Best Hiking Baby Carriers of 2020

Best Hiking Baby Carriers of 2020

May 28, 2020

Best Hiking Baby Carriers of 2020

A hiking backpack makes tackling the great outdoors with your little one in tow a whole lot easier.Best Hiking Baby Carriers of 2020

Hiking is an awesome activity the whole family can enjoy—even the littlest members. But before you hit the trails, you’ll need a way to carry your baby around that’s comfortable both for them and for you. That’s where a hiking baby carrier comes in.

Do You Need a Hiking Baby Carrier?

Also called child carriers, hiking baby carriers are a must-have for any family adventure where you’re hoping to bring along your little one. While you can use a regular baby carrier, most don’t provide the back support that you’ll need for a long hike. They also don’t give your baby a great view of the scenery around them.

Hiking backpacks are designed to let you comfortably carry a large amount of weight (baby + gear) for a long time. A child carrier won’t magically make lugging around your baby effortless (darn), but if you find one with the right fit, it should make your day out on the trails a whole lot easier.

When Can You Use a Hiking Baby Carrier?

You’ll be able to use a baby hiking carrier when your little one has strong head and neck control, which is usually around six months old. Most carriers can be used until your little one is about 40 pounds—so well into the toddler years.

What to Look for in a Hiking Baby Carrier

There are a few things you’ll want to consider before purchasing a baby carrier for hiking.

  • Fit. Finding a hiking baby carrier that matches up with your torso length is key to your comfort when you’re carrying around your baby or toddler. If you’re planning on sharing your carrier with your spouse, partner or friend, be sure it has adjustable suspension so you can customize it to the wearer’s torso length. You’ll also want to consider what other adjustable features the backpack has (things like straps, hip belt, etc.) so you can customize those fit features too.
  • Weight. What’s your trade-off for weight versus features? Carriers with more features will be heavier, but if you’re a family who hikes regularly and on longer trails then those extra features—and a little extra weight—might be worthwhile. If you’re a more casual, infrequent hiker, though, it may be best to stick to a lighter, more basic model.
  • Storage space. Again you’ll want to consider how much time you’re likely to be spending on the trail and if you’ll have other adults with you or not. If you’re hiking with baby solo or usually hike to a campsite then you’ll want a pack with lots of room for things like diapers and snacks. If most of your gear will be in a separate backpack carried by someone else, then storage isn’t as big of a factor in which hiking baby carrier you choose.
  • Try before you buy. The best way to figure out if a hiking baby carrier is comfortable for you and your baby is to actually try it on. If you have the opportunity to head out to a store to test a few different carriers out, do it. If not, make sure you purchase your carrier from an online store with a solid return policy.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re familiar with how properly to use your hiking baby carrier and all of its features before you head out on your first adventure. The outdoor store REI has a great resource that walks you through the main parts of a hiking carrier, fitting your child correctly, how to put on and take off a carrier and more here.

Hiking with Baby Resources and Checklist

Like most things that involve a baby or toddler, being prepared and planning in advance will help you make the most of any outdoor adventure.

  • Reading about the trail in advance can help you determine whether it’s a good choice for your family. (Remember, you won’t be able to go as far with kids as you did on your own, so flexibility is key!) The Sierra club trails database is a great resource.
  • A hiking app is a great resource for both discovering new trails and making sure you don’t lose your way. The Hiking Project and AllTrails are two worth a download.
  • Make sure you’re using child-safe sunscreen and bug spray whenever possible. Dress your little one in long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat (as long as it’s not too hot) to minimize exposure to both sun and bugs.

