Gear Reviews

Muddy Munchkins Boots by MyMayu ~ Gear Review + Giveaway

I truly believe that whether in your backyard or on the trails, being active outdoors is something essential for families, especially families with toddlers, even when the grass, cement and dirt is all wet! Children love nature when it's muddy, or when there are lots of puddles to explore, and having the appropriate footwear is as essential as having the proper clothing.

Featured: Muddy Munchkins Boot by MyMayu [Gray/Fairy, Size 7/8]
Over the last few years I've run into many issues with inadequate footwear for my toddlers.  It's been hard to figure out the right shoes for my toddlers when we go outside to play in our neighborhood or if we head out to the backcountry.  I was very glad to discovered Muddy Munchkins Boots by MyMayu that even as I read their Mission Statement...
"MyMayu was created out of necessity: a little boy without proper boots wanted to follow his big brother in the rain.  Too many puddle jumping sessions had been cut short by face-plants in the water because of bulky, clunky rubber boots that were too big, too heavy and made him trip.  There had to be a better boot."
I knew MyMayu, a Canadian company, understood the needs of my child who enjoys playing in the mud but not getting soggy, muddy feet! Why? Because the owners are parents themselves who love the outdoors and understand toddlers needs! Not only did I have the chance to review these awesome boots but MyMayu is giving away a pair in this gear review, so keep reading and enter below for a chance to win one for your toddler! [Giveaway has ended]

Side Note: I'm particularly fond of the name of this company because it's part Quechua! MyMayu means My "River".  Chasqui Mom approved!

  • Water-Repellent Boots (not waterproof) and Ultra Lightweight for infants/toddlers
  • Three-Season Boot (Spring, Summer and Fall) w/Fleece Liner option for colder temperatures
    • Helio Fleece Liner (Optional) Retail Price $16.95
  • Multiple Toggles at the knee and ankle to protect from water splashing
  • Compact storage due to collapsible upper section
  • MM by MyMayu Boot Retail Price: $48.95 ~ 18 different colors and designs!
  • Current Toddler Shoe Sizes: 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 
  • Made in North America, BPA Free, Vegan and Quick Drying.

The Pluses!

The MM Boots by MyMayu, size 7/8 were tested by my three year old daughter who LOVES to get muddy.  These boots were tested in the San Francisco Bay Area on grass, mud, cement, shallow puddles and on the dirt trails.  

  • Lightweight ~ I think this is my favorite feature of these boots.  My daughter has had the hardest time finding shoes she can comfortably walk, run and hike in.  All other shoes, including her hiking shoes, make her trip a lot.  MM Boots provides all the protection from the elements but with no cost in weight, which means my toddler can play freely.
  • Water-Repellent ~ Nothing is worse than soggy feet, period.  My daughter was able to splash around in shallow puddles, wet grass, very muddy trails and her feet stayed dried.  It's a great boot for a rainy or misty day.
  • Quick Drying ~ After an morning of walking around in the rain and splashing in puddles, I was scared that the boots would be wet for the rest of the day but they dried quickly and was ready to be worn again later in the afternoon on muddy trails.  Usually shoes take days to dry but the MM boot (without the fleece) dried within hours.
  • Great for Urban and Outdoor Play ~ Living the the San Francisco Bay Area sometimes I feel like I'm over doing it by making my kids wear their waterproof hiking boots/shoes to the playground or a short hike but I know that if their feet get wet then there will be lots of complaining and being carried.  These boots allow for freely playing in urban and outdoor play areas such as playground parks, nature trails to walking on city streets.  A very appropriate boot for outdoor play on wet days.
  • Tall Upper Section, Toggles and Helios Fleece ~ I still carry my daughter occasionally in the kid carrier and her little calves usually end up being exposed.  What is great about the MM Boots by MyMayu is that the tall upper section that has toggles right below the knee so if the pants ride up neither cold wind or rain can dribble down their little legs!  A second toggle is also around the ankle to keep the boot in place.  Also, if the Helios Fleece are inserted, it adds an extra layer of warmth and doesn't stick out of the boot.

The Minuses
  • Not Waterproof ~ Let's make this clear, the MM Boots are not waterproof and they don't claim to be but they are water repellent.  The difference is that wading through a creek or standing in deep puddles will let water seep in.  We like to test gear to its limits so my daughter stood in a very deep puddle to test the "Waterproof-ness".  To my surprise her socks and feet were damp but not soggy.  Still just to clarify these are not waterproof.
  • Limited Sizes (For Now) ~ Currently MyMayu only has toddler sizes 1-8, but the good news is that in Spring 2015, MyMayu plans to have all sizes from Toddler 1 to Youth 2 in both MuddyMunchkins and Aqua boots in stock.  Did I mention the Aqua boot WILL be waterproof?! Yay!
MyMayu Giveaway!

