I have many conversations with all kinds of families about the types of carriers that would best suit their needs. I have seen a few different carriers and know from experience with my own what I like and what I would change.
Having travelled, hiked on all kinds of terrain, and even mountain biked with my daughter in a carrier, here are some of the features/considerations that I think are most important:
- How close to your back is the weight (child and storage) carried? The farther away from your back the more difficult and tiring it is to carry on account of the leveraging effect.
- If there are horizontal straps that adjust the carrier (loose for putting kid in or going down steep hills) or tight (regular walking so they are close to your back) that is a key feature. (Thule Sapling Elite and Deuter Kid Carriers)
- If most of the storage hangs off the back of the carrier instead of under the seat, avoid that carrier. Your back will thank you. (I’m looking at you Kelty.) If you do choose such a carrier, make sure the pack zips off.
- Adjustable harness (shoulder and waist strap position) that can accommodate different back lengths. Different from the straps that tighten or loosen, these adjust to suit different body types and improve fit for greater comfort.
- Dispersal of storage space. Is there one big pocket or a few smaller ones?
- More pockets allow you to balance the load (kids tend to lean to one side to see around your head as you likely know) and are likely tucked into nooks and crannies closer to your back.
- Tip: Try on a carrier and see how easy it is to access water, goldfish, and a pacifier. Saves taking the pack off every time junior needs something.
- Sun/rain shade. For me this is not a selling feature for day to day use in Vancouver, Canada but it is key for travelling to sunny destinations.
- The shade it provides allows your child to wear less clothing and no hat, which keeps them cooler and happier. Less direct sunlight is a good thing hot places
- Is the storage removable? Can you eliminate weight when storage is unused?
- Ideally you can find a pack that has a small zip off backpack that you can ditch or give to your kid so they can carry their own accoutrements from time to time. Share that weight between Mom and Dad too.
- Side entry for larger kids. Can you child get in and out via a side entry or are you going to lift them up and in every single time like some barbarian? Get a side entry option.
- Is the child seat/cockpit comfortable, well padded, and conducive to naps?
- Look for a face rest pillow.
- An adjustable seat is critical to adapt to different clothing layer thickness and sizes of child.
- Stirrups help decrease pressure on the child’s legs and increase circulation. Key for cold weather hikes but important for all around use too.
Kiteboard Family Recommendation
- The removable backpack quickly zips off.
- Becomes a child carry-on when gate-checking the pack.
- Eliminates having to take the entire pack with you everytime you need to change a diaper.
- Adults can share the load when travelling around.
- Easier to fit carrier into a trunk or back seat when removed.
- Allows access to items when carrier is packed away.
- On-the-Fly harness adjustability and customization.
- Watch the Thule Sapling Elite Demonstration Video to see all of the features.
Always happy to chat about our reviews. Feel free to contact me with your ideas, comments, stories.
Have a great day,