You’ve been hiking since forever. But you now have a baby. So no more hikes, right? Wrong! With the best baby backpack carrier for hiking, you can bring your baby along so they can smell all the wonderful scents and view all the awesome sights nature bestows on humanity.
Related: Best Summertime Baby Carriers
In this hiking baby carrier buying guide, you’ll learn how to pick a supportive, comfortable, safety-certified, nice-looking pack for your hikes.
But first things first: why hike with a baby at all? Are there any benefits of walking tranquil nature trails, squirmy toddler in the carrier.
What’s the Best Backpack Carrier for Hikers?
It’s the Deuter Kid Comfort, and below is a summarized review of the…
Deuter Kid Comfort Backpack Hiking Carrier: Why Did it Come Out on Top?
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Weighting slightly over 7 pounds, the Deuter Kid Comfort Backpack Hiking Carrier is easily the best option parents can get. Its deeply cushioned shoulder straps adjust easily, and the equally well-padded waist belt adjusts to fit waist lines of different sizes.
It comes with a suede child sitting chamber that has kiddos falling asleep in no time. And putting baby in and out of this “cockpit” is easier than it ever gets with competing hiking carriers. You can get baby out two ways: via the exit on the top or via the side exit. When diaper change time comes or if your LO wants to walk a little, you’ll appreciate how well-designed the Deuter Kid Comfort really is.
Also, breathability is good, but it’s not the best breather out there. Storage-wise, this choice may not win a gold medal, but it offers more than enough room for necessities such as a diaper bag, food, snacks, water, baby wipes, keys, and whatnot.
Other features that make the Deuter stand a head taller than most is the extras it offers: a sunshade so your little one won’t scorch in the sun, foot stirrups to rest small tired feet, and a kickstand to support the pack when placed on the ground.
Any downside? Many cheaper competitors can be had, but are they as supportive, as comfortable, as easy-to-adjust, and as durable as the Deuter Kid Comfort? No. You most likely won’t rue your decision if you spring for this high-quality hiking baby carrier. With a weight limit of 48 pounds, you can use this Deuter carrier model from as early as month 6 all the way thru toddlerhood.
Runners-Up Pick: Osprey Poco Child Backpack Carrier
As far as design, the Osprey Poco Child Backpack Carrier and Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier are similar with minor differences (more on this below). But my runner-up pick is slightly heavier than the best choice. It weighs 6 ounces more, but its weight capacity is 0.5 pounds more.
While the Osprey Poco isn’t as cushy as the top pick (the Deuter Kid Comfort), it’s quite cushy. But where it wins hands down is the cockpit size department. Its baby seat is the roomiest I know of, and you pack even the biggest kids in there.
As for padding in the shoulder straps and waist belt, it’s decent, but it could better on the waist belt. But these straps adjust as well as they do with the Dueter Kid Comfort.
Getting in and out of the carrier is easy, but not as easy as it is with Deuter if the little passenger’s feet are too large. I learned that kids with feet bigger than size 8 US Kids might not get in and out of the cock without struggle because they tend to get stuck.
Extra features: Like the Deuter Kid, the Osprey offers nice extra features such as foot stirrups, an attached sunshade that stores in a pocket designed for this purpose and a kickstand for carrier support when you put the carrier down.
Ventilation has improved a bit thanks to a recent design update thanks to the new foam/mesh panel around the lower back. But I didn’t notice much difference between the top pick and the Osprey Poco as far as air circulation. Both are comfortable enough during warm weather hiking.
As for storage, both contenders offer decent storage for basic baby-parent essentials such as snacks, water, wipes, diapers, and more.
The runner-up costs about $20 cheaper than the top pick. But given the could-be-better hip-belt padding on the Osprey Poco, paying the small price difference would make sense for most parents and caregivers.
6 Good Reasons to Hike With a Baby
1. You and Your Baby Need a Change of Scene
Nothing feels like home, but the familiarity of home does get somewhat boring at some point. You and your baby are looking at the same old stuff and doing the same old things over and over.
Getting out the door and hitting the trails offers you and your little one an opportunity to see new things or at least at old things in a new way.
2. Nobody Likes the Feeling of Isolation
2020 led us all to a complete understanding of what being isolated from family and friends is like. We spent endless weeks and months imprisoned indoors away from everyone else. And we hated life, government, Covid, and everything else that made our lives so sad and lonely.
