The portacot is one of those painful nessecities that remind you how much life has changed since children arrived. As you hone your tetrix skills to make everything fit in the back of your Toyota Corolla, it’s hard not to reminisce back to the days when spontaneous camping missions to the Waitakere’s were as simple as deciding whether to go before or after dinner.
These massively over-engineered structures, reinforced to a safety factor of 10, are not portable. You can say goodbye to tramping with these bad boys,* and will have to accept that you’ll either need a bigger tent that screams ‘family camping,’ or leave little Joey outside with the possums.
I don’t think I’ll ever fall in love with portacots, but thankfully the Phil and Teds Traveller has given me some hope. The packaging advertises loud and clear that this is the ‘only portacot that weighs less than the baby,’ though I find this more of a sad reflection on the state of the industry than an overwhelming success by Phil and Teds. Nonetheless, lifting the bag after bracing for your next arms and back session is actually quite relieving. The endorphins produced by doing bicep curls with this arise not so much from the effort involved, but the realisation that perhaps a camping trip with this is feasible after all.
The steel tubing looks like it was designed by a pipe-smoking aerospace engineer just off a classified project on the next stealth fighter. The silk and mesh cocoon, while far less stealthy (particularly if you buy the red version), still exudes that kind of masculine charm that prioritises function with a nod to style. Putting the two together requires more testosterone than launching a spring-loaded bed, giving me hope that the wee boy sleeping in it will grow to embrace hunting, war movies and chess rather than shopping dates and chick-flick nights. I like how steel pegs are included with the cot, meaning no hassles when you sleep with the little tacker on the exposed ridge-lines of the Andes.
For all its awesomeness, this portacot has its drawbacks. A few awkwardly shaped plastic bits make it a trick to pack away in a hurry, and at the expense of a bit of setup time, it would have been easy enough to make them removable. Some people complain about the time it takes to set up and pack down, but my opinion is that once you have a baby a lot of your productivity hacks are shot anyway, so just embrace the time it takes. It also remains a portacot, and despite being the best of the bunch, I will still struggle to get excited about packing it for any camping trip we do.
If you’re anything like me, it will take a while to accept the fact that your little bundle of joy can’t handle the ravages of the wild, and that some compromise is needed between your dreams of ‘ultralight’ backpacking and ensuring your baby will survive. Once you make this realisation, I would recommend you go and purchase the Phil and Teds Traveller.
* Unless you have a porter, which is possibly how the name originated