Here's your chance to win one (1) pair of Muddy Munchkins Boots and Helio Liners by MyMayu!

  • This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
  • Contest starts October 9, 2014 12:00 a.m. PST until October 23, 2014 11:59 p.m. PST.
  • Winner will be announced a couple days after the giveaway has finished.
  • Your choice of boot and matching liner found HERE, granted that it's in stock, Toddler Size 1/2 to 7/8 only.

Please use the Rafflecopter below to submit your entries and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I would like to thank MyMayu who provided these product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Gear Review: Dorcy LED Headlights Spot and Broad Beam

I'll be honest, I was a little perplexed on doing a gear review on headlights since it's always difficult to take pictures at night unless you are a professional photographer, which I'm not.  In order to show my review in action, I tested out Dorcy LED Headlights both Spot and Broad Beam on a moonless night hike with my family!  Check out my video and read my review below.

Lighting is very important to this family! Why? Because I married an electrical engineer who is a lighting specialist and even though we usually don't go on many night hikes, we are camping all the time where hands-free lighting is essential.  As you also see in the video my husband is carrying our daughter as well as holding my son's hand so his hands are tied up.

Dorcy has two headlights that fit both our outdoor lighting needs!

Spot Beam ~ Photo Courtesy

Run Time: 12 hours on 3 AAA Batteries (included)
Brightness: 134 Lumens, 387 Feet Beam Distance
Lighting: LED in Full and Half Power, Strobe
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Retail Price: $24.99
Switch: On top of light that can angle 
Weather Resistant

Broad Beam ~ Photo Courtesy 

Run Time: 12 hours on 3 AAA batteries (included)
Brightness: 120 Lumens, 157 Feet Beam Distance
Lighting: LED in Full and Half Power, Strobe
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Retail Price: $24.99
Switch: On top of light that can angle
Weather Resistant

The Pluses!

Dorcy Spot Beam and Broad Beam:
  • Lightweight ~ We are a backpacking family so we count every ounce that goes in our packs, so at 2.9 ounces both headlights are up to our weight standards,
  • Adjustable Band ~ While most headlamps are adjustable not all adult size headlamps fit toddlers.  Both Dorcy Spot and Broad Beam headlights were able to be sized down to fit my toddlers heads, which is great because children like to test out whatever gear we have.
  • Durability ~ Both headlights are weather resistant and "toddler" resistant.  Anything used outdoors should be weather resistant, period.  As in most of my gear reviews, I let my kids "test" the headlights not only were they able to manage to function the headlights they didn't destroy the head lights. 
  • Simplicity ~ There are only THREE levels of lighting in both Spot and Broad Beam, Full Power, Half Power and Strobe.  Those three levels of lighting are the only ones that are truly needed.  I don't like fumbling at night going through multiple levels of lighting before I figure out the right one.  
  • Switch Location ~ The switch is INDEPENDENT from the light, (which can be angled).  No more searching for where the switch is or accidentally hitting the switch when trying to change the beam angle.

Dorcy Spot Beam Only:
  • Great for Physical Activity ~ I prefer the Dorcy Spot Beam Headlight while night hiking.  It was a stronger, bright light and even though it's a "beam" it had a large flooded lighted area on the trail.  My husband also tried the Spot Beam out while cycling during the early morning hours and said the Spot Beam has "more punch".
Broad Beam Only:
  • Great for Low Impact Activity ~ The best use for the Dorcy Broad Beam would be around camp.  The light is very defused but still bright enough to walk around camp especially if the light is brought down to half power.  

The Minuses
  • Size, Style and Batteries ~ Even though the headlights are very lightweight the size of the headlights seem large.  The style of the both lights seem a little "outdated" but in all reality the functionality is what matters.  We are a very "green" family and we try to use rechargeable energy sources as much as we can, so the fact that we have to use batteries bothers me a little bit, but most headlights use batteries.
  • Spot Beam Only: The beam is too harsh for around camp.
  • Broad Beam Only: Not enough lighting for outdoor physical activity.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

Overall, I'm very pleased with Dorcy LED Spot and Broad Beam Headlights and would recommend them for outdoor use.  Depending on your needs and lighting likes both headlights are useful for a large array of outdoor activity and in particular, outdoor family activity!

