baby hiking carrier

The Top 10 Best Baby Backpacks for the Outdoor Adventurer

The Top 10 Best Baby Backpacks for the Outdoor Adventurer

A couple of months ago, we went on a multi-state 10-day road trip.

We:

  • Drove for over 28 hours.
  • Visited 3 National Parks in 3 different states.
  • Hiked over 27 miles (or 45 km).

And we did this all with our 8-week old newborn in tow.

When you have a baby you don’t have to ditch all your old hobbies—especially adventuring outdoors. It just means that your hikes and exploration come with a baby backpack (and trust us, you’ll want one).

We didn’t have one on said trip above, since Poppy was still too little for a baby hiking backpack (instead, she got to hang out in the Ergo). But we realized just how necessary a hiking carrier would be for her as she got bigger while on our longest hike in the Grand Tetons.

So when we got home, we started the search for the best baby backpacks for hiking. Already convinced you need a baby backpack for hiking? Then check out our top picks now…

Do I Really Need A Baby Backpack When Exploring?

I cringe every time I see a couple trying to juggle 20 pounds of kid and 15 pounds of hiking gear without a baby backpack in sight.

Designed to bear heavy loads, backpack baby carriers are far more comfortable (for both you and your baby) than traditional babywearing gear like slings or wraps.

A good baby backpack will evenly distribute your baby’s weight and help you carry heavier children. Comfortably.

It’s a worthwhile investment once your baby outgrows the front carrier—especially if you’re doing longer day hikes or you’ll be wearing your kid for more than a couple of hours. We’ve found ours useful even when we’re walking around a lot while traveling.  

What to Look For In A Baby Backpack

Most baby backpacks share the same basic features (like adjustable straps and harnesses). But if you want one within your budget that has loads of features, look for these things:

Comfort
How heavy is the empty backpack? Are the straps and waist belt well-padded? Does the backpack have a chest strap to help secure the load? A pack with added lumbar support is best. Also, make sure the compartment where your baby will sit is well-padded for their comfort.

Function and Versatility
Your carrier needs to be able to keep up. That means it needs adjustable everything to keep pace with your child’s development (seat, harness, leg straps will get adjusted almost every time you use it. At least until they’re growth slows down a bit). The best ones also have built in comfort features for your baby. Things like a removable canopy to protect your baby when it gets too hot or drizzly. And stirrups for your kiddo are essential. Just try dangling your legs from a bar stool for hours and you’ll see what I mean! (a total pet peeve of mine).  

Safety
The best backpack should be sturdy and have a child-restraint system in place just in case you take a spill. The safest backpacks on the market come with a 5-point harness system that includes shoulder, leg, and crotch straps

Price
Is it worth the money? Or would you be better off getting something else that better suits your needs? I’ve combed the interwebz looking for the best of the best, and I’ve found ‘em!

Note: We didn’t include style here for two reasons:

  1. Ultimately, given how expensive baby backpack carriers are, and what they have to do, style just isn’t a super high priority.
  2. Plus, most backpacks are pretty sweet looking. So we didn’t think a style category would add value to our review.

Here they are: The best baby backpacks for adventure babies! (and moms and dads).

The 10 Best Baby Backpack For Hiking


Deuter Kid Comfort III

Comfort: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Function: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:5 Stars (5 / 5)

The #1 best baby backpack is the latest feature-rich backpack from Deuter.

It’s JPMA certified—a third party that tests, and either approves or rejects, products to be safe for kids (e.g. free from defects and harmful materials, etc.).

This makes the Deuter one of the safest backpacks you’ll ever come across.

Height-adjustable footrests, pivoting VariFlex hip wings, and S-shaped shoulder straps are also part of the package.
Its AirContact back system delivers maximum ventilation – you never have to worry about walking around with a sweaty back (a huge consideration for Ryan – ha ha!).

The Kid Comfort III has a built in sun shade (the Osprey Poco, which is next on the list, doesn’t have this), and has pretty much all the bells and whistles. So after a lot of research and bothering the staff at Mountain Baby retail store, this is the one we landed on and bought 🙂

Pros

  • A side loading feature and color-coded buckles make it easy to use.
  • It has a removable and washable drooling pad feature. Which is surprisingly necessary.
  • The height of the seat is easily adjustable.
  • It sports a lightweight design without compromising on functionality.
  • The integrated canopy keeps the sun out of your baby’s eyes.

Cons

  • The support in the crotch area, where your baby sits, could have been more spread out for better weight distribution.
Osprey Poco

Comfort: 4.5 Stars ( 4.5 / 5)
Function: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:4.9 Stars (4.9 / 5)

Comfort is king with the Osprey Poco backpack.

This is a fun and functional option which is made from durable materials and is designed to keep both you and baby comfortable.

It also offers easily accessible storage compartments, and a built-in canopy, which turned out to be pretty useful (when we were asking around, the bags that didn’t have this were crossed off from the list).

Plus it’s Osprey. Meaning that as far as outdoor backpacks go, you can trust it.

Pros

  • The cockpit is fully framed and padded for safety.
  • A dedicated zippered pocket quickly and easily deploys the built-in canopy.
  • It’s child friendly. The cockpit is lined with loops which you can use to attach a pacifier or toys all within your baby’s reach.
  • Osprey has incorporated its award winning anti-gravity suspension system in this design.

Cons

  • Beware of the hipbelt. It’s stiff and can get a bit uncomfortable.
  • If your baby isn’t too chubby, there may be a space between the pack’s harness and the baby’s shoulder.
Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Kid Carrier

Comfort: 4.5 Stars ( 4.5 / 5)
Function: 4.5 Stars ( 4.5 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)

The Kelty Pathfinder packs a punch with its long list of practical features.
From the zip-off daypack, an included changing pad, toy loops, a washable chin pad—you name it, the Kelty has it.

