In the summer of 2020, with international travel halted and COVID making it hard to even cross state borders, my partner and I got acquainted with upstate New York. Our weekdays were spent googling hiking trails, and our weekends were spent on them. We fell for the English countryside-style beauty of the Poets Walk near Rhinebeck, and pushed ourselves a little too much on the steep, shady Pioneer Mountain by Lake George. What started as a way to get out of the city when travel options were thin became an attachment to the accessible outdoors. These were places we planned to return to the next summer, even when we could fly elsewhere.
But the following year would be different. We'd be hitting these trails as a threesome; our son was due that October. So by the following March, a six-month-old in tow, our prep lists for the warmer months involved getting gear that could help all of us interact with the outdoors the way my partner and I fell in love with the year earlier. I asked mom friends for recommendations and scoured parent blogs and the name that surfaced the most was MiniMeis, a Norwegian company engineering carriers that comfortably and safely secure a kid up to the size of a four-year-old to your shoulders.
Unlike some of our other purchases for summer fun with our kiddo (non-sand-proof baby beach tents, umbrellas that were no match for the midday July sun), the MiniMeis has proven to be a lifesaver. In all the ways that matter, it functions perfectly. Your kid is more than securely strapped in, even down at the ankles. Hands are free so they can reach out to the leaves and trees and everything else you walk past. And they sit high on the shoulders so there is nothing obstructing their views of the glorious nature all around them. It's also designed to distribute the weight comfortably for whomever carries the child. My partner swears our now 30-pound toddler sits easily on his shoulders whenever we strap him in. I'll take his word for it. I don't do the carrying, but am excellent at slinging snacks and water to my kid as I walk alongside the two of them.
MiniMeis makes it easy for us to pull off what can often feel like the impossible for new parents: incorporate your kid into the things you loved to do before they were born. We don't hesitate to hit a new trail with our baby, knowing we have the MimiMeis shoulder carrier with us. And bonus, the soft padding can work as a day bed should your kid need a nap mid-hike (we learnt this the hard way after overshooting to reach a lookout at Codfish Point in the Hudson Valley).
What I love the most is seeing how much our son enjoys reaching out to the tree leaves over his head, and squinting through the dappled sunlight that falls on his face as we make our way on the trail. The MiniMeis lets him learn how to enjoy nature at an age before he even understands what the forests and the mountains even are. And when he gets big enough to not need the carrier anymore, these will be places he continues to want to come to.