I would like to thank Dorcy who provided these product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

The Simplicity of the "Manta"

Back in 2009, when I was roaming the streets of Cuzco I asked an Andean woman where I could get a carrier like the one she had. She smiled at me and said, "It's the one you use on your table!"  We laughed, told her I already had one and thanked her.  My Peruvian tablecloth is definitely a staple in my outdoor gear which was given to me by my "Tia" (Aunt) when they immigrated to the United States.

On a cold, almost summer day, my family and I volunteered for a Clean Up Day at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.  Unfortunately I had forgotten one of the THREE kid carriers I own, so I improvised and used my Peruvian Blanket, tablecloth, "manta" as one of it's intended purposes: to carry my child.  

My daughter happily climbed into her "Peru Blankie" and was happy as can be.  

As a blogger many companies reach out to me to test their newest and coolest gear and I'm happy to accept.  Many times parents think we NEED the best and right gear before heading outdoors with our children or else we can't go...but I think back to my ancestors who never have a external frame kid carrier, fancy boots or wicking clothes and they carried their little ones in their "mantas" all up and down the Peruvian Andean Mountains.

So here's to all the mothers who for thousands of years have carried their babies in their "mantas" just like mine.  Thanks for reminding me of simplicity.

Do you have any cultural pieces that you use for the outdoors?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Drinking from the Source: LifeStraw® Review & Giveaway

Ever since I saw the LifeStraw® in an outdoor magazine a few years ago, I've been very interested in trying out this personal water filter in the outdoors.  We are a hiking, backpacking family so having access to safe drinking water is always a concern of ours, especially for our toddlers health.  Calculating how much water to bring for a family of four is sometimes a difficult task because we have to determine who will be carrying all the water weight.

Whether we are day hiking, camping, backpacking or traveling internationally, the LifeStraw® will be something that will always come along on our family adventures.  Later on in the post you can enter in Rafflecopter for a chance to win your own LifeStraw® (enter below).

LifeStraw® product details:

  • Filters at least 1,000 liters of water (264 gallons).
  • Weighs only 54 grams (2 oz.)
  • Removes up to 99.99999 percent of waterborne bacteria.
  • Removes up to 99.9 percent of waterborne protozoan cysts.
  • Reduces turbidity by filtering particles of approx. 0.2 microns.
  • BPA Free and contains no chemicals.
  • Uses no bateries or moving parts.
  • It removes virtually all bacteria and protozoa parasites that can contaminate water and it reduces muddiness by filtering out particulate matter.
  • Swiss-based company Vestergaard originally introduced LifeStraw® as an emergency response tool and it has been used by millions of victims of floods and earthquakes.  LifeStraw® has also been used to fill the need for safe water in non-emergency situations in developing countries.

The Pluses!

Alpine water freshness!

  • Easy To Use ~ If my two year old daughter can do it, anyone can.  If you can drink from a straw you can use the LifeStraw®.
  • Motivation to Hydrate ~ Sometimes my children are so excited to be outdoors that they forget to drink water.  The LifeStraw® motivated my children to drink because it was fun to drink from the lake using the LifeStraw®.
  • Lightweight & Easy to Carry ~ When backpacking every ounce counts, so having a lightweight personal water filter is always a plus.  It also has lanyard-type necklace that can worn around the neck or attached to a pack.
  • Humanitarian Aid ~ When you purchase a LifeStraw® product, a portion of the funds goes to provide water purifiers for African schools.
  • Refreshing Water ~ Sometimes after hiking all day, all I want is cold water yet the water I bring is lukewarm.  Not refreshing at all!  With the LifeStraw® I can drink straight from the COLD alpine lake and satisfy my thirst!
  • Affordable Pricing ~ The LifeStraw® retails for $19.95, which can filter 1,000 liters or 264 gallons of water, overall that is a very low cost for that 1,000 liters of water!

The Minuses

My only "minus" about the LifeStraw® is that if you are not near water, then you are out of luck.  I normally day hike in the San Francisco East Bay hills where there is hardly any natural water sources so I have to bring in my own water most of the year.  Yet, we are always heading out to locations like the California Sierras or the Peninsula where there are lakes, creeks and rivers so it is still very useful.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

I can see many uses of the LifeStraw® outside the use in the outdoors, like traveling internationally to countries which might not have safe water to drink, or after a natural disaster like floods and earthquakes.  Water is one of the 10 essentials when heading outdoors and I'm glad I have a easy to use, lightweight LifeStraw® to keep my family hydrated and safe.

