Application to test Kelty FC 2.0 Child Carrier - Ben Mansfield
- Please help me make sure I don't accidentally leave my daughter in the woods by accepting my application to test the Kelty FC 2.0 Child Carrier. I have read and agree to comply with the newly revised BackpackGearTest.org Bylaws, v. 0609 with special attention paid to Chapter 5 and the new test format. My tester agreement is on file.
Name: Ben Mansfield
Height: 6'0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
e-mail Address: benmansfield27 AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country: North Ridgeville, OH, USA
Over the past 15 years or so, I've tried to average at least one weekend trip per month year round, primarily in PA, WV, and VA. During the last 10 years, I've tried to take a weeklong trip somewhere further, but still usually in the eastern US. I have hiked many sections of the AT in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, and am planning some longer trips out west next year. I have also backpacked nearly all of the North Country Trail as it runs through Pennsylvania, and many of those sections multiple times, as this is probably the closest major trail system to me.
I consider myself a mid-weight hiker, preferring some luxury over an ultralight load. My typical base pack weight (no food, no water) is around 20 lbs (9 kg), and doesn't vary much with the seasons.
For this particular test, my load will be my roughly 25 lb (11 kg) daughter, plus some snacks and supplies, so call it 30 - 40 lbs (13 - 18 kg), depending on how much water and other stuff I'm carrying.
In addition to backpacking, my wife and I enjoy car camping at nearby parks and recreation areas. I am also an avid fly fisherman, mountain & road cyclist, snow skier, and enjoy sailing my homemade dinghy.
Due to work and home schedules, my trips are often planned at the last minute (well, the week before anyway). Specifically for this test, I'll be using the backpack exclusively for day hiking with my 2-year old daughter. Hikes will be in local metro and state parks (probably including the zoo), as well as possibly the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. All of these are local to me in northeastern Ohio, and generally we'll be out (or at least try to be out) in nice summer weather. For this testing period, that means generally highs from 70-90 F (21 - 32 C) and lows probably around 50 - 60 F (10 - 15 C).
My wife and I have actually looked into buying this pack, as I frequently used a front-loading child carrier when our daughter was much younger and lighter, but find that she doesn't fit into it any more, nor is the support and suspension suitable for her current weight. I'm interested details of this pack:
First and foremost for me with regards to child-related items is safety. If this pack doesn't cradle my little one safely and ensure that she doesn't take a fall from 6 feet (1.8m), then I won't use it. Obviously, Kelty has some history in being one of the few (or only?) backpack manufacturers that also makes child carriers, and it appears that they have done their homework by adding features such as the five point child harness and the auto-deploying kickstand.
Of course, once I get her secured in the carrier, next I'll be concerned with fit and comfort - this is where the suspension system and backpanel come into play. I'll be looking at available adjustments and their efficacy, both while I'm wearing the pack loaded as well as while it's off and on the ground. I'll also want the pack to be stable because although I don't anticipate any technical climbing or scrambling, I will be going over and under downed trees, and the like, so I'll want a good snug load without squishing the kiddo. Her comfort is obviously important as well, since if she's not happy in there, she won't like to use it.
Next is packability. Will the under-seat storage and zip-off diaper bag be roomy enough to carry everything we'll need for a day outside? The items are small but numerous - diapers, wipes, change of clothes, sunscreen, hat, snacks, drinks for everyone, GPS for geocaching, etc. I'm sure there are others, and I'm sure my wife will help to make sure I don't forget any necessities.
Finally, although I tend to keep my gear pretty tidy, everything you take outdoors eventually needs cleaned up, so I'll spend a little time evaluating how easy the pack is to clean, how quickly it dries, and how resistent it is to dirt (and smashed cheerios) in the first place.
Hopefully this test will prove an opportunity to teach my daughter leave-no-trace principles rather than a study in "No Child Left Behind" (in the woods).
Previously Written Reports:
Items Currently Testing:
Backcountry.com Rime Pullover (LTR Due end of June)
This test will not interfere with my ability to successfully test and report on the Kelty FC 2.0 Child Carrier, if I am lucky enough to be selected.