I will be the first to put my hand up and admit we are not your typical “out-doorsy” type family. We are quite urban, used to small apartment style living, concrete surroundings, traffic and fast paced city life. But sometimes we do feel the need to disconnect from technology and reconnect with some good old fashioned nature and be immersed in beautiful surroundings. Trees, tranquil spaces, native birds and trickling waterfalls. But how do you get back to nature, traversing hiking tracks and trails when you have a little one in tow? The answer?…the phil&teds escape backpack carrier. The escape carrier is the mac-daddy of the phil&teds range of back pack carriers with all the bells and whistles.
We are extremely spoilt for choice in New Zealand, at a stones throw you can be at the beach, near the snow or in the forest – the beauty of this country never ceases to amaze me. We decided to plan a visit to our local native botanical gardens and try out the escape carrier. Both my partner & I had never used a backpack style carrier before – so this was a brand new experience. At first glance I thought “oh yeah, Im pretty tough I can handle this” but it did take a few attempts to get familiar with the feel of the carrier. It felt a little unnatural for me to be carrying my son on my back, so I took the time to build some confidence with carrying him this way. He was fine and safe all strapped in. I am used to carrying him on my hip whenever he’s not in his buggy – so this was all new territory. I am sure if you are already familiar with wearing hiking backpacks, or baby wearing in this way, then you would probably have an idea of what to expect. Luckily we thought to test how to correctly fit the carrier and make sure we knew how to adjust all the straps for comfort before we ventured anywhere. The last thing we wanted was to be stuck, not knowing how to safely use the carrier. Practice really does make perfect. It didn’t take us long to figure it out, but if you get the chance to see an in store demo then go for it – if you are like me, I like to see how things are done first, before trying it out for myself.
My partners reaction when he saw me wearing the carrier, was naturally to laugh. So I challenged him to try it on and prove he could do a better job. He actually made it look easy! While I was clumsy and unsure, he was confident and controlled in both fitting the carrier and getting familiar with it’s various features. I tried to ignore his comment that he felt like a “ghost buster” which made him feel cool (remember we are not wilderness people…) Once the carrier was fitted, both Dad and son were happy & eager to get on the hiking trail. Any product that can make you step outside your comfort zone and try something new, is definitely worth a shot in my book!
Before we set off we discussed the plan for the trek. As a family. we know our limits and with fading afternoon sunlight we also knew not to head too far into the forest or venture off the beaten track. We stuck to a basic route and had a map for reference just in case. With all the necessary safety measures taken into account – I have to say once we were on the trail, it was truly amazing! It was like my partner and I had been hit with that child-like curiosity, that our kids so readily and easily express. It was wonderful to share that as a family. We could hardly wait to see what was beyond the next corner, over the next hill or down the next slope – it created some pretty exciting family conversations that we would not normally have in our normal day to day life. Our ‘lil man must have enjoyed the view from the treetops, as the further we walked the more boisterous he became, clapping and yelling like a trooper. The fresh forest air was clearly what we all needed.
The carrier itself had ample pockets for car keys, wallets and cell phones. It also has a compartment for a water pouch, but as we are beginners we each had our own trusty water bottle. The front of the carrier also zips off into it’s own pack – which came in handy as our girl used it to carry her jacket and brochures she collected on entering the garden. She is an avid collector and likes to get souvenirs wherever she goes. Things like seashells, twigs, leaves, flowers and even sand…(please no more sand). For her to be able to carry it herself was a huge help. Her usual tactic is to convince me to carry her stuff! With the zip off pack there was no excuse. I kept to the back of the convoy so I could document our trip taking snaps along the way. It was really touching to see father and son leading the pack, I think Dad was a bit proud. They looked like they had a bit of a bond going on which was really sweet. For someone with no outdoor or camping inclination at all to be guiding us from the front was surprising and admirable.
On our trail we saw some beautiful NZ native birds like the tui and kereru, we listened to their song, stumbled upon a trickling waterfall and also discovered these bright blue coloured berries which sparked much intrigue. The outing was definitely a success. I measured that by everyones reaction and enthusiasm to plan the next one! While our hiking experience is at a basic level, the phil&teds escape carrier allowed us the opportunity to try something new and what do you know we actually enjoyed it! Now we are all eagerly looking forward to the next time we get to escape the city…