LifeStraw® has graciously provided a LifeStraw® personal water filter to giveaway!  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, no PO Boxes.  Contest starts June 30, 2014 12:00 a.m. PST until July 6, 2014 11:59 p.m. PST.  Winner will be announced a couple days after the giveaway has finished.  Please use the Rafflecopter below to submit your entries and good luck! [THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The LifeStraw® product and information have been provided by Vestergaard.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Gear Review: The Handy Qlipter by Lulubop

It seems like anytime I go out with my children, I wish I had an extra set of arms especially when I'm outdoors! On many occasions, my kids want to take a special toy or clothing item and I usually end up holding it for the rest of the hike, which is terribly annoying.  On one of my most recent hikes, I noticed I had nothing to clip my kids wet, muddy shoes to the outside of my kid carrier!  I eventually tied them onto the side of my carrier with the shoe laces but they eventually fell off because the shoelaces were so wet and muddy.

Thankfully I received the The Qlipter in the mail a few days later and I have been using it on almost every outdoor activity I do with my kids, especially day hiking!  The Qlipter is classic carabiner (non-climbing) but with a major upgrade: a swivel 360 degree hook, plus some new securing features.

  • Size/Weight: 3 5/16 inches wide by 4 5/16 inches long (closed) 7 1/8 inches long (open) ~ Approx 2 ounces
  • Multiple Colors: Black, Blue, Classic Red, Gray, Fun Red, Kickstarter Green (temporary).
  • Retail Price: A pledge of $20 on Kickstarter Project, Delivery August 2014 (Project Goal met)
  • Product Material: Aircraft Grad Aluminum Alloy

Photo Courtesy of  The Qlipter by Lulubop

The Pluses!

Sturdiness ~ The Qlipter can hold up to 50 lbs!  I've only used to to hold shoes, shovels and hiking poles but I'm glad to know it can hold that much weight, like our backpacks while backpacking! Once again, this clip is not made for climbing activities and it is qualified to hold up to 50 lbs, non-moving objects.

Mulit-Use "Carabiner" ~ I've primarily used The Qlipter for attaching my kids shoes, toys and our hiking poles to my backpack/kid carrier on our day hiking trips.  In the picture below my daughter was adamant about taking her shovel on our hiking trip  (pictured below) and when she got tired of holding it was attached to The Qlipter, not in my hands.  I am looking forward to using The Qlipter on camping and backpacking trips, where I can see more uses such as in using the hook feature for lanterns, keeping stuff off the ground and hanging clothes.

Lightweight ~ As a hiking/backpacking family weight is a very big concern of ours.  I'm always looking at weight of every piece of gear I own.  Not only do I carry my own gear, but my toddlers backpacking gear as well as my child.  Having a light two-ounce, sturdy, multi-use carabiner will not add to my weight concerns!

Secure End Cap ~ My past clips/carabiners (non-climbing) have always buckled, broken or always left a gap and our gear like our small kid shoes would slide off.  The Qlipter has a magnetic closure in the rubber end cap to make sure the closure is very secure.

The Minuses

Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Radtke-Fitzpatrick (right photo)

I had one issue with The Qlipter, difficulty looping it into to my particular kid carrier (featured on the left).  The Qlipter head was a little too large for the ONE loop, my kid carrier has.  I looped it through the tapered end but the carrier loop prevented the swiveling wide hook from locking.  I eventually clipped it through the "paper clip" and pushed through, in the picture above (left).  The Qlipter was secure but it took a lot of wiggling and pushing to get it onto my particular carrier!

Granted, it was more about the small size of my carrier loop with the large size of The Qlipter that caused this issue.  The Qlipter clipped on with NO difficulties on my regular day pack and my husband's kid carrier.  The owner Mina Yoo, is already working on a smaller version of The Qlipter, which I am definitely interested in trying out!

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

As an outdoor mom, I'm always looking for handy gear that will help me enjoy the outdoors better with my children.  The Qlipter keeps my hands free from toys, muddy shoes and keeps gear securely attached to my kid carrier.  The Qlipter is new kind of multi-use hook/carabiner that is great for family use in the outdoors.

I would like to thank Qlipter who provided this product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Related Links:  The Qlipter by Lulabop

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Gear Review: Hero Kit Road Bike Field Repair Kit

Entering the world of cycling is like learning a new language!  Lots of fun but there is also a lot to learn about "how-to's", new terminology and what to do if something breaks down on a ride. I must be honest my back up plan for a long time has been: "If something happens, I'll just call someone to pick me up."  I never carried a tube nor a pump and really didn't know how to fix anything on my road bike if something happened to me while riding.  Not a really good decision, but the Hero Kit for Road Cycling has changed that now!

