You may know by now we like to be thrifty. You might have also gathered from previous posts that we like to hike as a family. But the two have never really worked hand in hand when it comes to Acacia.
Finding good quality, ultralight, hiking gear on the cheap for a three year old is quite the challenge.
Sure, there’s kids versions of hiking jackets, jumpers, shoes, pants and even sleeping bags.
But who wants to go and spend $400 on a sleeping bag for a kid who will inevitably outgrow it in 6 months. Not us.
Now I can’t take any credit for this part, but my husband Samuel has wondrously adapted his botchy sewing skills to carefully streamlined stitching with ultralight fabrics, down feather stuffing, synthetic padding, and clever zipper positioning.
All for the sake of giving Acacia the best quality gear she could get, adaptable to her growth and all while saving literally $1000’s.
Watching Samuel design and construct her sleeping bag, waterproof pants, down skirt and jackets is like watching Coco Chanel at work; but with far more down feathers flying around. And if Coco wore checkered flannel shirts.
So watch out Kathmandu, don’t judge us Macpac and give us a call Englightened Equipment because we’re about to break down how we MAKE, UPCYCLE AND REPURPOSE ultralight, top quality gear for our three year old on the trail!
1. BUYING A SECOND HAND DOWN JACKET FOR $3 AND SIZING IT DOWN
We bought this beauty at the Goodwills Outlet in Los Angeles (read about how we discovered these outlets here). It was a no branded, ultralight down jacket that was a touch too tight on me.
Samuel immediately grabbed it, happily paid his $2 and began hemming in the waist and sleeves. Laying one of Acacia’s larger jackets over the top was enough to get the sizing right.
Two hours later and Acacia had attained a pretty in pink, ultralight jacket which cost less than a cup of coffee.
2. DESIGNING AND SEWING THE ULTIMATE KIDS SLEEPING BAG/QUILT
After searching the web for an ultralight, synthetic, kids sleeping bag and finding NOTHING in Australia, the hubby yet again decided to take it upon himself to make it instead.
Since we plan (praying) on tackling the PCT next year with Acacia the risk of taking a down sleeping bag (with potential nighttime accidents) isn’t worth it.
So, we bought some 10 denier fabric (in Acacia’s favorite colors) and synthetic padding from an online store and got to work.
Apparently it’s pretty simple. Since there’s no need to fill with messy duck feathers, it’s only a matter of cutting the material to it’s correct shape, quilting the synthetic material onto one side of the fabric, hemming the edges and flipping it right side out.
Throw in a few zippers, elastic chord and clips into the mix and voila!
3. REPURPOSING LEFTOVER MATERIAL TO MAKE SKIRTS AND PANTS
Because why not.
If you’re buying material, best to buy in bulk. And while you’ve got the sewing machine out you might as well keep the momentum going by making some ultralight waterproof pants, a down skirt for mum and a tent floor.
Again, there are BARELY ANY ultra light wind/waterproof pants for kids on the market, let alone a pair that weigh in at less than 20 grams.
There’s no layering, no stuffing and no fine measurements to tackle with these pants. It’s just stitch and go!
4. MULTIPUPOSING TECHNIQUES
The things to remember here, when it comes to making for kids, is:
-Leave enough room for growth (as much as you can afford) as a general rule.
-Insert drawstrings at the waist and extendable hemlines.
-Work in multiple popper buttons for adaptable skirt sizing.
-And don’t spend too long making anything. Accidents happen in all forms and it’s best not to get attached.
Invest as little or as much as it makes sense to.
We recognize these are not accessible ‘hacks’ for majority of the public. But if you ever fancy giving it a go be warned, it’s messy, sometimes frustrating, questionable in it’s purpose and will set you back financially to SOME extent.
If not any of the latter then certainly TIME and PATIENCE.
For the parent who decides to take it on (and the one watching on), as the house is run amuck by materials then discovering months later that down feathers have permanently embedded into your carpet, these projects are clearly a committment.
But despite the latter, it’s surprisingly FUN, EDUCATIONAL and REWARDING.
Especially when you watch your three-year-old roll around on the living room floor with her brand new sleeping bag that daddy made, custom designed in her two favorite colors.
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