Hiking with your baby is the cure for when you feel cut off from the rest of humanity. You get out there and see walking forms, old and new buildings, tall trees and lush bushes, trains whizzing past, birds soaring in the air, and cotton ball-like clouds floating above the hills and mountains. What a nice break from all the isolation!
Who knows, you might meet a few interesting moms and dads and forge lasting friendships. And your baby gets to know that the world doesn’t exactly revolve around them, which helps them grow into well-balanced adults.
3. You Get to Quicken Your Heart Rate and Tone Your Muscles
Trekking bumps your heart rate and does a whole ton of good for your cardiovascular health. And since it’s as easy as getting one leg in front of the other repeatedly, it doesn’t feel like exercise. It feels like the most natural thing in the world, because it is.
If you make hiking with your baby a habit of sorts, everyone will soon start commenting about how great your body looks. And your confidence will get a nice post-childbirth boost. It’s time to stop binge-streaming Netflix series and hit the trail, baby in tow. Make sure to tote them in the best hiking baby carrier for the weather.
4. Hiking Births Happiness for Babies and Their Parents
Sometimes, the things that make us truly happy and peaceful don’t cost a dime. They’re not even things; they are experiences. Wonderful experiences shared with our loved ones, memorable moments that no amount of money can buy.
What’s better than to stand on a mountaintop with your baby strapped to your back watching all of the breathtaking scenes below? It’s a great feeling of accomplishment, a dopamine-triggering experience that creates a kind of confidence that makes us whisper, “yes, I can.”
If happiness has eluded you all your life, get a good trekking baby carrier, get your kiddo in, and head out the door to the blissfulness of nature. If that won’t make you happy, nothing else will.
5. Get Inspired and Solve Your Life’s Problems Without Trying
One amazing thing about walking in the woods is that it allows you tons of quiet time to reflect about different areas of your life without even being aware you’re thinking. There’s nothing else to do aside from putting one foot in front of the other, so your mind gets busy.
Writers, authors, and artists of all stripes have quiet nature trail walks to thank for hypnotizing them into the creative ideas they needed to transform their careers. Company CEOs and other executives have accidentally bumped into the concepts and solutions they needed to save their businesses from looming ruin.
If I wrote down every idea (some of them unbelievably crazy and funny haha) that showed up when I walked with my baby, I’d have written a few books already. But writing is tough, that’s why I prefer to walk lol.
Fewer problems lead to happier parents, and happier parents effortlessly make their little ones happy. Get out there and get inspired today.
6. Being Away in the Wild Relaxes You and Your Baby
We live in a data-packed world. Emails. DMs. Reddit posts that go viral and have the world and their granny asking you all sorts of questions. Calls from work.
Hiking is a great way to get away from all the noise and distractions to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of mellow nature trails.
Every little and big issue that’s been wrecking havoc to your sanity starts seeming small when compared to the vastness and awesomeness of the great outdoors. Because when you’re out there, it’s just you, your baby, and the grandiosity of the wild.
Crossing silently flowing streams, breathing fresh mountain air, and just pounding dirt trails and navigating rocky patches relaxes you in ways few other experiences can.
But who says you have to leave your little one behind? Invest in a toddler-worthy hiking baby carrier and soak up the marvelous beauty of nature together.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Backpack Baby Carrier
When shopping for a backpack-style baby carrier, pay attention to the selection factors below.
There are two types of carrier packs. There are:
- Comfort-focused packs and,
- Lightweight hiking carriers
Comfort-Oriented Backpack Carriers
In terms of design and features, these packs win hands down compared to their lightweight packs. They’re designed to provide tons of comfort for both parent and baby, and the best ones offer features you won’t find in budget options.
They’re pretty much a backpacking pack with a nice and comfy sitting area that offers loads of padded comfort for your baby. These packs offer water bottle sleeves (few packs have these), multiple pockets for baby essentials, footrests so your toddler’s feet won’t tire out during long-distance hikes, and even removable daypacks.
The sitting compartment has an open top, but don’t worry because most decent packs these days come with a sunshade that attaches just behind the baby’s seat. You may also want to invest in a proper rain cover for when things get suddenly stormy (usually sold separately).
Also, these packs boast a solid metal seat frame that makes them incredibly sturdy and long lasting. And because they have metal frames, these packs provide tons of support so that you can transport your growing toddler safely and comfortably. Some comfort packs have an upper weight limit of 50lbs.