The kit includes...

12 Function Multi-Tool w/Chain tool
Planet Bike Tire Levers w/tire patch kit
24 Page Waterproof Field Repair Instruction Manual
9 Speed KMC Replacement Chain Link
10 Speed KMC Replacement Chain Link
Yelo Velo High-PSI Tire Boot (Torn Tire Patch)
Frame Bolt and Cleat Bolt
Multi-Use wipe (aka Tush Wipes)
Emergency Rain Poncho
ICE (In Case of Emergency Car)
Duct Tape and LokSak (Kit plastic bag)

Regular Price: $45.00 

The Pluses!

Novice Friendly ~ I absolutely love the "Step-By-Step Instructions Tools & Materials" Manual because it explains literally step-by-step how to fix issues from a flat tired, broken chain to brake problems and more.  I'm the type of person that learns by doing rather than explaining, so having a detailed Instruction manual with a bicycle part chart is perfect for me to follow along while actually fixing the bike.  Hero Kit also categorizes the level of difficulty of fixing each issue and everything is labeled so a novice like me knows what is what!

Small Packaging ~ All the components of the kit are small, including the Multi-Tool.  The 12 Function Multitool folds down into a small rectangle and is pretty lightweight.  The whole kit fits into the LokSak (plastic bag) which is only 4.5in x 7in.  Being a hiker and now a cyclist I'm very concerned about weight, and this Hero Kit for Road Cycling total weight is 10.4 oz, (spare tube and pump not included).  This whole kit easily fits into my seat pack and would easily fit in a jersey back pocket.

It's small - 10.4 oz
Quality Product ~ When the packaging containing the road biking repair kit is a quality product, I know I have a great kit.  The LokSak has a patented Leakproof/Airtight Seal so everything inside stays dry!  Hero Kit made the manual waterproof and included a poncho just in case your day gets a little worse by being rained while fixing your bike.  The Planet Bike Levers have the tire patch kit tucked inside a little compartment, which is a great idea because I can imagine those easily flying away if they were loose in the bag.  Hero Kit's Multitool is very small but sturdy that includes a chain tool, which is great because I don't have carry our large multi-tool in our kit.  

Safety Centered ~ The kit itself is very safety centered, from protecting the rider from the elements to providing an ICE (In Case of Emergency) card that the rider can fill out.  We never like to think about biking accidents "What If's..." but having a card like that could help a passer-by or medical personnel save your life if you were found unconscious in a crash.

The Minuses

None really.  My only "minus" was that it uncovered my lack of knowledge of my very own bike but that is more of a reflection of me not the kit.  The kit has actually inspired to keep learning about bikes and riding.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

Being that I also ride with my kids, this will come in very handy with fixing any issues with my sons bike as well as my bike trailer.  It also provides me more confidence that I can go further distances when I'm riding solo and with my family.  My husband also occasionally commutes on his road bike during the week so we now share the Hero Kit.  In a good way, we still haven't had a chance to "use" the kit but I know it will definitely come in handy when we need to fix something in the future.  I highly recommend the Hero Kit for Road Cycling, as well as checking out other kits for Mountain Biking, Crash Kits and refill kits.

I would like to thank Hero Kit who provided this product for the purposes of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Hero Kit: The Repair Kit Revolution

The Warm and Unique Kowalli KozyHats

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area surrounded by the "urban outdoors", it's nice to find great outdoor products with stylish features.  The Kowalli KozyHats for infants and younger toddlers is a great hat that easily keeps my daughter warm in chilly downtown San Francisco to the California Sierra Nevada.

Kowalli KozyHats - Featured Color: Sweet

  • Sizes Available: Three sizes to choose from: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, *NEW 12-24 months
  • Testing Location and Size Tested: California/6-12 months on a 24 month old
  • Seven Colors Available: Antipasto, Boycool, Brooklyn, Kaleidoscope, Penguin, Sweet (Featured), Venice 
  • Retail Price: $22.00 - Purchase at
  • Product Materials: Polartec Fleece

The Pluses!

Unique DesignThe Kowalli KozyHats have a very unique design, being Peruvian-American I really love "Chullo" styled hats, i.e. beanie with ear flaps.  The KozyHat is a perfect ode to my Andean roots and the fact that my little one's ears stay warm.  It has a little plush swirl on the top which is very interesting to my daughter, a very important factor to a selective toddler.  She been picking her outfits since she was six months old and since the KozyHat has "a flower" on top, she loves wearing it even when we are not outdoors.  The plush swirl also maintained its shape and structure even after she pulled and chewed it.  The hat also has a little cutout in the back so hoods can't push the hat into the eyes.

