Best Child Carrier for Kiteboard Families

Hello fellow Kite Families!

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:

  1. 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.
    1. 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)
    2. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Dispersal of storage space. Is there one big pocket or a few smaller ones?
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  4. 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.
    1. 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
  5. Is the storage removable?  Can you eliminate weight when storage is unused?
    1. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Is the child seat/cockpit comfortable, well padded, and conducive to naps?
    1. Look for a face rest pillow.
    2. An adjustable seat is critical to adapt to different clothing layer thickness and sizes of child.
    3. Stirrups help decrease pressure on the child’s legs and increase circulation.  Key for cold weather hikes but important for all around use too.
I did my research and came up with two options that I would buy myself. Thule Sapling Elite and the Deuter Kid Comfort Line.  The DKC1 is more urban-oriented and the DKC2 for more extended hikes. The Deuter Comfort III is heavy and somewhat overkill for most people but may be suitable for some families doing more adventurous trips. Friends of ours have the regular Sapling model and really like it. The Deuters come from a German backpacking pedigree, so you know they have their stuff dialed.
These options are not terribly inexpensive but once you spend the time, money, and effort to get out on a trip, you want gear that will ensure everyone is as happy as can be. The way I look at it is that you are in it for $300+tax anyway so what is an extra Benjamin ($100) for a far better unit?
Thule Sapling Elite and Deuter Kid Comfort 2 are in a dead heat now.  They both have the key features I want including; hydration packs pocket, side entry, adjustable harness, horizontal weight adjustment, kiddie stirrups, and under seat storage. The hipbelt pockets on the Sapling are handy but I will have to see if they get in the way (bulky) and whether that outweighs putting down the pack every time you needed more goldfish and a soother. (likely)
For those of you who want more info and the ability to compare, here is a list of the best comparisons and reviews I found:

Kiteboard Family Recommendation

Since we are a travelling family frequently in cars, taxis and planes, there are certain specs and uses that are particular to our lifestyle. We need something that is easily convertible and collapsible, but holds lots of gear.  Size (length+width) is a consideration as is weight since eventually we will be running for our gate (again) or stuffing it into the backseat of tuktuk.
The benefits of travelling with a backpack over a stroller are many.  Your child is always with you, you can easily navigate markets and busy streets, and you are free to explore places that normal strollers just can’t go.  Not just crowded alleyways where adventure lies but forests, mountains, and beaches!  It is far easier to use transit and you have more freedom to wander with a backpack.
From the kids perspective, you get to share a much more interactive experience of the world with them right behind you and high up.  Kids in strollers must get tired of looking at people’s bums.
I’m leaning towards Sapling Elite for the following reasons:
  • 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,


By | 2017-07-01T15:12:43+00:00 June 24th, 2017|All, Product Reviews|0 Comments

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