So you want to go hiking, but you don’t want to leave your baby or your toddler behind to be looked after by a babysitter or other family member?
Baby hiking backpacks are the answer. These are backpacks designed to carry babies or toddlers safely and comfortably even through the wilderness.
In this guide, you’ll find an explanation of the types of the best baby carriers for hiking available on the market today, a list of considerations you should have when choosing an appropriate carrier, and seven recommendations for you to consider along with reviews.
For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links:
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Baby Backpacks For 2017
- Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Baby Carrier
- Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier
- Phil & Teds Parade Lightweight Backpack Carrier
- Deuter Kid Comfort 2
- Deluxe Baby Backpack Cross-Country Carrier
- MiaMily HIPSTER + Child & Baby Carrier
- Backpack Cross-Country Child Carrier
First lets take a look at baby backpacks, then well talk about how to choose the best one for you. Here is a feature overview of our 3 favorite carriers with full reviews and our buying guide below.
Best Baby Carriers For Hiking
Hiking Baby Carrier Reviews
This baby backpack has some awesome accessories including a sun hood and changing pad — you never know when you might need that!
Designed to hold even heavier children, this baby backpack has a 50 lb weight limit. The evenly padded straps and ergonomic design make it comfortable to carry.
Kelty designed the Pathfinder so that the main storage compartment detaches as a separate mini backpack along with compartments for water bottles.
The well-designed kickstand enables safe loading and unloading of your child. An easy-access adjustable suspension system means it can be easily adjusted to fit either the mom or dad, and there is a large amount of useful built-in storage space.
This is an all-around best seller for a reason, there are a lot of great features here. Definitely one of the best baby backpacks on the market.
Video: Features of the Kelty Pathfinder.
The fully adjustable back panel and hip belt makes swapping between mom and dad simple. The load stabilizer straps are designed to allow adjustments to the backpack’s center of gravity on-the-go to ensure maximum comfort.
There is ample storage with a large zippered compartment for diapers and clothes, mesh pockets, two spacious hip belt pockets and a handy removable backpack. A foldaway sunshade is convenient to protect baby from the sun.
The Thule is designed for all day use, the back panel is breathable, keeping your back cool and dry and it also has a 3 liter hydration reservoir.
The Sapling even includes a handy viewing mirror which allows you to monitor your baby while out on your hike. Comfortable and with loads of features make the Sapling one of the best baby hiking backpacks.
Video: Features of the Thule Sapling.
Cuteness seems to have been a huge factor when designing this particular backpack. The detachable mini-backpack that your toddler can wear when not being carried is especially eye-catching. However, this hiking baby carrier is also practical.
There is ample storage space at the bottom for diapers, wipes and snacks. The kickstand works well allowing children to be loaded on with ease.
At only 4.4 lbs, it is extremely lightweight and yet still holds children up to 40 lbs in weight and is designed for both user and baby comfort.
It can be folded flat when not in use and even complies with most airlines’ carry on requirements if you want to go hiking abroad or in a distant state.
Complete with detachable mini backpack, drink bottle holder and storage pockets, this the best hiking baby carrier for the money.
Safety was a clear focus for the manufacturer when they designed this baby carrier, which is JPMA Certified (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association).
It was independently safety tested to exceed both state and federal guidelines to keep your baby safe and secure while out on your hike.
A particularly popular feature of this backpack is how adjustable the ratcheting shoulder straps are, allowing it to be swiftly changed to fit a large or a small hiker.
This makes it extremely simple to transfer the back carrier to someone else quickly and easily. With a good air ventilation on the back padding, it was designed specifically for heavy loads and long distance hikes while keeping you cool and dry.
With multiple large storage pockets, there is a lot of room for all your essential baby equipment. The integrated kickstand creates a stable platform for the carrier to be placed on the ground, even with a baby or child seated in place.
The thick padded shoulder pads make this lightweight backpack (only 5 lbs!) comfortable to carry. The metal frame folds flat for easy storage.
With multiple pockets, including two water bottle pockets, there is ample space to hold all your baby necessities.
This carrier is good choice for children up to a maximum weight of 40 lbs. It has a handy retractable sun/rain canopy. The metal kickstand allows the backpack to be stood on a flat surface.
The hiking baby carrier also folds flat for easy storage and even has a detachable mini backpack. With many features and a bargain price the Deluxe is the best budget baby backpack.
This popular front loading softshell baby carrier is exceedingly lightweight at only 3 lbs. It is designed to carry babies and toddlers between 3 months and 3 years old, with a maximum weight of 40 lbs.
Its main design feature is its versatility, because it is designed to allow you to carry the baby in 9 different ways.
Your baby can be held facing you or facing front, so you can adjust use to suit the mood and temperament of your child.
Its ergonomic design distributes weight evenly throughout your lower back and shoulders with the aim of preventing long term effects from bad posture and fatigue. Versatility is key when it comes to this backpack.
Ideal for children between 6 months and 4 years old (up to a maximum weight of 40 lbs). The detachable sun/rain canopy on this backpack carrier protects your baby from the elements and easily folded away when not in use.
The padded shoulder straps and waist strap make this carrier especially comfortable to wear. Storage is a huge feature in this baby backpack, with side water bottle holders and an extra-large back pocket for diapers and other baby care essentials.
The metal kickstand allows this carrier to sit upright on a flat surface and can be folded in while hiking. The backpack carrier folds flat for storage in the car or at home.
How To Choose the Best Hiking Baby Carrier
Safety for your baby is clearly a priority, and that’s probably why you’re reading this guide. You want the safest carrier you can get but at an affordable price. Features aren’t everything. But you’ve also got to consider other things such as comfort, for your baby and for you, and convenience.
