The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking

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Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by worldoftravelswithkids

Carrying your baby or toddler around is very popular – hence this article to help you select the best toddler or baby carrier backpack for hiking.  There’s no maneuvering of a bulky buggy, and you can keep your child close to you at all times.  It also leaves your hands free to get on with other things!  But with so many types of baby and toddler carriers on the market, how do you choose?  In this post, we are talking about toddler and baby backpacks for hiking, as opposed to those designed to carry a child around town on an everyday basis.

The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking
Hiking in the Kings Canyon, Central Australia with Baby #1

If you want to take a hike in the great outdoors and wish to carry your child with you, then this guide is for you.  As owners of a couple of types of child carrier hiking backpacks ourselves, we have taken both babies and toddlers hiking.  Whether it’s taking a toddler trekking in the Andes or completing the Short Inca Trail with a baby we have been there, done that – and got the child hiking backpack to prove it!

In this guide, we list 10 of the best hiking baby carrier and baby hiking backpack products.  Various brands are included, such as big names like Osprey, Deuter, Thule, Kelty, and Macpac.  However, if your best baby backpack for hiking would be a more affordable model, as we also list some budget options from Luvdbaby and Clevrplus.

The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking
Hiking in the Sacred Valley of Peru with baby #2

 

If it’s a toddler carrier for hiking you require –  for an older child rather than a baby – don’t worry.  The products we have selected suit various age ranges, and you can find out more about that under each listing.  Read on to discover the advantages of using a baby or toddler hiking carrier, the relevance of the child’s age, what to look for when choosing, the types of carrier, and our number one top tip.  We also review our recommended products, highlighting what’s great about each one. But first, check out this handy quick reference table so you can compare carriers at a glance.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.
hiking carrier for toddlers
Hiking in Western Australia with Baby #3

Comparison Table: A Quick Reference Guide To Finding The Best Child Carrier Backpack

NameCapacityProduct WeightPrice RangeOur Score
Deuter Kid Comfort18L7lbs 3oz3009.9
Deuter Kid Comfort  Pro22L8lbs 4oz34010
Osprey Poco20L7lbs 7oz2529.7
Osprey Poco Plus26L7lbs 9oz3309.8
Thule Sapling Elite26L7lbs 9oz3409.5
Kelty Journey PerfectFit26L6lbs 6oz2209.4
Macpac Possum20L6lbs 6oz2219.6
Luvdbaby Premium18L6lb 5oz1709.2
Luvdbaby Premium with backpack18L6lb 8oz1759.3
ClevrPlus Cross Country15L5lb 5oz1289.1

hiking carrier for toddlers

What Is A Child Carrier For Hiking

A hiking child carrier varies from a sling or more structured carrier for daily use, as it’s designed for comfort during long periods of use as well as strenuous activity.  A hiking toddler and baby carrier is, therefore, stronger and more robust.  It looks more like a backpack than a baby sling and is built in the same kind of way to ensure that it is as ergonomic as possible.  This sort of carrier is thus ideal for outdoor activities.

hiking carrier for toddlers
Baby #1 on an overnight hike in the Andes

The Advantages Of Using Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking

Why buy a toddler or baby carrier for hiking trips? Well, a buggy is hardly practical when you’re walking the trails or trekking up a steep slope. Using a carrier frees up your hands, which helps when you need to steady yourself. It also helps with balance. Once the carrier is in place, it should be comfortable to wear and robust enough to last for many hiking trips to come. All are adjustable for a snug, secure fit, and so that you can switch between parents.

Perhaps you’ve never come across these hiking child carriers before. If so, welcome to a whole new world, where having a little one doesn’t stop you from taking hiking trips. As well as fresh air and exercise for you, imagine their astonished expression when they witness some natural wonder they’ve never seen the likes of before!

baby backpacks for hiking
Honestly, a pack that is comfortable for a baby to sleep in is a blessing!

Finding The Best Child Carrier For Hiking By Age

Babies

Looking for a hiking baby carrier? Most of the carriers here are suitable for use once the baby can support their own head rather than from birth.  So you can carry a baby this way from about 6 months plus.

Toddlers

The best toddler carrier for hiking is easy to find, as all carriers listed are suitable for children aged between 1 and 3.

Young children

If you want a hiking carrier for a 3-year-old or more, then look for one with a larger carrying capacity.  Some of the best products here can support a heavier load with ease.

What To Look For In The Best Baby Hiking Backpack Or Hiking Carrier For Toddlers

So what features make for the best toddler carrier backpack products?  What features are must-haves on the best baby backpack for travel recommendations?

Weight

The weight of the carrier is key, as you must support that as well as the child.  Add together the weight of the carrier and the child and that is the load you will be carrying while hiking.  Carriers that include more optional extras can be a little heavier and don’t forget the weight of any extra kit you may need to store.

