Saturday, January 25, 2014

BAM Gear: BOB Revolution SE Jogging Stroller B.O.B.

These days, the BOB Revolution Jogging Stroller is as ubiquitous in the city as it is in the woods. And damned rights it should be. This piece of kit is by-far the best $500 investment we have made. From its high strength aluminum alloy construction to it's big 12" wheels, the BOB is part of our everyday lives. Even with two kids we have managed to use the BOB unintentionally as a two kid transporter (especially useful when on vacation where lots of walking would be involved).

Now when we were considering buying a jogging stroller, I totally balked at the price point of some of these higher-end strollers. Considering now, that it has been in use for over 5 years, through two kids, on a daily basis, I think it's well worth it. You buy cheap you buy twice. Buy Once cry once. And certainly from my cohorts discussions, I do believe that spending the extra money to buy something of higher quality will in the long run serve you better.  We also had to consider, what we wanted our jogging stroller to do. In short we were looking for an active-lifestyle stroller that could also take a beating - in fact I've use the stroller to carry my shooting equipment and steel reactive targets out to the 500m line. But amongst that we were looking specifically for:

  • Big inflatable wheels for trails
  • Adjustable Shock absorption for trails
  • Single front swivel wheel for turn on a dime maneuverability, plus a locking mode for straight jogging.
  • Sunshade
  • Reclining
  • Some sort of storage area
  • Well built and easy serviceability through a local bike store
  • Infant carrier adapter
  • Snack tray
  • Can accommodate even 5-6 year olds
  • Easy to push and manipulate one handed
  • Ease of deployment and tear-down
  • Small footprint and deployed and tore-down
  • Removable wheels
  • Easy to lock brakes
  • Lower center of balance as well as front to back balance
  • Lots of surface area for the hands to grip
  • The ability to accommodate two kids in a pinch
  • Weather shield protection
  • Under $500
We looked and we looked, and 5 years ago, there wasn't that much on the market that fit exactly those needs. There were a few contenders, but we ended up going with the BOB Revolution as it was being sold through our local bike store, and an excellent compromise between true hardcore pavement running stroller, and trail applications.

Those who know me realize that I'm not the gentlest with my kit. Where people will spit-shine their Glocks and their M4's I just throw hose them down with some CLP love and throw them into the safe without nary a worry. The same goes for kid equipment. That's not to say we don't perform proper care and maintenance, but if it's meant to be outside in the dirt, it's going to be outside - in the dirt. 

Here are the features of the BOB from the BOB website:
  • Swiveling front wheel allows for superior maneuverability.  Locks forward for increased stability when jogging or if the terrain turns tough.
  • Easy, two-step folding, lightweight frame for convenient transport and storage.
  • State-of-the-art, adjustable suspension system provides an exceptionally smooth ride.
  • Accessory Adapter allows for quick and easy attachment of BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter or Snack Tray.
  • Ultra-padded, adjustable reclining seat for enhanced seating comfort. Five-point padded harness helps keep your child comfortably secure.
  • Multi-position canopy adjusts for protection against the elements. Large viewing window lets you keep an eye on your baby.
  • High-impact polymer composite wheels with pneumatic tires and tubes take on tough terrain.
  • Low Boy Cargo Basket provides plenty of undercarriage storage. Additional space in large seatback pocket. Internal seat pockets provide a great place for snacks and toys.
  • A simple twist of the front wheel tracking adjustment knob keeps you rolling straight.
  • When engaged, the parking brake helps secure a stopped position.
  • Padded handlebar for comfort; wrist strap helps you secure stroller when strolling and provides handy fold lock when folded.
Now, there have been some enhancements done between the time we bought ours and the current model year, for example, the accessories are now all QD (quick detach), versus when I had to unscrew and screw on shit. However, all the mechanisms and material are still the same.

What I truly love about this BOB, is that even though it comes in at 11kg, it still pushes light. And I attribute that its sealed cartridge bearings as part of the wheel component. I love the shock absorption- mainly because the kids don't complain when we're on the trails.

Ok, so besides jogging with the stroller, we do also take it with us on family outings including when travelling to places where we know there will be lots of walking and complaining and carrying of shit. Some situations where we do use the stroller including lots of uphill/downhill trails to the beach along the West Coast, Camping, and of course family vacations. You will be pleased to know, that when fully compressed with the wheels off, the stroller fits inside most major airport X-ray machines, although you may find it just as easy to empty out all the shit and roll it through. Either way, there's options now for flying - plus all the airlines I've flown with have OK'd it for skychecking (checking the stroller at the gate) which means you now have, essentially, free storage space!

