Kelty FC 3.0
Pros It's comfortable, my kiddo likes ridding in it.
Price Paid: $150
It's comfortable, my kiddo likes ridding in it. Plenty of pocket room for carrying diapers,
snacks and such. It comes with a sun shade and changing pad. The ability to
adjust the child harness is fast and simple.
The lumbar height adjustment pin is held in place by a spring. But the location is in a bad place, my kid can kick the pin causing the pack to drop a notch or two. It’s a bit aggravating when my 25 lb kid causes that sensation of miss-stepping a curb. Simple fix is to remove the pin and drill a hold for a carter pin to keep things in place.
For the price you can find better designed kid packs. The lumbar adjustment feels like it missing part of the drawing board/not well tested before hitting the market.
IMHO I would not recommend this pack, unless there is a great deal on it and you don’t mind modifying the lumbar pin a bit.
Before starting this review, I must mention that other…
Design: Internal Frame with Spring Loaded Stand
Number of Pockets: 2 large pockets and 2 mesh water bottle pockets
Max. Load Carried: 50 lbs is the max limit provided by the manufacturer
Height of Owner: 72"
Price Paid: $160
Before starting this review, I must mention that other models I have tried are Deuter Kid Comfort II and a Snugli. The Kelty FC 3.0 matches the comfort of the Deuter and is several levels above the Snugli. The only area where the Deuter beats the Kelty is its water reservoir pocket (The FC 3.0 doesn't have one at all).
The Kelty FC 3.0 is the most comfortable and easily adjustable kid carrier that I have tried. My wife and I can swap this pack with ease because the shoulder harness has a "pull and slide" rail mechanism that adapts to various torso lengths in seconds (not an exaggeration..literally seconds). The shoulder straps and hip belt are well padded and provide good moisture management as well. I can cinch the waist belt and let the weight of my 35lb. 2 y/o sit on my hips without feeling the internal frame at all.
We are able to fit extra diapers, wipes, lunch for four, and two kid's water bottles in the various pockets with room to spare. The detachable mini-backpack is a nice touch and so is the small zip pouch on the hip belt that is large enough for a cell phone and some car keys.
Like I said earlier though, the only drawback is that there is no water reservoir sleeve. I usually just place a 100 oz water bladder in the bottom storage compartment and it works even though I have to lower my head quite a bit to take a drink due to the standard length of most Camelbak water hoses.
While most child carriers make you buy the sun/rain cover separately, it is included with the FC 3.0 and it is one of the better covers I have seen. There is also a small mirror that is attached to the right shoulder strap so you can check on your child without trying to crank your head backward. I usually just give it to my daughter for entertainment though. The spring loaded stand is very convenient as well.
The lack of a dedicated reservoir sleeve is the main problem for me, but it is easy to overlook when everything else is so comfortable and practical with this carrier. It is also a big and bulky carrier that probably wouldn't be the best model for taking your kids shopping or running errands. I bought this solely for hiking on trails and it has been great for that purpose.
Lastly, my daughter usually likes to sleep while in the carrier and with smaller carriers, she could place her head on the back of my neck and doze off. The FC 3.0 is pretty big so there is a lot of space between her and my neck, so she has to put her head down on the carrier which gave her a minor red scrape on her chin during a 5 mile hike. I'm going to buy a small camping pillow and place it in front of her next time and it should work perfectly. I might be able to just lower her seat to solve the problem as well.
OTHER KELTY MODELS:
I checked out the Kelty Journey and the Kelty FC 1.0 at REI and the FC 3.0 is a no-brainer upgrade if you are going on dayhikes. The Journey has no storage space at all and the FC 1.0 has lightly padded shoulder straps that are not adjustable for different torso lengths. My wife thought it was solely for women when I tried it on (maybe it is). Neither model comes with a sun shade and the kids seat isn't as adjustable either. The additional $80 for the FC 3.0 was well worth it. With the REI 20% member discount for March 08 and our remaining dividend, it was an even better deal.
If a dedicated water reservoir sleeve is a deal breaker for you, then go with the Deuter Kid Comfort II. Otherwise, the Kelty FC 3.0 will not disappoint. I have used it on 5 to 10 mile dayhikes in steep terrain and it has been very stable. We'll be heading to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon to really give it a test at the end of this month.