OR Show – Dogs & Kids

| July 30, 2009

I have both dogs and kids, so I like to check out what is new for them at the OR Show.

D-FA is a New Zealand based company out of Wanaka that makes some very nice dog products.  I thought their fit & finish were a bit better than Ruffwear (the doggie industry standard) and they also had some innovative ideas for new products.  Many of their items are made with Merino wool, which would be the ultimate test of its non-smelliness. Their line is a bit spartan right now as they are a fairly new company, but I’m sure it will fill out soon.  As an added bonus, the product all have classic humorous Kiwi names like The Snoodle, Puff-Doggy, Sub-Woofer and the Ice-Barker.  The products are available on-line through their North American shipping center, and with the “New Zealand Peso” being so cheap right now, the prices are pretty good.

Is this dog wired, or what?

Is this dog wired, or what?

On the kids front, there was a new company called LittleLife which made some excellent kid-carrying packs.  A great aspect of this company is that they only make kid-carrying packs, or packs for kids, unlike many of the other kid haulers which are made almost as an afterthought by big mainstream pack companies.  We currently have a Kelty pack that I despise so much that I wish eternal diaper rash on whoever designed it.

The "Freedom" brat pack.

I liked how all of LittleLife’s products were very simple and clean designs with a minimum of straps, buckles and junk.  They held the kids comfortably, yet securely, which is a big plus if you are skiing with them.  We picked up a sample Animal Pack for Mira and she loves it.

Mira about to stress test her LittleLife Animal Pack by falling down the stairs.

Mira about to stress test her LittleLife Animal Pack by falling down the stairs.

Hopefully the LittleLife company will redeem Canada’s child product reputation which has been forever sullied by the bane of my existence, Chariot Strollers (hate, hate, hate).

Help support StraightChuter.com and drive your dog nuts with a Ruffwear Hovercraft Toy from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (13)

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  1. Scott says:

    Curious…..Why the hate for the chariot?

    They are pretty much like Suburus here in J-Hole….Everybody has one, and has put 100,000 miles on the thing.

  2. Tyler says:


    I agree, those Kelty kid packs are really really horrible. Have you checked out the packs by Deuter? We have the ‘Kid Comfort I’ and think it is great. Highly recommended.


  3. matt says:

    I was going to say exactly what tyler said. Amazing, I was going to use the same words – in the same order!!! Okay I am exaggerating. we borrowed a Kelty from some friends when number two arrived and we’d practically wrestle to carry the Deuter. Not to mention, it folds out of the way nicely for storage etc. etc.

    Deuter all the way!

  4. Andrew says:

    Scott – I’m the first to admit my dislike for Chariots is perhaps irrational, but every time I use ours I’m reminded of a quote from a friend who described his new Volkswagon car as “an over-engineered piece of crap.” When the Chariots are up and running, they work well enough, but the amount of fiddly little snaps, buckles, Velcro and plastic drives me nuts.

    We just got a little infant carrier for our dualie (actually, I refuse ownership of it – it is my wife’s chariot) that promised a 5 minute installation. An hour later, with steam coming out of my ears, the thing was finally installed, and while it does work alright, it occupies 2/3rds of the cabin space, doesn’t sit level and is hardly the instant in/out that it promises.

    The brake lever is another classic piece of poor design. First, it is hidden so it is hard to see, then it is a sharp piece of extruded aluminum, so I’ve cut my foot on it trying to set it. The components are super fiddly to swap out and while it does fold up, it is still pretty big when folded. Each one of the components (handlebars, wheels, etc) only take a few seconds to remove or install, but when you add them all up, it is a pain to break the unit down and then reassemble it.

    All of this would be acceptable if the Chariots cost half of what they do, but instead, they are quite pricey and for that amount, I’d expect them to be beautifully engineered and well thought out.

    And, don’t get me started on how poor the assembly instructions are. Who writes these things? The head of Structural Engineering?

    I could go on and on… :)

  5. Chuteski says:


    WE have the Kelty and also hate it with a passion. I am hoping to pass it off to the sis in law soon and be rid of it for ever. I agree with everything said about the chariot, works good when up, to fiddly, and take up way too much space. It even fills up my Sprinter van!

    Hope all is treating you well. Maybe a fall City trip???

  6. Btrand says:

    The LittleLife brat pack looks like a yuppified (colors, rounded pockets, why??) takeoff of the New Zealand company MacPac’s standard kiddo carrier which was also way better than a Kelty….I think the model was called the Possum (which are actually cute animals in the southern hemisphere).

  7. Scott says:

    Good points indeed, especially on the brake/toe lacerator. That thing is rediculous.

