Monday, March 5, 2012

BAK Gear: Day Packs: Little Life Runabout

This review is about day packs for your Bad Ass Kid. Every kid needs a day pack to hold their day-use items like water bottles, snacks, wet wipes, diapers, snacks, colouring pages and crayons, snacks, and oh yeah...snacks. The great thing about day packs is that their gross weight is inversely related to said snacks consumed.
So, Bad Ass Mom took it upon herself to perform due diligence as to not have buyers remorse later on. She read several hours worth of peer-review before deciding on this:
Little Life Runabout (in pink) which can be had for about $30 from MEC

Note that this day sack is really meant for just single day use (read: it ain't a 3-day backpack for use in the Yosemite backcountry). It is also intended for use by 1-3 year olds, hence the size will be smaller than what you would expect to find in the toddler market.

Now you may ask why we did not go for the Disney-licensed backpack products that are available en-masse at Walmart, Zellers, Loblaws... well, we did have them, 3 in fact - all of which broke after very minimal use. Either the shoulder strap unstitched itself, or the zipper just broke, features I would expect not to fail through normal toddler life-use.
This day sack has been in circulation for about 1 year now, and it has held up to several day trips ranging from bus trips to the park, to ferry rides, to multi-day vacations out of country. Here are its advertised features:

  • Top grab handle. 
  • Detachable parent's safety strap. 
  • Zipped entry to main compartment. 
  • Side mesh pocket for drinks or snacks. 
  • Adjustable shoulder straps, with sternum strap
  • Reflective piping for increased visibility. 
  • Complies with British and European safety standards EN 13210-2004.
There are four things that I'd like to make mention about this day sack: its size, its washability, its ergonomics, and its durability. 

Size. At first you may think that it is small. It is. By no means is it meant to carry school books or hamsters or Bad Ass Dad's gun collection. It's a frickin day pack meant for, yeah, one day's worth of outing needs. It is big enough for "one man, one kit" and that's it. You may have seen the boxy type backpacks, but have you tried loading it up and then putting it on a 3-year old? They just fall backwards, even though its funny as hell, it's useless. So, this day pack was designed with little people in mind, less depth and more tear shape to conform to toddler shoulders. The sternum strap should be used, unless you want your Bad Ass Kid to look like a Korean exchange student walking down Robson St.

Washability. Ok, this is key. Shit that don't wash, don't get bought. Simple as that. Other backpacks can't be thrown into the wash...this one might not even be recommended to, but f*ck it. It's durable to go through the gentle cycle to wash out all the day old chocolate-covered granola bar that melted in the sun.

Ergonomics. So obviously Bad Ass Kidlets have different body structures than even 5 or 6 year-olds, so why shouldn't they have an age-appropriate day-pack. I alluded to the tear-shaping of the pack, which better conforms to their little shoulders. I also like the padded shoulder straps, and the fact that these packs don't knock against their knees. Alot of other kiddie backpacks are marketed towards the hipster douchebag parents or the hippie faux-hemian parents with features like ventilated mesh backings, and stability frames, and mesh this and mesh that. Really? A 3 year old needs ventilated mesh backing? Where is this kid hiking up? The Grouse Grind?

Durability. The top grab handle is stitched on really strong. Although this is probably not recommended, it can be used as a drag handle, and was strong enough to lift my Bad Ass Kid up onto a coat hook...just joking...or am I? (which also says something about the stitching of the shoulder straps). Ok, so it isn't 1000d nylon, but it is strong stuff. I assume it is because it complies with the safety harness standards 13210:2004. I haven't leashed my kid like a dog yet, but perhaps if we do New Years at Disneyland again, I may have to. We've had this pack for over a year now and it has not shown signs of wear or tear yet. It has been through several wash cycles on gentle, and it still retains its shape and capabilities.

One other thing I should mention...if you, like our Bad Ass Family, also incorporate the use of a stroller, this pack (when fully packed) will not cause your stroller to tip backwards when hung on the handle because it won't let you hold that much stuff in it.
Little Life also makes other products, which Bad Ass Family has not tried. But...I envisage that Bad Ass Mom will stay within this product line as Bad Ass Kid grows up.

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Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.