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Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle

This is by far my favorite pot on the consumer market. I started out using the X-Pot 2.8, but quickly gravitated toward the X-Pot Kettle as my choice for quick summer weekend adventures.

Packing size: This is my favorite feature. The Kettle Pot collapses down, taking space in your backpack.

Product Weight: The X-Pot Kettle weighs 6.5 ounces. Although it is not the lightest backpacking kettle on the market, it is a close second. However, first place goes to a kettle that takes up more space in your pack. I prefer the extra half ounce in weight in exchange for more storage space in my pack.

Pouring spout: The pouring spout is a nice perk to this pot. Compared to other kettles, I like that the spout isn’t fully enclosed making cleaning the kettle easier.

Transparent Lid: With a small translucent lid, you can see that boiling status of your water without having to remove the lid to check.

Volume: With a 1.3 L capacity, this pot holds enough water to cook a couple dehydrated meals in one boiling iteration.

Extra storage: Even with the kettle completely collapsed, the inside pot circumference allows for storage of 2 X-Cups inside. For me, this means I can head out on an alpine climb with my son with and the entire “kitchen” takes up minimal space in my pack with a couple packs of oatmeal.

Easy to clean: The silicone walls of the pot make cleaning the pot very easy.

Kid Usage: The smaller, more efficient size of the Kettle and non-heat absorbing handles make for easy use with kids that are already proficient with stove and fuel use.

If you are interested in the Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle or any of their other kitchen products, click one of the Backcountry.com product affiliate links to the right. Purchasing products with these links supports the writers and contributors of Backpacking With Kids.com.

Sea to Summit X-Pot 2.8L

In support of my kids venturing out to backpack 900 miles in 2016, Sea To Summit sent my kids the X-Pot 31 set which contained the X-Pot 2.8L cooking pot. Overall, we found it to be durable, space efficient and a great addition to our backpacking kitchen. Similar to other X-Series products from Sea To Summit, this cooking pot compresses and takes up minimal room in your backpack.

Product Weight: At 10.3 ounces, it is one of the lightest pots over 2 liters volume available.

Pouring: My favorite feature of this pot is the draining aspect of the lid. With the side pieces, you secure the lid to the pot and can drain water

Transparent Lid: Similar to the X-Pot Kettle, the transparent lid is a nice feature for checking boiling status instead of lifting a lid of a cook pot. My only complaint of the cook system is that the lid does not sustain a three foot drop  from a car with direct impact on asphalt. Operator error!

Volume: With a volume of 2.8L, you can boil an ample amount of water, cook a six person meal or melt quite a bit of snow for water.

Extra storage: After compressing, the X-Pot 2.8 easily stores 2 X-Bowls and 2 X-Cups inside the pot. This really equates to serving dishes for a backpacking family of two adults and two kids.

Easy to clean: Like all of the SeatoSummit silicone kitchen products, they are easy to clean and wipe out. You don’t have to worry about scraping a surface and the flexibility of side walls aids in efficient cleaning.

Kid Usage: With a smaller stove holding a larger pot of boiling water, parents may not be comfortable with younger kids managing the cooking. Kids will be more capable of using this if it is used with a much wider stove.

If you are interested in the Sea to Summit X-Pot 2.8L or any of their other kitchen products, click one of the Backcountry.com product affiliate links to the right. Purchasing products with these links supports the writers and contributors of Backpacking With Kids.com.

 

Thorlos Socks – 500 Miles of Kid Tested Socks

If your kids are anything like my kids, socks don’t have a chance at long term survival. In the hiking/backpacking world, though, having the right type of socks can make or break a trip. Thorlos socks seemed to have found the right formula between comfort, functionality and surviving the sock life in a kids boot.

Over the past six months, my two oldest kids put 506 miles each on three sets of Kox Kids Outdoor Thorlos socks (so an average of 168ish miles per pair).  Perhaps that is too much math but basically we have spent the past six months backpacking in hot Southwestern deserts, seasonally wet canyons, over glaciers, though caves and numerous rain soaked trails in Washington State while wearing these socks.

Though they didn’t wear them in Death Valley (yet) or Denali (yet), I feel they have tested them as much as any backpacking kid could have. Here are some of my conclusions:

Desert: Even though it was hot (90 degree plus) and the kids were consuming a lot of water to stay hydrated, they didn’t complain about their feet being too hot or uncomfortable. The socks were able to wick away any sweat and keep their feet dry and happy.

Canyons: We averaged about a hundred miles of backpacking in the canyons in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. The terrain varied between sandstone, sand hills, slickrock and river walking. These socks cushioned their little feet between each of the different terrain variations. Even when the river was the trail and water entered the boot, the kids didn’t develop hot spots or blisters.

Glaciers: I was a little nervous about how these socks would perform on glacier climbs. I mean, Thorlos has a specific beefier sock for snow sports. However, my son had no issues with his feet getting cold. The sock thickness and weave with a waterproof boot combination was just the right amount of heating and cooling to climb 40 miles of glaciers throughout the spring and summer. When enough water or snow made it into the boot, we were able to swap out socks when necessary and continue the adventure.

