We review all the best hiking baby carriers to ensure you can continue to hike with kids and everyone remains comfortable while doing so.
If you love a good hike then there is no reason why having kids needs to prevent you from still going. All you need is a good hiking child carrier and you can trek on to your hearts content.
The best baby carriers for hiking are safe while being comfortable, both for the person wearing it and the child being carried.
Features such as sunshades, storage, adjustable seat height, warmth, and breathability are all desirable and ideally you want your carrier to be lightweight, but have a high carrying capacity so that it grows with the child and allows you to carry your gear on long hikes.
Baby carriers come with a range of options, and these all have their pros and cons. Larger carriers might be excellent on the trail but may be too bulky when exploring urban landscapes and venues, such as museums.
The smaller and lighter the carrier, the easier it can be stored and the more places it can go. It can also be taken as hand luggage on the plane. However small carriers lack kickstands and storage and are generally not suitable for avid hikers who like to go longer distances.
Got twins? Click here to check out my pick of the Best Twin Baby Carriers.
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Before we take a look at the best hiking carriers, here is a quick glance comparison of our pick of the best:
|Image||Title||Buy||Weight||Capacity||Total Weight Limit|
|Deuter Kid Comfort||Check prices||7 lbs 2 oz||14 litres||48 lbs 8 oz|
|Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL||Check prices||5 lbs 13 oz||14 litres||48 lbs|
|Osprey Poco Plus||Check prices||7 lbs 14 oz||26 litres||49 lbs 8 oz|
|Thule Sapling||Check prices||7 lbs 1 oz||22 litres||48 lbs|
|Kelty Journey Perfectfit Elite||Check prices||7 lbs 4 oz||26 litres||50 lbs|
|phil&teds Escape||Check prices||6.6 lbs||30 litres||39 lbs|
|phil&teds Parade||Check prices||4.4 lbs||12.5 litres||39 lbs|
|Ergobaby Omni Breeze||Check prices||2.29 lbs||tiny pouch||45 lbs|
|LÍLLÉbaby Complete All Seasons||Check prices||2.5 lbs||none||45 lbs|
|Baby Tula Free-to-Grow||Check prices||1.7 lbs||none||45 lbs|
Table of Contents
What is a Hiking Baby Carrier, and Why do I Need One?
A hiking baby carrier takes the technology of long-haul backpacks, car seats, and strollers and creates a backpack that holds a child.
Unlike other baby-wearing options, these are meant to be worn for long days while out on the trail and are designed for ultimate comfort and to protect the back and shoulders of the person carrying them.
They often come with many features such as rain covers, sunshades, multiple storage options and water bladders for on-the-go drinking.
Hiking backpack baby carriers are also excellent for camping, as most have a kickstand, allowing them to be used as a mini high chair while you are on the move.
Hiking carriers are not just excellent for people who love the outdoors. They can make day trips easier when visiting museums, tourist attractions and animal parks and jumping on and off public transport.
Types Of Hiking Baby Carriers
The majority of hiking baby carriers have frames, but not all. We had one of each.
Framed hiking baby carriers have the extras: lots of storage and a kickstand so you can set the baby down without taking them out.
All these features can be incredibly handy, but they all come with the price of extra bulk and weight. Also, these carriers can’t be used for babies under six months old.
A soft carrier is lightweight and offers easy storage as it can be stuffed in a carry-on when flying. It also places the baby’s weight closest to your back, making them feel “lighter” than when in a frame.
These can also be worn on the front with babies under six months. However, there is a knack to getting the baby in and out of a soft structured carrier, they have little or no storage space, and there is no kickstand.
What to Look for when Choosing a Baby Carrier for Hiking
When looking for a hiking baby carrier, the essential feature is that it is a comfortable fit for the person wearing it and is a comfortable ride for the baby.
It doesn’t matter how brilliant a carrier is and how many additional features it has if one of the two people involved is uncomfortable.
Things to consider for comfort:
- How does the hip strap feel?
