A backpack fit for a Pharaoh

Chad Abraham

This is what it must have felt like to be an Egyptian slave, pouring sweat as you carried the female Pharaoh up the hill under the blazing afternoon sun.

“Dada, down,” the Pharaoh commands, taking a break from drinking lemonade and dozing off. The servant is all too happy to oblige. One of the best aspects of the Kids Only REI Tag-A-Long backpack is the ease of putting it on and taking it off.With light metal supports that fold out (and collapse flat), one person can easily load a child into it. If you are hiking by yourself, it helps to have an elevated, stable surface, such as the trunk of a car, to place the backpack-and-kid on (holding onto it at all times, of course).

The Tag-A-Long weighs only 5 pounds, but add the weight of a toddler, and the 30 extra pounds can turn a hike from pleasant to thigh-burning in a matter of steps (But who am I to complain: Add 50 pounds to that load, and a 30-degree temperature increase, and you can begin to imagine conditions for our troops in Iraq.).There are plenty of features that make the Pharaoh’s, er, child’s ride more comfortable, including padding on the sides, back and saddle. Also handy for adults are adjustable belts across the waist and shoulders so mom and dad can share in the schlepping. It is a solid backpack, though technically it’s a “child carrier,” according to REI.That sterilized term seems to mean the product is meant more for the mall than the mountain. Indeed, included in the backpack is a litany of safety tips and parental advice from the child-rearing experts at REI.

“This carrier is designed for walking and hiking only,” reads the pamphlet. But it later says, “The carrier should never be worn while you are running, skiing, biking, climbing, etc.” Well, we all know there’s a fine line between climbing and hiking. Sometimes when you’re hiking you have to climb down, while other times you have to climb up to reach a hike. It’s all very confusing.A section on protecting your child’s fragile skull from branches says, “It is up to the adult to protect both themselves and the child from overhead hazards.” Good to know. No wonder my daughter’s bellyaching all the time.”In warm or hot environments be sure to keep your child hydrated and shaded. Use the optional REI Rain and Sun Bonnet.” The child obviously needs all the protection she can get on the way to see her pyramid.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is