Xero Prio

Today we are taking a looking at the company Xero Shoes. Specifically Xero Prio barefoot shoes. I have had these Prio’s for almost 6 months and have put them through the paces.  I have been on a quest to find the best barefoot shoes to go hiking in. It has been difficult to find a dedicated barefoot hiking shoe. The barefoot boots I have tried are a bit too confining around the ankle, and I prefer the movement I get with a shoe as I hike.

How it looks

The Prio comes in men’s and women’s, two colors for each. The men’s come in black and blue as well as yellow and black while the women’s Prios are Yellow, turquoise, and black while the other pair is purple and black. With that out of the way, my personal opinion is that these Xero shoes look great! I am not a fan of the color yellow so I opted for the blue Prio shoes. The colors go well together and really look good. My son, however, still thinks I should have gone with the yellow Xero Prios.

Specs

This is straight from the Xero website.

  • Natural FIT — A wide toe box lets your toes spread and relax. Plus the “XERO-drop” sole (non-elevated heel and low-to-the-ground) allows for proper posture, balance, and agility
  • Natural MOTION — The Prio is flexible enough to let your feet bend, move, and flex the way, well, that feet are supposed to. Plus, they’re so lightweight, you’ll barely know you have them on. A men’s 9 is only 7.6 ounces each
  • Natural FEEL — The Prio uses the same 5.5mm FeelTrue® rubber from our Z-Trek sandal, so you get great protection while still getting the ground feedback that your feet like. With an optional 2mm insole, the Prio lets you Feel The World®
  • Vegan-friendly materials — No animal products in the Prio
  • Huarache-inspired design — The heel strap is not only eye-catching but functional
  • Adjustable instep strap — The “inverted V” straps aren’t sewn down, so you can use them to lock in your instep while keeping your toes free to move
  • Reflective straps — That middle section of the heel and instep straps are highly reflective for evenings and night
  • Optional 2mm insole — If you need a bit of extra protection, toss in the optional 2mm insole
  • Barefoot friendly — Wear the Prio with or without socks
  • 5,000-mile sole warranty — like ALL our FeelTre® soles, the Prio’s has our 5,000-mile sole warranty

I personally took out the 2mm insole because I enjoy the more barefoot feel and I absolutely love the room in the toe box of this shoe. I haven’t put 5000 miles on the sole yet, but after 6 months of running and hiking all over the great state of North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains, I am up to about 900 miles and they are still holding up great!

Unboxing

I usually have unboxing pictures but this time my son and I were heading to a hike and we picked these up at the post office on the way. I slapped them on and went on a hike almost immediately.

First impression

I had been looking for minimalist shoes that I could hike in for a while. I have tried others such as Lems primal 2 and Lems boulder boots as well. These Prio’s caught my attention at first because they have a 5000-mile Sole guarantee on these shoes. My criteria for a barefoot hiking shoe was that it had to have the wide toe box, not inhibit ankle dexterity, look good, zero drop heel to toe, and have a thin sole for ground feel. This met those demands. That is unprecedented in the shoe business. I haven’t had to try it yet but I am at 900 miles on these shoes and they are holding up great. Aside from the great guarantee, the shoe looked beautiful coming out of the box. Crisp colors, no loose stitching or scuffs on the shoes.

After getting the shoes on in a hurry to knock out a quick hike before the rain came, we set off on the trail. The shoe, right out of the box, was pretty comfortable. There was no real stiffness to the Xero’s and the shoe was quite flexible. I was able to jump from rock to rock with no real slipping and run over a pretty technical portion of the trail and still have great ground feel.

The first Hike

On this quick first hike, I put the shoes on a little bit of a test. This particular hike allowed me to run a trail, climb trees, jump from rock outcropping to rock outcropping, and scale the face of a rock quarry all before it rained. I loved the way the Xero Prio’s handled the trail run. The shoes are light and allow for toe splay as well as great ground feel. They have great traction that allowed me to jump from outcropping to outcropping with minimal slipping on the jump or sliding on the landing. They did great when I scaled the quarry face, although my wife was none too happy that I let my son do it with me. I was actually pretty thankful for the grip on these shoes as it allowed me to get a nice stick to the rock in certain areas were my Lems had failed before. This allowed me to finally get me and my son to the top of the quarry face.

Overall, the first hike was a success.

Barefoot Shoes for Work

I had no intention of wearing the Xero Prio’s to work, however, the scrubs I wear to the hospital I work at matches perfectly and these quickly became my go-to shoe. This provided me a nice benefit. I had been

The prize at the top of the hike

having sore feet since I had started spending 14 hours on my feet on a concrete floor. After I switched to the Prio’s, my feet became less sore and in about 2 weeks, it had resolved. I am not ready to say it was just the shoes but between the shoes, I had worn for work, which were cushiony shoes for male nurses, and the Xero Prio the Prio’s seemed to be the better choice.

So whats the Bad

Without fail, there is always a negative to anything. With these shoes, at least for me, it was one thing. The traction and grip are great when things are dry outside. However, when things get a bit damp, scrambling or climbing rocks become a bit more difficult. The shoe is not nearly as grippy in wet conditions. Now, this isn’t a fault of just this shoe, it is of almost every shoe I have worn but it is still a negative.

If them not having grip when it is wet outside is bad then the good thing about them when they are wet is that they hardly weigh a thing. I found this out the hard and pretty scary way. There is a pool near where I live and as I was walking over to find my son who was with his friends I saw a boy who looked to be 3 or 4 near the deep end. He jumped from the side of the pool to get on an inflatable toy and missed. He didn’t come back up and nobody seemed to notice so I jumped in fully clothed, shoes and all, swam to him and pulled him up. The boy ended up being fine. The Xero’s were light enough to not weigh me down but substantial enough to provide me with propulsion as I tried to swim. After getting out of the water, I wore them home because even though they were wet, they were still lightweight.

Overview

I gave a quick overview of my first hike with these but wanted to let you know as well, I have hiked in the Smokey Mountains, Hanging Rock, Raven Rock, Craggy point, Carolina beach state park, and many other places with these shoes and they are great. They got dirty, muddy, and almost caught on fire but they have proven themselves as my go-to shoe. They even wash easily if you need to wash them.