- Does the weight sit mainly on the hips?
- Are there padded shoulder straps? Are they comfortable?
- Is there good ventilation for both parties?
- Does the weight sit close to the back or far away?
- Do your arms knock anything when moving at a natural swing?
- Will the baby’s knees or feet be digging into your kidneys?
- Where is the baby’s head compared to yours? Can you both wear a sun hat?
Extra features to look for include:
- Easily adjustable straps
- Water bottle holders
- Good storage options
- Adjustable foot stirrups
- Removable washable drool pad
- Sunshade and rain cover
- Dual access (meaning baby can be inserted from the side rather than just dropped in at the top)
- Lightweight sturdy metal frame (see more below)
- Stable kickstand (see more below)
- Lightweight design vs storage capacity (see more below)
Baby Carrier Frames
The frame of a baby carrier is an important feature to consider. It impacts the comfort of the setup and the longevity of the item, its weight, and its weight carrying capacity.
Cheap, lightweight metal frames can’t hold as much and can be easily scratched, bent, or dented. On the other hand, more affordable sturdy frames bear more weight but are heavier.
Tough and lightweight frames are the best, but they are pricier.
Kickstands and other Features
Moveable features like kickstands can be incredibly handy. However, they can also be hazards, pinching delicate skin or fingers.
So make sure all zips, creases, joints, and moveable parts will not hurt your most precious cargo.
Also make sure that the kickstand is stable, including when placed on uneven surfaces. You don’t want the carrier toppling over when your baby is inside!
Baby Carrier Weight
Extra storage space for water bottles, diapers, gear, and snacks sounds terrific. A removable sun shade and rain cover sounds like a fantastic addition. Bug netting sounds useful. Extra zips on coolers and bags sounds like a wonderful idea.
But you need to ask yourself if you want to carry such heavy loads on longer hikes.
Also, consider the child is only going to get bigger. A 26-liter gear capacity might not be an advantage when the child’s weight is 45 pounds.
Hiking Carriers for Women
Sadly the truth is that it will generally be harder to find the perfect fit if you have a female body type.
While the situation is slowly improving, most hiking child carriers are made with the stereotypical male body in mind: longer back, broad shoulders, narrower hips, and a flat chest.
Many carriers try to extend the range of fit by having an adjustable suspension system, allowing the straps to be raised or lowered. Unfortunately, while this helps for height differences, it doesn’t solve the fact most straps are set wide for broad shoulders.
Other problems are hip belts, clasps, and the shape of the straps. Again, while things like hip belts can adjust from slim to fuller body width, the padding isn’t always ideally placed for female hip and pelvis shape.
The cut of the straps and where clips are positioned might also be awkward for those with larger breasts.
Some newer model hiking carriers are now being designed with women in mind. Either they are specifically designed for the female anatomy or they are designed to be even more adjustable to allow for different body types.
This is definitely something to look out for if you are planning to share the carrier with a partner of the opposite sex.
An adjustable back panel is particularly important if you are very different in height and ease of adjustability is important if you are going to be switching the carrier between you multiple times throughout a hike.
The Best Baby Carriers For Hiking
We have gone through the latest best baby carriers for hiking and rounded up our top choices.
Some could be used for overnight hikes (you brave souls), others are known for fitting women, and a few are airplane friendly. There is something for every hiker-with-baby, no matter your build or adventuring style.
Deuter Kid Comfort
The Deuter Kid Comfort is an award-winning dual-access design and one of the most well-known baby backpacks.
People find it comfortable: those in it and those hauling it. It has a fully adjustable harness, so it fits most people. Kids are kept safe and comfy, too, with a five-point harness and a chin pad to protect babies from the frame when they’re still small.
This backpack carrier is designed for people who enjoy long day hikes. Its storage capacity is snug for an overnight. But it is a better design than their bigger carrying capacity offering, the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro.
