Princesses, superheroes, animated cars or cartoon characters? Too small, too big, or fabric that won't last a day? Such great choices in the world of toddler backpacks. I just wanted a little backpack for Huck that basically was a smaller and streamlined version of my day pack. I didn't want him to suffer the embarrassment of running along an orienteering course with a cartoon pack that was too big and plastic coated.
I searched the Internet (the only comparison shopping a mother of two seems to be able to do!) for this elusive item. I found a few that seemed to fit the bill, but I was most intrigued by the company, Tough Traveller. They make every sort bag and carrying item you can imagine. They even make their own child carriers and accessories. Next time you have some down time, take a look at their site. Additionally, their customer service was wonderfully friendly and prompt! Sometimes the company itself just makes me want to buy something from them just on principal.
The pack is so darn cute due to its size, but not from any pastel cartoon character plastered on every surface. It is bare bones and that appeals to me - no tiny zippered area for an iPod (is my toddler the only kid without an iPhone?), no section for keeping a bottle cold (I a min Alaska) and no waist strap as I hope my kid doesn't carry a load that needs that sort of stabilization. It is just a compartment that zips and has straps
The pack is 12 by 9 and holds two stuffed fish perfectly. That translates into a few diapers, wipes, a water bottle and some snacks. What else could a toddler need? Okay, it could hold a stuffed animal, small blanket and a few other toys. I also fit a small camel back inside for on the go hydration! I let the kiddos play with it and stuff items in and grab it from each other. It is really well made with good seaming and construction. There was an incident with a hammerhead shark that I thought would bust the zipper, but it held firm.
It is a perfect size for my two year old and even fit my one year old. The straps can extend and lengthen fitting over my shoulder as well. What versatility! I could steal my kiddo's pack for my own small tote! I also could also clip a piece of webbing to the top loop so I could pull him back from ledges, edges and rivers (no, it would not be a leash- but a safety strap).
What are the drawbacks to this pack? The straps fell off once when there wasn't much weight in the pack. A sternum strap might snug up the straps, but I really like the less is more approach with the design. The only other idea would be to have two zippers so you could have a small opening at the top or side for a fish's head to poke out or the camel back hose.
It comes in a load of great colors and sells for about $30. If you need a little insulation, they offer a fleece lined one and others with more features for your little hiker or camper. Visit their website and put one on your kiddo's wish list and maybe stick a piece of luggage on your list (I really love their ski patrol packs for some reason!)