Capacity

What is the carrier’s capacity?  The ability to carry a larger load is good, as it means the carrier will grow with your child for longer.  This can save money in the long term, as you don’t have to replace a carrier because they’ve outgrown that model.

toddler carriers
Hiking in the Andes

Adjustability

All the child carrier backpacks in this guide are adjustable.  This means that they can be made to fit each wearer perfectly. Some have more adjustable components than others and lookout for a product that has been ergonomically designed for even weight distribution or to ease pressure on the back, shoulders, and hips.

I actually use my carrier for things like visiting a fairground as well!

Extra features

Some of these carriers come with extra such as a sunshade, rain cover, or detachable backpack.  These are useful features and can save money as otherwise, you may fork out to buy them separately. Don’t forget that every additional feature will add to the weight, however!

toddler carrier for hiking
Mama and baby hiking around Ayers Rock/ Uluru – we bought a sunshade after this particular day when she wouldn’t keep a hat on!

Your hiking trips

Where will you go hiking, and how often?  If you take frequent trips, then it will be worth investing in the best child carrier you can afford.  Those taking just one hiking trip might be happy with a cheaper product.  The included items – like a sunshade or rain cover – may also influence your choice, depending on the weather at your destination.

toddler carrier for hiking
Hiking in Kalbarri Western Australia

Our Number One Top Tip

One thing we’ve found when using a baby or toddler backpack carrier is how different carriers really do suit different body shapes.  We’re referring to the parents here, rather than the child.  In other words, the best baby carrier for hiking will depend on the individual – or couple – who will be using it.  The same applies to any backpack toddler carrier.  Hiking is a fairly demanding activity even when you’re not carrying a child, so it’s important to find the product that will feel comfortable.  It also needs to be ergonomically designed, in order to minimize the chance of strain on the muscles and joints.  A comfortable baby back carrier for hiking really can make all the difference – to parent and child alike.  Look for one that fits a range of torso sizes, and that has as many adjustable components as possible.

hiking carrier for toddlers
On the Cape to Cape Track Western Australia, with Baby #3

Child Backpack Carrier Types

Some of the best hiking carriers for toddlers are very structured, with a built-in frame, while other baby hiking backpack products are not framed and thus less structured.  As the latter is likely to be more lightweight, what are the advantages of using a framed child carrier backpack?  A framed carrier offers improved safety, as in the event of a fall the frame can take some impact and protect the child.  It is also great for ensuring a comfortable and even distribution of the load.  For these reasons, we only list framed carriers within this guide, as they are heavy-duty enough to cope with the demands of hiking with children!

hiking carrier for toddlers
Family of 3 at Kings Canyon

Our Top 10 Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking

Deuter Kid Comfort


As we own a Deuter child carrier ourselves, we simply had to start with this brand!  The Deuter Kid Comfort has been carefully designed to suit the needs of both children and their parents.  These top-quality carriers are also made for outdoor use, rather than simply for use on an everyday basis.  Various features have thus been included to make hiking more comfortable for both the wearer and the child.  Deuter’s own ‘Vari Slide’ back system allows each user to adjust the length for a perfect fit.  Airflow is assured by an ‘Aircomfort’ mesh layer that creates a ventilation gap between the wearer and the carrier.

The frame has also been tailor-made to ensure even distribution of the child’s weight, while for security as well as ergonomics there are adjustable shoulder straps and sternum belt, a padded hip belt, and flexible hip fins that can be pulled forward.  A soft pillow is built-in for nap time, while a storage pouch gives plenty of space for snacks, drinks, toys, and clothing.  Purchasers can also choose between blue and burgundy.

Deuter Kid Comfort Pro

This carrier is very similar to the Deuter Kid Comfort but has the useful addition of a removable daypack.  Like the other model, the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro also has ergonomic features – namely those hip and sternum belts, flexible hip fins, and load adjustment straps.  Ventilation is again maximized by the airflow back – Deuter says this can reduce perspiration by around 25%.  The steel frame is made for even load distribution.  An additional feature is a removable daypack, which is great for those moments when a quick change of a nappy or clothing is required. T here is a mirror for a rear view of the child as well as that soft pillow and an integrated sunroof.  Deuter’s own Durable Water Repellent coating is also applied to this baby and toddler hiking carrier.

 

Osprey Poco

Osprey is another one of those highly respected outdoor brands, so as you might expect their toddler and baby carriers for hiking are products you can rely on to last.  They also offer the ultimate in comfort and practicality.  Like the Deuter models, the Osprey ones come in a standard model – the Poco – as well as the Poco Plus (detailed below).  Osprey fit their carriers with their own ‘Airspeed’ mesh back system, where again there is a ventilation gap between the user and the backpack.  There is a built-in sunshade, plus a removable rain cover for wet weather.  The child’s safety harness, foot stirrups, and seat are fully adjustable to ensure maximal comfort.  This one also has flexible hip wings for the adult and breathable side panels for the child.

