Berkeley Parents Network >
What/Where to Buy >
Baby Gear >
Which frame pack to buy?
We are in the market for a frame pack and I am looking for
advice as to which one to buy. We need it to meet the
following requirements: -Work comfortably for shorter day
hikes around the bay area as well as long haul walks when
traveling in Europe later this year. (I need a lot more
support than even Moby and Ergo provide as I have a bad
back). -Have adequate storage room in the backpack area for
food and diapers for baby, tourbook, etc. -Fold small
enough to fit into a suitcase -Switch easily between my tiny
short frame and hubby's large frame -Work for smaller baby
up to toddler.
Also, some advice to get her to like it. We test drove a
few at REI today and she seemed to hate all of them except
the one I otherwise liked the least.
Needs to Ditch the Stroller
We loved the Stallion by Tough Traveler. It was
comfortable, had a sunshade option, fit me at 5' 6' and my
husband at 6'1'. I went to the website and it looks like
they still make it.
We did lots of hiking with it. One caveat is that it took
awhile to adjust all the straps the first time, so read
your directions and make sure your little one is comfy. We
also hung a toy on the back so the baby could see it.
Backpack for hiking with 26-lb toddler
Hi, I've looked through the archives about this topic but
wanted to solicit more current feedback. My husband and I
recently tried a Kelty backpack carrier to hike with our
26-lb. son. Neither of us liked the carrier because 1) our
son was so far out behind that it felt like you had to lean
forward to counterbalance, far more than you do in a regular
backpacking pack; 2) it felt like too much weight and
pressure ended up on our shoulders, making for really
uncomfortable hiking; 3) there was nowhere for our son to
rest his head, and he slept with his poor little neck at a
90-degree angle. I've eyedballed other carriers and many of
them also seem to hold the child way out behind and offer no
head support. Can anyone recommend a hiking carrier for a
toddler that you love, that distributes the weight correctly
on the parent, gives and child a place to rest his head -- a
pack that you can ''wear'' instead of carry awkwardly?
Longing to hike again
I have been really happy with our Ergo carrier for hiking. With a
little practice, it was really easy to get our son in and out. It's a
soft carrier with a padded waist strap for carrying weight on your
hips; it can be worn on the front or the back - you will appreciate
front-wearing when you're going uphill. It also has a hood with
straps that can support a sleeping child's head - it's pretty
difficult to attach the hood without another adult's assistance,
though. Plus, since there's no frame it's really portable and easy to
bring along, say, on an airplane.
You could try an Ergo carrier. That is what I have used. Wear your
hair up (if nec.) and your child can rest the head on your back.
There is no separation between your bodies, though, so it can get
pretty hot and sweaty.
We own many slings and carriers and above all our favorite for hiking
and just about everything else is the Ergo. Our 3.5 yr old still likes
to go in it sometimes! I never could get along with frame carriers,
they hurt my back. 2nd favorite for us is the Baby Trekker, similar in
design to the Ergo and cheaper but a bit more fiddly.
A great backpack is the one by Madden or laFuma; we had it 10 years
ago; I hope it is still available. It fit my husband and me
comfortably, and we have a 12'' difference in height!
We really like the Phil & Ted's Escape backpack. We also tried a Kelty
backpack before the Escape and it just didn't work out. A friend had
the Escape and it looked so much better for everyone -- parent and
child -- that we went out and got one. It's great! Lots of adjustments
to be made to make the load bearable for the parent. Perhaps the best
part is how the child rides in the backpack. The kid seems to be more
upright and lower down on the parent's back. They have a wonderful
padded headrest that you can adjust to the right height and close the
sides in as well. Here's a link to the website:
It looks like they've done a bit of a redesign because ours came with
a cute little backpack for the kids that attached to the top/back of
the big backpack -- more schlepping space for you and a cute little
backpack for the little one. Can't recommend it highly enough. We
bought ours at Baby World in Oakland.
My family uses the Deuter Kid Comfort II. You can find it online, REI,
or Rockridge Kids in Oakland. I bought it at Rockridge Kids after
trying many on. Take your child with you to feel the weight
distribution. We have used it many times and it still looks new. It
was the only carrier my husband and I both liked. We have different
body types and it is comfortable for both of us. It has a lot of great
pockets to store stuff that is easy to get to. Though now that my
daughter is 35 pounds I carry another backpack for food and supplies.
Loving the outdoors
We used a Deuter brand ''KangaKid,'' which is a soft backpack with an
internal frame. It is quite adjustable, with a thick waist band, and
held our daughter closely to our body. Also stored lots of gear, which
is a plus. Was heavier than a lightweight backpack, but not too bad...
You want a soft structured carrier, rather than a frame pack. Not
only does an SSC keep the baby's weight close to the wearer's center
of gravity, which is much safer and more comfortable, it's also far
more versatile than a frame pack because it's much less bulky and you
can use it indoors too -- for shopping, household chores, etc. SSCs
tend to be easier to adjust for different size wearers, too, and the
structured belt (with firm padding) does a good job of distributing
most of the baby's weight to your hips.
The best known SSC is the Ergo, and it's a great choice for hiking
because it's rugged and has a good storage pocket and hood. But there
are other choices, including Patapum, Beco, Nana's Jetpak, Bloo
Kangaroo (Kanga J, X or XT models), and many others. Which one will
be best for you depends on your body size and shape, your baby's age,
size and position preferences, and personal taste in fabrics and
Many parents use woven wraps for hiking, instead of any kind of
structured backpack, and find them extremely comfortable, particularly
(depending on the type of fabric) in very hot or very cold weather.
