With an active toddler full of get-up-and-go, our walking style has altered to adapt to our small charge. Full of a sense of adventure and independence, Roo insists on walking more and more of our walks together which is great but also means being well prepared for when her feet outrun her energy and keeping an eye out for new hazards.
Now she has mastered running, the riverside and occasional roadside stretches of walks have required extra attention as Roo has a habit of darting off surprisingly fast, more concerned about that giant leaf, puddle or duck than passing cars or deep water! The last few months of being heavily pregnant before the very recent arrival of our new baby girl also meant I had some issues keeping up with Roo!
When invited to review a LittleLife Toddler Animal Daysack from online outdoor retailer Blackleaf.com , I was keen to find out if the combination of toddler dacksack with reigns would help out with these situations as well as appealing to Roo.
My first impressions of the LittleLife Toddler Animal Daysack actually came earlier last year when shopping for an adult suitcase. Roo had a bit of a meltdown after spotting and falling in love with a menagerie of these very same LittleLife toddler daysacks on display in the shop and had to be dragged away empty-handed when we left! Despite being occupied with a toddler tantrum at the time, the fun and clever designs of these bags did make an impression on me as well as obviously Roo.
We were both therefore pretty pleased to be asked to review the LittleLife daysack and had great fun and difficulty selecting which of the ten bright and vibrant animal designs to choose for the roadtest! Each daysack in this LittleLife range is designed to look like the back of its corresponding animal muse and with everything from butterfly wings or Nemo to a hairy spider or shark fin there is a design for every inner wild child.
After much debate and Roo changing her mind at least ten times, we opted for the Ladybird daysack design. I admit the fact it part matched her spotty wellies might have swayed me a little too… When the daysack arrived a few days later we were not disappointed – the colour and ladybird design was just as bright and and eye-catching as online.
Roo was absolutely delighted with her new LittleLife daysack. She insisted on putting ‘ladybird’ on straight away and charged around the house and garden in it. She was even more enchanted with the fold-away hood which is designed to look like a ladybird’s head and comes complete with printed on eyes and face. So far, so good.
Our LittleLife Animal Daysack arrived conveniently just before a family trip to Switzerland. The daysack was pretty useful for travelling with – we used it to store Roo’s favourite soft toy, dummy and several other small toys to keep her occupied on the journey in and she really enjoyed choosing bits to put into it and having her own bag to carry, just like Mummy and Daddy. Mummy and Daddy were also pleased that it was safely up on her shoulders and not creating an airport trip hazard…The LittleLife daysack was also small and light enough for her to keep on. It is also not so bulky it can’t be stuffed in another of our bags or her pushchair if necessary.
In practical terms, the daysack’s reigns were a handy addition although not really having used reigns before we perhaps didn’t use them that extensively. We were lucky that the airport was not too busy when we travelled but even so, having reigns was a good fall-back for those long waits at security where Roo felt the inevitable impulse to jump the queue or make a dash for the body scanner!
Both in Switzerland and at home Roo has enjoyed using her LittleLife daysack on walks and outings. If the daysack is within her line of vision when leaving the house, it has to come too. Roo uses it for storing her hat and gloves when on winter wanders as well as her ‘treasure’ hoards of pretty stones or ‘interesting’ (!) sticks and leaves.
We have not used the reigns much for our walks other than the occasional road or river stretch – I’m still not entirely sure I’m a ‘reigns’ kind of parent but having said that, they are handy for those times mentioned above and the best bit is that Roo actively asks for us to hold her ‘lead’ as she puts it, even when just in the house – to her it is a great game! Reigns I can also see as being handy now I am out solo with a pram with a newborn to maneuver and also an excitable toddler to keep a close eye on.
Reigns attached to a kids daysack is quite a discreet way of using child reigns if you choose to do so rather than the old fashioned harness in-your-face style ones. You can keep them discreetly tucked away most of the time, just to be unzipped without your little one clocking it for crossing that road or navigating that busy train station or department store at Christmas, or in the case of our trip to Switzerland, stopping toddlers wandering onto that frozen stream, disappearing into a snowdrift or avoiding the speedy cross-country ski piste adjoining your footpath!
The LittleLife Animal Daysack is both well designed and well made. This is reflected in the fact it seems to have picked up a couple of ‘Mother and Baby’ product awards. The daysack is nicely padded – offering some protection for the ahem ‘unthinkable’ occurrence of anything squashable inside being flung down with the bag in a fit of tantrum by its toddler carrier!
The shoulder straps are padded and fully adjustable to fit different ages (and layers of clothing), although the chest strap is not. The LittleLife daysack is designed for 1 – 4 year olds but I did find the chest strap a bit tight when Roo was wearing the bag over her outdoor coat. She is a tall two year old which makes me think you would probably want to switch to LittleLife ‘s Kids version of this daysack from 3 years old rather than the 4 years indicated.
The ladybird hood is also pretty tight on a two year old’s head. Given that the hood isn’t realistically going to do a lot to keep a child dry during a rainstorm (think shower cap rather than anorak style shape) and is more for fun than practical purposes, this isn’t a problem for us but it is a bit disappointing that it is a bit too nippy round the forehead for its toddler charge to wear it for very long but perhaps Roo just has a big head?!