This kind of hiking carrier is foldable thanks to the pack-collapsing kickstand incorporated into the design.
On the whole, these are heavy-duty, rugged packs, and they’re nowhere near compact. But while this foldable pack design fits in standard car trunks, the folded carrier gobbles up space.
Decide if this is the kind of pack you need for those quiet trail walks with your LO.
Lightweight Hiking Carriers
We all love lightweight baby gear. Because hauling heavy things around isn’t much fun. Baby carrier manufacturers have capitalized on this little fact and given us parents tons of lightweight options to choose from.
Being lightweight is amazing because lightweight carrier packs are easy to carry and store. However, lightweight options don’t happen miraculously, various sacrifices must be made.
Some lightweight carriers are a kind of stripped down version of comfort-focused models. These ones are smaller and more compact than comfort-style options. Others have a more minimalist pack design and don’t even have a frame.
Also, they don’t offer every feature the comfort-conscious parent may want in a carrier pack. Also, lightweight pack-style carriers don’t offer as much padding as their bulkier comfort carriers.
This means they’re not as comfortable to carry, which then means they’re not the best choice for the longest hikes with your little one. But they’re fully functional, and that’s what matters in the end.
If you do short walks some of the time and really long ones the rest of the time, I suggest that you purchase a comfort carrier and a lightweight one. But I imagine you’re looking for a hiking-dedicated carrier, and a comfort carrier is your best bet. You can use it for both short neighborhood strolls as well as for day-long hikes in the wild.
Padded Comfort for Both Parent and Baby
If you a big fan of long trail hikes, pay attention to the design of the hip belt. It is easy to think that an extremely soft hip belt provides the most comfort and is the best bet for really long walks. But this isn’t the case. Soft hip belts are best suited for short walks because they lack the sturdiness and enduring carrying comfort that only thicker, firmer hip belts provide.
But if you’ll mostly do short hikes with your LO, it’s OK to pick something that doesn’t do a terrific job in the carrying comfort department. And if you have a bad low back, get a carrier that offers good lumbar support.
How Comfy and Safe is the Child’s Sitting Compartment?
Since the sitting compartment is where your baby will spend the majority of their hiking time, it needs to be supportive and comfortable. The best long-hike baby carrier packs come with a secure harness that keeps baby safe and protected throughout the trip.
A comfy sitting compartment features a strong, tall, amply padded back and sides. As for the front, your baby needs a generously cushioned pad so that they can get the support they need when they lean forward for a snooze.
I find that lightweight packs tend to skimp on “cockpit” padding. By cockpit, I mean the sitting area. With most lightweight options, kids tend to sit pretty high in the seat.
When the child gets sleepy, there’s not adequate support for them, and they usually assume a really weird position when napping. Another reason not to strap a baby into a lightweight carrier when you’re about to go out for a long, sleep-inducing trek.
Your baby will thank you for a deeply cushioned safety harness that doesn’t pinch their soft skin. Harness adjustability and placement is another important aspect to look at. You want a harness that’s easy to adjust for a safe, secure hold.
Rain Cover for Inclement Weather & Sunshade for Summer Hikes
Backpack-style baby carriers typically come with a detachable sunshade. This feature protects your baby from the harmful UV rays of the sun when hiking. The sides are made from a mesh fabric that promotes ventilation, but the fabric on the top is pretty lame when it comes to protecting babies against the rain.
If you live in a place that sees inclement stormy weather some of the time, I insist that you get a brand-specific weatherproof rain cover. This cover has higher sides and a heavier water-resistant top that and offers much greater protection when a storm shows up without warning (as if storms ever warn you!).
You’ll have to spend an extra $25-$40 on this extra feature since manufacturers typically don’t throw a rain cover into the deal. But it’s well worth the additional cost.
Backpack Storage and Extra Pockets
When it comes to doing day-long hikes with a baby, there’s stuff you must bring, which is why you want an option with a decent storage space.If you’re the kind of mom or dad who brings half the house on your hiking trips, pick a pack that offers anywhere from 15 liters of space.
The roomiest carriers out there have a storage capacity of up to 26 liters. Unless you’re trekking with someone (who obviously needs to pack a few items) to help carry the baby for some of the hike’s stretches, 15 liters should be adequate for most parents.