Here’s what we recommend packing for a day on the trails with your little one in tow:

  • Diapers, wipes and a disposable bag or wet bag
  • On-the-go changing pad or cloth
  • Spare outfit for baby
  • Bug spray and sunscreen
  • Bottles and formula/milk or snacks and sippy cup (depending on age)
  • Water
  • Fully charged phone
  • First aid kit
  • Optional: burp cloth; nursing cover; cloth to sit on; baby rain jacket

Babylist’s Best Hiking Baby Carriers

Best Hiking Baby Carrier

This hiking baby carrier ranks high on the list in every category including fit, comfort and storage space. The aluminum frame pack features a fully adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps as well as an adjustable torso section so it can be used by wearers of different heights. Users rave about the way the carrier distributes weight; the arched design helps put most of your child’s weight on your hips, making it easier to carry them comfortably even for long stretches of time.

There’s a built-in daypack to hold all of your extra stuff, mesh ventilation for both you and your little one, ergonomic cushioning (including a pillow for extra comfort and naps) and a safety harness system that uses color-coded buckles for ease of use. There’s even a locking kickstand that helps the pack stay upright when you’re not wearing it.

Additional Specs
Carrier Weight 7.1 lbs
Maximum Load Child + gear + pack 48 lbs

Hiking Baby Carrier with Best Storage

Tons of storage space for your gear and a supportive suspension system are the two standout features of this hiking baby carrier from popular outdoors brand Osprey. This carrier’s suspension system is made from mesh and is completely separate from the hip belt, helping it to support even a heavier toddler and keep the wearer cool along the way. The Poco Plus also boasts one of the highest gear storage limits of all of the carriers on our list at 26 liters. It’s packed with tons of zippered compartments and side pockets and holds everything you’ll need for a longer hike.

Other extras on this carrier include a removable and washable drool pad, a reservoir sleeve built into the back panel and a sunshade that parents rave about thanks to its high, broad coverage.

Additional Specs
Carrier Weight 7.89 lbs
Maximum Load Child + gear + pack 48.5 lbs

Most Affordable Hiking Baby Carrier

Priced around a hundred bucks and the number one bestselling child carrier on Amazon, the ClevrPlus is a great choice if you’re a casual hiker looking to hit the trails with your family but not spend a ton of cash. The pack is the lightest of our best-of picks, weighing in at well under six pounds. It’s got a lot of great features considering the price including an adjustable seat to fit your growing child’s height, a built-in canopy and rain cover, an ample storage area for all of your stuff, a kickstand and even foot stirrups.

Cons include a light maximum load weight (40 pounds, which means your little one will outgrow this carrier sooner than the others on our list) and thinner shoulder and hip belt padding that doesn’t compare with that of higher-priced carriers. It’s probably not the best option for an avid hiking family, but it more than gets the job done if you’re looking for a way to safely tow your little one on a few casual hikes each season.

Additional Specs
Carrier Weight 5.5 lbs
Maximum load Child + gear + pack 40 lbs

Best Hiking Baby Carrier with Extra Features

This carrier is on the larger side but comes packed with lots of useful features and smartly-designed components. There’s an adjustable back panel to fit different torso lengths, straps that can be adjusted on the go to help distribute your child’s weight better and take pressure off of your back, a built-in sunshade and plenty of storage including a water reservoir. The carrier also allows you to load your kiddo from either the top or the sides, a super convenient feature when you’re trying to wriggle your little one in and out of the pack.

If you’re looking for even more features, step up to Thule’s Sapling Elite Carrier. It will cost you a bit more but includes extra storage and even a mirror so you can peek at your little one while you’re on the trail.

Additional Specs
Carrier Weight 7.5 lbs
Maximum load Child + gear + pack 47 lbs

Best Mid-Range Hiking Baby Carrier

The PerfectFit Signature is the middle-of-the-road pack from Kelty. (For a more basic, more affordable carrier check out the standard PerfectFit Carrier.) There’s a lot to love here, including a suspension system with an adjustable fit for different-sized wearers, a good amount of pockets for gear storage, a built-in sunshade and a five-point harness with a padded aluminum roll cage to protect your little one in case of a fall. We also love the adjustable foot stirrups that help your little one stay comfy and keep you from getting kicked.

Additional Specs
Carrier Weight 6.4 lbs
Maximum Load Child + gear + pack 48.5 lbs
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