A Review of Questionable Utility: My Adventure Toddler

There are some pieces of heavy, complicated gear you bring on hikes or camp trips that aren’t necessarily required, per se, but that you might regret not bringing if you suddenly remembered 200 miles into a road trip that you’ve left it behind. Like an electric fridge, maybe. Or, perhaps, your toddler. Only once have I forgotten one of these things, though my lawyer advises me against specifying which.

For most of my adventure-y excursions that don’t involve a mountain bike or a surfboard, my toddler, all 30 pounds of her (yeah, you read that right) joins me, often in her chariot, the wonderful Poco Plus backpack from Osprey.

I acquired her in the, uh, usual way about 15 months ago (no paid advertorial here!). She’s the second model of this product in my gear shed now, the first being almost 4 years old and still running strong. Running faster, stronger, much louder even, than when she was brand new.

But this review will focus on the newer, shinier model.

Trip planning/beta/map reading

Terrible. Awful. No real help in identifying good locations, no real idea about what to do, can’t read a map at all. Tends to fold them improperly. Tore up our only quadrangle of Mineral King.

Score: 0/5 – can’t recommend.


Trailhead preparation

Better here. More in her element. Flexible, readily compacts like down, installs easily into backpack. Will alert with ample squeals and laughs when install is complete. Requires little, just a diaper or two, a pouch, and small water bottle, all of which she (well, you) carry in her pack.

Score: 4/5 – One point removed because she can’t, or won’t, pack her own food.



Best hiking toddler model we’ve used. Can put down huge mile days with little complaint. Eager help when identifying birds (da-ta!), coyotes (da-ta!), horses (da-ta!), other hikers (da-ta!).

Score: 4/5 – Seems to get heavier every month. Hmmm.



Vehicle dependent. She’s not great with big, lifted trucks. But small, lightweight off-roaders, she excels at taking these for spins. Literally, often, just pushing and spinning, doing donuts in the yard.

Score: 1/5 – Can’t really depend on her here.


Snow Activities

Walking in snow? No. Touching it with bare hands, bright red and nearly frozen? Big fan. Sleeping in pack while parents hoof it for miles on snowshoes? Expert-level. Rolling around, no concern for where snow will end up and the shrieking when ice drops down her pants? Seasoned pro.

Score: 5/5


Surfing/beach adventures

Shows terrific enthusiasm for surfboards, but no real ability to paddle or stand up on a moving board. Terrible wave judgment, no awareness of surfing etiquette.

Surfing score: 0/5

Great at beach trips, though. Understands the superiority of tropical to any other climates. Perhaps was a South Pacific Islander in past life?

Beach adventures score: 5/5


General appreciation of surroundings/Trip companion

Okay, Sir Edmund Hilary level of achievement here. Nothing can rival her enthusiasm for being outside, not even a 6-month-old golden retriever puppy kept indoors all day (which, surely, I will deal with too once they’re old enough to ask). Yosemite? Yeah, loves it. Salmon wriggling upstream? She’ll stare all day. Sunsets, sunrises, she’s down for both, provided there are snacks. There are snacks, right? Never ending snacks?

Score: 5/5

Overall score: 11/10 Highly recommend.

Does the math add up? Who has the brainpower to do math with adventure toddlers and their older sibling currently wrecking daddy’s precious gear garage as this is written?


Words by Justin Housman 




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