They are harder to learn to use, though, and take more time to get on
and off, so I think they are best for hiking with tiny babies and less
wonderful if you're toting a toddler who's going to want to walk some
of the way.
For more info and help choosing, check out Bay Area Babywearers
www.thebabywearer.com (the discussion forums are even more useful than
the reviews and articles).
Holly (Volunteer Babywearing Educator and co-leader of Bay Area
I am a short mom (5'2'') looking for a backpack to carry my
petite 2-year-old while hiking around Yosemite. We have the
REI Piggyback and it does NOT work for me. Any recommendations
as to what kind of would work for me? Anyone have one to sell
or loan? allyson
Try the Kelty Kids Pathfinder. It works well for me (5'3'') and
my husband (5'11'') and our 28 lb. almost 3-year-old loves
riding in it. The suspension is incredible compared to the
Deuter backpack we used before springing for the Kelty ($190).
It is very easy to custom fit (less than 60 seconds) for
whomever's wearing it. Try test driving it (with your daughter
in it) and other packs some day at REI. That's how we made the
decision. At first sight, I thought it was too big for me but I
quickly changed my mind after I tried it on. It is very well
designed -- has a roomy sun/rain shield, too -- and a great
investment if you're a frequent hiker with your kid.
I'm also petite, and short-waisted to boot. The only baby
backpack I found that would fit me was a Deuter Kid Comfort. We
went with the Kid Comfort I, and have been very happy; if you
want more features or cargo space, you could spring for the II or
III. I continued to carry my son in it till he was over 30 lb.
Amazingly, the deuter also adjusts to fit my 6-foot husband. My
only beef was that the sun shade broke within hours of use
Hi fellow short mom--I am 5'1'' and a huge fan of my Sutemi Pack:
http://sutemigear.com. It is a soft carrier similar to the Ergo,
but I tried both and found this to be much more comfortable on my
small shoulders due to the wider padded straps which cross at the
chest. If you are large-chested, this may be a slight problem,
but I can't say for sure--best to try it if you can, or try to
find reviews online from those better-endowed than I. BTW, I
also tried the framed carriers, and despised them. My daughter's
center of gravity was so much higher in the frame pack (even in
the popular Deuter), that I felt like she was going to fly right
out over my head every time she pitched her weight forward
(which, at 1 yr, she was very prone to do). It did not feel safe
to me at all, and was uncomfortable to boot. My husband had
thought he'd prefer the Deuter (we borrowed one from a friend to
try), but we tried both that and the Sutemi on hikes and he
preferred the Sutemi as well, even though he's 6'2''. And we
still use it with our now 2.5 year old ~30 pounder.
Anyway, you can get it at many places online, but back when I got
mine a year or two ago, the best price was at
http://theECstore.com (although they don't seem to have them
right now), so shop around.
--Short mom, Sutemi fan
I am a short person looking for recommendations on a backpack
style baby carrier to take my seven month old on walks and
hikes. I tried on two types at REI this weekend and found both
ill-suited for my size. the REI brand had lots of adjustments
and seemed comfortable to my husband. On me the torso
adjustment was good, but the top pushed my head forward. the
same with the other brand REI had (snuggli?) available. I
would like a baby carrier that has a canopy for rainy weather.
Please post or send messages with any suggestion on brands, or
where to try out various types in the East Bay.
Thanks, short torsoed babycarrier
Try the Ergo carrier. I'm short too, and use this all the time
for walks and hikes. It doesn't have the rain canopy you wanted,
but is comfortable and easily adjustable.
Thank you to all who responded to my request for
recommendations. Of the five or six people who wrote me with
their experiences - the overwhelming number said the ergo
carrier was most comfertable. I went to Rockridge Kids today
to try it out. It felt good in the store, and since they had a
sale, I bought it. My husband and I spent the afternoon
walking about (and what a gourgious afternoon to walk about)
trying the ergo. Its a little difficult to get the hang of
putting it on. I'm sure we will get the hang of it. Result
is - baby fell asleep while we walked and our backs are not
We are looking to purchase a backpack for our 18 pound
daughter. I am 5'7'' and my husband is 6'4'' and I'd love to know
of any backbacks that have worked for folks at these heights,
and that are comfortable and functional -- for both parent and
I would recommend the Ergo Carrier. It's a frameless pack that cradles your child
against your back. It has a thick padded hip belt so that a lot of the weight rests on
your hips. And the shoulder straps don't sit so close to your neck (like a Bjorn) that
your shoulders hurt right away. It's really comfortable, and works for both myself
(5'4'') and my 6-foot tall much bigger husband. You can also use it with baby in
front, but it's less comfortable. Baby sits in it, rather than hangs (like in a Bjorn), so
it's more ergonomic and healthy for baby's back and leg development. I can't
remember the name of the site, but there is a company that offers a 90-day money-
back guarantee when you order it. So you can try it out and see if you like it. I found
them by doing a Google search on Ergo Carrier. It also has these straps you can
bring over your shoulders when baby is sleeping that help cradle baby's head
against your back so it doesn't fall backwards. It's strudy and well-made and comes
in 3 colors.
Kelty Summit at REI. It's the top of the line, pricey, but
completely worth it if you're actually going to do some hiking.
