Best Kid Carrying Pack

2:04 a.m. on March 15, 2010 (EDT)
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I have been reading all of the online literature about kid carrying packs. I know Kelty makes a couple of models that intrigue me, and REI carries a couple...

After all of my research and investigating its time to ask people who have actually used them. I am open to reviews!

8:16 a.m. on March 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Deuter...get a Deuter.

Okay, first I'll give you the standard pack advice to go and try a bunch on, preferably weighted (with a kid), to see what fits you best and what features you like best.

Having said that, we bought a Kelty for our first child in 2004. One of our first hikes with him, in Shenandoah National Park, we talked to another family and they kept recommending a Deuter pack, but since we'd just bought ours we weren't about to change. Neither me nor my husband ever got comfortable with that pack though. We even put another hipbelt on it in an attempt to do so.

For our second child, after a bit of research, we bought a Deuter one year ago, once she was too big for the front carrier. I got the Deuter Kid Comfort I. The II and III models offer more storage, at a slightly higher weight. I went lighter (under 5 pounds), because I figured I could get by with that 90% of the time, which I mostly do. You may want more cargo space though, so consider the II or III.

We use our kid carrier several times a week and I've recommended it to other friends.

So, that's my recommendation. Look at the Deuter kid carrier packs. If you can, check them (and others) out in person. Once I get around to writing my user review, I'll probably rate it around 4.5 stars. There are a few minor things that could be improved, but it comes down to fit and I'm happy with this pack.

Just remember that with a kid carrier, your cargo is not going to be lightweight. You're going to be carrying a minimum of 20 pounds of kid alone, plus water and a few essentials. So the carrier needs to be comfortable at that increasing weight. I'm easily carrying at least 35 pounds on any day hike or ski with my toddler now, once you add in her, the pack, and whatever we're toting along.

So make sure you get one that's comfortable for you to use and easy to adjust if you'll be sharing it.

Here's a self portrait:

8:56 a.m. on March 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Tough Traveler - Filly

My wife and I just purchased this for our son and are loving it! Durable, comfortable, easy to use, adjustable (Fits adults 5'-5'10"), perfect amount of storage, made in the USA, etc.

You can compare all the kid carriers they make here.

9:21 a.m. on March 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing that brand, zalmen_mlotek. I wasn't as familiar with them. You might want to write a user review of it in the future:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/write-review/?type_id=2

11:40 a.m. on March 15, 2010 (EDT)
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This is great info - thanks. Bryan and I are expecting for the first time (we have a son who we adopted at age 4) and we were wondering about packs. I didn't realize that Deuter made a child carrier. I have their Futura 32 and it's a wonderful day pack... so if it is an indication of their overall quality then we can't go wrong.

I'm sure I will have lots of baby hiking questions as time goes on.

12:42 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Congratulations on expecting, LaurieAnn.

Obviously, I like the Deuter kid carrier and think it's an excellent one to consider, especially if you've had good luck with other packs by Deuter.

There are some other brands worth consideration though.

Sherpani makes a couple that get good reviews. When researching kid carriers last year, I read a good review for the Sherpani over at backpackinglight. Ultimately I went with the Deuter though, since I preferred to get the one from the more technical pack company.

Vaude, MacPac, and Lafuma, were others I considered, but I couldn't find them in person or get enough good review info to warrant choosing any of them.

No matter which model you choose, here are a few points to consider, in addition to the all-important fit, fit, fit:

1) How much capacity do you really need (capacity ties into weight, so get as much as you need for how you'll generally use the pack, but not too much more). Sometimes I wish I had the Kid Comfort II (which happens to the top-rated kid carrier on Trailspace), especially when I hike without another adult. But it's been nice to have a pound or more less of weight too. It also has some features I miss on the I (like a sleeve for your reservoir).

2) Get the removable sun/rain shade that goes with your model of pack (if it's not already sold with it).

3) Make sure it has a sturdy kickstand that folds back, so you can stand the pack up on its own (with kid securely inside) and get the pack on and off on your own.

4) Have both parents try on the pack and make sure you can adjust it between you.

Here are the Trailspace kid carrier reviews:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/backpacks/child-carriers/

If anyone notices we're missing any amazing kid carrier brands, let me know and we'll add them. Thanks.

5:41 p.m. on March 16, 2010 (EDT)
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A second vote for Tough Traveler, I used the Stallion which is the larger version of the Philly. I could not have been happier with the product. Well made, comfortable, no excess features you don't need or want. Tough Traveler has been around for a long time and they've been making kid carriers for a long time as well, they seem to have the bugs worked out in terms of design.

9:48 a.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Your little one is so adorable, Alicia! I hope I get to take my kids (when I have them someday) out all the time like you do yours.

2:29 p.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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My son on his first hike in his Tough Traveler Filly:



I will hopefully get around to writing a review for the pack this week.

2:43 p.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks, gonzan!

Thanks for sharing those pictures, zalmen_mlotek. Very cute!

I'm also glad to learn more about Tough Traveler, since I'm less familiar with the brand and this subject comes up a bit.

We'll be adding more of their products to the Gear Guide: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/tough-traveler/ In the meantime, anyone can write a review, even if the product (or even brand) isn't listed yet and we'll still get it up.

1:13 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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I live near Seattle, so we have lots of the REI kid packs around. How do they rate in comparison to the ones you all have been discussing?

1:58 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Alicia, Tough Traveler has been around for a long time, at least since the early 1970's. In spite of the duration they are relatively unknown. Tough Traveler also makes backpacks and a lot of other bags which all seem to be high quality. I've only used the kid carrier. Rivendell Bike is now selling bike bags made for them by Tough Traveler.

11:48 a.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks, Alan. We're going to round out the Tough Traveler info on Trailspace thanks to the recommendations above.

I always like to know about high quality brands that are less well known, but highly regarded.

5:11 p.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Great pics Zalmen

Little bear ears....love 'em.

9:47 p.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks. I love his bear suit.

7:51 p.m. on May 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Well, I recently bought a used REI piggyback pack. As the grandparent, I wasn't as picky about the really high end razzle dazzle equipment. I wanted something reliable and reasonably comfortable. Since my grandbaby is now just a couple days overdue, I won't get to find out until a nice fall hike to see how we all like it :)

July 24, 2014
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