Simplifying Adventures + Camelbak Kicker Gear Review

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that hikes as a family have to be BIG events.  We are (finally) entering into that time of the year when the days are longer, evenings are warmer and getting kids to come  back inside is a little more difficult.  It is the perfect time of the year to squeeze in a mini hike after work (or everyone’s home from school, etc.) or even at lunch time (if you are really brave…lunch time/right-before-nap-time is pretty crazy at our house.)

But a hike is a hike.  And a “walk” can certainly be a “hike” too!  Either way, it is an absolutely ideal opportunity to instill a love for hiking with kids without a big commitment that meaning traveling with children can be (because we find that if we are driving 5 minutes or 3 hours, the gear necessary is astounding.)

Looking at deer

Think about it…..being close to home while out hiking means:
– Not having to worry about long trips home when the kids are melting down.
– Not having to carry extra diapers.
– Snacks may not be necessary to carry (though we are certainly not against bribing at all times of the day with food.)
– Cold days = hot chocolate relief is that much closer.
– When you end up having to carry kids’ extra gear, it isn’t THAT far back home.

Ways to Make a Close-To-Home Hike Even More Adventurous (even just in the eyes of little ones!)
– Talk it up.  Big time.  All day.  Get everyone excited.
– Insist on kids wearing their own backpack and/or water (assuming they are big enough for this sort of thing.)
– Let kids bring their “Adventure Gear” (ideas: camera, magnifying glass, binoculars, maps.)
– Don’t worry about distance or getting a “workout”.  Focus on discovering and spending time as a family (or as a couple, or just on your own!)
– Be ok with just going on a “hike” around the neighborhood.  We are lucky enough to have ample area to roam right behind our home, but that isn’t a necessity for quick hikes.  Adventure (and fresh air!) can happen anywhere.

Gear We Love for the Adventure: Camelbak Kicker in “Superhero” (color available Fall 2012)



Technically, J really is too young to be carrying much of anything as far as weight.  But, he is old enough to begin practicing a little responsibility (yep, even at almost 3,) and definitely old enough to want to be like Mama and Daddy on the trail.  The Camelbak Kicker is really perfect for him on these short excursions because he has a little water AND room for some “stuff”.

What we love about the Kicker:
–  Made for small backs, the pack is simple but does its job well.
– The sternum strap is easily adjustable (easy enough for kids to do it on their own.)
– It holds 70 oz. of water.  Definitely not enough for an adult, but plenty for a kid!
– The hydration hose is insulated with a cover over the mouth-piece.  This will be great for next year when J is truly skiing/snowshoeing on his own.  Even now when temperatures can definitely tend to still be cold up in the mountains, it keeps his water from freezing.

What we aren’t so crazy about:
– I  know the intention is not to have a 3 year old wear this pack, but I do wish the sternum straps went just a little higher on the shoulder straps for even more adjustment.
– Even at a kid’s level, a waist strap may be nice to prevent the “sway” as they run/jump (because they are definitely going to be doing that!)
– I do love the simplicity of the pack, but kids love extra pockets to put “stuff” in.  Even just one internal pocket built into the main pocket compartment would be cool for them.

Despite no waist strap, rolling down hills IS possible. I am sure falls in the snow will be fine too next year!

Buy it:

This color (Superhero) of the Kicker will be available this fall (2012).  I will update this post when it does come available.  However, Amazon has the Kicker in “Daytona Blue” for $41.50 (suggested retail is $45).


Camelbak graciously provided us a Kicker for review.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own. Additionally, some of these links are affiliates.  See our full disclosure here.

5 thoughts on “Simplifying Adventures + Camelbak Kicker Gear Review”

  1. this is a great, timely review! isa got a Mini Mule before the canyons trip and it was perfect. in fact, given the amount of times she went pee… maybe it worked too well! haha. the size is great for a five year old (and was ok for her three year old sister, too) and it held plenty of water but wasn’t too heavy when full. the storage space was great for a hat/snack/glasses. we will be getting her little sister one asap after the great experience on the recent trip!

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