Conclusion

Are these the best barefoot shoes ? Well, I don’t think I can answer that honestly since I haven’t tried them all but Xero Prio’s are at the top of my list.

 

Blue shoes are my Xero Prio, Black ones are my Lems primal 2

Whether you are looking for minimalist shoes for men or women, barefoot hiking shoes, or barefoot gym or work shoes. Consider the Xero Prio. They look great, give you great ground feel, they are comfortable, and they really allow your feet to move the way they were intended. They are Zero rise shoes, meaning no rise in height from heel to toe. I have abused these shoes and they still look great and function perfectly. What more can you really ask for

 

Family and Community as a bulwark for liberty

The family and community, if preserved,  can be the bulwark we need to defend liberty. The think local, act local mantra can be especially helpful. These two units can certainly be used against the constant assaults on the liberties of the individual but the competing allegiances that each individual has. These include the church, clubs, extended family, counties, and states.

Society, with the degradation of the family unit as the basis or better said, building block of society, has withered and allowed the sense of community to die. Gone is the sense of being neighborly or thinking locally and acting locally to effect change in your “world”. This has been erased and on those ruins built the idea of thinking nationally and acting nationally and the “State” as the driving force of change.

Creating Change!

Change should be local in nature. Starting, first, with the individual and then through the family and then the community. This action, on a local level, is where you will see immediate change. This is how you can begin to change your world and where you can create the most change in your own life and the lives of those around you. Rather than focusing on the national scale, you should focus what is right in your backyard. Creating change within your family culture is the first place to begin and this can be done by making small changes that can lead to big results. Try creating family traditions on a weekly or monthly level and then on to a seasonal as well as a yearly level. What these should be is dependent on the family and what your interests are.

You can also institute a daily goal. In our family it is to do one good deed a day. This is shared at bedtime and we discuss lessons learned and what can be done in the future. This seems to snowball into multiple good deeds done during the day rather than just one! The kids enjoy it and us as parents like it because we see our children doing good for others. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

Can these small changes really work?

The question of ” can these small changes really do anything?” comes up often. Well, can it? Yes! Simply initiating change with you first as well as within the family can bring changes that you are not able to see. This can affect change in those around you, including your neighbors, extended family, friends and more. Have you ever had your day radically changed by a simple act of kindness or a mean act? These can change your day or even your week. By having a family culture of doing good, you can change the world around you. Being the example can lead others to do the same and it begins to change others.

How does this relate to liberty, Shawn?

How does this relate to liberty? Good question. This is the building block of thinking locally and acting locally. You are not going to be able to change things for the better, in your own backyard, if you have a bunch of angry family, friends, and neighbors. Doing good deeds, and making it a part of your family culture, can help make it a community culture. This builds up moral capital that you can expend towards creating more liberty. Also, this type or culture breeds a bulwark. This can help the community tackle its own problems without the force of government and on the backs of volunteers who are interested in creating the change they want to see. This is easier done in smaller communities first but can be extended to larger locales. Bring about a family culture of doing good and valuing liberty and be a beacon to the community at large. Focusing on the family and community takes the priority out of the national arena and puts it back into the community arena where individuals can work towards tackling the problems with innovative and differing solutions. We know there is no one size fits all solution so let each family, community, or state work on those problems instead of looking towards Washington D.C. to fix everything.

 

What type of family culture are you trying to create? Let us know in the comments below!

Marriage is the foundation

I believe most people realize that a marriage should be a rock for your children. It should also be an example of love and kindness that your children can mimic and learn from as they grow in their own relationships. However, many couples fall into a funk where their relationship is based on a tit for tat mindset. This can not only cause issues in the marriage. It can also run over into other areas of your life as well as teach your children that this is how it is supposed to be.

Tit for Tat

What do I mean by tit for tat? What I mean by this is that you will do something for your spouse only if they do something for you. A tally is being kept and the scales in the marriage are to be equal at all times. You do not take more than them and they do not take more than you.

A big issue is that when a relationship is based on keeping things equal, we lose sight of what is important. Is the house work harder than going to work? Is washing dishes worth more than changing the oil in the car, staying with the kids worth less than managing the bank accounts? We each have subject value scales and each of us values these at differing rates of worth. None of those are necessarily worth more than the other.

Don’t keep score in your marriage

You don’t want a 50/50 marriage. A 50/50 marriage is a product of a tit for tat relationship. Your marriage is a living organism. One thing that should be made clear, not necessarily in words but in deeds, is that each of you can take more than you are giving if you need to. I know that when I have a rough day at the hospital I can come home and know that Susie will pour herself into me and let me unburden myself of the stress of my job. Susie knows as well that if her day has been rough that I will cook dinner, I will clean, I will school the children. If you are keeping score and you feel the other person is taking more than they give, you will feel slighted and resentment will build.

Keep the scales balanced sounds great. Each person will do their share and won’t take advantage of each other. This is hogwash! We know that it will happen. You will take more than you give and so will your partner. Marriages, as with all relationships, are always in flux. This week may be different than last week. This month different than last year. This age different than when you were first married. We change, we have bad days and good days, we lose our temper and we are romantic. This is the nature of most marriages to me.

What can you do

There is a natural ebb and flow in relationships. When your wife is sick, you pick up the slack because you love your wife and you want to help out. When your husband has the dreaded man flu, the same happens. This usually happens naturally. As nature has cycles, people and relationships do as well. Being conscious of this natural ebb and flow will allow you to do something that can truly help build a strong successful marriage.

No, I am not going to say something cliche like ” good communication is key”. What will build this marriage is giving more. Having more “positive” positive interactions in your marriage than “negative” ones. What I mean by this is simple. It is like a bank account. The more positive deposits into the bank account the more it grows. The same with marriage. The more positive interactions versus negative interactions will help build your marriage.

This sounds like keep score right? Sorta. You do have to be conscious of having more positive interactions than negative. If you love your spouse though, it should be rather easy to serve. One of the best examples I can think of outside of my marriage is of friends of my wife and me. The wife stayed home to take care of the kids while the husband went to school and work. He was going to school to be a nurse and working to provide for his family. His wife knew it was going to be hard and she handled it. It was not always easy and I am sure they struggled. She gave selflessly to school the children and keep up the house while he gave selflessly to keep them fed and housed as well as building a future. They both contributed in different ways and both gave to each other without thinking of themselves. Neither kept score.

