There comes a time in all adventure families lives where the kids grow up and you they need to step up to the next level of gear. For Grace this was not just a matter of growing, but also growing up. Grace recently became more interested in carrying her own weight literally and figuratively when it camp to hiking and backpacking. To this end, away went the smaller day pack and in came her first real backpack.
As an active dad, trying to keep his family and especially his daughter engaged in the outdoors it is quite difficult sometime to find kid side gear that is worth the investment and will grow with your children until they are truly ready for the next step.
Bravo to the good people at Kelty for designing a line of packs designed specifically for kids or "Juniors" as they put it. The Juniors line is specifically designed to fit the pre-teenager and allow them to carry the pack potentially as mentioned till they are ready for the next transition. Grace has been carrying the Kelty LAKOTA Jr. 45L Backpack for two seasons and absolutely loves it. While she has grown over the seasons the pack has been easily adjusted to fit her and the added weight and gear she has desired to carry. She is quite the self-determined and independent lady.
Weight: 3 lb 5 oz / 1.5 kg
Capacity: 2750 cu in / 45 L
Hydration Compatible: Yes
Backpack Features: Included Rain Cover, Sleeping Bag Compartment, Top Loader
Material: 420D Polyester Ball Shadow
Water bottle pockets
Side compression straps
Lower compression and pad straps
Pack cover included
Large front pocket with organization
LightBeam single aluminum stay
HDPE frame sheet
AirMesh shoulder straps, waist belt, and lumbar
Dual density foam waist belt
Hipbelt stabilizer straps
Padded shoulder straps
Ventilating back panel
Torso Fit Range: 12 - 16 in / 30 - 40 cm
Waist Belt Fit Range: 25 - 39 in / 63 - 99 cm
Some of the features and specs that I as a dad really like in this pack for Grace is the durable material used on the pack. Kids are tough on things and a backpack is no exclusion. At this age, lightweight materials would not be the way to go given how hard they are on items. After extensive use, this pack has shown no tears, popped stitches or wear marks.
One of the other features that I think is quite a novel and nice features especially for kids on this pack is the handle on the back of the pack. This is quite uncharacteristic for backpacking backpacks and is more reminiscent of a duffel bag. Understand at this age, wearing a backpack with gear in it and the novelty of these new straps and buckles and buttons can be a lot of a youngster. The benefit of the handle helps when the youngster pick up a heavy bag when on the ground or more importantly helps pick it up to learn how to properly put on the pack without hurting themselves.
Grace loves the whistle on the sternum strap. While I know that most companies now have made this a standard feature of all packs. As a safety feature and as a parent always make sure that whistle is in good working order. Grace really likes the capability to decide between water bottle or a bladder. The Lakota Jr. comes standard with capability to house and the hose flap for the bladder. Prior to grace stepping up to this pack by Kelty, she was relegated to only bottles. She now feels like such a bigger girl having her own pack and bladder. As a dad, allowing her to have the bladder in the pack, means less stops on the trail for water breaks with the bladder.
Grace is an organization nut. She loves to have everything in it's place. The Lakota Jr. gives Grace the flexibility to put things where she wants them and ensures she doesn't lose something while on trail. Grace enjoys all the top pockets, base zippers allowing easy access into the main body of the pack and bottom compartment for her sleeping bag (also a Kelty product!).
A couple of tips for fitting your child for a pack:
For more information about Ketly's Warranty Service - Click Here
For more information about Kelty's Return Policy - Click Here
Kelty continues to make a great line of other kid designed packs suitable for your pre-teen. Check out the RedCloud Junior Pack.
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Scott & Grace
If you haven't been following me long... let me introduce you to my best pal Boston. Boston and I spend a great deal of time together. See, I work from home so when I am not traveling for work he is not just my dog and best bud but also my co-worker. We enjoy being home alone together as well as getting out of the house and hitting the nearby park for a walk, run or bike ride (he pulls me!).
When the weekends come, the water and the trails are were Boston and I really want to be. As a Labrador his natural state is in the water swimming about and chasing sticks. Being a young active and growing dog takes energy, stamina and a good diet to back it up.
When it comes time to nourish Boston, we want him to have the best so that we can ensure he and I can do the things we enjoy but also that he can have a long and happy life. Boston eats Core by Wellness. We made the switch a few months ago in Boston's diet to more all natural and grain free options that Wellness provides that are high in protein.
The response by Boston was immediate. As you can imagine it is hard to tell if a dog likes something especially when it comes to food. I knew right away that Boston was enjoying the Core by Wellness far better then the brand we offered him prior too. See, as mentioned Boston and I spend quite a bit of time together and we have a routine.
