Whether you’re awaiting the arrival of your newborn or have been trying to get back into an active hiking lifestyle with your 2-year-old, be rest assured that a good carrier will make life easier. The market now is full of options for baby carrier backpacks and every now and then, a new state-of-the-art baby carrier hits the market. This is great news for parents who previously had to be resigned to a couple of less-than-ideal options. However, different packs work for different parents at different stages of your child's growth. Here’s our pick of stellar choices for hitting the outdoors with toddlers.
What to Look For
It’s an investment you may only want to make once considering the average price around $200. With endless lists of features, finding that perfect baby backpack can be an intimidating process; how do you know which ones you'll really need?
First things first, carrying a backpack has to be comfortable for the parents. If mom or dad isn't comfortable, then there's not going to be any babies in any backpacks! Some things that are a must are enough padding in the back, shoulder, and waist/hip area to help even out the load of the toddler, plus their gear. The ability to adjust on-the-fly is key for optimal comfort.
When you’re carrying a kid, you will of course carry their stuff. A good backpack needs to offer plenty of space for not only baby essentials like diapers, wipes, and extra clothes, but also hiking essentials like hydration reservoirs, sun shades, and rain gear. And extra points for separate zipped areas to compartmentalize. It’s also great if the backpacks offer a space to store a sunshade.
A few things like footrests, drool pads, wide cockpit seats, soft materials and extra padding can make being in a backpack a much more enjoyable experience for baby. There is a good chance that your baby may fall asleep in the backpack, so the comfort of the child while sleeping is also an important factor to consider.
It basically means how easy is it to put the baby in the carrier backpack - right from assembling it, ease of loading and unloading baby, unbuckling and buckling baby securely, positioning of "haul handles" to make taking the backpack on or off your back a breeze.
Safety for the baby means sunshade effectiveness and security/safety of the child while buckled in the pack.
Top 6 Baby Carrier Backpacks
Thule Sapling Elite
The Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier is a multi-purpose child carrier which allows you and your little ones to stay on-the-go. It comes with two zippered hip belt pockets that provide easy access to essentials, while the large zippered compartment and water reservoir pocket provides additional storage and added convenience when on-the-go, making it perfect for hiking and backpacking. The breathable back panel allows air to circulate around your back and keeps you cool. It’s a sturdy and versatile carrier for adventurous parents who love the great outdoors.
Dimensions - 12.2 x 28.8 x 13.8 inches
Weight - 7.9 pounds
- Has sunshade
- Fully adjustable back panel and hip belt
- Good storage
- The child shoulder straps seem a bit thin
- On the expensive side and could be bulky
It will also easily help you care for safely, easily and in style so you are free to live your active life. And transporting your kids is no different. This is a safe, secure and stylish carrier for your precious ones, letting you and your kids share your passions, whatever the season and wherever you want to go.
This is perfect to cruise the town, the park or even the grocery aisle with the compact and lightweight Mijo carrier. It comes with a 5-Point™ Child Harness to keep them safe and a perfect-fit suspension to ensure comfort. The ultimate carrier for on-the-go parents, you’ll simply love the front panel pocket that gives easy access to snacks, pacifiers, and toys. The comfortable, padded child seat is adjustable to grow with your child.
Dimensions - 14 x 27 x 15 inches
Weight - 3.5 pounds
- Auto-deploy kickstand
- Five-point adjustable harness - holds child safely and securely
- No-pinch hinges
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- No chest strap
- Does not fold compactly for storage
- No standard sunscreen
The shining accomplishment of the Kelty Mijo Carrier is how easy it is to get your child in and out of the carrier and how secure it keeps your child. If you are on a budget, this is a good carrier.
Osprey Poco Plus
Hiking won’t be fun when your hips and back hurt, especially when you’ve got your little one on your back! Thus, Osprey incorporated their award winning AG™ (Anti-Gravity) backpack suspension system into the Poco AG™ Plus child carrier. The lightweight aluminum stays assist in load stability and the mesh shoulder harness and back panel combination keeps you comfortable for the long haul. This child carrier sports a built-in sun shade and plenty of pocket space for essential gear.