This sacrifice gave them a strong healthy marriage even when going through something as straining as they did for two years.

Is this the only thing that you have to do?

No. We all know that marriage can be tough. However, this can help you have that strong foundation to grow your marriage into what you want to model for your kids. This is not a quick fix, this is not a one and done, and this is not something that you should stop doing. Giving to your partner without keeping score and without expectation of something in return will make both of you happy in the long run and help create that foundation for your marriage, as well as your parenting.

Shawn, this has nothing to do with Liberty

In the infamous words of Donald Trump: Wrong!!! Liberty isn’t simply learning about rights, economics, the non-aggression principle, and when violence can actually be used. I am sure I will catch flack for it but your marriage or your relationship with your partner is the foundation, the ground that you are planting your children in. It isn’t enough to simply talk about principles of liberty it is paramount to model them as much as you can. Live what you know in thought, word, desire, deed. Your marriage to your spouse is the first relationship your kids will see. It has a great influence and impact on them, make it a good one. So make sure you plant your children in an environment that you would want to be in.

Let’s Ditch One-Size-Fits-All Schooling

It is high time that we ditch standardized curricula and lists of stuff that all kids are forced to learn. I am a former k-12 teacher and I used to believe in these lists. Now as a college professor teaching in a College of Education, I no longer do.

Unfortunately, just about everyone else does.

Most developed countries have a national curriculum ensuring that every student leaves school having learned the same content. While the US has no national curriculum, we have what is effectively a list of national standards – the Common Core State Standards – whose stated purpose is to “ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life.” Additionally, all 50 US states have their own standardized state curriculum.

But is there really a list of stuff we can generate that all kids should be forced to learn, let alone one that is twelve years in duration?

I want to suggest several reasons for doubt.

Your List Won’t Match Your School’s List

For the record, I do think there are things that everyone should know. I just happen to believe that those things are needed because of their pervasiveness in human life, but it also means that people would likely learn them without force.

We all need to learn how to speak, but language is such an essential feature to good human functioning that we do it without being forced to.

There are scores of things we teach in schools that are not necessary for students to be successful.

That’s the way we learn a lot of things, like how to navigate the norms of our culture, how to operate common devices like televisions and computers, etc. And if schools were free to choose (or create) curriculum, it is doubtful that we’d need government to ensure that things like basic math and reading were there. In fact, it is likely that parents would simply demand that those things be included in the curricula.

And conversely, there are scores of things we teach in schools that I’d argue are not necessary for students to be successful in the world. In a book called The Math Myth: and Other STEM Delusions, Andrew Hacker argues that a good portion of the higher level math we are convinced students need turns out less than useful unless they are going into one of a handful of fields (mathematics professor being one).

I’d argue that a lot of what we teach in schools are this way. Imagine a list of everything you learned in your years of K-12 schooling. Now, think about all the skills and facts you’ve relied on in the past, say, two years. If you are like me (and I suspect most people are), there is probably only a small overlap.

If we then took the number of things on your school list that aren’t also on your life list and calculated the amount of school time that took up, I’d bet there are a good many years represented.

The things that constitute the bulk of my life are in fact things I learned after I was out of k-12.

I’m a good illustration of the point. I am now forty, meaning that I was educated during the time when computers were gaining steam but the internet wasn’t really a thing, and certainly not what it is today. I learned a lot of stuff in school I don’t remember at all. But what I did not learn anything about – because no one foresaw the need – was all the computer skills that my work (and personal life) revolves around: how to create and maintain a website, write emails, navigate the web, etc. Essentially, the things that constitute the bulk of my life are in fact things I learned after I was out of k-12.

The Problem with Standardized Curricula

One big problem with the idea of creating standardized curricula is that we simply don’t know what knowledge will and won’t be relevant in 12 years. There will be many false positives (things we think students will need to know but won’t), and false negatives (things we have no idea students will need to know).

Some believe that a national curriculum is necessary so that everyone is “on the same page.”

In a recent book arguing for a national curriculum, Ed Hirsch writes that, “The duty of schools is to transmit… shared knowledge of the shared language – to transmit the cultural commons of the nation, its public sphere.” As I argue in more detail here, this grossly misunderstands how culture works.

Culture is so much more diverse than that, especially in the information age.

An economy works not because everyone has the same knowledge and skills, but because we all have different knowledge and skills. Culture is similar. Hirsch envisions a world where we all read and do the same things and talk the same talk to the same types of people. Culture is so much more diverse than that, especially in the information age. I can choose what to read, who to talk to, what to do, etc. And when I need to know something, I can find that out when I need it (without having depended on a national curriculum).

But isn’t it better to learn it while you are in school so that you don’t have to relearn it later? This assumes the likelihood that I would learn something when I’m, say, 12 (before I had any occasion to see its importance) and retain it years later when I might happen to need it.

A stark reality check about this likelihood comes from the hit game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? which aired from 2007 to 2015. The show consisted of asking contestants a series of questions taken from standard first-through-fifth grade textbooks. During that time, there were only two contestants who answered enough questions (six) to win the grand prize. Yet these were all things we learned between first and fifth grade!

Formal curricula are fine, but we need to recognize that they consist of one group’s guess at what people will need to know a decade from now and what, of that, they will likely retain when needed. My advice is to allow each school to take their own guess, either by allowing them to design their own curriculum or sign on to one of a number of possible curricula (or even choose not to have a set curriculum at all). It just isn’t likely that there really is one list of stuff that everyone should be forced to know.

A quick adventure at Mingo Falls

My family and ours spent a week in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as well as a few days in Pisgah National Forest. It was a great time for all of us.

The Trek Begins

One of the days my wife suggested we go to Mingo Falls near Cherokee North Carolina. We hoped in the truck and headed that way. When we got their we were greeted by a quarter mile with of stairs. I prefer natural trails versus stairs so I was not happy about this. Our kids hopped out of the truck and we hiked up the stairs. After the stairs were defeated (my sons words) we hiked another quarter to half mile to the falls. This time it was a more natural trail. At the falls was a bridge going over the stream the waterfall created.