It's really comfortable, and it adjusts in a snap. I thought
we'd need to do that, but my husband & I end up using the same
size (and I confess I don't remember how to do it, but I
remember it was easy). We were checking out all the packs there,
and were having a little trouble deciding till we tried this one
on, and we both independently concluded that it was more
comfortable than the rest. Plus it comes already with the cover,
which we use all the time. We don't really use the duffle bag
thing that it comes with. I also bought the foot straps, and so
far we don't usually use those either.
I recommend the Kelty ''Back Country'' baby backpack. It is very
easily adjustable to different heights by just sliding a
button. I am 5'7'' and my husband is a little over 6' and we've
both found it very comfortable, and our little boy loves it too.
Kelty makes a variety of these backpacks and we got the good
advice to buy one that has ''more padding than we think we will
need, since you don't want to discover several miles into the
trail that it's not comfortable.''
Sports Basement in the Presidio has them for about $169.99, I
think, and other places like REI have them for around $200-
220. You could also try them on at a store then try to find
one that's gently used on this list or on Craig's List for half
I can't recommend the Deuter backpack enough. They sell it at
Rockridge Kids. I think the quality is much better than Kelter,
and I found that it distributes weight closer to your body than
the Kelter ones. My husband and I have done some serious all
day hikes with it and it's very comfortable for wearing for
hours on end. There's about 7 - 8'' difference in height between
my husband and I and the Deuter backpack is super easy to
adjust for differences in height.
Our son is 13 months old, 22 pounds. We are looking into getting
a baby backpack (Deuter, Kelty or Ergo). But how long do people
use these for? I don't want to get it if we're only going to be
using it for a couple of months. When do kids not want to be
carried in those anymore?
this totally varies from kid to kid but our daughter LOVED being in
the backpack (we got the higher end REI one) from when she was about
one to about two - we got a solid year (or a little more) of using it
every single weekend. she hated the stroller - was much happier to be
up high seeing and interacting with the world and being close to her
papa (who did the carrying). she is extremely tall for her age and i
suspect that if she were more average sized we would have used it even
longer. so, it was a great investment for us but it would be good if
you could borrow someone else's to try a half dozen times (it will
take a few times for your child to get used to it) to see if it works
If you like to hi! ke, get it. Our daughter is almost two-and-a-
half and we still haul her everywhere in our Kelty. We bought
used, and I'm envious of those comfy-looking new ones, but it's
held up great and our daughter loves being out-and-about in it.
I purchased an Ergo when my daughter was about 13 months old and
I still use it now and she in 22 months old. I have heard that
this one is used up to about 3 years old. It depends a lot on
your childs personality. Some kids just want to be more
independent and walk more. My little girl wants to walk a lot,
but there are times that we just need to go somewhere quickly
and her walking about isn't practical. It also helps when I am
trying to make dinner and she wants to be held and I am not able
to do that as I need both hands. The Ergo is great because it
is soft and fast to put on as well. My only gripe! is that the
sleeping hood does not work well for older babies. It only
reaches to my babies neck at this age and does not cover her
head. I have modified mine to fix this.
Do you have a jogging stroller? If not you might want to
consider buying a stroller instead of a backpack. Strollers can
go most places a backpack can and it's much easier to manage.
Sorry I can't help you with the lifespan question, but I bet
you can use a jogging stroller longer than a backpack.
I used the Baby Bjorn to carry #1 for almost a whole year (8 to
25 pounds), bought a Tough Traveller and used it every day and
for hiking (3 years) until I was pregnant with #2. Baby #2
weighed 10 pounds and I had a persistant hernia, so I hardly
carried either one of them (used a stroller)! for 2 years. Now,
I'm using the back pack again a lot! For both of them, one at a
time of course! They both love to be up there. It's easier to
carry them in the back pack and shop at small crowded markets
like the Monteray or Farmers, even when they are bigger 2&5
years old) because they are safe and a lot less bored up there.
The tough Traveler has a canopy for sun and rain which is great
because it also fends off tree branches and people who want to
touch your child. I don't know why exactly, but I was worried
about them getting disease from strangers and it is all about
you and what you can handle as a parent isn't it? Some people
invest in lovely equipment that they can't use because it is so
big or elaborate, that they don't have it with them when they
are out. I was advised to get a Toys R us back pack and an
umbrella stroller to keep in the car. I never used them because
they were so unccomfortable for me and! the kids. What I did and
do find incredibly useful, is the sit-n-stroll combination car
seat stroller. You get them from catalogues that just come to
you if you have a baby in the hospital. They wear out beacuse
they are meant for travel but they are so convenient. I'm on my
fourth one! Yes they get bent up and are kind of expensive,
but, you always have it with you, they are very safe and
comfortable for the kids, and you can pile 2 kids and stuff on
it. Actually, as comfortable strollers go, even buying 2 per
child isn't that much when you consider that it is a car seat
too. Just snapping it shut and hopping into a train or taxi
with a sleeping child will convince any one!
Re: Carrier for Europe trek with 22-pound baby
Get a Deuter. Not as expensive as the Kelty but don't let that
fool you - it's way better! I got the Deuter Kid Comfort 2
because i do a lot of hiking in the hills and it has good baby
support and good back support. Plus, the baby sits really close
to you, which is good for not throwing off your balance. the
hip belt is the best I've seen. The Deuter Kid Comfort 3 is a
bit burlier, and may be something to think about because it has
so much storage built into it. The only place I've seen them is
at Rockridge Kids, so go check them out! It's not non-bulky,
but if you're looking for something you can wear for extended
periods of time (and it sounds like you are), I promise you
that this is the pack you're looking for.