Caves: Washington has caves we explore dozens of lava tubes and a few vertical caves. This requires a very cushioned sock in the boot while caver has to climb over varying ceiling breakdowns, unstable pumice rock, tight squeezes, and crawl only tubes. Similar to hiking through canyons, the socks held up to different foot landing spots and varying uneven terrain.

Washington/Oregon: We understand the challenge of hiking in the Pacific Northwest encompasses granite rock, moss, slide alder, rainforest and lots of rain. Most of our backpacking resume takes place with these features out on the trails. My kids have had no concerns with their feet as they jump from rock to rock, self arrest in slide alder, or grind out long miles through rainforests in the Olympic National Park. Their feet stayed protected through varied terrain and weather conditions with these soft comforting socks.

Final thoughts: Thorlos Kox Kids Outdoor socks wick, keep feet cool when necessary, keep feet warm when necessary, prevent blisters and hotspots and are extremely durable. Short of the dryer attempting to lose sock mates, these socks are still going strong after 500 miles with an eight and ten year old. Socks can quickly end an outdoor adventure, make sure your little ones feet are covered in a reliable pair of socks that can withstand the challenge of your adventure.

 

Delorme InReach Explorer

Quite a few different PLB’s (personal locator beacon) are out on the market these days. A quick Google search will get you started on the varieties and comparisons. Like most products you invest in, it will come down to functionality, product cost and subscription cost. I have tested three different PLB’s, and came to the conclusion that the Delorme InReach Explorer was the best fit for me and my particular circumstances. The following are reasons why I specifically chose the InReach over others.

Subscription Cost: At the time of purchase, Delorme had the best subscription cost for me. Their particular plan allowed me to turn my subscription on and off as I wished. I wasn’t as active in the wintertime and this allowed me to save some money in those months. Other PLB’s had yearly contracts.

Tracking: It was my experience that the Delorme tracked my steps better than other PLB’s I tested. This was reassuring to anyone who was following our movement through the Delorme website. This was also reassuring as I followed preprogrammed routes to specific destinations.

Two-way communication: This was my top priority. I needed to be able to send messages out to specific people. For me, it was a means of reassurance. It was comforting for me, as a mom, backpacking with two or three kids, to be able to communicate out different messages. For example, if we decided to add a day to our itinerary, I can simply communicate that to my husband instead of him worrying about me being a day late or me cutting a trip short to stick to original plan. There was a time that I needed to come off the route three days sooner and get picked up at a different trailhead and this was an invaluable tool. During one of our latest trips, we had to activate the SOS feature and I used the two way communication to text out pertinent information like type of injuries, type of accident, resources needed, etc.

There are many other great features about the InReach that you can find out when you research PLBs. Many of those additional features are also features of other PLB brand. Therefore, do your research and know that you have to figure out what is best for you.

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Deuter Fox 40

In January, Deuter sent us two Fox 40 backpacks for each of my two kids to help them on their journey of backpacking 1000 miles this year. It was like Christmas Gear Day when the two backpacks arrived. We immediately sized the backpacks to each of the kids and went backpacking for the weekend to trail test the packs. Now it has been six months and these backpacks have seen 460 trail miles, 200 miles in southwest Utah, 46 miles through the Grand Canyon, 62 miles through slot canyons, 13 National Parks and Monuments and sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. They have endured the slick rock of the southwest and the never ending rain in the Pacific Northwest. We have baked in the sun and slogged through rain showers and these backpacks have lived up to the durability they are known for.

Both kids have throughly enjoyed the backpacks so far. My son likes the additional space upgrade from the Fox 30 to the Fox 40. He joins me on alpine climbs and my longer multi-day trips. The additional space has allowed him to pack everything he needs without having get to creative on packing or leaving items out of his pack. My daughter has a longer torso and appreciated the fit of the Fox 40. I haven’t increased the amount of weight or items that she carries since the upgrade. Her only complaint has been that the shoulder straps seem closer together than before and one will annoyingly rub against her neck as she hikes. However, she has a really thin body build and even with everything singed down, the shoulder straps seem to bother her. After having two other kids wear her backpack for a weekend, they did not complain of the shoulder strap rubbing. I concluded that it must be her body makeup and as she grows the rubbing will reduce.

Just like the Fox 30, the Fox 40 offers the same great backpack features:

  • Adjustable back system (Vari Quick) to accomodate growing kids and kids with different body build types
  • Side pockets with enough capacity to hold a Nalgene bottle
  • Secret pocket underneath the lid of backpack to hide the Kindle (that mom didn’t know was packed)
  • large capacity to hold sleeping bag, clothing layers, snacks, etc.
  • Attachment loops on the lid…..great for attaching solar panels to charge that hidden Kindle
  • Ice Axe loop….for the ambitious child that wants to climb Mt. Rainier

Enjoy a few pictures of some of our 2016 adventures. I will follow up at the end of the year when the backpacks are tested on more miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and Oregon Coast Trail.

 

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What’s in my 10 year old’s backpack?

Like my last post, I hope you read this and get an idea of what a 10 year old may be able to carry in his/her backpack for a multiday trip. However, not all 10 year olds are the same, and I caution you to just use this as a reference.

