Can You Hike In It: Oscha Kasumi Orabel

I was very excited to test out this Oscha prototype. It seemed like a great hiking carrier due to the wool/linen blend. I dreamt it would be soft, cushy but very supportive. I also have a love for Japanese culture, especially the art. This wrapped seemed right up my alley.

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Before I delve into the wrap or hike, I would like to address the issue of cultural appropriation. Oscha has been accused of cultural appropriation a few times, this pattern is one of them. The design is based on traditional Japanese woodblock carvings. There are several other wraps with the Kasumi pattern in other colors as well.  Some in the babywearing community felt Oscha, a Scottish-based company, had no grounds to use this pattern.

Although I have a deep love Japanese art, I am not Japanese or expert on Japanese culture. I am not going to pretend I really know much about preserving Japanese traditions. I do know that respect very important to the Japanese people, so I wanted to address this issues in my review. So I reached out to a fellow babywearer Maria Frank. She is of Japanese descent and happily embraces her heritage. I asked her how she felt about it personally. She did not feel this specific case was appropriation, and wondered if the people who were upset over this wrap were Japanese. In general, she said most Japanese feel flattered when they see Japanese influence in Western cultures.

“Traditional Japanese Art is dying. Especially wood block prints. There are not too many artists who really understand it. I honestly think that using Japanese influenced designs in good cause such as babywearing is super respectful!” -Maria

I understand that Maria does not speak for all Japanese, but I thought this was a very interesting perspective. It brings up the issues of when do we cross the line between appreciation and appropriation. In fact, this issue was a huge unit in my Media Ethics class in Journalism School. The general consensus is it usually alright take inspiration from other cultures—as long as you give credit where credit is due, consider the media you are using, and think about everyone you could offend (keeping in mind that there are some people you can never please). If you can’t do all these things, then maybe it’s best to not do it. For example, doing a secret photo essay of hidden tribe that believes cameras steal your soul and never give that tribe a dime is SO not okay. Oscha should have at least consulted a Japanese artist to design it (I have not heard this was the case) and some contribution back to Japanese Arts would have been the best course of action. Any time you borrow from another culture, you need to tread carefully. It’s wonderful to share ideas and create new customs, but it’s a whole other thing is steal something and claim it as your own. There have been far worse examples of cultural appropriation in babywearing recently though. As babywearing becomes more mainstream in North America, issues like this will continue to come up. I just hope in the future manufacturers will stay on the cultural appreciation side.

As for the actual wrap…..

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Manufacturer: Oscha Slings
Colorway: Kasumi Orabel
Color: Teal and cyan
Pattern: Waves
Size: Size 6
Materials: 45% extrafine wool,  20% organic linen, 35% organic cotton
Weave: Jacquard
Release date: N/A prototype

The colors are stunning in person. It was just as soft and buttery as I hoped when I pulled it out of the box. The day it arrived we had to pick-up my aunt from the airport, which can be overwhelming for a toddler. So, up Jack went into a Ruck. It made a nice deep seat, even with a bouncing toddler yelling “Auntie!” in my ear.

I had planned on taking the wrap for a walk through the Portland Japanese Garden (and possibly ask someone else for their opinion on the appropriation issue), but Oregon spring weather failed me. It wasn’t just a typical dreary day—it was POURING rain and only 38 degrees at 10 AM. Instead, it went on a trek to a park.

Location: 53rd Ave Community Park
Distance:  2.75 miles
Trail Type:  Paved concrete
Weather: Overcast and cold
Trail Conditions: Clear paths, busy park with lots of kids running around.

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We started out from the house in a Robin’s Hip Carry with a Ring Finish, one of my favorite carries. I really wanted to see how it wrap would thread and stay in a ring. A few other wool blends I tried took some work to a ring into place. But not this wrap, slid straight down like a dream.

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It stayed in place while I tightened the carry. It spread like butter across my shoulder and stayed comfy for a 25 minute walk around the park. Jack didn’t want to get down, even when he saw this favorite rocking pile (this kid loves to climb rocks).

IMG_2526On the way home, I did a Double Hammock with Freshwater Finish. The tails pulled through the torso pass easily and gripped nicely to keep the carry tight. Sadly no sleepy dust on the walk home, but I was so comfortable that I didn’t mind.