My wife started across the fallen logs to get a closer picture of the falls. The rest of the family followed while my daughter and I played in the stream and on the bridge. When my wife returned she had told me my son wanted to get to the top of the falls. The top was 125 feet in the air.

I started across the fallen logs and hopped across the rocks to get to the side of the water fall. Waiting their was Isaiah. We began our ascent with him leading the way. He was determined to do it himself.

The Ascent

As we started Isaiah took the lead and was quickly scrambling up the side of the waterfall. Climbing over rocks, stepping over roots, and ducking under fallen trees. He looked agile for a 4 year old. At the half way point, we noticed that the rugged trail split into three. Before I could say anything Isaiah bolted up the trail closest to the water fall. After I caught up to him, he turned to me and said “daddy are you ok?” To which I responded ” Yeah, why?”  He preceded to tell me that I sounded a little wore out. I laughed and thought, am I really breathing that hard?

We continued up the side of the falls to a small rocky out cropping. We didn’t know it at the time but this was the top of the falls

Finding a Hidden Fall

Neither Isaiah nor I knew this was the top. We couldn’t see it nor hear it. He spotted what looked like a little game trail at the top of the out cropping and started for it. He handled the out cropping with easy while making me nervous the entire time.

Going down the trail, it began to flatten out and become choked with brush and fallen trees. Isaiah handled these with ease, ducking below and scurrying through where he needed to. Not being as small as Isaiah, I lumbered through, stepping over the fallen trees.

Then we heard it.

The sound of falling water. We couldn’t see it yet through the overgrowth but we pushed through and ducked under one last tree. There it was. A smaller water fall than the one we came to see but one that we didn’t know about. It was great experience to find such a thing. Isaiah was proud of himself, making it up by himself and finding a waterfall. We snapped a selfie as proof and began our descent down.

The Descent

On our way down. Isaiah’s Uncle Johnny met us at the rock outcropping. We had worried them because of how long we had been gone. He lead the way to the actual top of Mingo falls and Isaiah and I were able to see the waterfall from the top looking down 125ft.

The way down seemed a bit trickier for Isaiah since he had to meter his speed and try not to slide down. He was able to navigate it well but towards the end he had gotten tired. I helped him down the last 20 feet or so. Once we reached the stream he caught his second wind and we were off across the stream. Jumping across rocks and racing over wet logs to get to the bridge.

The falls were beautiful, especially Mingo falls. Isaiah had a great time, Susie got great pictures and I got to see my son handle climb that could be difficult for adults. It was a great little adventure.

 

Lems Boulder Boots Review

Those who have read this blog before know we hike often. I usually hike in my Lems Primal 2 shoes. I am not much of a boot person but Lems gave me a pair of their Boulder Boots to try out. The boots were not only used them for hiking but for outdoor work as well. This review will go over these Lems boots and how they have held up.

Lems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking bootFirst Off

Who is Lems? They are essentially and 8 person company. Lems make minimalist shoes and boots and are becoming quite popular. Where are Lems shoes made? They are American run and family owned company based out of Boulder Colorado. Lems has carved a substantial niche out for themselves in the minimalist footwear community. Building up a brand that is known for quality, versatility, and adaptability to what their customers want.

The Boulder boot they sent me was the Lems Boulder Boot Black. They came in a Lems shoe box and looked great out of the box.

The Specs are as follows.

WATERPROOFING  None

  • LAST      Lems Natural-Shape™ Last
  • UPPER   1200 denier nylon – *VEGAN
  • LINING   100% cotton
  • OUTSOLE   9.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)
  • FOOTBED   3.0mm removable PU insole
  • INSOLE BOARD   1.0mm PU strobel (lined with fabric on top)
  • STACK HEIGHT   10.0mm (not including 3.0mm footbed)
  • DROP   0.0mm (Zero-Drop)
  • WEIGHT   9.9oz/280g (sz 43)
  • PROVIDED WITH 2 PARIS OF LACES black + red

 

Without Further delay, the review.

The Great

While I don’t like to wear boots much, I don’t like the ankle support, these boots are great looking and comfortable. These LemsLems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking boot boots are zero drop heel to toe and have a relatively small outsole at just 9.00mm. They have good ground feel and allow the toes to splay.

They are water resistant. This is great. Here in NC it rains often and in the mountains it is usually damp. Not walking around with soggy socks or feet is wonderful. The Army drilled into me to not let your feet get wet and these boots do a good job at that. Nobody likes hiking with a baby carrier on their back and wet feet. It makes for a bad hike and a long day.

The Good

These are one of the few truly minimalist boots on the market. This makes them good to begin with. On top of this, The boulder boots come with removable insoles for even better ground feel. I prefer to have the insole out. I have been wearing minimalist shoes for awhile and it is much more comfortable for me.

These black boulder boots are tough. I have hiked through the Great Smoky Mountains, Forested mountains in New Mexico, Desert in New Mexico, Arkansas Ozarks, and my brother in law has worked in them. They have held up great. The only thing I have had to do is give them a wash. No rips, tears, or any other destruction has taken place. The soles have held up nicely, showing minimal wear after spending a few weeks hiking in the Mountains.

These would make a great minimalist snow boot for both men and women. With it being water resistant and relatively warm, these boots would perform great in the winter.

The tread is great on dry rocks, sand, trails, and more.

These can roll up small or fold flat to fit in your pack for an extra pair of footwear on your hike. They also dry relatively quickly if you get them wet crossing a stream or river.

Having 2 sets of laces has also been nice.

The Bad

What I don’t like about these Boulder boots is the lip. It looks good but while hiking in the mountains and walking over logs, it gets caught easily. Is this a deal breaker? No. It is just a minor annoyance and something I need to be aware of while I am hiking.

This is a personal one, I don’t like the ankle support. My brother-in-law loves it. For those who like the ankle support, they will love this boot. I have hiked so long in shoes that not having ankle support is a preference for me.

The tread doesn’t do so good on wet rock. To be fair, not many pieces of footwear do good on wet rock. I learned this lesson the Lems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking boothard way a few years ago when hoping across a stream and I slipped on the rock and injured my ankle. This happened while wearing regular hiking boots. Not minimalist hiking boots. This didn’t happen with Lems and admittedly, these boots do better than traditional shoes on wet rock but not as good as traditional hiking boots.