Some reviewers have used this for multi-day hikes. They’re probably packing geniuses. Nonetheless, the fact they were happy to strap this on the next day and hit the trail again says a lot about the Deuter’s comfort. An all-over great choice.
- Carrier Weight: 7lbs 2 oz
- Gear Capacity: 14 liters
- Total Weight Limit: 48 lbs 8oz
- 5-pt harness
- Fantastic waist belt
- Detachable sunshade is fiddly and eats up storage space
Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL
The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is another good choice.
This dual-access child carrier backpack is built for women, with narrower shoulder straps and a conical shaped hip fins and padded hip belt specifically designed for the female anatomy.
It still has adjustable suspension, easily fitting people as petite as 5’1 and as tall as 5’9. The design is also lighter. The result is a great option baby backpack for women.
It comes with height adjustable foot loops and a small removable, washable chin pad.
The Active SL does lose a couple of features from the original Comfort model – namely the compatibility with the water drinking bladder and the included sunshade, which needs to be purchased separately.
- Carrier Weight: 5lbs 13 oz
- Gear Capacity: 14 liters
- Total Weight Limit: 48 lbs
- Incredibly lightweight for a full-frame carrier.
- Good storage
- Straps and waist built actually designed for the female form
- No hydration reservoir compatibility or water bottle holders in the belt.
- Sunshade needs to be purchased separately
Osprey Poco Plus
The Osprey Poco Plus is Deuter’s biggest competitor for a like-for-like product.
Its fully adjustable torso harness is designed to be one-size-fits-all and its adjustable hip belt can be adjusted on-the-go.
Improvements have been made from the original Osprey Poco model, most significantly they have vastly improved padding on both the shoulder straps and hip belt, making it more comfortable to carry on longer hikes.
This is an all-bells-and-whistles carrier with loads of desirable features, including a built-in sunshade, removable washable drool pad, adjustable and removable foot stirrups and an external hydration sleeve.
It also has lots of storage options including toy attachment loops, a zippered lower compartment large enough to stash a diaper changing kit and extra storage on both the main body and hip belts.
- Carrier Weight: 7 lbs 14 oz
- Gear Capacity: 26 liters
- Total Weight Limit: 49 lbs 8oz
- High storage capacity
- Fits a range of body types
- Excellent sunshade
- The weight of the carrier isn’t worth it for shorter hikes
The Thule Sapling is designed for comfort. In addition to the traditional support on the child’s seat, the ErgoRide provides extended support up underneath its legs to better disperse the child weight.
This makes it more comfortable for the child, and more comfortable for the person carrying. Additionally, a fully adjustable torso and hip belt provide a perfect fit and a quick transition from parent to parent, while the fully ventilated backpanel keeps parent comfortable and cool.
It has dual access, so you can load your child from the top of the side panel opening and a fully removable, machine washable child seat and drool pad for easy clean up.
But Thule’s biggest win is the enormous belt pockets with convenient side zippers that make it possible to easily access the 22L gear compartment while wearing the pack.
The carrier is also compatible with a hydration bladder, and features a drink tube exit port in the gear compartment. The water reservoir is sold separately, as is the rain cover.
- Carrier Weight: 7lbs 1 oz
- Gear Capacity: 22 liters
- Total Weight Limit: 48 lbs
- ErgoRide leg support for comfort
- Big hip belt pockets
- Child seat and drool pad are machine washable.
Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite
Another top pick is the Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite, a multi-day hike carrier with an ergonomic design and large gear capacity.
It adjusts well between body types, making it a good option for couples with significant height differences and has a range of additional features, such as adjustable foot stirrups and an integrated sunshade.
One clever add-on is a special “dirty compartment,” which contains the odour of stinky diapers. It also has a large zippered pocket with internal stretch pockets that store extra layers, toys and anything else you may need.