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Can you hike in a Oscha Kasumi Orabel? Yes, an enthusiastic yes! I was sad I needed to send this one on it’s way, I have no doubt it would be excellent on a big, long hike. The key feature this wrap is thread blend. The extrafine wool makes it supple, perfect for shoulder comfort without being itchy or thick. The linen keeps the wrap on the lighter/cooler side, perfect for a wide variety of conditions. The cotton give it the structure and support to last on long hikes. Oscha really picked the perfect blend ratio for a versatile hiking wrap for the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I am going to give this my first ever Favorite Hiking Carrier badge!

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Can You Hike In It? Kokadi Arielle Eclipse 

I’ve always been a big fan of Kokadi designs. Unique patterns, colors, and themes. My DISO was their Kurma and I cried when it arrived in the mail. That being said, they tend to be too soft for my taste. I like more grip to a wrap. I’ve also heard they are really prone to snags. So I tend to shy away from them.

However, the Arielle Eclipse is a totally different story. As soon as I pulled it out of the package, I was impressed with the thickness. Soft, but thicker than the average Kokadi. And the pattern did not disappoint. A modern scale/shell pattern. I was excited to test it out, but when it arrived I was still dealing with Hyperemesis, so it sadly sat around for awhile before I was well enough to try it.

Manufacturer: Kokadi
Colorway: Arielle Eclipse
Color: black and nude
Pattern: Shells
Size: Size 6
Materials: 68% Cotton, 32% Bamboo/Bamboo-viscose
Weave: Jacquard
Release date: November 2015

 


First I used it for a wrap nap at a Babywearing International of Portland playdate. Jack fell asleep as soon as I got the Ruck with a Ring Finish tied. Clearly someone loaded it with sleepy dust! It threaded nicely through the ring, and didn’t slid around.

 It also went to the park across the street from us one day. I can honestly say it was the easiest to tie and most supportive Robin’s Hip Carry ever. I didn’t even need to spread the shoulder out to make it more comfortable.

 Then one day I felt great and the weather was pretty nice, so we headed out for a family hike. We picked the Rock Creek Trail, easy but some interesting stuff to look at along the way.

Location: Rock Creek Trail
Distance:  4.5
Trail Type:  Paved, concrete, wood boardwalk
Weather: Overcast, light showers then sunshine
Trail Conditions: Some debris on trail from a recent storm, muddy, but overall well-kept. A bit crowded as it a popular trail.

 We started out trying to get Jack to ride his bike, but he thought the umbrella was more fun. The trails are so wide and even, it was easy for him to walk so distracted.

 There is a bird sanctuary in the middle, which Jack loved. We saw a hawk, stellar jay, and two woodpeckers.

 A quarter of the way in Jack decided he wanted an uppy. I started with Jordan’s Back Carry, but Jack some how popped one of the passes down. It wasn’t until I took a photo did I notice.

 It wasn’t uncomfortable at all, no digging or straining my back. But it bugged me to not have it right.

So I switched to a Ruck Tied Tibetan. And took a picture while we continued walking to make sure the seat was right!

 

Very comfortable still and wonderful grip. The seat held well while I was bouncing Jack to sleep on the way back.

Since he was asleep, we decided to walk to the shopping center down the road for lunch. It stayed very comfortable the whole 30 minute walk. Plus I felt so pretty, the pattern and colors are perfect for an suburban/urban setting. It was nice to feel pretty after several weeks of feeling like crap.

After lunch and a little shopping, Michael wore Jack back to the car. We started in a Ruck Tied Tibetan (Michael ties up his tails regardless of a knotless finish), but the top rail was a bit loose and I could foresee Jack popping the seat quickly.

 So we switched to a Wiggleproof Carry Tied Tibetan instead. Jack couldn’t pop it, even when he started to bounce saying daddy was a horsey.  This is when I fell in love with the grip of this wrap.

I asked Michael how he liked the wrap, he said “Fine. I like the colors a lot.” I asked if it felt comfortable, was it digging anywhere? He said nope. If he didn’t like it, he would have simply said “I don’t like it”. Seriously, man of few words.