Despite at first glance looking a little limited in internal space, the LittleLife daysack is actually quite deceptive. The daysack has a 2 litre capacity and I found it to be plenty of room to store simple bits like Roo’s comforter toy, some other favourite toys or her hat and mittens when she’d had enough of wearing them. You could also fit in a small beaker and some snacks but given this is designed for a toddler to wear (and keep wearing enthusiastically on future outings) I don’t think realistically you would want to put anything too heavy and bulky in it anyway. It’s just a little too small for a proper weather-proof anorak but it would fit a light-weight raincoat in.
As you would expect from LittleLife, all the fittings, zips, clips and stitching were of great quality on my model. The chest clip is very sturdy and very unlikely to break with too much attention from its little owner. The child reigns, cleverly attached to the back of the daysack with a D-ring are also reassuringly sturdy. I have tried pulling mine pretty hard – child not attached (!)- and not a stitch has budged. The reigns can be detached completely from the daysack if not required or stored out of sight in the top zip pocket when not in use converting the daysack into just a normal backpack.
In terms of waterproofing, the daysack itself appears to be water resistant rather than waterproof. I haven’t had the chance to test it out in a full on rainstorm (being pregnant and going at toddler speed has temporarily turned me into a bit of a fair weather and short distance walker) but did run it under the kitchen tap to test it out (some serious downpour)! The water ran off the daysack without seeming to soak into it although it was a little damp afterwards for around ten minutes. The hood, which is advertised as being ‘weatherproof’ on its label did a much better job and didn’t get wet at all, drying off the few drips still on it almost immediately. This would not be true of all models in the LittleLife animal range – some of them are made from a soft or furry material to better emulate the animal they are modeled on and would definitely come off the worse for wear with this kind of deluge! N.b. I later checked with the team at Blackleaf and LittleLife and the official guidelines are that the toddler animal daysack s are not officially waterproof or weather-resistant but parts of the bag are PU (polyurethane) backed -which is the same stuff used in protective bed sheets – which would perhaps explain why I found our ladybird daysack to be fairly water resistant.
The LittleLife Animal Daysack is made from nylon and can be wiped clean with water and soap and after a few months of being dragged about in the elements, the car, round the floor and for its intended purpose, ours still looks like new without any external cleaning.
About LittleLife and Blackleaf.com
I first came across LittleLife when researching child carrier backpacks when Roo was getting a bit too heavy for a sling and it is perhaps through these very popular backpacks that LittleLife are best known to outdoor parents seeking a way to continue their active lifestyle with a little one on board. LittleLife as a company specialise in many aspects of enjoying the outdoors and travel with kids, including the toddler animal backpacks reviewed here. In other words, they ought to know what they are doing when it comes to designing outdoor kit for active families!
For those, who like me had not come across outdoor retailer Blackleaf.com prior to this review, as well as stocking the LittleLife daysack, they also stock kit for adults and kids for everything from surfing to snowsport. I hadn’t used Blackleaf before and so was interested to check out their website and found they sell quite a bit of family outdoor kit – baby carriers, kids luggage and some specialist kit for kids e.g. skate boarding & ski helmets although their every day range of general outdoorwear for tots is a bit limited.
The LittleLife ladybird toddler backpack that I selected was ordered on a Friday and delivered by the following Monday. Admittedly this was for a review but judging by the large number of positive customer reviews on their website (891 of them when I checked) prompt delivery seems to be a fairly consistent feature of Blackleaf ‘s customer service. Blackleaf have a fairly standard 14 day general returns policy – with the sender to pay return postage. I would certainly consider shopping with them in the future.
Pricing and final thoughts
The LittleLife Toddler Animal Daysack in the ladybird model is currently available from Blackleaf.com for £16.99 (Feb 2014) Prices for the daysack vary by a few pounds depending on the model selected. From my online research this is fairly competitive – it’s a few pounds cheaper than a couple of the larger well-known online retailers and a pound cheaper than its closest competitor when searching Google shopping results, although postage (which starts from £2.45) is not included.
The LittleLife Toddler Animal Daysack is a cute accessory for the little people in your life and is a great and original present idea for toddlers on the go. It is not a necessity for getting outdoors with your toddler but it is certainly helpful when their motivation for an outing is lower than yours and it certainly will make that walk or trip more exciting for them! Also, for those who need or want to experiment with using child reigns frequently the LittleLife daysack would quickly become invaluable and is much more versatile and toddler tantrum friendly than a regular solo-functioning child harness. Grandparents, pregnant mums, reduced mobility parents, nannies or those like me juggling a road oblivious toddler and a baby will particularly find it useful for walking with kids in busy places, public transport or besides roads or waterways. It is also fantastic for storing snacks and entertainment in for air travel or long car/train journeys.
Readers should be aware that Baby Routes received a complimentary LittleLife Toddler Daysack for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated above however remain a true reflection of my direct experience of using the LittleLife daysack over a two month period.