So, when going on family outings we try to keep it minimally loaded, but inevitably, it will end up being the family caravan at the end of the day. Buy a MOMMY HOOK! On one trip where we were out for the entire day, by the end of it, we were hanging two little life backpacks, some activity sachets, jackets and fleeces, diaper bag. One time I even bought flat of water and just rested it on top of the canopy. It was downright epic.

Now, if you have a little one and then a kindergartner, you may of considered buying a Duallie, or a Chariot double stroller. Go ahead, if you intend to jog with both of them. We found that the Duallie double stroller had a very limited window of opportunity to use. I don't really like pushing two kids while I'm jogging. I'd rather tow them on a bike. In anycase, if you are going on a trip and do want to have the ability to transport two kids - easily done. The bigger on just sits in the foot well. It's not beautiful and probably not all that safe, but strolling through a theme-park, you can get your kid to stick her feet out and start knocking down ankles - the equivalent to ice hockey and "elbows out."
There is one thing that I don't really like and its how they want you to keep the stroller folded down. They want you to use a strap with velcro and loop it around itself. I found it a bit hokey, and opted to use one of my leg straps from the Safariland 6004 SLS tactical thigh rig (elastic 1.5" webbing with high grade plastic hardware buckles). I just loop it through the brakes bar and click it together and I don't have to worry about velcro becoming undone. That's a minor issue which I believe this new generation has addressed.

This stroller is truly an all-season stroller, all weather stroller, all-terrain (well - mostly just up to hardpack or loose gravel). I'd recommend this to all my Bad Ass Dads and Moms who are looking for a stroller to do active shit with. Or, if you just want to stroll in the park in the middle of winter you can do that too. Remember, proper care and maintenance will ensure you will get years and years of "adventure" out if it. Then you can resell it and get some good coin back. It has a very high resale value too.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BAK Gear: Littlelife Adventurer Daysack for kids

This pack is the next size evolution for the Runabout (see review here). It in fact doubles the usable volume from 3L to 6L with only a 50g increase in weight. In terms of sizing it is approximately 31x20x13 cm's.

BAM bought this on sale at MEC for $25. I would of paid full price for it anyway.

We recently tested it out on a week-long trip to Disneyland where the pack was on for approximately 8-10 hours a day. It endured flights, motorcoaches, splash mountain, roller coasters, restaurants, being runover by the BOB stroller, etc.

It's a great piece of kit because,like its smaller sibling, it is ergonomically constructed for little kids. This pack has pockets to keep items organized and strap adjustments to get the fit just right. In terms of sizing, it is meant for children aged 4 and older, and it features the following:

  • Reflective piping for increases visibility.
  • Zippered top access to main compartment.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps with chest strap.
  • Mesh bottle pocket on one side, pencil/pen sleeve on other.
It's the perfect little daypack for our BAK to carry her shit in. She was able to carry her own windbreaker, sunglasses, sunhat, electronic texter toy, small notepad with felt markers, ident photocopies, snacks, an extra pair of thin pants and socks (for the wet rides), and of course her waterbottle. Note that you should test the bag with certain larger water bottles - the Klean Kanteens don't fit well, where as some of the plastics ones do.

When not in use, we can just use the grab handle and hook it to the BOB via the Mommy Hook (which by the way is one of the better inventions out there). At night time the reflective piping is easy to spot, and in the daytime the floral pattern is quite visible as well. 

The funniest thing I've seen when going to theme parks or travelling through airports are parents who don't follow the "One Man, One Kit" rule. They end up carrying all their kids shit and that just f'n sucks balls. Kids need to carry their own, so they know the value of thoughtful packing and packing light.

The Runabout has been offloaded to the younger sibling and as you can see it is still in great shape after 4 years. And remember that little Detachable parent's safety strap on the Runabout? You can use that here as there is a D-Ring on the bag as well. 

I also need to point out that there is no extraneous webbing or sharp corners. The bag is contoured and smoothed out, with very little extra webbing. This is very good because sometimes, bags - especially larger ones with lots of webbing because of downsizing, can get caught on shit. The smoothed contours of this bag means it will run up against stuff and not get caught. Also, because this bag is almost rectangular, it can stand up by itself without falling over.  

This bag ain't at all tactical - my kid won't be running through a warzone faceshooting bad kids. So for what it's meant for, a day use pack, I'd recommend it.


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.