My son is also 11 months and 22 pounds and I JUST went through
this same issue and would be happy to share what I found out
and did about it.
The bjorn became useless (as you know!) about 5 pounds ago. I
explored both options, a hip carrier and a backpack and ended
up buying one of each (both used to save some money!)
For a backpack we purchased the Snugli Cross Country (see
I found it at Rockridge Kids for approx. $80 and online from
Wal-Mart for approx. $65 but ended up purchasing an almost new
one on ebay for only $45, including shipping. (side note:
I've found ebay to be a WONDERFUL resource for baby gear,
especially if you're patient enough to wait for the right
deal). I am 5'4'' and my husband is 6'1''. Although the
specifications state that it will fit adults as small as 5', I
do not find the backpack to be the *perfect* fit for me. I can
use it but the lower lumbar support does not hit me in the
right place on my lower back so I think I would find it
uncomfortable for a longer walk. It hits a little low, but
maybe once I get to know the backpack better I can make an
appropriate adjustment. When we're on a ''backpack'' activity, I
just let my husband carry the baby. The great thing about the
backpack is the kickstand. It makes a great highchair in a
jiffy which may be something to think about for a trek through
Europe. It also has a big storage area underneath to keep some
spare diapers, etc. But I wouldn't load it up too much because
it will just add extra weight to the pack.
I also purchased a hip hammock (used through the newsletter for
half the price of a new one) which I keep in the car for quick
trips into the grocery store, etc. I used it at a 2 hour trip
to the zoo once and wasn't even a little tired afterward. No
sore neck, no aching back. The *key* to getting it comfortable
is the waist adjustment. Make sure it's tight enough around
your waist. Once I figured that out, we were set! The benefit
of the hip hammock is that it rolls right up and you can easily
throw it in the diaper bag. They say it can carry kids up to
age 4. After using it now, I think that as long as a child can
still be carried on your hip, it will work. See their website
for further info. www.hiphammock.com
Both carriers (and other brands) are sold at Rockridge Kids.
If I could have afforded to purchase both of them new, I would
have given them my business because I love to support small,
local businesses as much as I can. I cannot say enough good
things about the staff in that store. I would suggest going
there and talking with the staff about the carriers and trying
them both on with your baby. (and not just for carriers, but
We've been using the backpack and the hip hammock for about a
month now and completely happy and satisfied with both
systems. We don't find the backpack too bulky or awkward in
public spaces and the hip hammock is surprisingly useful and
comfortable. I would be hard-pressed to pick one over the
other but considering a trek through Europe and if I could only
pick one or the other I would probably pick the backpack, if
for nothing else because it would probably be more comfortable
for my son for longer periods of time. (although I'd probably
sneak the hip hammock into the storage space...)
Hope that helps. Happy baby-carrying!
We used the Tough Traveller Stallion extensively for both our
children. I tried on all the packs at REI and it was the most
comfortable hip belt and straps to fit both my husband (6') and
me (5'6''). Plus it has a detachable daypack in addition to the
attached zipper compartment, and a detachable sun/rain canopy.
We used it around town and for fairly serious hikes. There are
alot of straps so take time adjusting it the first time or ask a
salesperson to help you. Also, attaching a few toys to the top
was very effective as entertainment.
While a frame backpack, like a Kelty, may work better for, well,
hiking, it's not the best choice for walks-about-town, use on
trains and in hotels or homes, etc. For that a soft carrier is
usually a lot more comfortable and less awkward. I suggest
looking at an Ergo, which can be used on your back or on your
front, beginning as soon as baby can sit up and up to 60
pounds! If you and your baby are used to the Bjorn, this will
probably be an easy transition. (You can buy an Ergo in various
places; one source is www.peppermint.com)
If you do plan a lot of long hikes, it's worth taking a look at
the frame packs, since they may offer features like sun
protection for baby and extra pack space for diapers and other
stuff, but getting a good fit is crucial. And if more than one
adult (like, both mom and dad) will be wearing it, it has to be
adjustable to fit both well. So shop carefully; try-ons are
really necessary to know what will work best for you.
I'd like to second all the recommendations for the Ergo baby
carrier. We originally bought a Kelty backpack. Although it's
comfortable, we found it to be way too bulky. It's so bulky we
never want to use it/can't fit it in the car. Our other big
problem with the Kelty was that our daughter (now 9mo) couldn't
fall asleep in it for more than 10minutes. I've seen lots of
other babies sacked out in their's but she just couldn't get
comfortable. In the Ergo she sleeps with no problem which is
huge on long hikes. The only downsides of the ergo. 1. it
can be a little awkward to get the baby in by yourself (my
husband won't do it, I have no problem) and 2. the baby can
get a bit warm/sweaty from being so close.
I would like to get a baby backpack now that my daughter is
getting too heavy to wear in the Bjorn for extended periods of
time. I've read the previous recommendations but was wondering
if anyone has had any experience with the REI brand of child
I found that every back pack feels/fits differently and so it is a good idea to try
them on to see which one works best for you. Rockridge Kids has a few
different kinds as well as do other stores in the area. I would try them all on
found one that fits [you].
After doing a fair amount of research, we ended up buying one
from LL Bean. It never worked for me. It was too heavy. They
ALL were too heavy. And I had great difficulty lifting the pack
and my child onto my back. I never felt safe doing it alone-
could not get the right angle from the ground up; too scary to
leave it loaded on any elevated surface. I do have friends that
had success with KELTY. If my memory serves me correctly, you
can try/buy at REI.
