Gear: Deuter Kid Comfort III
When it comes to your child, you tend to want the best for them; for the outdoor-loving parent, Deuter’s Kid Comfort III child carrier fits the bill. The baby harness is outfitted with plush material on all the strap surfaces, and while I did not quite fit in it myself, I would imagine that chafing would be a minor issue, if at all. There is even a satiny face rest (which is removable for cleaning) for your little one for when he or she falls into la-la land. A generous shade hood tucks into a slim-zippered pocket in back of the child, though the tie-downs for the hood seem a bit small and require quite a bit of dexterity to clasp. Behind the hood are a few ample stuff-it pockets, as well as a smaller zipped pocket. And below where your kid sits, there is a larger zippered pouch that will easily hold extra diapers, food, toys, bottles, and virtually anything else you might need for a day trip. For adults, there is an easily accessible hydration system with a side zipper so you don’t have to reach anywhere near your child’s face when removing the bladder to refill or replace it. A nice pocket on one side of the hip belt conveniently holds a camera, and the other side houses a handheld mirror so you can make eye contact with your cargo. The cherry on top is that it comes with a stuff plush animal. And the whole thing folds down to become nearly flat and weighs less than 8 pounds.
$299; Eastern Mountain Sports, South Burlington; C&C Outdoor Store, Waterbury, Clearwater Sports, Waitsfield.
Gear: Kelty Big Dipper
With kiddies, one conundrum tends to be how fast they grow. The moment you think you’ve gotten the right size of something for them, you turn around and little Jenny or Johnny has grown to twice the height! Kelty presents a temporizing solution to this dilemma with this cozy sleeping bag. It features a telescoping foot compartment that unzips expand an additional 12 inches. This expansion should allow your youngster to stay with this bag for at least a couple more years than had you bought a fixed-length bag. Aside from this unique attribute, the bag also has loops on the outside that can be affixed to a sleeping pad to keep the child more in place and comfortable, and a pillow pocket so that won’t roll away either. And to keep them safe, Kelty eliminated any drawstrings, replacing them all with elastic. Growing pains will seem less painful (at least on the wallet) with this sleeping bag!
$69.95; The Village Sport Shop, Lyndonville; Onion River Sports, Montpelier; Wildwater Outfitters, Brattleboro.
Beer: Rookie’s Root Beer
I just could not bring myself to reviewing an alcoholic beverage in a Gear and Beer edition dedicated to kids’ products. So here you have it: the next best thing to beer (even non-alcoholic beer … blech!). Jenny and Dave Rooke, founders of Rookie’s, brew in Burlington using only six all-natural ingredients for the yumminess. Your taste buds will get jazzed up about the mingling of wintergreen, licorice, and vanilla. They use no corn sugar or caffeine. And on a hot summer day, it’s hard to beat ice cream in Rookie’s. Get it on tap at any of the American Flatbread locations, Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, or Parker Pie Co. in West Glover.