Published on May 5th, 2011 | by Ruth0
Vacuum Up Bugs with Backyard Safari
In a culture constantly seeking to hold onto the fleeting wisps of youth (usually through moisturizers, sunscreen, cars and fashion), we decided to try a different approach with some backyard safari gear. Backyard Safari creates a huge line of supplies for kids playing outdoors. We tried Field Binoculars, the Adventurer Kit, and the Bug Wrangler’s Extreme Suction Bug Vacuum.
One website advertises the Bug Vacuum with “SNEAK UP ON BUGS AND SUCK ‘EM UP!” which would have appealed to us immensely as children- we’ll pretend that it doesn’t hold charm now. Despite the draw of the idea, we found ourselves a bit disturbed by how gruesome vacuuming bugs sounds, but we were relieved to find that they are fine wandering around in one of the two “catch and release capture cores.” The built-in magnifying glass makes it easy inspect the antennae, metapleural glands, and the like of ants who dared venture near us. We found it for $34 on Amazon.com. We think it’ll delight kids, and found an unadvertised side-use for squeamish adults who want to transfer an insect from the kitchen floor to the great outdoors while minimizing contact.
We were a little less excited about the Adventurer Kit. The lantern is cool and useful, but a little boring. The water-tight case would be nice for kids really into containers, but also didn’t capture our imagination. The retractable carabiner clip has a little more Indiana Jones appeal, but as adults we worried that the adventurous kids this kit is designed to appeal to would be the same kids to try to use it to support their own weight in tree-climbing adventures, rather than just attaching toys to it. We’d buy older kids a real one instead, just to be on the safe side… The “essential field guide” turns out to be mainly a catalog for other products. We thought it was a bit lame to pitch that as a feature. Every though it’s only just over $11 on Amazon, we could take it or leave it.
We thought that the Backyard Safari Binocs, at $12 on Amazon, are a much better value for the money. The binoculars are plastic and light-weight, and kids will have fun hauling them around. Though the manufacturer recommends them for ages 5-12, we would only suggest them for the 5-8 year olds. They are really much more toy-quality, and will be fun, but it seemed likely that ours would break after a couple tumbles. The visual quality is low enough that as kids are really interested in magnifying stuff from a distance, it would probably be better to invest in a real pair. Still, for $12 they’re fun.
Bottom line, we think that the bug vacuum is awesome, and would make a great gift for anyone. We’re less impressed with the other products we tried out, but at least like the idea.