Conclusion

Would I recommend them? Heck yes. The negatives I listed were all pretty minor in my estimation and definitely are not deal breakers. I prefer to wear my Lems Primal 2’s hiking in the summer…. unless it rains. If it is wet outside, or in the winter time, I will definitely be using these to hike with my wife and 2 kids. Lems Boulder Boots are great for hiking, working, and just casual walking around. Try them out!

 

 

Deuter Kid Comfort III Review.

 Finding a balance between your outdoor side and the little one at home can be a daunting task. Being a father that enjoys being outside, I can tell you it isn’t easy. My wife and I hike and camp often and finding a way to transport our children along the trails wasn’t easy. Our solution? A backpack kid carrier. To be more specific, the Deuter Kid  comfort 3. Before I bought the Kid Comfort III I had read several reviews which never listed things they did not like. I want to lay out the good and the bad.

First things First

Kid Comfort III 3 DeuterAre you and you child a good fit for a kid carrier? Ideally your child should be able to hold its head up without assistance before using a child carrier. The adult carrying the child might have issues if they are short or have a smaller frame. An example: I am 5’4 and I don’t have issues carrying it. I do not have a small frame either. My wife is 5’3 and smaller frame and can still carry it but it is more difficult as it sits higher on her.

Only Child Carrier?

This isn’t the only backpack kid carrier from Deuter. Deuter isn’t the only brand either. The Kid comfort comes in the Kid comfort III, II, I, and air. Osprey has several child carriers. The Poco AG, Plus, and Premium. We had the Osprey Poco AG but opted for the Kid Comfort instead. This was more about my child liking the plush bear that came with the Deuter Kid comfort than a dislike for the osprey child carrier.

What’s great about the Kid Comfort

There are some great features on this kid carrier. It is adjustable like crazy. This is a huge plus. We had big babies so this was Kid Comfort III, kid comfort, deuter, backpack kid carrier. important. Also the frame size between my wife and I is considerable. The seat, where the child sits, is adjustable. You adjust the seat up for smaller children and down as they grow. The seat belt system is also adjustable. The side flaps allow you to adjust how the child sits on you back as well. Pull the flap tighter and the child is closer to your back looser gives them a bit more room. There are two straps that come over the shoulders that also pull the child closer to your back so they don’t throw your center of gravity off while hiking.

The straps for the adults are numerous as well. The pack is fully customizable fit due to these straps. The shoulder straps, waist straps, chest straps are all fully adjustable. to get the right fit for you.

The Kid Comfort III has 7 pockets total on it. Two are on the waist strap. You can carry compass, small snacks for the monsters, watch or other small items in there. We usually pack our compass and a few snacks in here. The other pockets are on the back of the pack. Two on either side of the head of the pack that can hold small water bottles or snacks or the plush teddy bear that came with it. The main pocket is big. It doesn’t say on their website how many liters it holds. It holds diapers, water bottles, first aid kit, extra clothes and more. The upper pockets on the back usually hold more stow away items or they stay empty.

This child carrier also has a kick stand for stability in putting the child in or putting the pack down. This has been great for us. It makes things easier, especially if you have two people to maneuver it on and off.

The Good

kid comfort, deuter kid comfort, child carrierIt has adjustable foot rests for the kids. This tends to keep the kids legs at a 90 degree angle if you want. My kids never kept their feet in them but I know many who do.

I really like the fact that it has a hydration bladder pocket. This has been great for a few reasons. First off, I like carrying water. When I was in the Army, we used Camelbaks and I loved them. Adding a bladder (which is not included 3L capacity) is great. I like being able to sip water while hiking. The second reason this is great is that my daughter loves playing with the hydration hose. It keeps her busy and not fussing.

It tends to put the kids to sleep. This is nice, especially if you are hiking around nap times. On top of that it comes with a pillow for them to lay their face on as well as a sunshade to keep them cool out on the trails.

The Bad

The first bad for me was the price tag. They are not the cheapest one’s. With that being said, I wanted one I could trust with my child and that would be comfortable for them.

The sunshade, while good, has drawbacks as well. It doesn’t work if it is in the morning or late afternoon. It works during the most important times of day ( most of the time, I’ll get to that next) noon and the heat of the day. However, if the child is asleep against the pillow or laying against the side flap, part of their face is exposed. This isn’t a horrible thing but something to be aware of. They might wake up to some funky tan lines.

Kids are messy and this thing isn’t always the easiest to clean. The pillow is, it detaches, but the side flaps are not.

The bladder is great but it fits right between the child and your back. I couldn’t fit a full 3L in the bladder because I would squeeze the water out after I tightened the straps.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this backpack kid carrier? I would. It has been great! The Kid Comfort 3 is comfortable, looks good, has the features I was looking for. It has gotten me through 2 kids and 3 years. We have hiked through the Arkansas Ozarks, New Mexico mountains and forests and deserts, Sandia Peak, North Carolina Smoky mountains, and various trails near home. It has held up tremendously and is money well spent. My wife and I can enjoy one of our favorite past times and the kids can go with us as well.

You can check out our tips and tricks on hiking with children as well!

Have you ever used a backpack child carrier? what were the good and the bad about the one you used? We would love to hear from you. Check us out on twitter, Facebook page or Facebook group, or drop us a comment below!

 

 

Hiking With Children

We have been getting emails regarding hiking with children lately. We often go on family friendly hikes as well as family backpacking trips. These trips allow our kids to get out and enjoy nature. We’re going to share a few tips with you to get you and those kids out on the trails!

The first thing to remember is to prep. If you’re new to hiking then I would suggest reading REI’s Ten essentials article as well as their beginner hiker article. Those who are not new can focus strictly on the little ones.

Hiking with Family

The first thing to consider is this, What is your goal? What I have found is that those who do not have children focus on the destination while those with children focus on the journey. This is something to keep in mind when looking for family friendly hikes. For us, hiking with family is fun. Whether it be day hikes or family backpacking trips.

Staying warm, dry, fed and hydrated are things to consider for the whole family. In practice this means bringing plenty of snacks, water, watching the weather and dressing appropriately. Since the children are not your average hiking partner, those jobs fall squarely on your shoulders.