- Carrier Weight: 7lbs 4 oz
- Gear Capacity: 26 liters
- Total Weight Limit: 50 lbs
- Good storage
- Fits a wide range of body types
- Its “dirty compartment” really does seal away the stench
- Not dual-access
- Weight load sits high, compromising balance
Phil & Teds Escape Child Carrier
The Phil & Teds Escape is a compact and slim design for those who find regular carriers too bulky but don’t want to lose the frame and their storage.
Weighing only 3kg (6.6 lbs) it is one of the lightest full sized, fully featured carriers on the market.
But lightweight doesn’t mean it loses any storage, this carrier has a whopping 30L storage capacity that includes multiple pockets and a detachable daypack backpack.
The Escape also boasts a ton of additional extras, including a sun hood, rain visor, changing mat, and space for a 2 litre water bladder (not included).
- Carrier Weight: 6.6 lbs
- Gear Capacity: 30 litres
- Total Weight Limit: 39 lbs
- Small kickstand
- Packs flat
- Removable daypack
- Not as comfy as some other designs
Phil & Teds Parade
The Phil & Teds Parade is really designed for urban adventures rather than full on hiking, but is worth considering as a lightweight model.
It has less storage than the Escape, but it is much lighter, which is what you’d expect from a compact design. It weights just 4.4 lbs but can carry children up to 40 lbs in weight.
That’s not to say there is no storage though: it features a large lower storage pocket, smaller side panels & front belt pockets, with a total storage capacity of 12.5L. it also comes with a detachable mini backpack that also holds 2.3L.
The Parade is not really designed for an all-day hike, but it has the security of a kickstand that frameless designs lack and folds completely flat so you can carry it on a plane or easily take it onto public transport.
- Carrier Weight: 4.4 lbs
- Gear Capacity: 12.5 litres
- Total Weight Limit: 40 lbs
- Not as comfortable as some other options
- The kid’s weight sits high on your back.
Ergobaby Omni Breeze
The Ergobaby Omni Breeze is one of the many Ergo frameless carriers. Although not really designed for hiking, they are a good option for carrying a newborn.
All Ergobaby carriers work on the same concept, but the OmniBreeze is its most breathable carrier, making it the best bet forfor warmer weather or activities like hiking.
Suitable from newborn to toddler, the ergonomic design keeps the child close with the weight on your hips, not your upper back. It is designed to allow carrying in various positions (both front and back, inward facing and outward facing) that you can adapt as the child gets bigger.
It comes with a sunhood but note that there is no frame, harness, or kickstand, and storage is at a minimum (small side pockets that will fit a mobile phone and keys).
- Carrier Weight: 2.29lbs
- Gear Capacity: Tiny pouch
- Total Weight Limit: 45 lbs
- Pack in a large diaper bag or carry on
- Isn’t bulky, so it can be used in tight spaces, like the plane aisle, grocery stores, and getting on a bus
- No frame or kickstand
- No storage
Lillebaby Complete All Seasons
Like the Ergobaby, the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons is a frame-free carrier that can be worn in front with newborns and take bigger babies and toddlers on the back.
This one has a panel that can be unzipped in hot weather to provide better temperature control, although it is not as cool as an Ergo with mesh.
It also has special lumbar support for the front carry. The extra padding does mean it is bulkier to pack though.
- Carrier Weight: 2.5 lbs
- Gear Capacity:
- Total Weight Limit: 45 lbs
- Temperature control panel
- Lumbar support
- Excellent for tight spaces such as planes and narrow trails
- A bit bulky for a frameless carrier
- Ventilation isn’t enough for hotter climates.
TULA Free-To-Grow Baby
The TULA Free-To-Grow Baby is an award-winning frameless design that can carry newborns on the front and big babies and toddlers on the back.
It is lightweight and packs very well in a large diaper bag. In addition, the mesh panels help with ventilation.
- Carrier Weight: 1.7 lbs
- Gear Capacity: None
- Total Weight Limit: 45lbs
- Packs easily
- Not bulky
- Suitable for newborns
- No pockets
- No sunshade
- No frame
- No kickstand
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