 The key feature of this wrap is the texture. It’s soft like your standard Kokadi, but thick enough to support a giant sleeping toddler comfortably. I really credit this to the bamboo. In general bamboo is amazing in almost any wrap, but it really makes a difference with Kokadi’s design.

So, can you hike in a Kokadi Arielle Eclipse? Yes. I would really recommend this wrap for almost any hike and almost any age of child. It’s soft enough for a snuggly newborn nap, but supportive enough for a longer hike to a waterfall with a toddler.

Can You Hike in It: Nunamoochie Anya

This woven wrap was a temporary trade with Twinmommy101. I was really impressed to see such a tight, clean weave on a handwoven wrap. And the colors! They are modeled after a Tequila Sunrise, one of my favorite drinks! This wrap was just screaming to be taken somewhere fun.

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Carrier Info:

  • Manufacturer: Nunamoochie
  • Colorway: Anya
  • Color: Yellow, orange, and pink
  • Pattern: Stripes
  • Size: 6
  • Materials: 100% Cotton
  • Weave: Handwoven
  • Release date: August 2015

Everyone on the Hike It Baby Facebook group kept talking about “Oxbow”. Setting up hikes, go on and on about how beautiful it is, and posting stunning pictures of smiling happy babies. My best friend (yes, the one of the sushi story) asked for a hike with Jack,  I realized Oxbow Regional Park was conveniently halfway between us.

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 Hike Details

I have driven by the exit for Oxbow for years (decades really), I assumed it was one of the parks right off the Interstate. But we kept driving farther and farther…river, to forest, to countryside…then suddenly a random sign pointing down a narrow road. There is no cell reception there so I worried we wouldn’t find Amanda. But there she was waiting right at the park entrance.

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We decided to just head down to the first trail we found and see where it took us. Jack started out walking but quickly switched to an uppy. We started with a Ruck with a Tibetan Ring Finish. It’s thin, but surprisingly supportive. Very easy to make a good seat and tighten. I really cannot believe this wrap is hand woven!  It also threaded through the rings very easily (nothing is worse than fighting with your rings with a wiggly toddler). 

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Oxbow definitely lived up to all the hype. The trails meld nicely with the natural landscape—boulders, roots, small water falls. This makes it a great trail to just relax and enjoy nature. Even though there are not many signs and trail markers, the trails are pretty intuitive.

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We happily wandered through the forest down to the river. We let Jack down to play in the water and sand for awhile. It was so beautiful! Calm and peaceful, the perfect late summer day.

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Then Jack went up on Michael in a Christina’s Ruckless with one bunched pass. It held up nicely when he had to climb up the river bank back to the main trail.

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Michael said the wrap was “nice” and he liked the bright colors. He’s not a man of many words. However, I noticed he didn’t fidget with the wrap. When he doesn’t like a carrier, he will tug and pull at it to make it more comfortable. So, I take it as he actually really liked this wrap.

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After a quick pause for some milk and water, we decided to head back. Jack went up on Christina’s Ruckless on me this time. I just loved the colors in this carry, they just melted into each other in the chest pass.

The key feature of this wrap is the weave. The tight, handwoven weave makes it light but moldable. I would suggest this wrap for almost every trail type. It would do lovely on anything from urban strolls to medium difficulty hikes. However, I would not recommend it for long, strenuous hikes due it not being an overly cushy wrap. I could see it having the potential to be diggy after a long long period of time due to thinnest.

So can you hike in a Nunamoochie Anya? Yes, this wrap is perfect for a warm weather, half day hikes.

 

Can You Hike In It: Pollora Sylvan Spirit

I purchased this carrier for the lending library I am starting up. It needs some breaking in so I figured some hikes would soften it up. Then I heard all Oregon State Parks were free on Black Friday, so no way we could not hit the trails! I thought it was perfect for a stroll through the forest, all decked out in trees.

Carrier Info:

  • Manufacturer: Pollora
  • Colorway: Sylvan
  • Color: Light green, yellowish green, and white
  • Pattern: Trees
  • Size: 6
  • Materials: 100% Cotton
  • Weave: Jacquard
  • Weight: 290 g/m2
  • Release date: October 2013

It’s definitely a beastly wrap. Thick, grippy, and tough to break in. It was hard to get a good tight knot due to the thickness. But oh, it’s so lovely in person. The lovely contrasting green trees can’t help but this make this Oregonian smile. I figured it would be perfect for a hike, keep us warm and match our surroundings.

