More 2 Explore Adventure Belt Review
At the Harrogate Nursery Fair in 2017 one product in particular caught our eye. It was the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt which had just won the Baby Product Association Innovation Award at the show. The stall holder was a little taken aback when we asked if we could buy one (you don’t generally buy at the trade fairs!), but agreed to sell us one.
Why did the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt attract our attention?
The More 2 Explore Adventure Belt is actually a pair of belts – one for the child, and one for the parent. In between is a detachable elasticated bungee strap which keeps the child in contact with the parent, whilst allowing them some freedom to walk independently whilst not losing each other in a crowd. With Master BB growing up (he was then aged 6), he was looking too grown up for traditional reins, and he had long since worked out how to slip off a wrist rein if he wanted. The backpack type of reins were too small for him, and so the Adventure Belt really seemed to fit what we needed next.
The More 2 Explore Adventure Belt also can come with a small pouch for toys or snacks, but we found ours distracting (i.e. Master BB just opened and closed it all the time), so when it slid off, we didn’t put it back on. However, we quickly discovered a big flaw, Master BB worked out that he could easily open the rein at the parent end because there was no secondary lock or buckle on it. We tried distracting him but it didn’t work, and sadly we stopped using the belt.
Updated More 2 Explore Adventure Belt
Lucy Bostock, the inventor of the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt kept in touch with us and took our comments on board. We were originally told that the buckle design couldn’t be changed because of safety reasons, however, we were delighted that she got in touch again in 2018, and offered us an updated version of the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt to try. It was perfect timing because we had been using a Hobbledehoo harness, which whilst excellent, just felt babyish on a nearly 8 year old, and we were questioning if it was appropriate to have an older child in a harness. So we gratefully accepted the replacement up to date version and were delighted to see that the buckles had been changed to ones which needed two hands, and that this product could hopefully now work for us.
Testing the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt
The first outing for the Adventure Belt was our weekly swimming lesson. This was one of the main problem times with Master BB. The swimming spectator area is upstairs, with a gallery on three sides of the pool, and with four flights of stairs leading off it. It was always a complete nightmare with Master BB first going ahead of me tugging and laughing up the main staircase (because its funny to be ahead of Mummy!), and then when he reached the top he wanted to go back down another set of stairs. When prevented, he would head for another set of stairs or generally want to run around. Master BB is also absolutely obsessed by babies, and keeping him from hugging every baby in sight was a challenge. On top of that there are no chairs, but only a few benches by some large windows, so part way through the lesson, Master BB gets bored of watching his sister, and wants to sit and look out of the window. This meant that I missed watching Miss BB swim because there was no view of the pool by the windows! I ended up running ragged around the balcony, and it was all a nightmare which I dreaded each week.
I remember excited messaging Lucy during that first swimming lesson to thank her. For the first time, we had made it up the stairs without Master BB tugging me up behind him. He had laid on the floor as usual, but there was enough rein for him to lie there, and for once my arms weren’t down low trying to hang onto our usual shorter harness strap. Because Master BB was attached around my waist, I had no arm ache from him tugging as he wriggled and moved around on the floor, and no back ache from being bent over holding the rein. When Master BB wanted to go and look out of the window, there was sufficient rein to allow him to walk to the window and look out, whilst I stayed in the centre of the balcony, and I could still see Miss BB swimming! Win!
We did struggle a small amount up the stairs because the rein was just a little too short for us to keep a couple of steps between us, (it is 46-75cms which is plenty for most children) so Lucy kindly sent us an additional extension strap which worked beautifully. I have been able to shorten it for certain situations where I didn’t need much extra length, or have been able to undo both straps fully so that Master BB can now look out of the window at swimming, whilst I stay looking over the balcony at Miss BB swimming (Double win!). Sometimes when I need Master BB very close by eg. holding hands or in a museum, I detach the extension rein and just use the belt with one rein.
I have found the adult belt comfortable to wear, and even as a larger person, I managed to do the Adventure Belt up (75-150cm adult belt size). Master BB has no problem putting his belt on, although he does seem to want to put it over his head all the time! He does have room to spare at present in his belt. Once again the pouch fell off, and we have no purpose for it, so it has stayed off. But some children would probably like to keep money or a toy in this. We like that when the weather is bad, Master BB can hop into the car, and the belt can either be quickly completely removed (easy to spot under clothing as our child belt is orange), or the rein can be detached leaving the child and adult belts on until we get home, with no extra padding like the Hobbledehoo harness has (which thus needed always removing in a car seat). Master BB to date, has not worked out how to undo the buckles which is a huge positive – he does keep trying though (see last photos). He loves wearing the belt, and he loves the measured freedom that he gets when walking around. I like that the belt also doesn’t feel like I am restraining Master BB, so that we can hold hands naturally, but I have the security that if he bolts for it, that he can’t go very far.
For us the discretness of the product, given Master BB’s age is a big factor in our positive review. Yes, the belt would be fantastic for smaller children (and it is designed for children from 18 months old), but Master BB is now 8 years old, and the last thing I want is for him to look a baby in front of his peers. Unlike his complex special needs pushchair which needs a handbook to work out how to operate it (!), its would be easy to hand the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt over to Master BB’s carer at Beavers, or at school, and for it to be discreetly worn under clothing, with held hands (or not). It means that it appears to the other children that Master BB is just like his peers, whilst giving him and his carers an additional layer of security and confidence. The belt is easily adjusted for whoever is caring for him. Whilst we realise that this product is designed for a toddler of any age, the discrete nature of the product is a huge selling point for those parents of a child with additional needs who may bolt at any time.
The only downsides have been that occasionally we get the rein caught on bollards as Master BB goes one side, and I go the other (there’s one right next to swimming that we seem to catch every week but Master BB thinks its hilarious now and does it on purpose!). We are of course extra careful around lifts and escalators. Occasionally if Master BB is being determined we will have a stand off where he’s trying his hardest to either run away or either uses the rein to try to pull me towards him (see the 1st photo on the bottom line during a factory tour where he refused to budge and is trying to pull me towards him). I do wonder how much pulling the elastic bungee rein will take, and whether one day Master BB will simply ping across the room like a caterpult. But so far, so good and it has been extremely sturdy. Master Master BB now understands there is a limit to where he can go, whether he likes it or not! He also now waits for me as we go upstairs, and he recognises there needs to be a certain distance between us, and doesn’t just pull me up behind him like he used to with his old harness. But the rein gives us enough space to walk at our own paces up staircases without pulling, which is much safer.
Whilst the rein arrives new, neatly packaged in the pouch, we now have a snake of webbing and buckles constantly floating around our car. We need to find a drawstring bag or something to keep the snake under control when not using it. But it is easy enough to bundle up and tuck in a door or seat pocket, or arm rest. It is fantastic to have in a pocket to pull out on the spur of the moment, or for those times when you can’t take a pushchair eg. airport or theatre.
The More 2 Explore Adventure Belt has now been on many adventures with us. We do occasionally reach for the Hobbledehoo harness in a situation where a grab handle and very close supervision is useful e.g. a shop or exhibition, but for freedom for both me and Master BB, the More 2 Explore Adventure Belt is much better. I have my arms free, Master BB has some space to roam, but I know he is attached to me at all times. It’s given massive peace of mind, and has stopped me worrying that I was being seen as restraining Master BB in a ‘baby’ harness. We love ours and couldn’t now be without it. Well done Lucy for inventing this product, and also to listening to our feedback, replacing our original belt, and allowing us to review properly such an excellent, super safe, practical product. Thanks!
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