In the end, the amount of storage space you need depend on the prevailing weather conditions, the length of time you’ll be out in the wild, and whether you’re trekking alone or with someone.
Many carrier packs also offer a bunch of pockets that help parents better organize the journey’s supplies. Generally, the more the pockets, the higher the price.
Most of the options I’ve seen have a zippered pocket for storing items that are easy to lose. Also, many have a large front pocket, and this is typically the main storage. Others have hip belt pockets so you and your baby can store tasty snacks for the trip.
Carrier Ventilation Matters Too
Ventilation becomes a BIG deal when hiking in warm, hot weather. Luckily, there’s wide array of summertime baby carriers that offer tons of ventilation for both baby and parent.
The best choices for sunny weather hiking trips come with a mesh back panel designed to keep your back cool. They also feature a mesh panel around the baby’s sitting compartment and harness so that baby can stay cool throughout the ride.
Packs with a mesh back-panel are the best options for you and your tot if you live in a hot climate. Or if you really hate any kind of clammy stickiness on your skin.
Essentially, you need something that doesn’t let your body heat transfer to the baby. Most of the carriers I’ve seen feature really good ventilation. Some are better than others in terms of parent-side ventilation. But I’m not aware of any backpack carrier that did absolutely nothing for mom’s or dad’s back.
Get an Option That Lets You Hydrate on the Go
Water is a necessity life, and you need enough of it especially when trekking in hot weather so you and your baby can stay hydrated. The vast majority of backpack-style baby carriers out there may have multiple pockets, but these pockets are rarely large enough to fit large water bottles such as a Hydrapack Recon water bottle.
For this reason, most parents end up storing the water bottle inside the pack. And this is OK. Except every time you need to take a swig, you’ll have to remove the pack to get the bottle. Alternatively, you can ask someone (a stranger I reckon) to get the bottle out for you. Isn’t this what inconvenience looks like?
But don’t worry. If you have a decent budget, you can always choose a backpack carrier that comes with a hydration sleeve. The beauty of a pack like this is that you can put a water reservoir in, sink in a drink-tube and voila! You can hydrate without pain.
Baby Carrier Backpack Weight Limits
Backpack carriers normally have a minimum and a maximum weight limit. It’s critical to know these load capacity limits and never exceed them. Any time you load a baby into a lower-capacity backpack carrier, you’re sacrificing a bit of your kid’s safety. And if the baby is heavier than the sitting compartment is designed for, this can negatively affect longevity.
Safety experts recommend not to transport babies that aren’t 4 months yet in any kind of carrier. When babies grow to month 4, they have a relatively strong neck and back and can support themselves better.
Usually, the minimum weight for carriers like these is 16 pounds. As for the maximum weight limit, it hovers between 30 and 50 pounds. Again, be sure to check these numbers and stay within the stated limits.
Note that the items you store inside the pack are also part of the recommended weight capacity. So don’t overload that carrier.
Babypack Safety Considerations
Safety is the most critical aspect when it comes to choose a good hiking backpack carrier. If you a US-based mom or dad, you can be sure that ALL the carriers sold there are certified for safety. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission requires EVERY child carrier offered for sale in the United States to comply with the Frame Child Carrier safety standard.
This safety standard is formulated to compel manufacturers to make baby-safe carriers. It compels them to make safe carriers that have no sharp edges that can cause injury to the baby.
The standard also demands that carriers with a folding design open and close without hurting the baby or parent. Additionally, they don’t fold without warning. Nor do hinges let little fingers in and squeeze them.
Aside from CPSC safety certification for carriers, there are also voluntary standards to check for. Since these are voluntary standards, manufacturers can choose to participate in the third-party testing processes or not.
The JPMA safety certification is one of those voluntary safety standards. Meeting the JPMA standard is an indication that the item’s manufacturing strictly follows federal and state safety requirements. It also means that the requirements of the relevant ASTM F2236-08 standard (the) have been adequately met.
And if you’re eyeing a German-made pack such a Deuter carrier pack, check for the TÜV safety mark. To be clear, having these additional safety standards doesn’t mean that a carrier is safer than those that don’t have them. It just means that the manufacturer takes child carrier safety seriously.
Extra Features: Footrests and Detachable Daypacks
Look, you don’t really need footrests or daypacks on your hiking baby carrier. But while they’re not an absolute necessity, they serve an important role and make each trip that much more enjoyable for your tyke.
