The Best Baby Carrier for Hiking
If you’re looking for the best baby carrier for hiking, you’ve come to the right place! This blog post will discuss the different baby carriers perfect for hiking and their benefits. So whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced hiker with a little one in tow, read on for all you need to know about baby carriers for hiking!
Top 11 Best Baby Carriers for Hiking
The Lillebaby Six-position 360 baby carrier is a soft, frameless baby carrier. This means it is very lightweight. You can use it without any add-ons from newborns up to 45 toddlers. It doesn’t have the larger storage spaces of other baby carriers, but it still comes with a small pocket for those baby essentials.
This carrier also has a ventilation section that you can control with a zipper. This will help keep your newborn cool. You can also wear the carrier on your front, back, or sides. It even comes with a sun shade!
The Deuter Kid Comfort 3 is an excellent choice if you want a baby carrier that is both comfy for you and your toddler. It is made with high-quality materials and is perfect for hiking trips.
This tough metal framing easily supports a toddler. At the same time, padding – such as on the stabilizing hip belt – ensures a good fit however many hours you’re on the trail. There are some handy pockets, as you would expect from the thoughtful team at Deuter, and a sun shade too.
The MiaMily HIPSTER + baby carrier is designed to be ergonomic. This means that your child’s weight is spread out evenly across your shoulders and lower back, which can help stop the development of painful muscle spasms or aches and pains. The HIPSTER + is a soft baby carrier, which means it doesn’t weigh a metal support frame. It also weighs just 3 lbs!
This carrier is designed to support babies from three months old to toddlers of three years or 40 lbs. It has a minimalist design, but it also includes a small zippered front pocket. The carrier can be worn in nine different ways by the adult.
The Poco AG Osprey baby carrier is a mid-priced option in the series. It is the same weight as the Deuter Kid Comfort 3 baby carrier that we have already reviewed. The Poco AG Osprey has the famous backpack suspension system from Osprey.
This baby carrier has a lot of storage space, so you can take everything you need on a hike. It also has a sun shade, which is good for keeping your child safe in the sun.
The frameless design of the Ergobaby 360 Cool Mesh Air baby carrier makes it easy to use and to pack away when you’re not using it. It’s also lightweight and comfortable for you and your child.
Frameless carriers allow the baby to be close to the adult’s body, which we think helps balance and skill on the trail. However, having your baby close can also make you sweat on harder paths.
The Sapling Elite is Thule’s top-of-the-range baby carrier. It is an excellent baby carrier for light hiking because it has a lot of features that are helpful when hiking, like a daypack and smaller pockets on the hip belt.
The good-sized hip belt and shoulder straps can be adjusted to fit you. The Sapling Elite also has a solid support frame. The Elite also comes with a removable zip-off daypack, useful pockets on the hip belt, and stirrups for the child to put their feet on for extra comfort.
This baby carrier from Kelty is perfect for hiking. It fits the wearer well because of a new adjustment system that only needs a few straps pulled. The Signature is a middle-priced model in the Journey PerfectFit series (there’s also the basic model and Elite) and has many useful features.
This carrier comes with a wider child seat, stirrups, and a drool pad which can be easily washed and disinfected. There are also two zippered compartments for storing your necessities and a pocket on the hip belt for your little extras.
The Clevr Baby Cross Country Carrier is one of the lightest baby carriers with frames on the market. It’s also very affordable, making it a great choice for people who like hiking with their babies.
But that doesn’t mean the Cross Country Carrier doesn’t have some good features. It has a sun shade and a clear plastic hood to protect it from the rain. It also has a lot of pockets for storage.
The Escape baby carrier is a great choice for hikers. It was designed in New Zealand, where people are known for being tough and for their love of the outdoors. This carrier is lightweight, weighing only 6 lbs 10 oz, and folds flat for easy transport.
The additional features of this stroller include:
- A sun shade.
- Stirrups for little feet.
- Even a mat for changing diapers on the move.
Despite these clever design features, the Escape has a slim-lined look that won’t be out of place in the city or the country.
Another budget-friendly option is the LuvdBaby Premium baby carrier. It is made from ripstop polyester material, which minimizes the chances of it tearing. It also offers features similar to those offered by other brands, such as a mesh sun shade and tubular metal kick-stand, as well as hip belt support with useful pockets.
The LuvdBaby Premium is perfect for hiking in the city. It has a good look, and it won’t embarrass you. The padded shoulder straps will make you feel comfortable for a long time.
The Piggyback Rider Scout is different from other baby carriers on our list. It is much simpler than the other carriers, with just padded shoulder straps and a foot bar. The idea is that toddlers can stand on the aluminum bar to feel like they’re taking an active part in any hiking adventure.
The Piggyback Rider Scout is a good way to help children hike. It is good for children who are 2 years old or older. This will help them get ready to hike on their own.
