better than the Kelty. It has a good sturdy frame, more adjustments then I'll be able to figure out and it weighs less than the Kelty. It will hold up to 60 lbs total pack weight. (45 lbs child, 15 lbs other)

 

The one we are looking at is the PiggyBack and it is a little less then the comparable Kelty. We haven't had a chance to try it out yet, since Little Lost One isn't quite old enough to sit in it yet.

 

ll1.jpg

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai

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We've done really well with a red plastic Radio Flyer Wagon. My kids are 3 1/2 and almost 6. Neither one liked the backpack when they were littler, and I'm sure not lugging them in one now! I've dragged that little wagon all over the place! It doesn't do really well on rough ground, but on those kid-friendly 1/1 and 2/2 caches, it's been great!

 

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Just a word of caution.

 

I've been hauling my 14 month old around in the Kelty pack since he was 6 months and he loves it. I use it for fishing (usually from shore, not wading), hiking, and even shopping.

 

However, when you start going cross-country and bushwacking, be aware that the branches that might miss your face or that you move out of the way will often brush right across your child's face. My son has received a few nasty scratches this way, so now I try to stay on open trails.

 

Good luck with whatever you choose.

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Nothing against backpacks, strollers, and wagons, but if you have the time and the patience, make 'em walk. It's not easy at first, but they'll catch on.. My daughter was doing 3 mile hikes at 2 and a half, and graduated to 8-9 milers by the time she was 4. Maybe she's just tough, but mostly I think it was 'cause I was too lazy to carry her once she could walk... Of course, depending on the terrain, you have to be careful (don't want anyone's little peanut tumbling down the mountain!).

 

Metagirrl

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We used the stroller and/or backpack for the prewalking stage except in extreme circumstances. All 3 of our kids have been expected to walk once they were able. We did use a backpack with our almost 2yo in Cheaha Mountain State Park last fall because we had limited time and lots we wanted to see. We alternated between the pack and her walking. That was last time it was used. We have trails on our property and I try to get the kids out a few times a week and walk at least a mile. They like having trails they know and can run around (on or off trail) and it helps keep all of us in shape for hikes elsewhere.

 

Hoosiermom - team leader of GeoStars

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Yes, definitely get the kids walking. But some of our caching adventures have turned out to be longer than anticipated, and I've also done many hikes that would be too much to ask a (then) 2 yr old to complete. So the hiking buggy has been a fantastic fall back - especially at the end of a very long day.

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My oldest climbed Cadillac Mountain in Acadia NP 2 days after his 3rd birthday. He wanted to hike 5 1/2 miles to a cache recently when an access gate was locked. My youngest, on the other hand, went on ONE cache with me while a toddler. The final straw was him trying to eat poison ivy while I was logging the cache. He is better when his older brother goes- he just tags behind him.

JoeyBob

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quote:
Originally posted by glynnfam:

Yes, definitely get the kids walking. But some of our caching adventures have turned out to be longer than anticipated, and I've also done many hikes that would be too much to ask a (then) 2 yr old to complete. So the hiking buggy has been a fantastic fall back - especially at the end of a very long day.


 

My 2 walk a lot of the time. Miss Pumpkin, almost 6, did a 5K run with me this morning, and she is beginning to do some competitive orienteering. But with the wagon, they last a lot longer before they get tired, so we can do longer caches and more caches in a day. We've left the wagon behind, and at times regretted it, especially with my 3-year old. I've had to carry the kid on my shoulders for a mile or more when he's pooped out on me, and he's starting to get REALLY HEAVY! The Radio Flyer has been a great way to help make caching more enjoyable, and to extend the types of caches we can comfortably do as a family.

 

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