Try it on with as heavy a baby as you can borrow (have a friend
with a few months older and heavier baby come along) and then
also with your own baby; get a salesperson who can show you all
the correct adjustments. I think the quality and features are as
good as any of the high-end backpacks, you just have to find the
one that fits your body the best. The rei and kelty ones 5 years
ago (different models now) didn't fit me at all, I am 5'3 and
even though they were rated for 5'1-6'0 tall parents, the Madden
and Tough Traveler were the ones that felt comfortable on my
back with a 15-20+ lb. baby in them and the REI felt like it was
really for 5'6 and up.
We ended up getting a Deuter back pack instead. We found it to
be much better than the REI brand or the Kelter brand that REI
sells. It's constructed better, easier to use, seems much more
comfortable for the child and safer, and can be adjusted
significantly when one parent is taller than the other. (My
husband is 8'' taller than I am and the Deuter back pack is easy
for us to switch back and forth between us when on hikes.) My
husband also has a bad back (herniated disc) and is able to
wear this backpack without a problem - the weight distribution
is amazing -- you don't carry any weight on your shoulders!
Apparently it holds the child closer to you than any other one,
which also helps. It also has a nice size carrying pouch right
below where the child sits, so the weight of what's in there is
held close as well.
We got ours at Rockridge Kids, where they were much more
knowledgeable and helpful than anyone we spoke with at REI.
Using a snugli backpack
I recently bought the snugli backpack and realized it is a huge
hassle to put my 6 month old into! Does anyone have any
comments on how to make it easier? I want to use it for a cross
country trip since he is now too big for the baby bjorn. Also,
it really hurt my back the one time I did use it.....
We got a Snugli and have completely given it up for slings (one
to fit each of us). I have a bad back and was getting awful
headaches and backaches every time I took our daughter out in it.
The sling (we got the New Native ones) I can wear for hours and
hours with no pain.
I wish I could offer you something more helpful than ''You're not
alone,'' but, um, I have grown to hate the Snugli and am actually
taking it down to the resale this afternoon.
I'd like some updated information on baby carrying backpacks. My
husband and I would like to buy a backpack for doing ''real''
(overnight) backpacking with our daughter-she's a strong 4 months
now so will be perfect this summer. We went to Marin Outdoors
and were fitted for the new Kelty Summit which is second from the
top of their line. It felt like a real backpack-padded and
weighted right and our daughter looked really supported in her
compartment. We have heard good things about Maddens and tried
one at Rockridge Kids and just aren't sure. It's half the weight
but we had trouble adjusting it to my husband who is a little
over 6 ft, and the baby just didn't seem as supported for days of
hiking. Part of the problem was that we couldn't find anyone
really knowledgeable to help us fit it (we were definitely more
qualified than anyone there) and we can't find them around
anywhere else, despite Madden's website claims. Does anyone have
any experience with these? We are well aware that when
backpacking, little differences make BIG differences after awhile
so we are willing to spend money for comfort. Can anyone comment
on the newer Kelty's which seem to be a lot nicer and more
comfortable than older models? Another issue is that we'd like
Mom (me) to be able to take some gear in addition to the baby so
want one we can load a little.
I suppose next month we will be having to make decisions about
I don't know about packs for real camping, but for daypacks
we MUCH preferred the REI brand -- we tried lots, borrowed
a Kelty for weeks (hit me in the low back wrong -- too long
for me), then went to REI and bought a pack that we've been
happy with for a full year now - it's superb. It was their top of
the line carrier pack for day trips -- has a pouch in back and
side pockets and a mirror so you can see what your little
one is doing.
YOu mentioned the Madden pack. I have one of these, although not
one that is hefty enough for long trips. I absolutely love it.
I would recommend that you talk to Christian at Rockridge Kids.
He was wonderful and helped fit me!
We have a Madden backpack that we purchased about 4
years ago at Marmot Mountain Works. We love that it fits my
husband 6'6'' and myself 5'7''. They were good with fitting it.
At the time there were two models. The higher one
definately outfitted for backpacking. Good luck.
Hi -- We also do a lot of outdoor backpacking and we bought a
Deuter backpack (at Rockridge kids.) It's very comfortable, and
has an attached sun/rain fly under a hidden zippered pocket and
you can buy a full rain fly separately. It also has a large
pocket in the lower frame that can hold a lot of stuff (sleeping
bags, etc) in addition to the regular backpack pockets on the
back of the pack.. I did a bunch of research and found the
Kelty's to be pretty uncomfortable to carry over long
distances. They hold the weight in a way that makes you feel
like you're tipping over backwards. And the Madden's are good,
but I have heard they kickstand part is really tippy. Maddens
are also heavier and cost more than the Deuters. I found
reviews of all the packs online and the Deuters were recommended
for off trail hiking and scrambling -- the baby is really safe
We have Kelty summit 2002 model and we are very pleased with it
because it has adjustments everywhere so we can custom fit it
to our baby as he grows and also to me and my husband. We
started using it since our son was 4 months old and he has been
very happy in it. Also, the sun/rain/wind shade is a must
because it also protects him from tree branchs on the trails.
We also purchased their diapar bag which fits under the baby so
I can carry some stuff other than the baby. The only thing is
the weight of the pack. I also tried Kelty Meadow but we didn't
like it because the child sits way far from your body and
weight of the baby seemed to pull you toward the back.