Warmth - The San Francisco Bay Area does not get snow but we have cold snaps where temperatures drop to freezing and below freezing levels.  I was able to test the warmth of the hat on our Christmas Tree chopping outing, which kept my daughter's noggin and ears nice and toasty.  Happy daughter, happy mama.  The owner of the tree farm also commented on the warm-looking cute style of the KozyHat swirl, it's very distinctive.

My ultimate test of warmth for the Kowalli KozyHats was a family snow day at Yosemite National Park.  Even through sledding, hiking and even a snowball fight, the hat kept my daughter warm especially after she took it off to rub snow on her head. The KozyHat did get a little damp from the snow BUT it dried quickly even with wet hair.

Made in the U.S.A! - I absolutely LOVE American made products especially, outdoor gear and clothing for my children.  Kowalli uses 100% American materials including Polartec Fleece, which is very soft on my little one's head.  They also hired a New England manufacturer that employs and supports single moms!

The Minuses

Size - Not really, but as many clothing items sizing differs from brand to brand.  My daughter is two years old and she can fit into a 6-12 month KozyHat.  My daughter is small and is barely starting to grow out of 12 month old clothing, so the size 6-12 month KozyHat fits her just perfectly.  That said, if your infant/toddlers head is on the smaller side the hats might run a little big for the assigned age range and if your child's head is on the larger side then the hat might run a little small for the age range.  Thankfully Kowalli has a great easy Free Return Policy, in case you need to exchange for a different size.

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

I definitely recommend the Kowalli KozyHats and 100% satisfied with this hat for the reasons listed above: unique style, warmth, USA made product.  Kowalli recently came out with sizes 12-24 months KozyHats that I will definitely have to get my hands on one once my daughter grows out of her current one.  Kowalli also has two other products such as their Snuggle Boots and Baby Carrier Cover.

I would like to thank Kowalli who provided this product for the purpose of this review.  As always these are my true and honest opinions.

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Gear Review: KEEN Alamosa WP Toddler Hiking Shoes
  2. Kowalli: Life's Waiting, Bring the Kids
Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's Facebook and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Gear Review: KEEN Alamosa WP Toddler Hiking Shoes

Photo Courtesy of KEEN
We are truly a hiking, outdoor loving family and one of the most important pieces of gear is quality footwear.  I had been researching toddler hiking boots and shoes for our youngest daughter, who was starting to hike more this year.  I had mentioned to my husband that I wanted to purchase our daughter KEEN shoes and on road trip break my husband purchased our daughters first hiking shoe:

KEEN Alamosa Waterproof (WP) Toddler Hiking Shoes
Sizes Available: Toddler 8-13
Size Tested: Toddler 8
Retail Price: $65.00
Testing Location: California
Colors: Gargoyle/Purple Heart (Featured)
           Gargoyle/Strong Blue
           Dark Earth/Bossa Nova
           Black Jester Red

The Pluses!

Sturdy Shoe -We have many outdoor adventures from backpacking, day hiking and camping, to long days at the park and the KEEN Alamosa Hiking Shoe still looks as good as the day we bought them, except with a little mud on them.  The leather and non-marking rubber outsole truly make this shoe sturdy on the outside.  The bungee cord style laces are great for quick "installation" on a squirmy toddler.

The KEEN Alamosa Hiking Shoe is also a little "chunkier" than regular toddler athletic shoes which is great for keeping little toes warm in the San Francisco Bay Area winters which really don't require "winter boots".

Backyard fun!

Waterproof and Moisture Wicking - Whether you are in the back-country or having a great day at the park, getting soggy feet is not fun for anyone especially toddlers.  I like for my children to fully enjoy the outdoors which means puddle jumping and walking through "muddy mud pits" is a must!  These shoes are great for the hot summer months with their moisture wicking lining and for the rainy season with it's waterproof capabilities.  My daughter has almost fully submerged these shoes and the insides have stayed dry!  On one occasion the shoes were submerged under water but the insides dried very quickly.

Splashing around Pirates Cove, Mill Valley, CA
Lighter than Hiking Boots - I was very concerned with the weight of hiking boots for my toddlers and in particular for my daughter.  My son is very active and the weight of shoes never affected his walking/hiking abilities.  My daughter is completely different, even with certain weight of casual shoes she had difficulty walking so I knew I needed to purchase KEEN shoes because they made hiking shoes for toddlers.

The KEEN Alamosa WP Hiking Shoe has all the qualities of Alamosa Mid WP Hiking Boot but in a shoe form, which makes it lighter.  My daughter is able to run on the trail, backyards, beaches and in the park with ease!

