A backpack-style child carrier is a great way to introduce your kids to the outdoors. And you won't hurt your back in the process, because the newest models are comfortable for both you and your children, and provide plenty of space for hauling baby and hiking gear.
Child carriers and slings such as , , and are great for taking the kiddo on short walks in the park, shopping at the mall—any time you need to be hands-free but want to be close to your baby. But when it comes to hikes of a half-day or longer, you'll want to invest in a backpack child carrier that provides a safe and secure place for your baby to take in the sights—or take in a nap.
What to Look For
Think about the type of activity you'll be doing. For long hikes that will require packing in diapers, wipes, and extra baby clothes, select a carrier that has multiple pockets and space for water and extra gear. For shorter excursions, you can get by with a lighter and more streamlined carrier that has fewer compartments.
It's also important to choose a carrier that can grow with your child. Check the minimum and maximum height and weight recommendations for the carrier you are considering, and make sure your child falls well within those numbers. The best carriers will have an internal seat that can be raised and lowered based on the size of your child.
The backpack should also have plenty of adjustments to fit your back and torso. A sturdy hip belt is important, and multiple shoulder-strap sizing will make your hikes with baby much more enjoyable.
Lastly, a child carrier should be durable and able to withstand the rigors of travel. Aluminum frame, nylon mesh, and padding in all the right places for your little one. It's always important to watch out for overhanging branches or rocks, but a sturdy pack with mesh sides will help protect baby from objects you might brush by.
These three packs are the best of the bunch.
Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Child Carrier
Kelty has been making outdoor products since 1952. There's a good chance they made the frame pack you've got hanging in your garage.
The is the brand's top-of-the-line kid-carrying pack and designed for full days on the trail. It weighs in at 7 pounds 4 ounces and can easily hold a hydration pack, all your kid's gear, and your baby for a comfortable day of hiking. This sharp-looking pack features Kelty's Perfect FIT suspension system, which easily adjusts to fit both mom and dad so you can comfortably share the load. The sunshade is easy to deploy and is a must-have feature for any child carrier.
Osprey Packs Poco AG Plus Child Carrier
Osprey stands behind its product with a lifetime guarantee, so if you choose the , you can buy with confidence. We've got an eight-year-old that has stood the test of time.
The newest version is even better—with improvements made for the wearer and the baby on board. The quick-release shoulder harness acts like a baby car seat, with distinctive clicks to know it's engaged and the press of one button to remove the harness. The AG stands for anti-gravity, which is how Osprey would like you to feel while wearing its packs. The highly adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hip belt guarantee comfort for hours.
Deuter Kid Comfort 3 Child Carrier
Deuter was founded in 1898 and got its start making durable mailbags for the Bavarian Mail Service. The company since been outfitting adventure travelers around the world with backpacks and outdoor gear to go anywhere.
The has been a staple among outdoor-minded families for years, and for good reason. It has all the amenities of Deuter's legendary hiking packs, with the added option of carrying your kid. The Aircomfort back system allows for better airflow, which means less perspiration and a warmer back.
In 2019 Deuter will introduce the Kid Comfort Pro, which features an improved and adjustable version of the Aircomfort back system as well as a pivoting hip belt that employs dual-density foam for superior wrap. An extra-high padded back panel up top provides additional comfort and security for children—and an included rear-view mirror stowed in the hip pocket gives parents an easy way to check in on the kiddos.