Dimensions - 29H X 15W X 17D in
Weight - 7.67 pounds
- Adjustable hip belt with zippered pockets and a large zippered lower compartment
- Built-in sunshade
- Ventilated, tensioned mesh back panel
- Plenty of pockets and a spacious storage compartment
- Rigid frame
- Narrow baby seat
The Osprey Poco Plus offers great features that every serious hiker would want. With its long list of features, it is certainly designed for extended use in the great outdoors.
Deuter Kid Comfort II
The Deuter Kid Comfort II is a sleek, sturdy, German engineered baby backpack that works great for taller adults (about 5'6" or taller). It comes with a supportive suspension, deluxe Pro back panel and easy side entry; this carrier maximizes comfort for parent and child, and is a hit whether heading out on trails or all-day adventures around town. The Varifit adjustment system allows you to customize your fit by making individual height adjustments. Also, comes with a 5-point harness, securing the child with cushioned straps and easy-to-use buckle and making it easy to get the little one in and out.
Dimensions - 28 x 13 x 17 inches
Weight - 7.5 pounds
- Hydration compatible
- Adjustable 5-point child harness
- Side entry child access
- Detachable/washable dribble pillow
- Buckle needs expertise
It’s sturdy and state-of-the-art frame construction & is a favorite with parents and kids alike. This German-engineered backpack offers many superb features that serious hikers need and want. It's a quality backpack that can keep baby safe and comfortable for many hours while in the great outdoors.
Chicco Smart Support Backpack
This is a lightweight and supportive carrier pack for a comfortable way to travel with baby! It has SmartSupport™ for both parents and baby- a height-adjustable seat helps support your child as he or she grows & energy-absorbing lumbar padding helps reduce strain on back and shoulders. What’s best is that it’s easy to store between trips with folding armrests, legs and canopy.
Dimensions - 18.1 x 18.9 x 30.7 inches
Weight - 7 pounds
- Three-position, height-adjustable seat
- Lightweight, aluminum frame
- Freestanding and stable
- Poor fit for some parents
- Ineffective sun shade
- Confusing instructions
The Chicco Smart Support Backpack Carrier is a good choice for light hiking and use around town, such as running errands. It's very popular with men, who say it fits well and they like its rugged appearance.
Kelty Pathfinder 3.0
The top-of-the-line Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 child carrier is loaded with convenient features and offers the ultimate in comfort for you and your little hitchhiker. You would love to share the wonder of hiking without sacrificing a thing. It is designed to be super safe for your little one and ultra comfortable for you. It comes with a 5-point™ adjustable child harness that locks them in place and has leg loops for added security and there’s a quick-adjust suspension system for parents to find the perfect fit and weight distribution fast.
Dimensions - 39 x 26 x 19 inches
Weight - 8.5 pounds
- Easy-access adjustable suspension system assures a perfect fit for mom and dad
- Padded adjustable-height childs seat and sun hood
- Auto-deploy kickstand, with no-pinch hinges, provides a safe platform for loading and unloading your child
- Sliding waistbelt torso-length adjustment
- Sun shield is a little weak in ease of use
Along the trail, you’ll both enjoy some useful features like a sun hood to prevent unwanted rays, zip-off daypack for essentials like snacks and a changing pad (that’s included), and a hydration-ready compartment. This pack’s so fully featured and cozy; you’ll want to keep going even when they conk out.
Now that you have all the information with six of the industry's leading Baby Backpacks, you may now have a good idea about which qualities truly make up a superior baby backpack. We would definitely suggest go for a comfortable backpack with features that will best fit your lifestyle. As mentioned before, a baby backpack should be a one-time investment that not only suits your child well, but could potentially be handed down to the next child. We hope we have been able to help narrow down the best options for you and your family.