Can they childproof this kids’ CamelBak? |

Can they childproof this kids’ CamelBak?

The CamelBak Mini Mule, sans mouthpiece. (Jordan Curet/Aspen Times Weekly)

I like to hike with my kids and they’re pretty good hikers all. Like many local kids, they walk more miles at higher elevation than most flatland adults.But I had grown tired of lugging their water for them. A day pack with four or five Nalgene bottles is cumbersome, and having to drop the pack and open it every time a kid gets thirsty is a headache.

So I bought CamelBak Mini-Mules for them, roughly $40 apiece. I figured it would take a load off my back and they would learn the responsibility that comes with handling their own gear. One more step toward self-reliance, right?Well, kind of.They wore their new over-the-shoulder “hydration systems” on a couple of hikes and seemed thrilled to have the new toys. CamelBaks made them feel like big people, and they could drink from the 50-ounce bladder without having to bother Daddy. It worked for everyone.

But there were problems; one kid chewed the mouthpiece so enthusiastically that it split apart and leaked. Another kid failed to empty the plastic water bladder when we got home, so the bladder sat half-full for the ensuing week. That makes for stale water and, if it lasts too long, algae growth.So I had to lay down a couple of laws: First, don’t chew your mouthpiece. Mommy and Daddy will buy only one replacement, and after that you’ll have to save your pennies. Second, empty the CamelBak bladders when you get home, remove the mouthpieces and hang them up to dry.The first law appears to be working but, like many laws, the second had unintended consequences. The kid who hadn’t chewed the mouthpiece lost it instead. And a CamelBak without a mouthpiece is nothing more than a perpetually leaking hose.

So now, three-or-so weeks into the CamelBak experiment, we have two casualties. One mouthpiece is mortally wounded and the other is missing in action.The irony of many kids’ products is that in order to be useful, they must be kid-proof – simple and indestructible. CamelBak makes a good product but they haven’t quite kid-proofed it.

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