If your back hurts two miles into a ten-mile hike, that’s not going to be good for you, and may also be a problem for your baby if you lose focus while out on your hike. Modern hiking baby carriers are ergonomically designed to evenly distribute the weight on your body and keep you comfortable.
Hiking is not the same as a weekly shop at Walmart. You may have to climb steep slopes, descend into ravines, cross streams, and navigate across uneven surfaces. And there’s no special room where you can go to change your baby’s diaper! You may need to unfasten and remove baby in challenging environments.
Clearly, you need to invest in a good quality hiking baby carrier. But which make and model should you choose?
This isn’t a mundane purchase, like buying a can of soda. You may be carrying around a future President or the pilot of the first manned mission to Mars, so you need to make a wise and informed choice.
Types of Hiking Baby Carriers
There is a wide variety of baby carriers available for you to purchase, but essentially, they fall into two types: front loading, where your baby hangs in front of you, or back loading, where your baby is supported on your back.
Front loading carriers are usually only designed to hold babies who are up to six months old, so if your baby is older than this then you’ll need to choose a more supportive carrier with Baby sitting in the back.
However, there are exceptions to this, and one of the carriers reviewed below is a front loading model designed to hold children up to 3 years old. Baby carrier frames come in two varieties: hardshell and softshell.
Tend to be less expensive, but they are usually only designed for babies less than a year old. Hardshell carriers are more expensive, but they last longer and you can carry larger children over greater distances with comfort.
For hiking long distances, in most cases a hardshell back loading baby carrier will be the best for you because they are sturdy, so they will give your baby a comfortable ride for a longer period of time, and also because they provide the storage you need for all the essential baby care products you must carry with you if you are going to be away from civilization for several hours.
Obviously, this is an important decision. There are a wide variety of carriers on the market, but how do you even begin to narrow down the choices? Here is a list of factors that you really should take into consideration when choosing the best product for your baby and you.
Shoulder straps play an important part in ensuring that your baby stays safe, especially when you slip or stumble. Ensure the hiking baby carrier you purchase has strong straps. But at the same time, straps can dig into your shoulders and become painful, so you must also ensure that they are adequately padded for your comfort. Choosing a carrier with a wide strap may be helpful so that it distributes the weight of the child across a wide area of your back.
For the hiker carrying baby, the baby carrier must also double as their backpack, so you should consider how much storage you’ll want built in to your baby carrier. Obviously, if you’re hiking longer distances, you’ll need to think about diapers, disposal bags, hygienic wipes, baby cream and baby powder.
Where’s it all going to go? Of course, you can always store some items in your friends’ backpacks, but what if you want to venture out just by yourselves, your baby and you? You need to be able to keep was is essential for both you and your baby on you at all times, and that means, in your hiking baby carrier.
Many of the larger hardshells are freestanding, many with a kickstand made from the same material as the frame. This makes them much more convenient to use on occasions where you have to set your baby down for a moment. This may be essential if just your baby and you are out hiking alone.
However, just because a backpack has a kickstand, it does not mean it is safe to set down with your baby on board. Check the product safety sheets with caution and always make sure you are settled in a safe location.
Before you can go hiking, you need to get there. Some carriers may be folded up so they take up less room in your car when you’re packing to go hiking or camping. Some may even be folded up so neatly that the airlines will allow them to be taken on board as carry-on luggage.
Baby’s sitting position is very important. Adjustable seats allow you to find the optimum position for your baby’s comfort. Adequate padding is essential, especially for very young babies who cannot support themselves without assistance.
How heavy is your baby? Most carriers are designed to hold a maximum weight of 40 lbs (18 kg), so if your baby is now a toddler who has grown heavier than this, you’ll need to shop around.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued manufacturing standards for hiking baby carriers, so ensure the product you buy complies with these.
Some baby carrier manufacturers also register their products with the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and so describe their products as JPMA Certified.
Your baby’s age
Older babies have a better ability to support themselves. It is essential to ensure that very young babies’ heads are supported. Always check the recommended age range of any baby carrier you consider purchasing.
How far do you want to go?
If you’re a serious hiker who wants to trample long distances over rough terrain, then you’ll need a larger and more supportive carrier. For day trips or a short walk through a park, lightweight carriers might be better for you. You may even want to start out with short walks and day trips to work your child up to the heftier trips.
All-weather fabric will prove more practical if you intend to go for long hikes where the baby carrier will be exposed to sun, rain and wind. You’ll want your carrier made from a tough, hard-wearing fabric so that you get long use out of your carrier, especially if your baby is your first and you plan another three in the near future!
Some carriers come with rain/sun hoods and diaper changing pads. Check what extras come with any carrier you are considering. If you intend to hike in exposed areas over long distances, some kind of built in protection against the elements will be essential. You don’t want your baby to catch a cold or suffer bad sunburn.
Deciding which is the best to buy for Baby and you can be daunting, especially if you are a first time buyer. You must choose for yourself what your own needs are. But this guide is here to help you get onto the right path and narrow your search. All seven hiking baby carriers were selected with safety in mind, but comfort for your baby and you is also a major consideration.
Every baby and every parent is unique. What works for one hiker may not work for another. When you go online and search for a hiking baby carrier to buy, be prepared for an overwhelming list of possible makes and models in a surprisingly vast number of different design shapes, colors and materials.
Once you have selected your ideal hiking baby carrier, your baby’s first exposure to the Great Outdoors will be a wonderful, fun experience for both of you. So, what are you waiting for?
Buy yourself a hiking baby carrier and go enjoy the beautiful wilderness together with your child. You will be building a love of the outdoors and fresh air in them that will last a lifetime.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best baby hiking carriers to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a carrier I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and be safe out there!