I don't have any experience with the other brand you are
interested. But if you have more questions on Kelty backpacks,
please feel free to send us an email.
We have a Kelty Summit. We didn't do much research before buying
it, because it was partly a gift. We did, however, trade up from
the Kelty Backcountry. I love the backpack, and I'd recommend
this one over all the other Kelty's if that's what you decide,
and I bought it partly with the idea that we'd take our daughter
backpacking. However, I am appalled that neither Kelty nor the
other manufacturers seemed to put much thought into some basic
things. For example, my daughter falls asleep almost every single
time she's in it (and if your child will be 4 months when you go,
I can almost guarantee it will happen to you as well). There is
NO head support, and virtually no way to provide it. I had a
little baby neck pillow, and put it at the back of her head, but
her head just flopped forward onto the rigid, not soft, and not
easily cleanable front bar. It's a little uncomfortable to just
put towels or blankets underneath, because it's difficult to see
if she can breathe. I bought a second baby neck pillow and put it
in the front, only to have it fall out sometime on the 1-hr hike
I took. Now I have a firmer, wedge of foam that is tucked into
the front bar, and it works reasonably well and can be washed.
But this would be a really easy addition for Kelty to add, so I
don't know why it doesn't already exist. The summit overall is a
very comfortable and easy to use backpack. The kickstand thing is
great, so you have the backpack standing while you're trying to
get the baby secured, then you can pick up the pack relatively
easily to put it on your back. The pack adjusts really easily,
and though it is more expensive than the others, it holds more
weight, and it is more comfortable--and not just because of the
easy adjustment. Plus, it comes with the rain/sun hood, a zip-off
backpack, and a duffle bag that clips underneath. Still, the
storage is really an afterthought (also appalling, coming from
Kelty). You'd need to secure the duffle bag better in order to
really pack any gear in there and not throw off your balance. But
I don't know if other packs are any better. The rain/sun hood is
a little annoying in that you have to unhook velcro straps
through a loop just to get the baby out--and you probably won't
really take it off, since the baby doesn't really need to be in
the sun. Plus, I find it just a little annoying that the baby can
only really see clearly (not through plastic or mesh) out the
sides. And you can't really see her either (I carry a
lightweight mirror, which I'd strongly recommend). Again, I don't
know if other packs are better-but I did see a Yakima backpack
where the rain/sun hood is 90 degrees rotated, so they can't
really see out the sides, but they can see out in front. I don't
know if that's better or not. Also, you may eventually want some
of the accessories: stirrups for their feet ($10 or so at
campmor), or possibly the mosquito netting (which is really
expensive). keep in mind, too, that any rain that isn't falling
straight down can get the baby wet w/o an umbrella overhead or
raingear on the baby.
When you're looking for a baby backpack for hiking, you should
definitely seek the advice of a BACKPACKING expert (not a baby
gear expert).. try REI in berkeley -- they'll know all about how
the pack should fit and all the features. I agree,, at baby
stores, folks don't know much about good backpacks :)
i recommend the kelty -- we use a back country with a diaper
duffel (which can be purchased separately) for even more cargo
room. its great!! i'm really little -- under 5'4'' and 110 Lbs,
but i can still carry my 30LB 2-year-old comfortably in it .. my
legs get tired eventually, but not my back!!
Visit REI, try it on with baby in it, and make sure that some
one knowledegable is fitting you for it so you know its on there
Using a baby backpack while pregnant
I am pregnant with my second child, and am wondering how
long it will be safe and comfortable for me to continue going
for walks with my 16 month old in my baby backpack. This
has been one of my primary forms of exercise, and I'd like to
continue doing it as long as possible. I use an REI Kids
First pack with a waist/hip belt, and my daughter weighs
about 25 lbs. I'd like to know how long other moms have
carried their child in a backpack while pregnant.
I, too, regularly hiked with my daughter before I became
pregnant with my now son. My daughter was a year old when I
became pregnant and I carried her in a backpack until I was 7.5
months pregnant. I stopped only because I got too big for the
belt to go over my belly. That was the best position for me and
the way I ''carried.'' I just went very slowly so that I didn't
My son is now 7 months old and I've been backpacking with them
both for a couple of months. I alternate one in the backpack
and one in the jogger stroller. Believe it or not, they're
about the same weight!
Good luck to you and keep hiking!
I'm looking for recommendations for an infant/child carrying pack. I've read through the listed recommendations, and see a lot of good words regarding Tough Traveler brand. I didn't see any pros or cons regarding Madden packs (we tried some on at Rockridge Kids). They have internal frames - and the adjustable one is quite expensive. Is it worth it? My husband is 8" taller than I, so it seems necessary that it be adjustable. We will mostly use it for short hikes or shopping, though I still have fantasies of longer hikes out of Tuolumne Meadows (obviously next year). Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
If you're going to be using a backpack a lot, say more than a few times a month, I would absolutely buy the Madden backpack. Maddens are far and away the best made and most comfortable kid-carrying packs. However, you pay for it: the last time I priced them they were some $75 - $100 more than Tough Travelers and Keltys. So you have to decide if you're going to use it enough to warrant the extra expense. I was hiking 2 - 3 times a week with my first child, so I knew that I would get my money's worth out of it. On occasion I pull out my old Tough Traveler and I'm always surprised at
how uncomfortable it is compared with the Madden. Now don't get me wrong - Tough Travelers are excellent packs and to me felt much better than Keltys, so a TT would be my second choice; but I'm sure glad I have my Madden!