Trail running anyone? Pacific Crest Trail - Vasquez Rocks

The Minuses

None!  I truly have no "minuses" about this toddler hiking shoe.  It was absolutely the perfect footwear for a hiking toddler.  One might think that $65.00 might be a little expensive for a toddler hiking shoe but it is truly worth every penny, it will outlast many children in a family.  I've seen KEEN shoes go on sale at the local outdoor retailers like REI but they sell fast, so be ready to buy quick!

Chasqui Mom's Last Thoughts...

I am 100% satisfied with our purchase of KEEN Alamosa WP Hiking Shoe for our hiking toddler and highly recommend this shoe not only for hiking but almost any outdoor activities.  We purchased this KEEN product and as always these are my honest opinions.

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's Facebook and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Official KEEN Site
  2. Will My Next Hiking Boots Live Up To My Next?

Gear Review: Teton Sports Escape 4300 Ultralight Backpack

Any parent knows that when you leave the house to go anywhere with kids you have to take a multitude of things to keep the kiddos happy.  Recently when hiking alone with my two toddlers I noticed that my regular day pack was starting to show its age, as well as busting at the seams with our "gear" for our little mid-day hike.

A Mom's Daypack!
Teton Sports Escape 4300 Ultralight Backpack is normally used for backpacking trips or if you have lots of gear, like a mom hiking alone with two toddlers.

The Pluses!

Size - The size (4300 cubic inches/70 liters) is great for carrying everything a mother carries in a diaper bag, plus gear for hiking:

  • Diapers, Wipes, Toiletries
  • Change of Clothes and Sweaters
  • Snacks, Lunch and Toys
  • Hydration Pack and Water Bottle
  • First Aid Kit
  • Picnic Blanket
  • Baby Carrier (i.e. ERGO, Boba, etc.)
Pockets - I love all the top pockets but my favorite pocket is the front right pocket on the adjustable belt.  It's large enough to comfortably hold ANY phone size, plus a car keys as well as having small candies easily accessible.

Unisex - I'm very particular about having products fit to a women's body but "unisex" gear usually fit men better than women.  I loved 99% of the Escape's fit on my small framed body (5 feet tall), in particular the shoulder straps.  

Lightweight - 4.75 lbs! 

Rain Fly - Bright yellow rain cover is attached in the bottom compartment! I consider a great plus because most companies sell the rain fly separately.

Cost - MSRP $159.99

The Minuses

Adjustable Waist Strap - As I mentioned before, I am a really small framed, petite woman and even though the waist strap is for 28"-45" waist, this strap fits my waist just a tiny bit too big.  That is why a said I only love the fit 99%.

Escape 4300 Ultralight Backpack in action at Sunol Regional Wilderness

Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts...

I really like the Escape 4300 backpack, it's a really great spacious, lightweight backpack for day hiking with two toddlers and even though the waist strap fits me a little too big, the winter months are coming when my waist might get a little bigger! I never thought I would have to use a backpacking backpack as a day pack but I'm glad +TETON Sports was gracious enough to send me this backpack at no cost with no review required.  Thank you +TETON Sports for providing me a great new day back and as always, this review is my honest opinion.

+TETON Sports has a great video about getting to know you Escape 4300 Ultralight Backpack, check it out!

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Teton Sports: Escape 4300 Ultralight Internal Frame Backpack
  2. Will My Next Hiking Boots Live Up To My First?
  3. Gear Review: Vasque Breeze Ultradry Hiking Boots

Will My Next Hiking Boots Live Up to My First?

Eight years ago, I walked in to my local +REI and purchased my first pair of boots, +Merrell Continuum Women's Hiking Boots.  Up until then those were my most expensive footwear I had ever purchased, vaguely remember the price...about $180.00 but my husband (then fiancee) told me, "Trust me they are worth it..." and they sure were.  I wasn't a big outdoors person back then as I am now, but if I can contribute piece of gear that helped me grow into LOVING the outdoors it would be these boots.

I have never had an issue with my +Merrell Continuum, maybe I lucked out and picked the perfect boots and I know without a doubt that these were greatly made.  I have so many memories attached to my boots, they have traveled with me, been with me on arrest and search warrants, firing range, law enforcement training, camping in Mexico and most importantly hundreds and hundreds of miles on the trail in the United States and Peru.