My son weighs 68lbs and averages 12-15lbs. of weight (including the backpack itself) on his back. This comes out to 17-22% of his body weight, which sits on the higher end of the recommended weight threshold for kids. Although he can comfortably carry this weight, I constantly monitor this to ensure it isn’t too much.

So, what does he carry:

  • Backpack: Deuter Fox 40 (we just upgraded, everything listed fits nicely in a Deuter Fox 30 as well)
  • Foam sleeping pad
  • Sleeping Bag: Northface Tigger
  • Tent Rain Fly
  • Tent Poles
  • Rain Pants
  • Rain Coat
  • Extra clothes in a gallon sized bag (Extra Socks, a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, underwear, long underwear, pajama pants)…..pajama pants could be removed, it’s more of a comfort request
  • Fleece top
  • Inflatable sit pad
  • Backpack rain cover…..a trash bag lining inside backpack would work as well
  • Sun hat (when needed)
  • Thermal hat (we live in Washington)
  • 16oz. or 32 oz. Water bottle
  • Water shoes
  • Contents of items in “lid” of backpack
    • small tube of sunblock
    • lip balm
    • gloves
    • inflatable pillow
    • tissue
    • hand warmers
    • sunglasses
    • headlamp
    • Kindle
    • journal/writing pen

 

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What is in my 8 year old’s backpack?

My hope is that you read this and get an idea of what an 8 year old may be able to carry in his/her backpack for a multiday trip. However, not all 8 year olds are the same, my 10 year old was carrying a little more weight at 8 years old than my current 8 year old. I caution you to just use this as a reference.

My daughter weighs 60lbs and averages 10-12lbs. of weight (including the backpack itself) on her back. This comes out to 16-20% of her body weight, which sits on the higher end of the recommended weight threshold for kids. Some days she has no issues with this set up, other days are tougher and I pull a few things out of her pack to help her.

So, what does she carry:

  • Backpack: Deuter Fox 40 (we just upgraded, everything listed fits nicely in a Deuter Fox 30 as well)
  • Foam sleeping pad
  • Sleeping Bag: Deuter Starlight
  • Rain Pants
  • Rain Coat
  • Extra clothes in a gallon sized bag (Extra Socks, a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, underwear, long underwear, pajama pants)…..pajama pants could be removed, it’s more of a comfort request
  • Fleece top
  • Inflatable sit pad
  • Backpack rain cover…..a trash bag lining inside backpack would work as well
  • Sun hat (when needed)
  • Thermal hat (we live in Washington)
  • 16oz. or 32 oz. Water bottle
  • Water shoes
  • Contents of items in “lid” of backpack
    • small tube of sunblock
    • lip balm
    • gloves
    • inflatable pillow
    • tissue
    • hand warmers
    • sunglasses
    • headlamp
    • Kindle
    • journal/writing pen

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Deuter Fox 30 – Kids Backpacking Pack

I can’t say enough about how much I love the Deuter Fox 30 backpack. I bought my son one when he was 6, but I could have waited a year for his slender body to grow into it. When my daughter turned 6, I ran out and bought her one as well. These packs have been very good to my kids over the past four and two years.

Why I love them:

  • 1800 cu in.  – This is just enough to space to fit a sleeping bag, waterproof pants, rain jacket, a few layers, snacks, hat, headlamp, Kindle, group 1st Aid Kit and still have room to slip in a heavy boulder when your kid starts hiking faster than you. The maximum weight each kid has carried has been 13 pounds.
  • Side Straps on outside of the pack –  These could have easily been eliminated in the development of a kid’s pack and I’m thankful they were not. Just like adult backpacks, the side straps allow items to be strapped on the sides. We use them for sleeping pads and fishing poles.
  • Support and Suspension – The suspension system molds exactly to little kids backs providing adequate weight distribution. The padded shoulder straps sit comfy on a kid’s shoulders and far enough apart that rubbing does not occur. The hip belt is wide enough to cover enough surface area not to dig into the waist and the chest strap provides great stabilization while little ones are jumping from boulder to boulder.
  • Ice Ax Loop – This was a major initial selling point to me. I knew my kids would follow my path into the Alpine environment and would need to store an ice ax.
  • Side Pockets – I love that a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle can fit into this pocket.
  • Sewn webbing – The webbing that is sewn onto the back of the pack is just another fantastic addition that could have easily been left of any other kids pack. This is perfect for clipping helmets on or carabiners to hold other things.
  • Summit Pack – On occasion I have been known to leave my pack behind at base camp and use this pack as a summit pack. This allows my kid to hike up to the summit carrying little and I carry enough essentials in this smaller pack instead of my larger pack. I can’t recommend this for everyone based on size build, but I’m 5 foot 5 chick and it works.

Things I don’t love:

  • Honestly, I haven’t found anything about this that I don’t like. I started my slender built kids in these packs a year earlier than I should have and it was obvious when all straps were pulled as tight as possible and there was extra room for movement of the backpack. To compensate for this, the weight was drastically reduced to just a 3 pound sleeping bag.

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