Selecting a Hiking Baby Carrier

If you are an active parent who loves the outdoors, then a hiking baby carrier will give you the freedom to go hiking and bring your child along.  They will benefit from a great view and with the proper carrier, your body will be not be worn out when returning home.

Baby backpacks have come a long way over the past few years.  Their improved design means a more comfortable outdoor adventure for you, while providing a safe location for your child.   With all this in mind, what do you look for in order to find the perfect baby backpack carrier for your needs?

Baby Carrier: (What’s all the fuss?)

In its simplest form, a baby backpack is very similar to a regular backpack, except where your equipment would go is now a large open area where you can put your child.  The great benefit for you is being hands free and mobile.  The benefit for your child is having a different point of view of the world, while being cradled up next to you.

Any Requirements?: (You must be this tall to ride this ride)

A hiking baby carrier is recommended only after your baby is able to sit up and has full head and neck control.  (Read the safety requirements of the model before you buy)   A good age is 6 months or older.  Also, find out the weight limit of the carrier.  Some go up to 45 pounds.

Selection Criteria:

Comfort and Safety: Comfort should be key for both you and your child.

  • You: Put the pack on with your child in it.  Because your hips will be carrying most of the weight, the pack should sit well on them.    The hip belt should be well padded and adjustable.  A sternum strap is great to have.  This strap keeps the shoulder straps from sliding.  Walk around the store with the backpack on.  Make sure that the frame is not digging into your back and doesn’t hit the back of your head.  (The more time spent “practicing” with it, the more likely you will find the right one for you)
  • Your Baby: Look at the baby “pocket”.  Make sure that the leg openings are adequate.  Identify the padding around the openings, is it soft enough so that it won’t irritate your baby’s skin.  Probably the most important part for the baby is the harness.  Consumer Reports stated that, “The safest backpack carriers have a harness for the child that connects the shoulder straps with the crotch, torso and hip restraints for a snug fit.”

Styles and Options: (Does it come with a matching sippy cup?)

  • Easy to Use: Make sure that all of the straps are easily adjustable.  This is very important if you and your spouse will be using it.  If you get tired and you need to switch, you don’t want to waste a half an hour trying to get it to fit properly.
  • Convertibility: Make sure that the hiking baby carrier can adjust while your baby grows.  The inside seat should be able to move up and down, so that your child is always at the appropriate height.
  • Options: Some features that you may want to consider;
    • Sun Canopy – For those bright days.
    • Rain Cover – For those cloudy days.
    • Storage Pockets – Important for carrying everything you and the baby need.
    • Toy Loops – These are great, making it hard to lose a toy.
    • Kick Stand – These are really a requirement.  The “kick stand” is there to help the carrier stand up when taking it off and putting it on.  You want to make sure that it will lock into position.
    • Easy to Clean – Most are made of fabrics that are easy to clean.  Some fabrics are removable and can be washed.

Drawbacks:

There are some drawbacks to a hiking baby carrier; your child is behind you, so you can’t really see what they are doing or if they are safe in the backpack.  If your child falls asleep in the carrier, you may end up waking them up while getting them out.  If you are by yourself, getting the pack on and off can be hard.

Tips:

Using a baby backpack can be extremely beneficial for both you and your child.  I do not advise taking them on any hike or trail that is; steep, rocky, has low lying branches or is a thickly wooded area or the trail is uneven.  Great hikes are ones that are flat, wide, easy with not a lot of low cover.

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