 Hike Details

  • Location: L. L. Stub Stewart State Park, Hayes Canyon to Unfit Settlement View
  • Distance: 4.68 MIles
  • Trail Type: unpaved, abandoned logging roads
  • Elevation: 1000 to 1500 Feet
  • Weather: 45* at arrival, 52* departure
  • Trail Conditions: Mostly dry, some muddy patches

I had been dying to take Jack hiking here.  It was very exciting to have a new State Park open just a quick drive from Portland. I first went with my parents when I was still in high school for its unofficial opening weekend and it was a mess. But, I had heard it had transformed into a wonderful area over the years. I was not disappointed!

Jack and I set off right after breakfast, both very excited to get out of the house. We had been cooped up preparing for Thanksgiving for a few days and wanted out. It had been freezing the past few days in the Willamette Valley so I dressed us both very warmly. Two layers each, plus gloves and hats. I put waterproof pants on Jack, worried it might rain on us (or he might find some mud to jump in).
It was cool, but sunny once we arrived. I let Jack run around for a bit while I decided on a trail. Once I selected to head out to the Unfit Settlement View, I chased my toddler and got him up on my back. He was tired and ready for a nap after all that running around, so it wasn’t easy.

I started with Ruck Tied Tibetan and set off on the trail. But after a few steps, my lower back was killing me so I paused to see what way wrong. Jack’s seat was totally gone, bottom rail bunched half way up his back. So I took him down (much to his sleepy protest) and redid the carry. I figured I just had a bad seat and he popped it, happens to the best wrappers. But I noticed it was kinda hard to get a deep seat (and I am very good at getting and keeping a good seat), but figured it was just because I had gloves on and couldn’t feel the wrap that well.

Five minutes later and Jack was sound asleep.This wrap is loaded with sleepy dust! I felt one with mother nature, carrying my baby wrapped in green.

 I walked for a leisurely half an hour, just enjoying nature. This park is truly a hidden gem! Well kept trails with a variety of lengths and difficulty. Our trail wasn’t too hard, but had a few good inclines.

 Then my back started to kill me again, so I reach back to feel my seat was gone again! I gently tried to fix it, but Jack woke up and was pissed. So I quickly set him down and switched it a Front Wrap Cross Carry so he could nurse. I had a hard time getting a good seat even in the front, I was puzzled. But I made it work , Jack latched on and we continued. We walked for another hour or so. Jack dozed for half of it and spent the rest shouting “Tree! More trees! Other trees!” every few seconds.

 

When I took him down when we got back to the car, I noticed the seat was about to pop again. This annoyed me, Jack had not been wiggling and I hadn’t been bouncing him around much. There was no reason for the seat to not hold. It

It was warming up, so I took Jack out of waterproof pants while he ate his snack. When he finished, he decided that was the perfect time to bolt across the field so I darted after him. Once I captured the little monster, I put him in a Ruck again walked back to the car. This time I decided to put Sylvan to the test. I bounced Jack up and down, danced, and told him to jump up and down. The seat did not budge….and it was way easier to do the carry this time too….


When I got to the car and saw the waterproof pants in the trunk it clicked. This wrap is so grippy that it needs other grippy fabric, or else it just slides around. It never stood a chance with slick waterproof pants.

The key feature of Slyvan is its thickness–for both good and bad. I suggest it for urban strolls, paved parks, unpaved easy/medium trails. I would not recommend it for long, difficult trails. I worry about maintaining a good seat wearing hiking clothes (like waterproof pants). This wrap makes a giant knot, which tends to dig into you after awhile. Not the best for long term wearing.  It doesn’t have a lot of cush, so it may get diggy on the shoulders eventually as well. I would not suggest this for a newborn, too hard to wrap around a tiny baby easily in all that thick fabric. However for a 6-months-old and older, this wrap is fantastic. It has lot of grip, so even a wiggly preschooler can be carried comfortably. Lastly, I would only suggest this for colder fall and winter hikes, once again due to the thickness. Don’t want to risk baby overheating otherwise.

So can you hike in a Pollora Sylvan Spirit? Yes, on reasonable trails in cooler temperatures when it’s not raining or snowing.