    Damn, now I’m starting to question my chariot relationship….thanks a lot;)

  8. Bob says:

    Okay, I don’t really belong in this discussion because my daughter is in her mid-twenties and I just used a length 1″ webbing to tie a handle on her to carry her when she was small, AND I consider those ubiquitous huge SUV strollers to be one of the banes of my existence in my golden years, but damn I couldn’t help but be blown away by the Chariot X-C ski option when I googled the thing:

    Awesome. I used to drag my kid around in the snow on an old cookie sheet. ;^) I now have sympathy for you younger parents – so many pretty shiny options for draining your bank accounts.

  9. Tyler says:

    I’ve got to pipe in again on the Chariot topic. Yes, we have one as well. Actually, like Andrew, it is my wife’s. I wanted nothing to do with the initial purchase because of the huge cost involved (even at a discount).

    Right from the start I knew we wouldnt use it frequently enough because there is so much involved. I do have to say that it work really really well. It runs well, it bikes well, and it skis well. BUT … it is really an ordeal taking the thing skiing (or anywhere in a car). I dragged it up Alta once – once. I dragged it around the Uintas once – once. And, I dragged it up Mill Creek once – well, maybe twice. It sounds great, but it is a lot of trouble. I’ve biked Mara to day care in it a bunch and it is easy to pull, but I’d rather have a bike kids seat. It also is quite a load in the car when you add the dog, the car seat, the other junk.

    Finally, Mara (almost 3) prefers a basic stroller when she doesnt feel like walking. Anyhow, #2 child is due on Tuesday and we are leaning towards selling the Chariot system? Anyone interested?

  10. Andrew says:

    Bob – Just the mention of those stinkin’ X-C attachments makes my blood pressure rise. We of course have them, and like Tyler mentioned, have used them a few times, but they basically only work if you are on a groomed nordic track in general, and are a honed X-C Mistress of Pain in lycra in specific. First, the track is wide, so they don’t follow in your ski tracks, and thus break their own trail. Then, if you make the mistake of taking them off-piste, the skis are so short and narrow that they sink and act like a snow anchor. Then (again), you can’t ski down with the stupid thing as it dives all over, yet is too big and bulky to fold up and carry. I’ve tried about 5 different sleds (haven’t tried the cookie tin yet though..) and like just the basic plastic kiddie sled the most as you can then strap it to a pack and ski down with it.

    While my blood pressure is up, we (wait, no, Polly) just got a Chariot brand “Baby Bivy” which is suppose to be this little pod that clicks into a Chariot so you can pop an infant in and out without disturbing them. The five minute installation took about an hour and none of the parts fit. Once it was finally in the dual Chariot, it was so wide that it almost crowded out the other kid. Not only is it a lame design, but it was $70 plus shipping! As an added insult, Chariots and the accessories do not hold their value, so as soon as the kids out grow them and they are sitting there with hardly any use on them, you pretty much have to give them away, or crush them with a truck.

    The best use of the Chariot I’ve found is as a biking attachment, but then again, it works best if you leave it set up, which pretty much means you need a dedicated bike for the stupid thing.

  11. Tyler says:

    I’m laughing …..

    For biking, picture a giant 10lb skewer and then picture yourself trying to wrestle the ball, socket, and pin in just the right orientation so as to lock it all together …. a dedicated bike would be nice.

    Levi Leipheimer passed me while I was dragging Mara and the Chariot up Little Mountain this past spring. He chatted with me for a second before blasting of, but he must of thought I was crazy. Funny part was that after he took off I said to myself “maybe I can catch him at the top and chat about the upcoming Giro”. I proceeded to stand up and crank away. I never caught site of him again. What a scene.

  12. steve says:

    We finally took the brake off our Chariot dually since it never worked, in any position. Seemed to be more of a safety hazard than anything. We did keep the foot brake though, and use it a lot since the dog went for a ride into our gully after hopping into the unlocked Chariot one day.

  13. Konnevesi says:

    Just wanted to reinforce the prior comments regarding Deuter. We have the Kidcomfort II after having been turned onto them by a used kids’s gear shop in Boulder (where else would you find such a thing). They had probably 15 Kelty’s, a couple of Sherpani’s and some others. I asked the proprietor what he would recommend. Without missing a beat he said the Kid Comfort II. Couldn’t keep them in stock and had a waiting list for any he might have consigned. The truth spoken by a person without any contractual obligations or relationships. The suspension is fantastic, a real suspension system that keep your back fairly cool and the ride is wonder for both parties involved. I have travelled with our daughter to Hawaii and along the Wasatch with ours. Our first daughter loved it and I can’t wait to get the second one in it. I have been so impressed that I just bought one of their hydration packs as well, the EXP Race. Killer.

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