Kelly Bastone: Fresh gear for families
Steamboat Springs — I spent most of last week in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, bouncing between booths stuffed with the latest and greatest in gear. There’s so much new gadgetry and innovation on parade, it’s enough to make any Luddite covet an upgrade: Tents are lighter, shoes comfier and jackets more stylish than ever before. Gear also has become fantastically family friendly.
Of course, there are the mini-me outdoor pants and jackets from Patagonia and The North Face. Keen makes little hiking boots. Deuter builds packs for kids (and the parents who carry kids). Black Diamond displayed trekking poles scaled for school-agers. And our hometown favorite, Big Agnes, continues to make some of the market’s best family camping tents.
Case in point: Big Agnes’ new Gilpin Falls Power House 4, which will hit stores in spring 2015. Like the company’s other family models, this freestanding dome pitches easily, lets all but the tallest parents stand up inside and provides a dry, stable refuge in storms. But the Gilpin Falls also includes a suspended iPad pocket that turns the tent into a movie theater. A Joey power pack (included with the tent) charges the iPad, phones and anything else needing a top-off. Coolest of all, an unobtrusive string of LED bulbs runs along the ceiling and walls: Just reach inside the tent, flip the switch and the Gilpin Falls lights up with more ambiance than your bedroom at home.
A company called Joovy makes a push bike with a hand brake and real, air-inflated tires (the Striders we all know and love use solid plastic ones). Joovy also makes a packable cot designed for kids. It’s the size of a tent when folded but sets up to become a portable bed for camping, sleepovers or visiting Grandma. Neat!
One of my favorite O.R. discoveries is the Butler Boot, made in Arkansas. You better believe I’m going to be getting some for Simone! It’s a kids’ overboot made from non-toxic rubber with a bellows at the ankle for extra flexibility. You just slide the weatherproof Butler Boot over your kids’ everyday shoes, so once they’re at school they don’t have to change into play kicks — they just slide off the overboots and they’re ready for indoor action.
Oh — and Simone’s been asking for the pink fishing rod she spied in Straightline last week. We told her she had to wait till she was 5. “Four,” she negotiated. So I guess I’m not the only one in the family to fancy gear!
Kelly Bastone moved to Steamboat in 2002 because she loved the Yampa Valley’s easy-access skiing, bike trails and fishing holes. So when she got pregnant with her daughter in 2010, she didn’t abandon those pursuits — she just figured out ways to include her. She and her husband, Ben, are big fans of scheduling baby-sitters for powder mornings or epic bike rides because they believe that fulfilled people make the best parents! But thanks to all the kid-friendly outdoor gear available nowadays, they can bring Simone with them on hikes, backcountry ski tours, hut trips, bike rides, fishing sessions and campouts. Kelly’s blog is about her family and all the ways they exploit Steamboat’s awesomeness. When not parenting, Kelly a freelance journalist for such publications as Sunset, Runner’s World, Bicycling and National Parks, and a contributing editor for Backpacker and Vail/Beaver Creek magazines and a contributing writer for 5280: The Denver Magazine.
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