Baby Carrier Buying Advice
Baby/Child Carrier Pack Categories
- Comfort Packs
The packs under our “comfort” category are feature-rich and comfy designs. Most adhere to a basic design resembling a camping pack with an open cockpit for a youngster to sit. Their sturdy metal frames give good support for carrying a toddler. Several are rated for up to 50 pounds in total and have a lot of compartments for taking several hours’ worth of necessities. These are big things that, even with their collapsible kickstands, occupy considerable space in a trunk or closet. However, we recommend a comfort pack, such as our top-rated Deuter Kid Comfort, for people who want to go frequently hiking with their children.
- Lightweight Packs
Lightweight packs are an excellent option for short journeys and urban use, as their mass and features have been reduced. Their much smaller size and lesser weight make them easier to carry, store, and transfer in a vehicle. The Phil & Teds Parade resembles a scaled-down version of a comfort pack. The frameless and minimalist Ergobaby are examples of lightweight pack solutions. A light pack gives up storage space and the comfort of carrying it. We think spending the extra money on a comfort pack for longer day hikes is a good idea.
- Carrying Comfort and Padding
Comfort is a major determinant of how often you hit the trail. Therefore we gave it a high weighting in our rankings. The best packs in this category have sturdy suspensions that accommodate a 16-pound infant to a 40-pound child. The hipbelt plays a significant role in this. We search for padding that conforms to your hips and gives sufficient solid support (overly soft padding is often not as comfortable for extended distances). If you stick to short hikes, you may sacrifice carrying comfort; in those instances, any of the packs on our list will suffice. However, we like the flexibility to spend more than a couple of hours on the trail, which is why we rank Deuter’s Kid Comfort as the most comfortable backpack on our list.
- Harness and Cockpit Comfort for the Child
A child safety seat and harness are necessary for placement on our list. All the leading candidates provide satisfactory comfort, support, and adjustment for the arms, shoulders, and legs. The more expensive kinds of infant carriers make better use of textiles that are more comfortable to the touch. Still, even long hikes using a budget-friendly pack like the Kelty Journey PerfectFIT have not resulted in complaints. In terms of usability, we’ve found that the high placement of Osprey’s harness is a standout. Still, we believe the saddle design is a strong point for all the items listed above.
We make several allusions to the child’s cockpit in the preceding product descriptions. It refers to the area surrounding the infant while they are seated in the pack. A well-designed cockpit has a high back, high sides, and a wide, padded pad at the front, like the Deuter Kid Comfort. They are making it a comfortable spot for children to fall asleep. As children often sit incredibly high in the seat and end up in awkward positions if they doze off, this is one area where lightweight packs make concessions.
- Sun and Rain Protection
All major carriers include or sell a parasol with their packs, as hiking and walking around town can expose a baby to a great deal of sunlight. We consider them essential for protecting the delicate skin of infants. Integrated designs are often stored directly behind the cockpit and may be rapidly deployed. And the other sunshades are just as simple to install and use (and some, like Deuter’s Kid Comfort, have specific storage compartments).
Although none of those mentioned above packs include a specific rain cover, all sunshades provide some rain protection; Osprey, Thule, and Deuter provide separate covers for purchase. The water-resistant coatings and increased side, back, and front coverage distinguish rain covers from sunshades. They do not ventilate well. Thus they are less valuable in warmer conditions, although rain coverings are helpful in the event of an unexpected downpour. Count on spending between $25 and $35 for a manufacturer-specific design.
- Pack Weight
When evaluating infant carrier packs, the empty weight of a pack may not be the first thing you consider; it wasn’t for us. However, there are important variances to be aware of. The average weight of packs in our lightweight category is between 4 and 5 pounds. In contrast, comfort-oriented packages might weigh 8 pounds or more. Add the youngster in the pack and any other items you’re carrying. Your total weight is equal to or even greater than that of a fully laden backpack. The most comfortable packages are by far the heaviest (the 5-pound-15-ounce Deuter Kid Comfort Active is an example, but it lacks functionality). Consider it a friendly approach to achieving or maintaining fitness.
A highly adjustable fit system may be necessary if numerous adults use the infant carrier. Mainly, your pack must accommodate an acceptable torso range for all users’ comfort. Premium comfort packs, such as the best models from Deuter, Thule, Osprey, and Kelty, stand out because they fit most individuals. In addition, the padded piece of the hipbelt of the Osprey Poco Plus can be shortened or lengthened, ensuring that the cushioned areas support you correctly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, budget-friendly kits offer fewer customizing options. As a result, the ClevrPlus Cross Country pack, for instance, is less comfortable due to its inability to accommodate exact modifications.