Little toddler feet tire out a bit if you’ve been out with them for hours. And that’s where footrests come in handy. These stirrup-like features are found on either side of the carrier’s seat, and they support tired little feet increasing comfort.
Footrests also help older bigger kids to assume a better, comfier sitting position while easing off some of the pressure emanating from sitting in the cockpit for hours.
But not all children like stirrups. Luckily, these extra features are detachable. This means you can remove and stow them away if the child chooses not to use them or if the legs aren’t long enough to use them.
The design of some high-end backpack carrier also includes a removable daypack. If you don’t see yourself trekking with your SO or anyone else some of the time, you probably don’t need this extra feature. Plus, if you have an existing daypack, why buy another when what you got is enough?
Most parents find a daypack useful for storing another person’s (who doesn’t need a helping hand hauling a 45-pound toddler?) hiking trip essentials. This pack adds another 10 liters or so of extra storage space. And the item costs anywhere between $30 and $60.
What If You Can’t Buy an Expensive Framed Hiking Carrier?
You can always rent a hiking baby carrier once you arrive at your destination. REI, a popular outdoor gear retailer, also rents out carriers for a small fee. Alternatively, you can contact BabyQuip, a rental agency with a national reach and connects parents with local providers.
You may also consider getting a used hiking baby carrier if money is tight. Check in Facebook Marketplace, local babywearing parent groups, or even Craigslist.
The beauty about hiking carriers is that they last really long, as long as 10 years. It means you can a decent top-end carrier at a great price if you buy used. You may have to buy a new chin pad though, and if the used thing lacks a sunshade, just buy one.
I know someone who got a $320 Deuter for close to nothing (under $100) because a mom in a certain FB group felt altruistic. The thing had only been used for a year. Looked good as new after a thorough clean and putting a new chin pad in.
Choosing a good baby carrier backpack isn’t too hard if you’re aware of what to look for. A good one lets you carry your baby for hikes in style while diligently doing everything else a backpack carrier is supposed to do.
C0mfort and safety are big considerations when choosing this kind of baby gear. Weight limit, protection against bad weather, ventilation, storage, hydration pack storage are also important factors to keep in mind.
Even though additional features such as footrests/stirrups aren’t absolutely necessary in a backpack carrier, they make your little one’s outdoor life that much comfier and happier.
I hope you found the buying advice helpful. Now what? It’s time to do something with the knowledge you’ve learned. It’s time to grab that option your budget and needs are saying would make sense for you and your LO.
5 Best Hiking Baby Carriers
Below is a list of 5 carriers that hiking moms and dads and their lovely babies and toddlers love. They may not tick all the boxes, but they sure meet the expectations of most adventurers. Where any of them comes up short in some respect, I’ll be sure to point out the disadvantage so you can shop smarter.
1. Deuter Kid Comfort Hiking Carrier: Winner
The Deuter Kid Comfort weighs a little over 7 pounds and its upper load limit is 48 pounds. Its design makes for comfortable carries, and its adjustability allows partners to share.
Even though it weighs more or less the same as most carriers of this kind, I got the impression that it carried a tad lighter than most. The Deuter Kid Comfort carrier redistributes baby weight from the shoulders to the waist better than any other carrier I’ve worn.
With the Kid Comfort, you’ll tote your 6-month or older baby all the way to when they turn 4. Its cockpit expands or sizes down to provide little passengers with as much room as needed.
The generous padding on the shoulder straps and waist belt dramatically increase carrying comfort. This allows you to walk short or long distances without lower back discomfort.
If you’re wondering whether this carrier is a good choice for warm-weather walks, it is. It’s designed to promote a decent amount of airflow. A significant part of the material is mesh, and no carrier material breathes better than mesh.
Then there’s the carrier’s spring suspension system that lifts baby off the wearer’s body, helping airflow without adversely affecting weight distribution.
While this is a hiking pack, it’s not too bulky or heavy for carrying baby during morning or evening walks around the city or park. And when it comes to spending an entire day out with baby, it provides sufficient storage for everything the both of you need for the adventure.
It features a mesh pouch with side compartments for storing a hydration pack or water bottles so you and baby can hydrate on the go. A compartment below the mesh pouch stores baby diapers, snacks, baby wipes, and even a change of clothes so you can enjoy worry-free full-day hikes.
