5 Best Recommended Child Carriers for 2022
So, you have a little one, but you don’t want to stop getting after it and squeezing in those day hikes whenever you can. This is understandable! There are pictures in a shoebox somewhere in my parents’ house of me on my dad’s back as a little tyke at the top of some 46er in the Adirondacks. Getting your kid out in the woods as early as possible will set the tone for countless future vacations and outings.
Getting them out there as early as possible will require you to carry them, at least for the first few years. And unless you plan on putting them on your shoulders, piggybacking them, or throwing them under one arm like a sack of fertilizer, you’re going to need the right child carrier to protect the most precious piece of cargo there is.
When looking for a new piece of gear, we tend to be drawn to comparing the bells and whistles, the different features, that set your options apart. Some child carriers have little canopies to protect your little one from the sun, some have super soft chin rests, and some have additional storage spaces for layers, snacks, or diapers, but features aren’t the only thing that matters. Having the most tricked-out baby carrier won’t do you much good if your back hurts after thirty minutes of wearing it.
Backpacks are sized based on torso length. All of the packs we recommend have adjustable torsos that range, typically, between 15 and 22 inches. Before choosing a backpack, we recommend you read this article and watch the videos provided by REI on how to properly fit a pack.
The Cadillac of Backpacks
This pack has it all. The mesh back panel allows for the pack to wrap around you smoothly and provides extra ventilation to keep you from getting too sweaty. There is a retractable sunshade for your child and a large compartment underneath that is big enough for a diaper kit. The drool pad is removable for easy washing and there are built-in loops for attaching toys. The longer you have this pack, the more neat capabilities you’ll discover.
Coming in at just $20 under the Poco Plus, Deuter’s Kid Comfort Child Carrier has been a long-time favorite among outdoorsy parents. With pivoting 3D hip fins that are contoured to move and adjust to the wearer’s movement along with the plush, suspended mesh padding, this pack listens to your body and does what you need it to do. It has a foldable design that makes packing it up and traveling with it a breeze. And it too has a sunshade and the option to put a water bladder in as well (not included).
This pack is a bit of a minimalist. It pretty much has what you need to carry your kiddo and a few other odds and ends, like a map or a phone or some snacks. Kelty does make a sunshade that can be purchased separately.
The Rugged One
Thule Sapling Child Carrier
Planning to do trickier terrain than the average stroll in the park? Looking for something beefier that can handle you stepping across streams? Look no further. This pack has the largest gear compartment, 22 liters, of all the packs recommended. Your child can load from either the top or the side, which can make it easier for your partner to take them out in a hurry. There is a retractable UPF 50 sunshade that is easy to take out and put away. Finally, the child seat and the drool pad are both removable and washable.
Built for Moms
Most of the packs above are designed as “unisex” packs, but with their minimum torso length at 15 or 16 inches, they exclude a good number of women. This pack, however, ranges from 14 – 18 inches and is one to two pounds lighter than all of the other packs. The torso is also narrower than the unisex packs, providing women with a more snug, tailored fit. Why get a pack that’s going to fit him better than it fits you?
The Bottom Line
When hitting the trail with a little one, you want them to be safe. But you also want them to have fun and hopefully develop their own love of outdoor spaces. This gear will make the “getting out there” easier, but the rest is up to the wonder of the wild. Happy Trails!