Baby backpack carriers are ideal for active families that want to continue their outdoor excursions even when the baby arrives.
Head for hikes in the wilderness with a framed baby backpack that provides good padding and support for mom or dad and a high perch view for the little one.
Soft baby carrier packs allow you to take your child with you on walks in the park, shopping trips to the mall and any activity where you want to keep your hands free and your baby close at the same time.
In the past, some baby carriers were not designed properly (see Gerry backpacks), but now the technology ensures that your child remains safe in the harness seat with less strain on your body and better overall comfort.
The advantages of using Baby backpack carriers include never leaving them aside in the aisle, keeping hands free for other children, and not having to deal with troublesome strollers in crowded areas, on bumpy sidewalks and areas with limited access.
The range of child carriers is extensive with a wide variety of styles, features and price. So take your time to really determine how often you’ll use the pack and what comfort level is required before spending the big bucks.
Baby Backpack Carriers: Factors For Selection
Frame vs. Soft Carrier – There are two main types of backpack style baby carriers: the metal frame hiking type and the soft, no-frame carrier. Hiking carriers are very sturdy, constructed with aluminum framing to carry loads up to 70 lbs. for short and long distance treks, and usually feature a stand mechanism to set the carrier down on the ground. The child rides in a high cockpit at head level or above. Soft carriers are made for limited everyday use for short shopping trips, daily walks and even when doing house chores. These baby carriers offer less back support against strain and carry less weight, plus the child rides lower on your back at head level or below.
Comfort For Two – Of course the priority is the baby’s comfort and safety and most backpacks provide proper padding, harness support and head rest for most baby sizes. A child must be able to maintain head control with a steady neck before being placed in a carrier. The real value of a particular type or brand is when the wearer feels little pull or strain on the shoulders that allows for longer times between backpack breaks. All the good features of a quality hiking pack also need to be featured in framed baby backpacks as well.
Baby Harness – The most critical part of any Baby backpack carrier is how the harness keeps your child safe and comfortable in the cockpit. Two harness styles are used, a 5-point harness and an H-harness. The 5-point harness, similar to car seats, uses one strap coming up from the crotch, with two shoulder straps and two waist straps to connect in the center over a child’s sternum and belly. The H-harness connects both waist and shoulder straps at the sternum without a crotch strap.
Adjustable Torso – For both parents to be able to switch use, baby backpack carriers require adjustable torso lengths to fit different body types. On petite women or smaller frames, the pack length extends too long for comfortable walking. Another consideration for moms is the placement of the chest strap that stabilizes the pack load. It can become very uncomfortable by adding pressure, especially for breastfeeding mothers.
Stand Alone – Baby backpack carriers can be very clumsy to put on and take off. Most frame types come with a pullout kickstand that allows it to stand alone on the ground or a table to facilitate easier strapping on or setting down. For some models, users complain that pushing in the kickstand is hard when standing up with the child.
Baby Backpack Carriers: Tips For Buyer Satisfaction
Weight Capacity – For comparison, front style baby carriers max out at 25 lbs., backpack baby carriers with a frame can easily handle twice the load and a bit more. That means soft backpack carriers are somewhere in between, depending on overall comfort level. The heavier the weight, the harder it is to carry a child for longer periods, especially with loads reaching 60 to 70 lbs. with added supplies.
Storage Options – Frame style Baby backpack carriers have quite a bit of additional storage for baby items and other supplies needed on an outdoor hike. This means parents may be able to forget about having to take that other daypack. And some backpacks even work well as a hiking pack alternative when the baby stays at home.
Weather Protection – Getting outdoors with a baby is great, but the hazards of hot sun, harsh winds, hard rain and annoying mosquitos means you need to protect your child from the elements. Some baby backpack carriers may provide a netting but usually an additional weather canopy has to be purchased separately. Child protection is a necessity more than an option, so remember to get a hood.
Extra Features – There are a number of features that might make your journey more pleasant. Extra storage compartments are always useful and bottle holders keep drinks handy for kids and parents. And if your child seems to lose interest in what mom and dad enjoy, toy loops come to rescue for attaching favorite play things. And if you’re hiking solo with your kid riding on your back, child-view mirrors let you take a peek at your passenger without a neck injury.