We have the Madden, the pricey one that is adjustable, and really like it.
Though my husband and I are close to the same height, I am very
short-waisted and he is long waisted. After trying on all the choices, it
was the only possible one that we could both wear comfortably. Do try it
with your child in it before you buy. We've used it several times and it's
quite comfortable. It also includes a little backpack and the sunshade. I
think it's worth the price if you plan to get good use out of it. We are
happy with ours!
I think the usable time for a backpack is about 1 year of a toddler's life. I say that b/c an infant is too small to go into the backpack until they're at least 6 months, but more likely closer to a year. Then by the time they are close to 2 years old, they could walk, or actually run all over. We purchased a Madden backpack and I think it was not necessary, particularly b/c we used the back pack only about 20 times (mostly at Point Isabelle). It's reportedly more supportive, and a better fit for folks 5'6" and under. I think if we were to do it again, I would have gotten a Tough Traveler, b/c it's a better buy. I've myself used the Madden pack only once, and my husband used it the rest of the time, so we could have gone w/ the Tough Traveler after all and saved some bucks.
I have a 5 month old daughter and am in the market for a backpack-type
carrier. I hope to get one soon that will last through toddlerhood. I'm
interested in using one for light hiking (three miles or so) and traipsing
around the city, etc. I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions on brands and
qualities to look out for when shopping and comparing one carrier to the
We have a Kelty Kids carrier that we love. They make 5 or 6 different
models with the Town being the entry model and then it goes up from
there. We have the Trek model (mid range). It retails for $149, but
REI on-line was having a special in December for $99 - you might want to
check it out. We looked at a lot of these packs and the Kelty Kids
packs were really superior in our opinion. I think you can carry a
child up to 40-45 pounds + some equipment. This would be great for day
hikes, around town, even backpacking.
When my daughter was an infant, I bought a Kelty kid pack, as well as an
additional matching backpack that could be zipped on and off the pack.
The pack itself *looked* like it was engineered well, and it felt okay
when I tried it in the store, with my daughter in it and giggling.
However, after repeated use, I can say that I wouldn't recommend it at
all. It wasn't balance properly, and although it had many, many
adjustments, it never quite seem to fit comfortably -- for either me or my
daughter's dad, and we are quite different in size and shape. It should
have at least worked for *one* of us, neh? But no. Let me add that I am
also a former mountain ranger -- maybe that makes me a qualified judge, or
maybe I'm just too picky. :) At any rate, I kept it and used it because
1)it was expensive and I was stuck with it and 2)it was still much more
convenient than a stroller for some types of outings, both urban and
The matching backpack, however, RULES and is still what I use today. It
has zippers and pockets in all the right places, and the bottom half of
the bag can be collapsed and zipped in, or expanded to full size. My kid
is almost three, and the pack shows no wear and tear and still fits
everything I could conceivably want to carry with us, including her padded
potty seat, a small soft cooler, a blanket, small toys, and extra clothes.
I never carried a diaper bag, just this wonderful pack.
We started out with a cheaper model, the Tough Traveler, but found it quite
We then spentsome money on the Kelty, which we've never regretted. Could be
both tall, or that the Kelty is actually designed like a hiking backpack? I
gave my old
TT to a friend who finds it acceptable but not all that great. One Kelty
enough storage compartments! You have to buy them separately. I believe all
models have the same load-carrying infrastructure, but the higher end ones
storage, fancy rain canopies and such.
The ONLY way to know whether a carrier works for you is to try each one you
can get your hands on. They are VERY different, and each fits differently
on different-sized people. Make sure you're getting help from someone who
knows how to fit them well. I hear the owner of Rockridge Kids is good.
Also, make sure you have the baby (or a heavier baby preferably) on your
back in the carrier for a good amount of time before deciding, or see if you
can buy the carrier and return if it's not comfortable. We bought and
returned two, then ended up using a hand-me-down.
I have a pack from Tough Traveler which is over 10 years old as its a hand
me down from my brother. This pack has been around the world and been used
by at least 5 kids for everything from trips to the park and store, to real
hikes in Yosemite, etc. Before getting this we bought a much more
expensive Kelty pack at REI and after testing it at home realized that the
hand me down was much better in comfort and function so we saved over $100
and have a much better pack.
I'd recommend the basic version, and you can add accessories, ie sun/rain
hood, additional pouches if necessary. They were available at REI last time
I was there, right next to the higher priced Kelty I returned.
A nice alternative to a frame backpack for children is
a "Baby Trekker". It's all cloth, with straps that go
around your shoulders and waist. We've used it since
our baby was 3 or 4 months old; he's a very tall
32-pound year-and-a-half now, and it's still very
comfortable. Both my husband and I have found it to be
much more comfortable than backpacks we tried. The
baby can face in or out, or your front or back. We
often still carry him on the front, which wouldn't be
feasible in any other carrier we've tried at his size,
and it's also quite comfortable with him on our back,
for long hikes or if we're climbing up rocks on our
walks. It took a little getting-used-to at first
because the straps are long and seem a little
complicated, but pretty quickly it seemed easy to use.
It adapts well to different sized adults; my husband
and I are very different in size. The Baby Trekker
keeps the baby very close to your body, which I've
found throws off my center of gravity less than
backpacks do, which makes carrying the baby a lot less
tiring. And I haven't felt any strain in my back as I
did with backpacks; the weight just seems to be
distributed better. It's made by a small company in
Canada. Their number is 800-665-3957. You can
mail-order it, and return it if it doesn't work for
you. I think it cost about $60.