 

Osprey Poco Plus

The Osprey Poco Plus has all the features of the Poco, as well as some additional, useful features.  These include an extra hip belt plus more pockets for storage, including hip belt pockets, a large lower compartment, mesh side pockets, and the main compartment with zip fastening.  So if you have more than just the child to carry, it may be worth your while paying a little extra for the Poco Plus.  Like the standard Poco, the Plus also has a luxury child compartment with adjustable fastenings, a sunshade, and an adjustable torso to ensure that snug fit for adult comfort.

 

Thule Sapling Elite

Like the Osprey and Deuter models, the Thule Sapling Elite is highly adjustable to ensure a snug fit – whichever parent ends up carrying the load.  It also has hip belt pockets to store items for easy access, a detachable backpack, and a rearview mirror.  There is also a load stabilizing system that can be altered while on the move.  An ergonomic seat, built-in sunshade, and breathable back panel also contribute to continued comfort.  The Sapling Elite also allows you to load and unload the child from either the side or top of the carrier.

 

Kelty Journey PerfectFit


Kelty models come in a little more affordable than those made by Osprey, Thule, and Deuter.  Thus they are good quality carriers but may have fewer features.  The Kelty Journey PerfectFit, for example, does not come with a sunshade, although it is an item you can purchase separately if required.  It does have some helpful features, however, such as a couple of mesh side storage pockets that are easily accessible.  The PerfectFit suspension ensures a comfortable carry for parents and children, while the grab handles are great for picking up the backpack quickly.

 

Macpac Possum

Macpac is one of the most popular outdoor brands in Australia and New Zealand, renowned for its practical, good quality products.  The brand stress that the Possum has been designed to ensure ultimate comfort for both parent and child.  The seat is adjustable, while the harness is fully breathable.  It has also been made to grow along with your child.  The wide padded hip belt contributes to even weight distribution, while there are plenty of pockets for on-the-go storage.  Optional accessories such as a sunshade, pillow, and rain cover can be bought separately.

 

Luvdbaby Premium

This Luvdbaby product is another great pick for those on a budget.  It comes from an Irish family company that built the brand based on their own love of getting outdoors.  This means they have really thought about what features to include – such as a foldable changing pad.  There is also a removable sunshade and multiple storage pockets on the outer as well as the waist belt.  A strong aluminum frame and ripstop fabric ensure this carrier is built to last.  The design is also made to protect the parent’s back and the load-bearing belt helps to spread the weight evenly.

Luvdbaby Premium With Removable Backpack

This is pretty much the same as the above product: like Deuter and Osprey, there are two options from Luvdbaby worthy of listing.  This one comes with the handy addition of a detachable backpack. Like the standard, the premium has a sunshade and changing mat included.  It is also made from that super strong ripstop polyester, with a sturdy aluminum frame.  There are plenty of pockets as well as the removable backpack, and again it is designed for even weight distribution and to protect the parent’s back.

 

ClevrPlus Cross Country

Unlike some other budget models, this ClevrPlus carrier is made specifically for outdoor use.  This weighs less than the products listed above and even comes with a built-in sunshade and rain cover – as well as a detachable, washable drool pad.  The shoulder straps, hip belts, and lumbar region are generously padded to ensure all-day comfort, while this framed carrier is recommended for use with children aged between 9 months and 4 years.

 

 Useful Links

If you’re into hiking and trekking – or simply love South America as much as we do –  then why not check out this post on Trekking With Children In Peru or this one about Trekking The Inca Trail With Kids.

The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking
Hiking in Kalbarri, keeping the 4 year old motivated!!!

The Verdict – The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking

Which of these toddler carriers or baby backpacks for hiking will be best for you?  It really does depend on various factors.  It may be a good idea to decide how much you can spend first of all – although would you pay a little more if it meant getting additional features or a backpack carrier that would last for longer?

As mentioned, our top tip is to look for a baby and toddler carrier that is as adjustable as possible.  Some models will state what length of torso they can be adjusted to fit, so it might be time to get that tape measure out!

You also need to consider your hiking trips.  How often will take your child hiking?  If trips are likely to be frequent, then it’s a good idea to invest in a better carrier.  If you’re buying a carrier for just one holiday, you might find that a cheaper model will suffice.

The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking
Kings Canyon

Where you take your trips may also be important.  If you’re going to hike in a country with a rainy climate, then a rain cover may be essential.  The same goes for a sunshade if you hike in hot weather.

How much stuff are you going to carry – as well as the child?  Does a removable backpack sound like a feature that would be useful to you, or will minimal storage pockets suffice?  Think about what you need to take – food, drinks, clothing, first aid items, nappies, and extra layers of clothing are common essentials.

The bottom line?  We love our Deuter child carrier and think it’s worth paying a little extra for a premium brand that will last.  It can also be used comfortably by us both, thanks to the fact that it’s highly adjustable.  Whatever you choose, we hope this guide helps you to have a great hiking trip.

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The Best Toddler Carriers And Baby Backpacks For Hiking

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