My +Merrell Continuum are currently in "ok" hiking condition but one of the front toe seams recently ripped when a branch hit the seam perfectly and the soles are starting to peel away from the sides.  I can still hike in them but I am most certain that the waterproofing has been compromised.  They will get a few occasional hikes in but the Bay Area "Rainy" (I'm being sarcastic) season is approaching and don't want to risk testing the waterproof issues on them.

I recently asked my fellow outdoors connections what boots they recommended and now I'm torn!! There are so many options now!  Will my next hiking boots live up to my first?  Based on my needs and the recommendations I've received I'm actually thinking of getting two types of boots for the following reasons:

  • Day Hiking Boots: For shorter easier hikes, not carrying too much weight (30lbs and under).
  • Backpacking and Longer Day Hiking Boots: I normally carry 40-50 lbs when backpacking and lesser weight during longer day hikes but during certain times of the hike I usually end up carrying my pack AND one of our children.  The weight I carry (child and backpack) usually ranges from a minimum 30-80lbs, so I need a hard boot.
+KEEN has been highly recommended and of course I will be looking into +Merrell again, for day hiking boots.   For backpacking boots, I'm leaning towards the Asolo TPS 520 GV Women's Hiking Boots but I'm still looking into others.  My husband has the Asolo Men's version and he absolutely loves them, so much that he sent them to get resoled to a cobbler in Seattle, Washington.

Until then, a little photo montage of where my boots have taken me over the last eight years....

The Inca Steps on the Inca Trail - Peru

The clay muddy hills of the San Francisco East Bay Hills.

The steep trails of Rancho Corral de Tierra in the Peninsula.

Of course, Chasqui Mom's and any hiking boot mecca - Machu Picchu.

I want to cry just writing about my it weird that I have such en emotional attachment to a piece of gear?  Do you have a emotional attachments to gear? Also, if you have any recommendations on Day Hiking and Backpacking Boots please leave a comment with your recommendation, I would really appreciate it.

Gear Review: Vasque Breeze Ultradry Hiking Boots

Last year, we decided to purchase our barely two year old son REAL hiking boots.  We thought we were a little crazy but we were so tired of our son complaining of cold, wet, muddy athletic shoes during our hikes.  My husband was not too excited to drop $70+ on toddler hiking boots (my son was growing like a weed) that could possibly be grown out of in a few months.  We realized it was worth the investment and we rationalized our purchase with the idea that our daughter (3 months at the time) could use them as well in the future.

Brand new out of the box! January 2011

After researching all the best possible toddler hiking boots we purchased, Vasque Breeze Ultradry Hiking Boots since they were one of the brands that made smaller hiking boots, thanks +Vasque Footwear !  The smallest size they made was Toddler Size 10, which was perfect because we always purchase our son's shoes two sizes bigger than his actual size.  Any parent knows the second you buy a pair of shoes for your children, they instantly grow.

First hike in his Vasque Breeze Ultradry

These hiking boots gets the Chasqui Mom Toughness Seal of Approval!  These boots have survived miles and miles of hiking, many days camping and backpacking, not to mention lots of rainy days, international travel and rough wear on the trail.  My son increased his hiking mileage in the in the last year and a half from one mile to five miles and I'm certain that the increase in mileage was in part due to his Vasque boots.  

Still looking good after a year and a half! - June 2013


 - Vasque's Ultradry breathable mesh
 - Waterproof
 - Heal loop for easy removal
 - Lightweight boot
 - Smallest size (in this version) Toddler Size 10
 - Durable leather

One of the best attributes of these boots is the fact that they are TRULY waterproof, well as much as you can get!  At some point over the last year, my son figured out that his boots were waterproof and could splash in puddles, shallow creeks and not get his feet wet.  Occasionally, he would actually submerge his boots in puddles/creeks but they would dry quickly compared to his athletic shoes.

+Vasque Footwear has recently come out with the new version Breeze 2.0 Kids Ultradry Hiking Boots,  which we haven't had the pleasure of buying but if it's a better version of the original then it's something to definitely look into.  Version 2.0 is approximately $79.95  at most outdoor retail stores.  You can still find select shoe sizes for the original Breeze Ultradry Hiking Boots at outdoor retailer clearance racks.  That is one clearance rack sale I would definitely support!

During one of our last hikes, before our big road trip, our son complained that his toes were hurting him and after a quick check we new it was time to say goodbye to his beloved first pair of boots and save them for our daughter once she grows into them.  Thanks to +Vasque Footwear for allowing my boy to really enjoy the trails with these awesome hiking boots.

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Vasque Kid's Hiking Boots
  2. Vasque Breeze 2.0 Kids Ultradry Hiking Boots
  3. Summer Road Trip 2013