Family hiking should be enjoyable, however, you have to realize that the children will keep you going at a slower pace. This gives the family more time to enjoy things they may just gloss over if they were going at a faster pace. As parents we have to be able to enjoy the little things during family hikes. For my wife and I, it turns into a learning adventure for our kids and ourselves. Pointing out snails and flowers, showing my son how to pet a bee to climbing trees when you come across one. To foster a love of the outdoors you have to let them explore, climb, run, fall, look, ask, and enjoy being out in the wilderness.

Hiking with an infant

Hiking with an infant sounds scary.  If you’re not prepared for it, it can be. The good thing is that outside of feeding them and changing their diapers, you can pretty much hike how you want with a few exceptions.

The biggest difference is your going to have to carry your new hiking partner everywhere. An infant should be swaddled and carried on your front for the first 6 months. There are a few front carriers available. I don’t have a preference since we didn’t hike with one when our son was born nor when our daughter was either. Amazon seems to have a high selection though. After 6 months you can transition them to a backpack carrier. These are a bit nicer, roomier, comfortable, and pricier. We use the Deuter kid comfort III. This pack has worked great for us! It has a sun shade, H20 bladder pocket, tons of pockets and a little plush bear for the kid. Osprey has a few good kid carriers as well

It can get hot in those carriers so it is important to put a hat on or use the sun shade for the kiddo’s as well as keep them hydrated and cooled down. A nice little spray bottle works for that.

The factors limiting your hike would be your endurance, your child’s endurance, as well as the weather. We would suggest not to make it more than a 3-4 hours. In our experience, children get a little stir crazy when strapped in to long.

The motion of the pack while hiking tends to put children to sleep, plan your hikes around nap time.

Hiking With Toddlers

Hiking with toddlers brings its own set of rewards and challenges. Your child will want to walk more and that is great, however, they don’t usually walk very far. We have taken our son hiking and have seen a dramatic increase in the distance he can go. When he was 2.5 he was able to hike around a half mile or more depending on elevation. He is 4.5 now and routinely hikes 4-5 miles with elevation gains. This does not include any side climbing we may do on the trail.

Hangout in the tree

Start slow, keep the baby carrier with you. Your toddler will get tired, you will have to carry them. Stop and take breaks from the hike often. Let them play, snack and drink before you head back on the trail. Know how far you are from the trailhead, you will have to carry them all the way back.

Toddlers love to have their own hiking gear. As they get older, your trekking toddler can get their own pack, hydration bladder, whistle, boots and more. Our son has his own pack now. While he can’t carry a lot in it, it is his pride and joy and he likes to carry my handheld GPS on it. Add these items slowly. Your 2 year old does not need his own pair of boots just yet.

Dress your toddlers in bright clothing. This makes them easy to spot if they run off. Teaching your toddler to use a safety whistle is another great step to take. These are loud and easy to hear out on the trails. Having a system in place to know when your toddler is lost gives you peace of mind. Beware, your toddler will blow the whistle in the car.

Hiking with Children (5-pre-teen)

Hiking with children offers you the ability to give them more independence. At this age you can begin to teach basic map reading as well as the leave no trace rules.

Giving children independence on the trail can be as easy as letting them hike a little bit ahead or even going out of sight of mom and dad on the trail. Scary as this thought is, it will be great for their confidence as well as your confidence in them.

The kids can start participating in the planning as well as the prep for the hike or the backpacking trip if it is longer than one day. They can pick places to go, routes to hike, and trails to try. They can pack their own hiking pack with their snacks and water bladder. You may even let them lead the hike!

At this age you may want to try geo-caching to keep them engaged on longer hikes. Or go low tech and scavenger hunt. Look for certain wildlife, plants, creeks, and rocks.

Point out obstacles for your children to conquer. Crossing streams, climbing rocks, and balancing on fallen logs will keep them engaged and enjoying the hike.

This is the age where the kids really want to explore and go off trail. These are great passive teaching moments. Let them explore. This will keep them engaged and interested in the hike.

Start teaching basic map reading. You can start with a trail map and work your way to topo maps as they get more advanced.

Now What

First, don’t get discouraged. The Kallin family thru-hiked the Appalachian trail with their two kids so a few mile hike for the rest of us should be simple enough.

Second, have a ton of fun. When hiking with family or children it is about the journey as well as the destination. Have fun with it. Climb those rocks and trees, swing from a branch, play I spy, and look for wildlife.

Third, be safe. Don’t do dumb things, you have to take care of those kids both at home and on the trail. That’s hard to do if you’re hurt or dead.

Fourth, Hike often. While hiking every once in awhile is ok, it is much better to get out their often. You will be surprised by how much you and your children enjoy it.

 

Do you have any tips or tricks with hiking for your kids? We would love to hear about it. Comment below and come join our liberty parents facebook page or follow us on twitter!

What is peaceful parenting?

Peaceful parenting. It is a philosophy many have heard about but not many know what it actually is. We are going to try and lay it out for you and see if it fits within your parenting philosophy.

My first encounter with peaceful parenting was within the liberty movement. Many parents were taking the defining principle of libertarianism, the non-aggression principle, and extending it past the political and into the parental realm as well. To some it was a natural extention, to others it was a distortion of libertarianism. I am not the one to determine the proper scope of libertarianism but we will discuss peaceful parenting in this article and what that entails.

The philosophy of peaceful parenting is an interesting one and one that varies depending on who one talks to. The main tenant is that you do not initiate force against the child. This includes smacking, spanking, and even yelling. The majority of the peaceful parent blog pieces I have read, and even psychologist websites I have read about it state that the point is not to punish the child but to help the child develope and learn. Punishment is not conducive to the childs ability to learn but in fact, negates it.

Another tenent of peaceful parenting is the emphasis on communication with the child and helping them through their emotions rather than punishing them for wrong doings. This is something that is much easier said than done. There is an entire group on facebook where parents are struggling to impliment this philosophy in their house. This is common with any change but these parents are working at it. Active listening to the child, expressing of emotions in a open and non-judgmental manner for both children and parents alike are encouraged. This is to create not only a strong communication base but a trust and mutual respect between parent and child along with creating a strong, heart felt bond between child and parent as well.