Normally, Boston would get fed in the morning as I would be making my coffee. By the time I would go back into the kitchen to make my lunch, his food bowl would still be full. Some days it would be near dinner time before he would eat his old food. You are probably think we were feeding him gross. Not so, we were feeding him something recommended and approved by our vet and what we had always fed our previous dogs.
Since we changed Boston's diet, wow, what a change. Our routine is the same but the results are quite different from the old food. Boston gets fed in the morning while I make my coffee. Usually, by the time I am done making my coffee, he is done eating and licking his chops! It's amazing. I know dogs can't speak and we have to be perceptive to understand the subtle cues they give us to understand how they feel and what is going on their heads. I have no other way to take this behavior other then, he really likes his food!
I know it's "still" August and may be muggy and warm through most of the country, but my mind is on fall and winter camping. For me this means it's time to start rotating the gear around from the lightweight hammocks, sandals, bug spays and lightweight sleeping bags to more of the cold weather garments, 3-4 season tents and one of my favorite sleeping bags.
For those of us who have kids, we all know we aren't supposed to take sides or pick favorites... But I guess it's okay to do it with gear instead. I have had the Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 - 4 Season sleeping bag now for two seasons. As mentioned it has become my go to sleeping bag for a multitude of reasons. At first, I was unsure of how I would sleep in a sleeping bag that was more of a garment then a traditional mummy or cornered bag.
After continued use during the cooler and colder months I have found I sleep in this bag far better then a traditional mummy bag that doesn't always move with you. As a side sleeper that tosses considerably throughout the night, I usually end up tangled in my traditional bags while camping. This issue is no fault of the other manufacturers, it's just something I unfortunately have to deal with. In the cooler months this situation gets exacerbated especially if I am using a sleeping bag liner on a higher temperature rated bag when and if the temps dip down. It's one thing to be tangled in a bag, it's another to add a liner to the equation. All of this doesn't allow for a restful nights sleep. Trust me!
The Mobile Mummy has solved two of these issues for me in it's revolutionary design. First, the fitted and comfortable garment style design moves with me when I toss and turn and it does so effortlessly. Hence, I tend to get a more restful sleep when sleeping in the bag. I personally, always sleep better in the cooler temps while camping, but the 800 Fill Duck DriDown fill keeps me plenty warm and has done a great job doing so far lower then the 17 degree comfort limit per the specs on the bag.
Being warm and comfortable especially in the colder months requires certain parts of your body to be covered and protected. An issue for me has always been managing the right head coverage to ensure I either wasn't losing my body heat through my head or absorbing the cold which would negate the temperature rating of the bag itself. Some mummy bags have provided good drawstring capabilities to ensure proper head and ear coverage, yet for me my head being stationary during tossing and turning left me facing the back of the bag as I turned. Not fun.
The Mobile Mummy and it's almost hoodie-like design has created a fit that when moving whether while sleeping, sitting up or walking about, your head stays covered and warm. This surely adds to the overall comfort, warmth and quality of sleep when utilizing the bag.
In addition to general overall comfort and sleepabilty (yes, I made up a word! It's my blog, my rules) the thing that really sets the bag apart from all the others is simple, the mobility it offers the user. Ahh, "Mobile" Mummy! Did you just now get it?
The capability to reach your arms out of the bag once you are in for the night and all zipped up to reach for a headlamp, water bottle, book or whatever is just fantastic. The ability to do this saves the stored warmth in the bag versus unzipping traditional bags and then having to begin the process of getting warm again. In addition, the non-traditional middle zipper allows for potential dressing or undressing while being in the bag itself. This feature is a lifesaver on those super cold mornings!
The two way middle zipper also allows you to unzip the bag from the bottom up and then attach the lower section of the bag to the rear of the bag. This feature allows you to walk freely while maintaining the bag on the upper portion of your body for those middle of the night jaunts out of the tent or simply sitting outside preparing breakfast of dinner. No other bag on the market allows you the capability to free your legs and wear the bag with your hands and arms free.
While doing this the lightweight 800 Fill Duck DriDown will surely keep your upper body plenty warm until you return to your tent or finish your task. This feature will lessen the time to warm the rest of your body once you are full back in the bag versus traditional bags and having to fully leave them for these tasks.
Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 - 4 Season Sleeping Bag Specs:
EN Comfort Limit:
17oF / -8oC
EN Lower Limit:
5oF / -15oC
Men's Regular: 6 ft / 182 cm
Men's Long: 6 ft 6 in. / 198 cm
Men's Regular: 29.71 oz. / 0.84 kg
Men's Long: 33.21 oz. / 0.94 kg
Men's Regular: 3 lbs 2 oz. / 1.42 kg
Men's Long: 3 lbs 6 oz. / 1.53 kg
Men's Regular: 80 in. / 203.2 cm
Men's Long: 86 in. / 218.4 cm
Men's Regular: 66 in. / 167.6 cm
Men's Long: 70 in. / 177.8 cm
Men's Regular: 60 in. / 152.4 cm
Men's Long: 62 in. / 157.5 cm
Men's Regular: 40 in. / 102 cm
Men's Long: 42 in. / 107 cm
Stuff Sack Length:
Men's Regular: 9 in. / 23 cm
Men's Long: 10 in. / 25.4 cm
Stuff Sack Width:
Men's Regular: 17 in. / 43 cm
Men's Long: 17 in. / 43 cm
This bag may be more then you have previously spent on any sleeping bag. I understand and get it. The question you may have now is, is it really worth it? If you are a regular cold weather or cooler weather camping in search of a lower teens comfortable bag with the added features to ensure potentially better sleep and more functionality while warm in your tent, then the answer is surely yes.
Like I said, it is my go to bag for these very reasons. Better sleep, warmth and mobility pay dividends with this bag.
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No matter where you live in the Midwest, adventure awaits you this fall at the Indiana Dunes. To prove that the Indiana Dunes are within your reach for a quick weekend get-a-way or maybe a three or four day weekend as the summer and fall holidays approach, check out these travel times:
Minneapolis --- 7 Hours
Milwaukee --- 2 1/2 Hours
Kansas City --- 8 Hours
Saint Louis --- 5 Hours
Indianapolis --- 3 Hours
Detroit --- 4 Hours
Cleveland --- 4 1/2 Hours
Okay so no that we have established that the Indiana Dunes are close, the question now becomes does adventure and fun exist there to make the whole family happy.
Does a bear ... well YES!
So the family is a biking family? The Dunes offer an array of biking opportunities as well as a variety of differing locations to choose from (beach, offroad, trail and in town biking). Click here to learn more about biking while at the Dunes.
Ahhh, now we are talking! Not many more picturesque places in the Midwest to take the family on a hike. Opportunities abound on the National Lakeshore, hike near numerous museums & historic sites, through nature preserves or multiple parks in the immediate area. Click here to learn more about hiking while at the dunes.
If you are a birder... this maybe the mid-western birders paradise. "Few places in the Midwest rival Indiana Dunes Country for great birding. More than 350 bird species live or migrate through here—drawn to the open water of Lake Michigan and to a landscape of beaches, dunes, woodlands, wetlands, and prairie." Indiana Dunes Tourism Council Click here to learn more about birding while at the dunes.
And finally without saying... visiting the Dunes and going fishing on Lake Michigan has got to be the ultimate experience to cap off your visit. Whether you decide to go out in boat on the lake, shore fish from the Indiana Dunes beaches or go out in a fishing kayak all will ensure great memories and hopeful a nice catch or two.
Per the Indiana Dunes Tourism website, if you are interested in fishing you have to check out this deal. Mention “Indiana Dunes fishing” to receive 25% off the standard hotel rate. Our hotels can also provide you an extra-early breakfast, snacks to go, coffee for your Thermos and well-lit parking lots for your boat. To see which hotels offer this click here.
We hope this information spurred some excitement in you as you determine where your families Fall adventure will be this year in the Midwest. For more info to plan out your trip to the dunes check out Indianadunes.com and their extensive list of trip planning tools and ideas.
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I don't know about where you are... but we have had a wet and humid summer. YUCK! And due to this wet and humid summer we are having one of the worst seasons of mosquitoes and horse mosquitoes we have had a long time. Sitting outside is even a bother as the lil buggers seem to just attack your ankles (weird!). Me, my wife and my girls look like pin cushions after just a little bit outside.
Enough is enough!
Some might figure out a way to conjure up some sort of flame thrower to decimate the entire population within hundreds of yards of your home, camper or campsite. I did think of actually some sort of bug bomb while swatting at the little blood suckers...Anywho!
Some people aren't all that excited about spraying DEET all over themselves and especially their kids to ward off a few flys or bugs. I get it. Well there is another way. DETER from Mariner Biomedical Inc. is an all natural no DEET option to keep those lil blood suckers at bay.
Hiking Forward was first introduced to DETER last year as we and other outdoor bloggers were readying to attend Hell Hike and Raft. I took plenty of DETER's single packets of Insect Repellent with me as did the rest of our crew. But to our fortune there were no bugs at 8,000 feet and none in Hells Canyon. The temps in Hells Canyon were upwards of 105-110. I think that had something to do with it. Even the bugs wanted nothing to do with that kind of heat.
Since Hell Hike and Raft, DETER has been my go to for insect repellent given it's all natural properties, it's actual very pleasant smell and oh yeah the most important part... It works!
For those of you have been following for a while you may recall this video from last year talking about DETER.
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