In nearly every facet of your life, you’re ruthlessly chasing efficiencies. You’re an archetype of human performance, the sum total of six million years of careful refinement. Designed to tackle whatever the challenge, with gentlemanly ease.
Can I eat breakfast, while bathing, contemplating the cosmos, looking dashing, and enjoying a few inspirational tunes?
If you’re an American…The answer is an emphatic “HELL YEAH!”
And that’s a fact. At least MOST of the time.
There are those few occasions where short-term efficiency can really jam you up in the long run.
Such is the case when introducing your little ones to the world of carrying their own gear. You’re going to be tempted to delay this process. The last thing you want is to saddle your kid with gear, knowing full-well you’ll be the one shouldering it most of the way.
BUT…Hiking, sightseeing, and adventuring is more enjoyable when carrying a human load rather than a pack mule’s. You can’t get to “human load” unless you let your little rippers pull their own weight every now and again.
One day, your five-year old will look you square in the eye and say, “Dad, I can carry my own water. I’m FIVE now.”
Your next move dictates years of family fun. Your next move means the difference between “Princess” or “More than just a princess.”
Here is an opportunity to nurture her as her…not some bizarre, detached, manifestation of yourself.
Like those few seconds when you’re about to hit your golf ball, a lot is racing through your head…
To prevent shanking this opportunity into the bunker, practice before game day. Look in the mirror and repeat after me:
“You better believe you can carry your own gear buddy. You’re brave, strong, and can do it! Here’s your water and snack pouch. Let me know if you need a hand.”
Your memory of turning five (when you used to be only four) has almost totally faded but, you’ll remember it when you see it. It’s like that scene in Forest Gump where he breaks free of his leg-braces.
It didn’t dawn on us until we were in the moment but, a pint-sized Camelbak is a perfect way to support this declaration of independence.
We picked up a Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E.
The Mini-M.U.L.E. can carry up to 1.5 liters of water, which you’d be carrying anyway. It boasts a small pocket with a mesh divider which serves well to carry Junior Ranger stuff or whatever your mini-adventurer sees fit.
Additionally, you’ll find two reflective loops which serve the dual purpose of keeping your child visible in low light and pinning down an otherwise unruly hydration hose.
The mouthpiece is sturdy and simple. Our fifteen month old figured it out. It’s also easily replaceable.
The bladder itself is well constructed, though you’ll likely think the lid chintzy at first. We did but, were pleasantly surprised by its durability. We took the cap on-and-off at least a half dozen times and never sprung a leak. All the more impressive as a couple of our refills involved dropping it in the dirt which I was sure would cause the gasket to lose its seal.
You’ll also find a built-in safety whistle. We’re not proud to admit this but, in an attempt to preserve everyone’s sanity, we’ve purposefully refrained from sharing this information with our cubs. The whistle is disguised rather well. It’s hidden in plain sight on the chest strap. Ainsley, Clarke, and Norah are none the wiser. I suppose if we ever let them out of view, we’d introduce them to the new feature.
And lastly, if all else fails, it’s a breeze to shoulder yourself. You can pull the bladder, hook it to your pack and stuff the backpack material into the bottom of your kid carrier.
The Verdict: All-in-all we’re giving this one a solid endorsement. There are many like it but, for New Innocents, the Camelbak Mini-M.U.L.E. is now trail-tested and totally fit-to-task.
If you want to pick one up, don’t spend the $50 it’s advertised for all over the internet. You can find one for around $35. We’d give you a link but, we’re noticing the prices seem to fluctuate. We recommend poking around Google’s “Shopping” tab or Amazon Prime until one with the right price pops up.
Until next time, thanks for reading.