First of all: It’s Ar-kay, people. Make sure you say it right in Phoenix.
Didn’t know the International Babywearing Conference is in Phoenix this year? That’s good: it means you’re the target audience for Tekhni’s new budget line. Alisa DeMarco has a serious commitment to making babywearing affordable and accessible to everyone. Every baby has the right to be worn, and every caregiver has the right to a safe, affordable babywearing option. She’s put her money where her mouth is and developed an under-$100 line of woven wraps, long the most expensive, inaccessible carrier on the market if you don’t DIY.
Traditionally, two things happen to new wrappers. One: they have total sticker shock at the price of brand-new wovens, freak out, and either DIY or buy Etsy gauze, all the while ranting about how it’s just a damn piece of fabric. Later, they realize these simply don’t wrap as well as a purpose-woven, and they shell out the cash anyway, thereby losing 40-50 bucks.
Two: they get pointed at “newbie” wraps, which usually translates to a Storch Leo, a Hopp, or a Dolcino. These retail for around $100. Now, Little Frog, Lenny Lamb, and WrapNapFairy have entered the new-wrapper, Didy-sticker-shock category. But these wraps tend to all have one thing in common: they’re perfect beasts to break in (though I still haven’t gotten my paws on any of the latter mentioned, I’ve heard rumors. I’m hoping to see for myself soon). Most newer wrappers have small babies, and a brand-new-in-box Leo is more suited to towing cars than wrapping squishes. Many mamas spend their first weeks with a woven trying to move around grippy, hard-to-maneuver fabric, which leads to bad carries, not to mention lots and lots of sweat and frustration and the f-word.
Arche’s 35% cotton, 65% repreve, a fabric spun from recycled water bottles and used by companies like Patagonia and NorthFace. That’s the largest percentage of repreve Tekhni’s used in a wrap, and it weighs in at a surprising 235 gsm – this wrap feels, in hand, much thinner. It retails for $99, and, like an Ellevill, costs the same regardless of size: small (4.2m), medium (4.7m), and large (5.0). Even the sizing’s meant for people unfamiliar with the wrap world, which is refreshing, because all the arbitrary sizing made my head spin as a newbie. WTF’s so special about 4.2 meters that it makes a size 5? Step back and think about it; it doesn’t make much sense, and, as an American, I’m utterly terrified by the metric system anyway. (Yeah, we all know it’s better. But don’t ask me to convert that shit.)
Arche’s a solid wrap, with little to no bounce, plenty of slip and glide, and a cush that isn’t fluffy, but solid, with zero digging. Nada. Good wrap jobs, crappy wrap jobs, the sloppiest double hammock I could manage, and it never gave me bad pressure points. Even better, it’s perfect for humid summers, and required absolutely zero breaking in.
Every hiker knows that you don’t wear cotton in the heat; cotton holds sweat. Synthetics dry more quickly. In a dry-heat climate, the repreve might add too much density. But in the 99% humidity of the South, Arche rocked it. I hated passing it on to the next mama, because I’d been using it as my go-to outside wrap for Sweaty Baby.
Tekhni’s been honest about Arche’s drawbacks: it does have thread shifting issues, which are a) minor, and b) generally resolved with a quick wash to tighten the weave. Practiced wrappers know what I mean when I say it’s less than or on par with the shifting in a typical Hearti beta. The shifting worsens as the wrappee’s weight increases; I had little to no shifting with Sunny Baby, who weighs 17 lbs. I also abused the wrap: tossed it in the trunk, threw it on the ground, used it as a blanket, and generally beat it. That didn’t affect the weave.
Tekhni says this wrap isn’t meant for babies over 20 lbs. I’d venture up to 25 lbs, but after that, the shifting becomes more of an issue (though it still will not affect the safety or integrity of the wrap), and it may start to dig. Bigger babies aren’t Arche’s demographic. Tekhni means this wrap to be for new wrapper with small babes. That’s why it’s so easy to manuever, and so impervious to bad wrapping.
Stash-happy mamas who snatch up an Arche because of the low price tag will be disappointed if their babe’s too big. But Arche isn’t meant for them. This wrap is Tekhni’s answer to the Moby, the gauze wrap, the Leos and Little Frogs of the wrap world. It’s an introductory wrap, a wrap you buy for baby showers and newborn presents. It’s much more forgiving than an Ellaroo, and I’d take it hiking in the summer before I took any number of other wraps. Other than the shifting, the flat weave is low maintenance, and the repreve makes a wonderful beach wrap that dries quickly.
Looking to expand your stash? Look elsewhere. Need a newbie-friendly wrap for your two month old? You want an Arche. Very few other wraps on the market are as friendly BNIB. Once baby ages out of Arche, Tekhni has other budget-friendly wraps on the horizon made especially for bigger babes. It remains to be seen if Arche will keep its value on the secondary market, but so far, it’s holding steady at retail + shipping, which is all you can ask of a wrap in this market.
I’ll miss it as it moves on, and may buy another colorway once more are released. The Southwestern palette’s gorgeous – very au courant – but not necessarily my thing. I’ll put up with any color or pattern for a wrap this good in the humidity, however, especially one that dries so quickly. I’ll be pointing my SILs, both newer wearers in hot climates, over to Arche. With small babes in a hot climate, you can’t ask for something cooler. Unless it’s a stroller.
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I received no compensation from Tekhni Wovens, Alisa Demarco, or any persons living or dead so help me Flying Spaghetti Monster.