My baby could easily access water and snacks. I’ve worn carriers that didn’t allow for easy access to these essentials, and they sucked. What’s more, there are smaller zippered pockets around the waist belt for holding a smartphone, keys, or a wallet.
When hiking through warm weather, you’ll appreciate the detachable sunshade on this hiking pack. Then there’s a thickly padded and machine-washable headrest and a chin pad.
If your baby ever wants (they’ll want to) to get out of the cockpit and walk around with mom or dad, a buckled exit on the side makes this easy. And as you take baby out of the carrier, you won’t have to deal with the sunshade as is the case with some options.
Any downside? I felt that the single-pull tightening mechanism on the safety harness should sit a little higher in the pack. I initially struggled to access it, but things got easier once I got used to it. And even though I didn’t lose the detachable sunshade, it’s easy to misplace.
- A solidly built hiking carrier that lasts years
- Comfort-promoting padding around waist and shoulders
- A removable sunshade to keep baby cool during warm-weather hikes
- A suspension system that lifts baby off parent’s body, improving airflow
- Balanced weight distribution between shoulders and waist for pain-free carriers
- Machine-washable chin pad and headrest
- Works for younger babies and older kids up to age 4
- Adjustable straps to accommodate different wearer sizes
- An easy-to-use kickstand
- Decent storage for baby-parents essentials
- Child-harness could sit a little higher for easier access
- Many cheaper options, but not as comfortable
- Detachable sunshade easy to misplace
2. Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack: Roomiest Pick
If you have a bigger kiddo and are looking around for a hiking carrier with a really roomy cockpit, consider the Osprey Poco. I’ve yet to see a backpack-style carrier with a more spacious sitting compartment. This cockpit has lots of padding, but the Deuter Kid Comfort wins in this respect.
One thing that parents love about the Osprey Poco is how easy-to-reach the child harness is. The harness sits higher than it does in the Deuter Kid Comfort. I didn’t spend an eternity trying to secure the buckle around my squirmy toddler.
Getting baby in and out of the Osprey Poco was easy for me, but other reviews noted that getting taller kids with bigger feet out wasn’t as easy. One mom of a 2-year-old toddler struggled to get her kiddo’s size 8 US feet unstuck, but Janet didn’t feel that this bad enough to be a deal breaker.
This carrier provides tons of size adjustability so that different size wearers can help tote baby during family hikes. If one partner stands 5’4″ and the other 6’2″, each person should be able to adjust the straps to fit their frame. Its shoulder straps and waist belt have decent padding, but I feel there should be more padding around the waist.
While this carrier is comfortable for both baby and parent, I found that the handle has a way of pushing against the neck or head of the wearer regardless of body size. This was slightly annoying, but I “devised” a way to solve the problem. Every time I tucked the handle down completely and made it store around the chinrest, it stopped getting in the way.
The Osprey Poco, like the Deuter Kid Comfort, features a sunshade to shield little passengers from the wrath of hot midday sun. But while the sunshade on the Deuter is detachable, the sun blocker on the Osprey isn’t. Instead, this shade folds down into a special compartment designed to store it. I like detachable parts, but if you’re the sort of parent who’s always misplacing things, a non-detachable shade could be better for you.
This 2021 upgraded carrier is heavier than the Deuter Kid Comfort, but it’s not too heavy. Besides, it offers a slightly higher maximum load limit of 48.5 pounds versus 48 pounds for the Deuter. Like the Deuter, this carrier keeps baby lifted away (not much) from the wearer’s back, a design element that improves airflow.
The pack’s so-called Anti-Gravity Back Panel makes this possible, plus the mesh on it enhances breathability while improving lower back support. I’d say the Osprey Poco offers greater lower back support of any hiking carrier I’ve seen/tested.
Also, this carrier features a supportive headrest, and its drool pad is machine-washable. Storage-wise, the Poco provides more room compared to the Deuter. However, the zipper-shut pockets on the waist belt are smaller. You also get an easy-to-use kickstand.
Your phone may not fit in there if it’s too large, and I’m not sure you want to store your keys there. I feel the pockets aren’t secure enough. In terms of storage access, the Deuter option beats the Osprey one.