As far as punishment goes, they don’t punish but seek to guide the child through tantrums, mistakes, and misdeeds. To model the behavior you want to see in the child rather than trying to correct the issue with physical force like spanking. They also don’t believe in bribing, disapproval, or rewards. The belief being that modeling the behaviors you want as well as the creation of mutual respect allows for self-discipline, self-responsibility, and itegrity of the child.

Along with the above mentioned communication, the setting of clearly defined limits is key as well. I found this quote that I thought nailed what peaceful parents mean:

limits are set by the parent with confidence, giving the child a very clear understanding of what the limit is, while maintaining a warm connected and supportive relationship with the child.  It is an approach that constantly models a much more mature form of communication that fosters connection, confidence, trust, lateral thinking, problem-solving skills, and conflict-resolution skills.  Peaceful parenting is a model that aims to meet the needs of both the parent and the child, while teaching and modeling flexibility and adaptability.

This is not permissive parenting. This is not letting the child do what he or she pleases without limits or guidance. Nor is it overprotective parenting, this is letting the child workout for themselves as much as they can while still providing a place of learning and guidance from the parent.

Peaceful parenting has a lot to offer parents who are interested in taking a much more radical approach to parenting. It even has something to offer those who don’t fully buy into the peaceful parenting approach. You can take what you are comfortable with and leave what you are not. That is the beauty of being a parent, you customize your parenting style towards each individual child.

As for my wife and I we don’t subscribe 100% to the peaceful parenting. We do follow the priciples in a general sense but have made mistakes and will continue to make them. Those parent’s that say they don’t are lying as they all have made a mistake here or there. That doesn’t make any of us a bad parent, that makes us human parents.

Here is a good write up from Ryan Burgett in regards to Corporal punishment and peaceful parenting.

Do you practice peaceful parenting? Is it something that you are interested in? If so here is a facebook group for it. You can get support and ask questions and realize many parents make mistakes.

Why Is Day Care Scarce and Unaffordable?

Social democrats want to nationalize childhood by having government fund and manage universal day care. Social conservatives want the family to be the day care, which is a lovely idea when it’s affordable. Libertarians don’t seem much interested in the subject at all. That leaves virtually no one to tell the truth about the only solution to the shortage and high price of day care: complete deregulation.

Let’s start the discussion right now.

The Obama administration has the idea to model a new program for national day care on a policy from World War II that lasted from 1944 to 1946 in which a mere 130,000 children had their day care covered by the federal government. Here’s what’s strange: right now, the feds (really, taxpayers) pay for 1.3 million kids to be in day care, which means that there are 10 times as many children in such programs now as then. The equivalent of the wartime program is already in place now, and then some. The shortages for those who need the service continue to worsen.

How did this wartime program come about? The federal government had drafted men to march off to foreign lands to kill and be killed. On the home front, wives and moms were drafted into service in factories to cover the country’s productive needs while the men were gone. That left the problem of children. Back in the day, most people lived in close proximity to extended family, and that helped. But for a few working parents, that wasn’t enough.

Tax-funded day care

Tax-funded day care became part of the Community Facilities Act of 1941 (popularly known as the Lanham Act). The Federal Works Agency built centers that became daytime housing for the kids while their moms served the war effort. Regulation was also part of the mix. The federal Office of Education’s Children’s Bureau had a plan: children under the age of 3 were to remain at home; children from 2 to 5 years of age would be in centers with a ratio of 1 adult to 10 children. The standards were never enforced — there was a war on, after all — and the Lanham Act was a dead letter after 1946.

The program was a reproduction of another program that had begun in the New Deal as a job creation measure (part of the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Economic Recovery Act, both passed in 1933). It was later suspended when the New Deal fell apart.

Neither effort was about children. The rhetoric surrounding these programs was about adults and their jobs: the need to make jobs for nurses, cooks, clerical workers, and teachers.

Obama’s day care solution

Obama wants not only to resurrect this old policy but to make it universal, because day care is way too expensive for families with two working parents. This proposal is piling intervention on intervention; it is not a solution. Do parents really want kids cared for in institutions run the same way as the US Postal Service, the TSA, and the DMV? Parents know how little control they have over local public schools. Do we really want that model expanded to preschoolers?

Still, for all the problems with the Obama proposal, its crafters acknowledge a very real problem: two parents are working in most households today. This reality emerged some 30 years ago after the late 1970s inflation wrecked household income and high taxes robbed wage earners. Two incomes became necessary to maintain living standards, which created a problem with respect to children. Demand for daytime child care skyrocketed.

The shortage of providers is most often described as “acute.” Child care is indeed expensive, if you can find it at all. It averages $1,000 per month in the United States, and in many cities, it’s far pricier. That’s an annual salary on the minimum wage, which is why many people in larger cities find that nearly the whole of the second paycheck is consumed in day care costs — and that’s for just one child. Your net gains are marginal at best. If you have two children, you can forget about it.

Perhaps this is why Pew Research also reports a recent rise in the number of stay-at-home moms. It’s not a cultural change. It’s a matter of economics. And the trends are happening because the options are thinning. Parents are being forced to pick their poison: lower standard of living with only one working spouse, or a lower standard of living with two working spouses. This is a terrible bind for any family with kids.

The reason behind the day care shortage

The real question is one few seem to ask. Why is there a shortage? Why is day care so expensive? We get tennis shoes, carrots, gasoline, dry cleaning, haircuts, manicures, and most other things with no problem. There are infinite options at a range of prices, and they are all affordable. There is no national crisis, for example, about a shortage of gyms. If we are going to find a solution, surely there is a point to understanding the source of the problem.

Here is a principle to use in all aspects of economic policy:

When you find a good or service that is in huge demand, but the supply is so limited to the point that the price goes up and up, look for the regulation that is causing the high price. 

This principle applies regardless of the sector, whether transportation, gas, education, food, beer, or day care.

Child care is one of the most regulated industries in the country. The regulatory structures began in 1962 with legislation that required child care facilities to be state-licensed in order to get federal funding grants. As one might expect, 40 percent of the money allocated toward this purpose was spent on establishing licensing procedures rather than funding the actual care, with the result that child care services actually declined after the legislation.

This was an early but obvious case study in how regulation actually reduces access. But the lesson wasn’t learned and regulation intensified as the welfare state grew.