I have had very good luck with the Tough Traveler pack. I can comfortably
carry my 25-lb daughter for extended periods of time, and the attached
pocket is large enough for pretty much anything you need on an extended
jaunt. My husband (who is 6" taller) finds it equally comfortable, and it
takes only seconds to adjust it from my setting to his or vice versa. (This
is their high-end "Stallion" pack; some of the other models don't have the
same adjustability. The Kelty packs, which I tried at REI, didn't seem
easily adjustable either.) After a year of almost daily use, it shows no
signs of wear. The features that keep me using it even now that my daughter
is getting heavy are 1) she will happily stay in the pack for WAY longer
than she'll put up with a stroller and 2) with an oversized umbrella, it's
jsut the thing for walks in the rain.
But to reiterate what someone else has said: what works for someone else may
not work for you. All babies are not created equal, and just 'cause mine is
happy as a clam in the pack doesn't mean yours will enjoy it as much.
Likewise, a given design may be comfortable for one person but not for
others, and some of us just show more aptitude as pack animals.
From: Laurel (May 1999)
We ended up buying the Tough Traveler, Stallion model. It was 50 % off at
REI; I don't think we would have paid full price ($160!). It is very
comfortable, but the best part is that it is adjustable for different
heights. My husband is 6 feet tall and I'm 5'3", so we needed something that
could accommodate both of us. You might want to keep that in mind when
you're considering backpack models. The only thing I don't like about the
Stallion is that the zipper bag under the baby seat does not come off, so
unless you're a contortionist, things (keys, wallet, etc.) are difficult to
get to. Good luck,
From: Kateri (7/98)
re: baby back pack. We have hiked extensively with our kids, and there is
definitely a time when the Baby Bjorn/sling is too painful for a long hike
with a 14 lb'er or so, and the Tough Traveler deluxe backpacks (which we
definitely recommend for ages 8 mos to 4 years!) don't offer enough
support for the child, esp. if they need to sleep. Answer: a good old
Gerry back pack, with a waist band to put weight on your hips. The child
is very well supported, but in close contact to your back, and can rest
his/her head on your shoulders when they sleep.
From: Tahani (Jan 1998)
We were able to buy one of the "good", expensive, heavy-duty
yuppie hiker frame type backpacks -- I can't remember the brand
-- Kelty? -- through a friend of ours for far less than the list
price. Later on I picked up at a resale store one of the much
smaller ones (again, I can't remember the brand -- some very
well-known manufacturer of baby stuff) which was just a seat slung
between a metal frame that folds out when you want to sit the baby
on the floor and in when it's on your back.
Anyway, we used the small cheapo one perhaps 99% of the time. The
main problem with the bigger ones is just that -- their size. You
knock people over when you turn around in stores, and fill up half
the trunk with them. The cheapo ones fold flat. (They're rather
like a very simple camping stool.) I'm sure the big backpack provides
far more support, etc. etc., but it's just not worth it unless you're
hiking for miles and miles.
Funny, I was just earnestly giving my brother this same advice over
From: Nils (Jan 1998)
RE: Baby backpacks, we have a Tough
Traveller "Stallion" w/ added rain/sun
shade (optional, + $30 or so). At over
150.00, not cheap, but well made as any
backpack (it has external frame), light,
and adjusts all over. You MUST adjust it
properly for different size parents! or
risk back problems, but that could be so
with any carrier. I carried our elder boy
until over 2 yrs (30+lbs) in the mountains,
and did fine.
From: David (Jan 1998)
Re: the kids backpack, we just received an aluminum frame Kelty Kids
pack as a holiday gift. It seems excellent, though we haven't used it
yet. Others have said "it's a Cadillac." I know it can be purchased at
From: Natasha (Jan 1998)
Although Kelty and Gerry have come out with new models since we first
bought our baby backpack several years ago, I believe that the Tough
Traveler brand is the best. Go to REI to have a look at all the options,
and then call around to the consignment shops to see if you can save some
money by buying a used backpack. (Toy World, Lillian's and Darla's have
them occasionally). The Tough Traveler has several models: the Pony,
the Stallion, the Colt, etc. The differences have to do with the amount
of weight they can accommodate, and whether it is possible to clip on
some of the accessories such as a rain/wind hood and additional carrying
pouches. We have one of the larger/accessorized models which we have
used for long hikes, inclement weather,or a heavier child, and we also
have one of the smaller, simpler models for errands around town or short
hikes. By the way, check out my web page for local hikes to take with
REI on San Pablo has some excellent baby backpacks. Make sure you get a
salesperson to help you fit one properly. I tried several on and gave
up, finding them all much too large--until the salesman showed me all
the rather complicated adjustments. We had had a Tough Traveler
backpack from several years back that my husband used but that was
always uncomfortable for me--it was built for a bigger person. The new
Tough Traveler we got from REI has a key adjustment--the parents' back
length--which is very important if you're short like me. Sorry, I can't
find any model name or number on it, but if you work with the people at
REI and take a good test run around the store with your baby in the pack
I'm sure you'll find a good one. It's been a lifesaver for me--I wear it
around the house a good part of the day and it keeps my ten-month-old
happy. My husband wears it as he does the dishes at night and she falls
asleep in it.
this page was last updated: Apr 27, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network