- Pockets and Storage Capacity
In addition to basic designs such as the Piggyback Rider, Ergobaby, and Lillebaby, baby carrier packs have an assortment of pockets for organization and storage. In most backpacks, the primary storage is located on the front, with one or two pockets at the top and a more extensive, zipped compartment at the bottom. Large hip-belt bags are perfect for storing snacks for your child. As with most features, the organization improves with increasing price, although most packs on our list offer effective pocket layouts.
In addition to the number and location of pockets, overall storage capacity might be essential. The volume of packs with pockets ranges from 12 to 26 liters in the preceding list. Several elements will determine your optimal capacity, such as the length of time you’ll be out, the season and weather, and whether or not you’ll be sharing the load. Still, we’ve found that 15 liters are usually sufficient for most hiking trips. With 26 liters of storage space, Osprey’s Poco Plus and Kelty’s Journey PerfectFIT Signature and Elite are class leaders for individuals who need to carry a lot of extras.
The ventilation of a baby carrier pack is evaluated in two parts: the back panel for the adult and around the child’s seat. The vents at the top and sides perform a fantastic job of moving air, and there is sufficient space so that the infant does not absorb too much of your body heat. But there are more substantial variances in the design of the back panel. The most excellent back ventilation packs, like the Osprey Poco, feature a full mesh back panel. Kid Comfort Active from Deuter goes one step further by including mesh throughout the child’s harness and cockpit. While these models provide excellent ventilation, unless you’re sensitive to a sweaty back or live in a hot environment, we’ve discovered that most packs are suitable for nearly all conditions.
- Water Storage
As with any backpack used for hiking, a baby carrier must have adequate water storage. Due to the space occupied by the child seat, you will not discover a variety of mesh side pockets that can accommodate a Nalgene bottle. Frequently, we must fit ours inside the pack, which is inconvenient because you must either ask for assistance or remove the pack entirely to obtain the water. Many child carriers above $250 feature a hydration sleeve, allowing you to slot in a water reservoir and drink tube for on-the-go hydration. It is our recommended hydration solution for longer day walks.
- Removable Daypacks
At the pinnacle of the market are infant carrier packs with detachable daypacks. Both Thule and Deuter’s most expensive models (at least $350) include this design element (note: Thule’s Sapling Sling Pack is offered separately). The primary advantages of a removable pack are a higher carrying capacity. And the option to share hauling tasks with another person (in addition, the daypack included with the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro can be attached to the shoulder straps for convenient access). Sometimes, we enjoy the all-in-one design, but many hikers will be happy using their daypacks to save a few dollars. The zip-in and zip-out mechanisms are convenient, but the simple packs are typically unremarkable.
- Stirrups (Foot Rests)
Another distinguishing characteristic of the child seat is the stirrups on either side. These are intended for toddlers or older infants to help them achieve a healthy sitting position or alleviate some pressure associated with long hours of relaxing in a child’s seat. While it’s not necessary, and depending on the child, the footrests might be hit or miss, it’s a good thing to have if you’re going on extended journeys. In addition, stirrups are typically detachable, allowing you to store them until your child is old enough or interested in utilizing them.
Safety And Security Features
Your child’s security and safety should be your top priorities. In this regard, I am glad to inform you that all the baby carriers on my shortlist fulfill the most current safety standards.
However, a parent’s job is to ensure their child is safe. And to ensure the baby’s safety in the baby carrier, the harness must be adjusted appropriately.
Consequently, if you use an adjustable baby carrier, you must verify that the straps are correctly secured and adjusted to the child’s size.
You should also note the baby carrier’s limit weight so that it is not surpassed.
Comfort For Baby
You must provide ample padding and cushioning to ensure the baby’s comfort. They might also enjoy using foot stirrups.
The best baby carriers are those that you can use the most, as this maximizes your return on investment. Therefore, I recommend baby carriers with adjustable sizing that “grow” with your child.
- Sun Shade
I also recommend searching for a baby carrier with a sunshade, as the sun’s UV radiation can penetrate clouds even on cloudy days. Most have a removable sunshade rather than an integrated one.
Ventilation is also essential. It provides for breathability and prevents baby and parent from overheating.
Comfort For Parent
Most baby carriers offer adjustable backs, shoulder straps, and hip straps. As you may be carrying more significant weight than with a typical hiking backpack, it is essential to have a comfortable, adjustable hip belt.
In reality, the hip belt and shoulder straps should accommodate both parents. Then, you can take turns carrying infants if one becomes exhausted or wounded on the trip. It is ideal for hiking parents who wish to alternate carrying the child carrier backpack.
Large infants can become too heavy to carry, so please do not worry about this by purchasing a cumbersome baby carrier. A lightweight choice will be significantly more comfortable for you, particularly for extended hours of hiking. It might be helpful if you remembered that hiking carriers designed for babies and kids weigh more than the typical hiking backpack. The heftier, sturdier metal frame contributes significantly to the weight.