- Offers great lower back support/lumbar support (a great choice for parents with bad backs)
- Decent storage space for baby essentials and phone
- Ideal for bigger babies
- Straps adjust well to fit different wearer sizes
- Non-detachable sunshade (hard to lose)
- Washable droop pad and headrest
- Easy to use kickstand
- Getting kids with large feet out not super easy
3. Standard Fit Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL: Best for Smaller Hikers
If you live in warm and sunny Texas, you want to seek out the most breathable framed backpack baby carrier within your budget. The Kid Comfort Active SL is one of the most airy summer-weather backpack-style carriers I know of.
It’s size adjustable, and in terms of fit, this is the best hiking carrier for moms and dads with a diminutive physique. And it’s the most breathable pick on my list. It features lots of mesh that lets cool air to get in and warm air to get out of the carrier, keeping your trip nice and comfortable.
Weighing slightly less than 6 pounds, this is an extremely lightweight design. It’s lighter than any of the other recommendations in my reviews. It works best for torsos in the 14″-18″ range while the bulkier Kid Comfort fits 15″-20″ torsos.
Not surprisingly, it’s not as solid a build as either the Kid Comfort or the Osprey. It’s the best choice for shorter trips where you need to bring half the house, such as a trip to the farmers market, buying groceries, or running errands in the city.
While it offers storage space, it’s not as much as what the Osprey or Kid Comfort offers. This space is enough for storing basic necessities such as water/diapers, wipes, and even clothing. A mesh compartment on the top, a lower compartment, and zippered hip belt pockets provide sufficient room for the typical hiking parent.
In total, this option amounts to 14 liters of storage space, which is the storage capacity the Kid Comfort provides. But you won’t the larger zippered section that you get with the Kid Comfort or Osprey.
One important feature the Active SL lacks is a sunshade. You’ll have to spring for this item if you need it (and you definitely need it for when the sun shines).
Deuter sells an easy to install and remove washable sun roof for the Kid Comfort and Kid Comfort Active SL models. I believe the company chose to exclude this cover to give parents a super lightweight carrier, and they did a great job of it.
The Deuter KC Sun Roof for accessorizing the Active SL costs about $45, so the overall cost comes to almost $290. If you have clunky carriers and live in a warm climate, I suggest that you get the ultra lightweight Active SL and also get the sun roof.
I like that this packs comes with a chin pad. And you can toss this detachable pad in the washing machine to take of spit-up and drool. And as is the case with the Osprey and Kid Comfort, you’re able to put baby in and out via the side.
You also get a sturdy, easy-to-use kickstand. And even though this pick is about $80 cheaper than the Kid Comfort, it features stirrups for resting little dangling legs. You can adjust seat height, and the stirrups fit a wide range of sizes and ages.
- Stirrups and kickstand included
- Enough on-carrier storage for baby necessities
- A lightweight, airy design that keeps it cool in the carrier
- Easy to get baby in and out
- Fits petite moms and dads better than most options
- Sunshade bought separately
4. Chicco SmartSupport Pack-style Carrier: Budget Pick
If you’re looking for a budget hiking backpack carrier, consider the Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Baby Carrier costs about less than 50 percent what my top pick, the Deuter Kid Comfort costs.
Before I speak further, I must say that with this carrier as with everything you get what you pay for. You pay 50 percent less than the Deuter, but you have to settle for about 50 percent less quality. Let me explain.
I’ll start with the straps. The straps on this hiker’s carrier are narrower and thinner than on any of the recommendations here. This means that they don’t feel super comfortable around the shoulders and waist. It also means they don’t distribute weight that well. In the end, you have a half-comfortable carry, but you’re paying way less so yeah.
The child harness is OK, but its overall design could be better. When you’re putting baby in the cockpit, the carrier’s straps somehow fall in, and you have to root around for them. The padding on the harness isn’t very good, too. And once you put baby in and carry them, you’ll struggle to access the waist belt if you need to adjust it.
The chest clip on this carrier works pretty well and makes the carry stay nice and secure. But if you have a busty chest, it probably won’t super comfortable. The carrier’s design situates the chest clip in a way that causes it to accentuate busty chests uncomfortably. But I like that the clip adjusts well both up and down, which boosts pack comfort.
If you have a big gal with generous boobs, you may want to stay away from this option. Because the only way to make the carrier comfortable around the chest is to loosen the chest strap. And a loosened strap isn’t fully secure.
