In the minds of my kids, summer seems to call for a few specific things: playing with water whenever possible, eating ice cream at every available meal, and having a good time outdoors any time that it isn't raining.
Or even if it is.
There seems to be something addictive about the fresh air and sunshine that increases their excitement and curiosity about the grass, sticks, and bugs that we come across... and who am I to stifle that?
Instead, I have been happy to help them take their imaginations one step further by providing toys and gear to transform our backyard from a plain stretch of lawn in the suburbs to an action-packed, fun-filled adventurous terrain. Last year we were fortunate to do so with a Backyard Safari Outfitters review that introduced us to their innovative and high quality products, so this spring I knew the girls would be just as overjoyed to try out their new line of 2011 Essential Field Gear.
After being thrilled with the Essential Cargo Vest, Land & Water Mega View Periscope and Bug Wrangler's Extreme Suction Bug Vacuum, when a box of new additions arrived, Big Sister E and Little Sister B were begging to head outside to explore the wild outdoors.
After seeing all of the gear that was perfect for bug wrangling to bird watching, I had to admit that even I was ready to join in while my kids discovered and learned about nature. Each component was just right for play while also having an educational experience!
As we already loved the Essential Cargo Vest from last year, having a second one was exactly what we needed so that both girls were dressed and in the mood for outdoor adventures.
A must-have for every Backyard Safari kid, this polyester vest has the rugged, tough appearance of heading out on a real safari. The six D-rings and various cargo pockets of all sizes are all easily accessible and convenient for clipping on gear or storing any number of interesting finds.
Designed for ages 5 and up, this Cargo Vest is a little big on Big Sister E and quite a bit big on Little Sister B, but that definitely doesn't stop either one of them from being excited to throw it on to get themselves more into character.
But what true explorers don't have a camp to go back to? The new Base Camp Shelter is a lightweight, portable, easy to assemble half-tent that comes right in its own travel bag. I was slightly concerned at first that I wasn't understanding how to put the pieces together so that the tent form would take shape, but once I had it laid out and glanced at the instructions, it only took a few minutes until we were ready to go.
Standing over 40" tall, the Base Camp Shelter is just the right size for both girls to sit down to rest (I love that it has a bottom to it in case of wet grass) or get out of any inclement weather we might be having.
There are plenty of storage pockets on the inside to stash their gear and being able to hook our Mini Lanterns to the carabiner clips at the top gave the fun illusion that we were outside at night... even though the sun was shining in the middle of the afternoon.
As a bonus, the large window on the back of the Base Camp Shelter has made it so that one of my kids can have quieter moments on her own but not feel as though she is missing out on the action while the other is off exploring. Just peek out and see what's going on!
But if the Base Camp Shelter wasn't enough fun on its own, the Camouflage Netting was just the thing to make it so that the girls could hide while in plain site. We simply tossed the 5' x 8' sturdy rip-stop green nylon right on top and suddenly they felt as though the die-cut, stretchy netting was allowing them to blend right into their surroundings.
This Camouflage could also be placed over a bush, connected to a tree, across two chairs or more - pretty much anywhere that kids want to stay hidden!
While hanging out (and blending in, of course), we have had a good time checking out the each of the Backyard Safari Pop-Up Field Guides that come along with the products. Featuring missions, information and illustrations to really get kids interested in the science aspect of their exploration, both girls like the unique pop-up design and go back to "read" each one over and over again!
As well as the Guides, Backyard Safari Outfitters has implemented a new Patch Program that is a cute way to reward kids for completing the missions outlined in them. As many of the fun products come with a special patch that can be ironed onto the Cargo Vest, it's a way to keep kids continually entertained, engaged and interested in learning more about nature!
But as much fun as my girls have had hanging out and resting and looking at the Pop-Up Guides, they had even more of a good time getting out and exploring the yard with the Expedition Two Hiking Stick and the Explorer Kit. Who wouldn't want to carry around this cool Hiking Stick when they are ready to head out on the trails?
The hand-carved look on a sturdy, natural-looking 48" walking stick gives this item an appearance that catches the eye of everyone who has seen it. The soft grip on the handle makes it easy to hold and even though we haven't needed to use the Hiking Stick to help keep us steady on any rugged expeditions yet, it has come in handy for poking and prodding and reaching up to high levels.
The Explorer Kit, however, has been a huge hit! Filled with the must-haves for visual exploration, Big Sister E and Little Sister B couldn't get enough of the Magnifier and Pocket Spyglass and just how much they can discover and investigate with them.
This Kit also comes with three carabiners so that attaching the great accessories right onto the Cargo Vest is a breeze!
For getting outside to sight-see at home, at the park, while camping or more, Backyard Safari Outfitters has the gear that will provide hours of fun and adventure. Their previous products as well as the new 2011 collection take playing in the yard to the next level... and beyond!
These entertaining and education items can be found at Toys R Us, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and Target and prices of the ones featured in this review range from $14.99 to $39.99. Backyard Safari Outfitters can also be found on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected and never miss a new release!
For explorers of all ages, these are sure to be a hit! Want another opinion? Check out the Backyard Safari Outfitters review on The Life of Rylie... & Bryce, too! and see how much fun they have had as well!
(Other than the information and aforementioned products that I was sent from Summit Toys in conjunction with my membership to Team Mom, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this incredibly fun field gear.)