The best baby carriers for hiking frequently have storage compartments that are great for keeping things like sunscreen or a GPS gadget.
Something to consider while purchasing a child carrier. If the baby is still in diapers, the storage pocket will be handy when changing them. Some of the best baby carrier backpacks have space for a water bladder.
Value For Money
There is a wide price range for hiking baby carriers, with some costing $300 or more. If you must adhere to a budget, compare rates as you go.
I would suggest that the baby carrier you use for hiking should be of the highest quality in terms of safety and comfort. Therefore, you should be prepared to invest considerable money in the most excellent available baby carrier.
Child Age and Weight Recommendations
Like many outdoor-loving parents, you’re thrilled about taking your child hiking. You can begin at a young age with an alternative like the Ergobaby 360 or a comparable product that offers enough neck and head support. Still, there are particular guidelines for utilizing a dedicated child carrier pack. Because children develop at varying rates, most manufacturers recommend that a child weighs at least 16 pounds and be able to support their head for extended periods while in a backpack. It can vary slightly. So be careful to consult the exact directions on your pack and verify that the harness can be tightened sufficiently to hold your child safely. The maximum weight capacity varies based on the design but is commonly between 30 and 50 pounds. And be careful to note the pack’s maximum weight limits and any stuff packed inside.
Pack Safety: JPMA Certification
The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Frame Child Carrier Standard forbids dangers such as sharp edges and exposed springs. And unintentional folding applies to all child carriers sold in the United States. Some packs will also reference a JPMA safety certification, indicating that they have undergone a different testing procedure by an independent third party. These tests guarantee that the packs adhere to ASTM, state, and federal regulations (for more information, visit the JPMA website). While JPMA accreditation does not ensure that a pack is safer than others on the market, there are other global testing standards such as TÜV for Deuter in Germany. It is encouraging that some manufacturers are taking this voluntary step.
What to Look For When Buying Hiking Baby Carriers
Frame vs. Frameless
The choice between a frame and a frameless carrier relies on how the equipment will be utilized. Typically, framed carriers have a more sturdy design. They are more durable, can support more weight, and distribute the child’s weight more evenly, resulting in a lighter feeling load. In contrast, they are typically heavier, more expensive, and less portable.
Frameless carriers are an excellent option for everyday use, as they are suitable for infants of all ages and can be worn in various positions. However, frameless carriers do not provide the same level of support, weather protection, or storage space. They will not give your youngster the same degree of support and, over time, will make trekking less enjoyable for the wearer.
A-frame carrier is recommended if you plan to take your child on many trail rides, so you get so much out of your investment. A frameless alternative is great for caregivers who want stroller-free journeys that are easier on the carrier.
You want to choose a comfortable baby carrier for you and your child. Dr. Heather Shafi, a pediatrician, suggests a carrier that is “wrapped or secured at both the hips and upper chest to reduce back strain on the caregiver.” Suppose multiple people use the carrier. In that case, it should be fully adaptable so that it may be easily transferred from one adult to the next. She adds, “If you are trekking with bigger toddlers, I recommend a carrier with a high weight capacity.”
Numerous carriers include options like canopies, storage, add-on packs, and more. Consider the environment and frequency of use of the carrier before adding accessories. Every accessory adds weight, ensuring the increased load is necessary. Prioritize storage that lets you and your child safely carry all the required items when trekking.
Bring along supplies such as water, diapers, wipes, and any other necessities. Dr. Shafi warns avoiding hiking terrain “so difficult that you are sure to trip and fall.”
Learn more: Gear for Babies and Kids
Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Carrier for Hiking
While you can use a regular baby carrier, most of them don’t have the back support you need for a long hike. They also don’t give your baby a good view of the scenery around them. Hiking backpacks are designed to let you comfortably carry a lot of weight (baby + gear) for a long time.
When choosing a baby carrier, ensure one with ample padding, especially for the head. For example, the Osprey Poco AG has removable stirrups that help keep your child’s legs comfortable. Additionally, look for a carrier with an adjustable seat height to ensure your child is comfortable as they grow.
If you often go on difficult hikes or hiking, you will want a framed backpack carrier. Carriers without frames can be used, but they don’t work well when distributing weight and staying balanced.
Some baby backpacks come with hoods or straps to help support a sleeping baby’s head. This can be helpful when the baby is in the front or back position. In other backpacks, the sleeping baby should be in the front, where mom or dad can securely hold onto the baby’s head while hiking.
It is important to wear your baby in a carrier that fits snugly. There are spaces between the shoulder straps, shoulder strap connections, and waist belt that, if your SSC is worn too loosely, can allow your baby to fall through. Always check your carrier to make sure it is in good condition.
Most soft-structured carriers can be used from birth, but hiking packs are meant for kids around 6 months old or older. You might want to use a soft-structured carrier and a diaper bag for shorter trips with a younger child.