Phil and Teds Portacot Review

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

My 4 Favourite Things About Being a Young Dad

At 25 years old, I get mixed reactions from people when I tell them I’m a Dad. It can be quite comical, watching the cogs turn in that moment of silence between the impulsive response: “cool!” and the inevitable “…wait, how old did you say you were again?” In reality, I don’t think 7 months is enough time to appreciate all the ways that being a young dad is awesome, so consider this list my ‘favourite things I expect to enjoy about being a young dad.’

Sharing more experiences/memories with your kids

The romantic image of two young backpackers facing the world with nothing but the bag they carry is somewhat less glamorous when you replace that backpack with a baby carrier. Travel and exploring takes on a new dimension when you throw kids in the mix, that is for sure. Nonetheless, it will be enormously rewarding to be able to share those experiences with the few other people you will spend your lifetime with, and to be able to joke and laugh as you enjoy the shared memories they created.

More scope to learn new things with kids

I get excited about being a novice at things with my kids, and learning new skills alongside them. Obviously it will be cool being able to teach them stuff I know, but I think it will also be quite special being at the same level as we learn how to surf together, climb mountains together and so on. Being young means there’s a whole range of things I’d still love to learn, and the prospect of doing so alongside the family is actually quite exciting. Sure, Cohen will probably wind up being way better than me, but that’s just another part of the fun.

Learning to raise kids on a budget

When you find out you’re having a baby a year after finishing uni, the last thing on your mind is lavishing them with the biggest lego sets and the shiniest bikes. I was only just getting used to meals more elaborate than rice and fish cakes when I had to start saving cots and highchairs to the trademe watchlist. It will certainly be challenging raising children while starting out in my career, but its a challenge that excites me. I think it will be good to learn that the best toys often aren’t bought, and the most memorable experiences can be free. Being a young dad will force me to be creative in many ways, which can only be a good thing.

Being young(ish) when they leave home

Lets be honest, I am missing out on a bunch of things by having kids young. Mostly, the things I’m missing out on don’t worry me too much, but I do get excited about being young enough and energetic enough when the kids gain independence to have our own adventures. In fact, if I put in the effort in these early years, hopefully I will be able to enjoy that new found freedom with the satisfaction of having children who are, in their own way, making this world a better place.

This is just a quick list of the first things that came into my head, so is nothing particularly profound. But what do you think? Do you think there’s an ideal age to have kids?