Today it is difficult to get over the regulatory barriers to become a provider in the first place. You can’t do it from your home unless you are willing to enter into the gray/black market and accept only cash for your business. Zoning laws prevent residential areas from serving as business locations. Babysitting one or two kids, sure, you can do that and not get caught. But expanding into a public business puts your own life and liberty in danger.

Too many regulations

Beyond that, the piles of regulations extend from the central government to state governments to local governments, coast to coast. It’s a wonder any day cares stay in business at all. As a matter of fact, these regulations have cartelized the industry in ways that would be otherwise unattainable through purely market means. In effect, the child care industry is not competitive; it increasingly tends toward monopoly due to the low numbers of entrants who can scale the regulatory barriers.

There is a book-length set of regulations at the federal level. All workers are required to receive health and safety training in specific areas. The feds mandate adherence to all building, fire, and health codes. All workers have to get comprehensive background checks, including fingerprinting.

There are strict and complex rules about the ratio of workers per child, in effect preventing economies of scale from driving down the price. Child labor laws limit the labor pool. And everyone has to agree to constant and random monitoring by bureaucrats from many agencies. Finally, there are all the rules concerning immigration, tax withholding, minimum wages, maximum working hours, health benefits, and vacation times.

All of these regulations have become far worse under the Obama administration — all in the name of helping children. The newest proposal would require college degrees from every day care provider.

And that’s at the federal level. States impose a slew of other regulations that govern the size of playgrounds, the kind of equipment they can have, the depth of the mulch underneath the play equipment, the kinds of medical services for emergencies that have to be on hand, insurance mandates that go way beyond what insurers themselves require, and so much more. The regulations grow more intense as the number of children in the program expands, so that all providers are essentially punished for being successful.

Just as a sample, check out Pennsylvania’s day care regulations. Ask yourself if you would ever become a provider under these conditions.

A couple of years ago, I saw some workers digging around a playground at a local day care and I made an inquiry. It turned out that the day care, just to stay in business, was forced by state regulations to completely reformat its drains, dig new ones, reshape the yard, change the kind of mulch it used, spread out the climbing toys, and add some more foam here and there. I can’t even imagine how much the contractors were paid to do all this, and how much the changes cost overall.

And this was for a well-established, large day care in a commercial district that was already in compliance. Imagine how daunting it would be for anyone who had a perfectly reasonable idea of providing a quality day care service from home or renting out some space to make a happy place to care for kids during the day. It’s nearly unattainable. You set out to serve kids and families but you quickly find that you are serving bureaucrats and law-enforcement agencies.

The economic solution to the day care shortage

Providing day care on a profitable basis is a profession that countless people could do, if only the regulations weren’t so absurdly strict. This whole industry, if deregulated, would be a wonderful enterprise. There really is no excuse for why child care opportunities wouldn’t exist within a few minutes’ drive of every house in the United States. It’s hard to imagine a better at-home business model.

What this industry needs is not subsidies but massive, dramatic, and immediate deregulation at all levels. Prices would fall dramatically. New options would be available for everyone. What is now a problem would vanish in a matter of weeks. It’s a guaranteed solution to a very real problem.

The current system is a problem for everyone, but it disproportionately affects women. It is truly an issue for genuine feminists who care about real freedom. The regulatory state as it stands is attacking the right to produce and consume a service that is important to women and absolutely affects their lives in every way. In the 19th century, these kinds of rules were considered to be a form of subjugation of women. Now we call it the welfare state.

From my reading of the literature on this subject, I’m startled at how small is the recognition of the causal relationship between the regulatory structure and the shortage of providers. It’s almost as if it had never occurred to the many specialists in this area that there might be some cost to forever increasing the mandates, intensifying the inspections, tightening the strictures, and so on.

A rare exception is a 2004 child care study by the Rand Corp. Researchers Randal Heeb and M. Rebecca Kilburn found what should be obvious to anyone who understands economics. “Relatively modest changes in regulations would have large and economically important consequences,” they argue, and “the overall effect of increased regulation might be counter to their advocates’ intentions. Our evidence indicates that state regulations influence parents’ child care decisions primarily through a price effect, which lowers use of regulated child care and discourages labor force participation. We find no evidence for a quality assurance effect.”

This is a mild statement that reinforces what all economic logic suggests. Every regulatory action diminishes market participation. It puts barriers to entry in front of producers and imposes unseen costs on consumers. Providers turn their attention away from pleasing customers and toward compliance. Regulations reduce competition and raise prices. They do not serve the stated objectives of policy makers, though they might serve the deeper interests of the industry’s larger players.

Creating a free market for child care

And so the politicians and activists look at the situation and say: we must do something. It’s true, we must. But we must do the right thing, which is not to create Orwellian, state-funded child care factories that parents cannot control. We must not turn child care into a labyrinthian confusion of thousands of pages of regulations.

We need to make a market for child care as with any other service. Open up, permit free entry and exit, and we’ll see the supposed problem vanish as millions of new providers and parents discover a glorious new opportunity for enterprise and mutual benefit.

But isn’t this laissez-faire solution dangerous for the children?

Reputation and market-based quality control govern so much of our lives today. A restaurant that serves one bad meal can face the crucible at the hands of Yelp reviewers, and one late shipment from an Amazon merchant can ruin a business model. Markets enable other active markets for accountability and intense focus on consumer satisfaction.

It’s even more true of child care. Even now, markets are absolutely scrupulous about accessing quality, as these Yelp reviews of day care in Atlanta, Georgia, show. As for safety, insurers are similarly scrupulous, just as they are with homes and office buildings. As with any market good, a range of quality is the norm, and people pick based on whatever standards they choose. Some parents might think that providers with undergraduate degrees essential, while others might find that qualification irrelevant.

In any case, markets and parents are the best sources for monitoring and judging quality; certainly they have a greater interest in quality assurance than politicians and bureaucrats. If any industry is an obvious case in which self-regulation is wholly viable, child care is it. Indeed, the first modern day care centers of the late 19th century were created by private philanthropists and market entrepreneurs as a better alternative to institutionalizing the children of the destitute and poor new immigrants.

The shortages in this industry are tragic and affect tens of millions of people. They have a cause (regulation) and a solution (deregulation). Before we plunge wholesale into nationalized babysitting, we ought to at least consider a better way.

This article originally appeared on Fee.org

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.