Here’s another design flaw (seemed like a design flaw to me): waist belt position. Not only is the waist belt not thickly padded and narrower than many, but it also seems to have been placed at an awkward position. BTW, the waist strap is 48″ long, which is nice.
Whether you have an athletic body shape or not, the waist belt tends to position around the middle of the tummy. This doesn’t feel comfortable, not does it foster carrier comfort.
I love that the Chicco carrier comes with an extendable sun visor. But the sun visor is too small as to be of no use when the sun really shines. When the sun is low and you’re walking away from it, then this small sunshade might be of some use.
Another thing I don’t like about the Chicco is that its design isn’t collapsible. It sticks out the whole time, and it can catch on braches, spider webs, and other things. But it’s a compact carrier, more compact than most, and pulling a strap forward easily collapses the foldable kickstand.
Finally, the cockpit is decently padded, and it’s height adjustable from 17 pounds all the way to 40 pounds. But the padding could be better, and I wasn’t surprised there were no foot stirrups.
- Easy to get on and off without help
- A sun visor included
- Great price point for an OK baby bag
- A compact, fold-up design that’s lighter than many (weighs 6.5 pounds)
- Height adjustable
- Collapsible metal legs help it sit on the ground when taking a break
- Shoulder straps and waist straps narrow and not well padded
- Sun visor could be bigger and should be collapsible
- Not comfortable for moms with bigger busts
- No foot stirrups
5. Deuter Kid Comfort Pro: Best for Tall Parents
The Pro version of the Deuter Kid Comfort is about $65 costlier than the regular Kid Comfort. But is the price difference justified?
It’s heavier than the Kid Comfort (8.3 pounds vs. 7 pounds), but having tons of storage rooms makes the Pro an attractive choice for many parents. A friend used to hike with a soft-structured carrier that had zero pockets, and carrying diapers and wipes was a pain.
They had to stop hiking with that carrier type and ended up getting the Deuter Pro. It offered lots of room to stow away poop bags, clothes, snacks, and wipes. Plus, it had 2 waist belt pockets that stored a large size Apple Smartphone and keys securely.
But they couldn’t bring water bottles or hydration pack initially…because they thought this carrier wasn’t hydration pack ready. Even though the product’s marketing copy doesn’t mention it, it’s very much hydration-compatible.
This thing comes with lots of bells and whistles, and my friend decided to watch a few videos put out by Deuter to figure them out. That’s how she learned she could slide in a hydration bladder between baby and her back. This hydration sleeve has a long zipper, and it can store a 3-liter bladder without issues.
Some packs need you to have hands as long as Gumby’s to reach behind and access the water. But the position of this thing’s water compartment makes access pretty easy. The downside is that baby sort of straddled the hydration pack, and as they grew bigger and heavier, carrying baby in this position got uncomfortable.
It features a soft drool pad and a built in sun roof. Only top-end options come with a daypack, and the Pro is no exception. Dip your hand into the main storage compartment and you’ll find the included small backpack there. This extra pack makes it possible to split the load between hiking companions.
The Deuter Pro adjusts for different body sizes, but it’s not a good fit for petite parents. It’s for tall and big dads and moms. If you’re smaller than 5’8″, this carrier won’t fit you perfectly. It seems Deuter decided to create a tall-parent hiking carrier and said not a word about it.
This pack can be intimidating thanks to all its straps, adjusting cords, and buckles. Adjusting everything for a comfortable close-to-back carry takes has a learning curve to it. But there are videos galore on how to make the correct adjustments.
A mesh back system promotes air circulation, preventing overheating. Also, there’s a pillow-soft headrest for baby, a sturdy locking kickstand that makes it easy to pack baby on the ground during a trail break. You also get foot stirrups and an easy-grab carry handle.
There’s even an integrated mirror so you can keep a watchful eye on your LO as they nap in the comfy cockpit. The weight limit tops out at 40 pounds versus 48 pounds for the regular model. And even though the seat adjusts to fit bigger/taller kiddos, many parents had trouble using it for kids older than 12 months.
Now what? It’s time to grab the backpack that checks the most boxes for you and your baby and start hiking. The Deuter Kid Comfort came out on top. It’s comfortable, highly adjustable, and has good lower back support. The straps are deeply padded, the cockpit roomy and comfy, and it has a removable sunshade and stirrups. But it’s not cheap.