One of the biggest cons is the bulk, however, and it’s not super duper comfortable on longer treks.

Pros

  • Leg-secure straps to keep your newborn in place.
  • Comes fitted with more storage room under the seat.
  • No-pinch hinges which make it safe for loading and unloading your baby.

Cons

  • The backpack is a bit bulky.
  • Hard-to-reach pockets.
  • Your baby’s head support is not well-padded.
Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier

Comfort: 4.5 Stars ( 4.5 / 5)
Function: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Thule’s pack comes with a detachable backpack, a child-viewing mirror, and hipbelt pockets with enough wiggle room. But it’s pretty expensive. In this case, we think you’re paying for the brand. But if that’s not a concern, it’s a super sleek and functional pack.

Pros

  • Removable stirrups which allow your baby to rest their legs when on the trail.
  • Unmatched safety for your child. A plush ergonomic seat has been fitted.
  • Mesh pockets which are great for extra storage.

Cons

  • It comes with a steep price tag.
  • You have to pay extra for the retractable mirror which you’ll use to monitor your baby when on the trail.
Deuter Kid Comfort 1

Comfort: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Function: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Compared to other backpacks from Deuter, this pack is a basic hiking companion which comes with a relatively affordable price tag. And a couple of features worth checking out as well. The removable and washable chin pad and the large zip compartment, for example, are a welcome touch.

Pros

  • It has a sturdy grab handle. Makes it easy to lift the pack without any assistance.
  • Variable seat width for your baby to support a healthy posture.
  • JPMA certified. It has been tested to exceed state and federal safety guidelines.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a shade canopy.
  • You won’t get padded head support for your baby.
Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier

Comfort: 3.5 Stars ( 3.5 / 5)
Function: 3.5 Stars ( 3.5 / 5)
Safety: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Price: 5 Stars ( 5 / 5)
Average:4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)

If you carry a lot of stuff with you when you’re hiking, this pack could be a good option for you (if you didn’t want to opt for one of the top packs).

It will carry diapers, toys, disposable wipes, and all things baby. Since it works well as a central point of carriage, you’ll always be well organized.

One huge downside is the lack of built in canopy. You can probably get an aftermarket one, but those are kinda expensive and a hassle to carry when they're not built-in.

Pros

  • A leg-secure system ensures easy access in and out of the cockpit.
  • Loosening the shoulder straps will automatically deploy the kickstand.
  • Soft and contoured straps for a more comfortable experience.
  • Five-point adjustable harness which offers unmatched safety and comfort for your baby.

Cons

  • The hip support is not easily adjustable which means little weight is supported by the hips.
  • A canopy to protect baby from the sun would have been a welcome addition.
Phil & Teds Parade Lightweight Backpack

Comfort: 3.5 Stars ( 3.5 / 5)
Function: 3.5 Stars ( 3.5 / 5)
Safety: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:3.8 Stars (3.8 / 5)

For some reason the Phil & Teds option was everywhere when we were searching.

If you’re not a frequent hiker, this is a low-cost option that might make sense for you. It’s advertised as a day tripper around town. But you’ll have to make do without some practical features like the sun hood.

It’s really lightweight and compact, though and it only weighs an impressive 4.4 pounds. This makes it one of the lightest packs available (and a great alternative to an Ergo if you prefer something with a metal frame).

Pros

  • Comes with a detachable mini backpack for your baby (adorable!).
  • A ventilated and molded mesh back to keep you cool.
  • Has a handle on top which makes it easy to lift and swing the pack around onto your back.

Cons

  • Cost savings at the expense of comfort and function.
  • The sun cover is sold separately.
  • The child harness reportedly doesn’t fit snuggly.
Kiddy Kiddy Adventure Pack

Comfort: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Function: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Safety: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

I don’t understand the product name, but whatever.

The Kiddy pack is a heavy-duty carrier which can comfortably seat babies who weigh up to 40 lbs (although that’s slightly less than most, which are rated to around 50 lbs). Compared to the other packs on this list, the Kiddy is not feature-rich but will still get the job done if you just want something basic.

Pros

  • Lightweight design. Only weighs 6 pounds.
  • Has a 5-point harness inside the carrier pouch.
  • Ergonomically shaped shoulder belts for added comfort

Cons

  • The integrated sunshade doesn’t come forward very far.
  • Unfortunately, its seat is not height adjustable.
Clevr Baby Backpack Cross Country

Comfort: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Function: 3 Stars ( 3 / 5)
Safety: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:2.8 Stars (2.8 / 5)

At only 5 lbs., this is one of the lightest backpacks on the market, which is great if you’re smaller or trying to cut down on weight anywhere you can. I found the foldable metal frame feature (which folds flat) practical. Easy storage and portability are a top priority for us when shopping for baby gear. However, no where could I tell if it had a 5-point harness system. So for that reason it lots marks. Plus, it's construction looks a little lacklustre.

Pros

  • Multiple pockets for extra storage.
  • An extra-large pocket at the back which features a safety reflective strip.
  • A sturdy metal stand allows the backpack to sit upright.
  • Heavily padded shoulder pads and bolsters.
  • The sunshade is easily removable or folded out of sight.

Cons

  • Doesn’t seem to use a 5-point harness system.
  • The waist buckle needs some improvements to make it more comfortable.
  • Adjusting the pack for a comfortable fit is a tall order.
Deluxe Red Baby Toddler Backpack

Comfort: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Function: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Safety: 2 Stars ( 2 / 5)
Price: 4 Stars ( 4 / 5)
Average:2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

If you’re on a tight budget but don’t want to throw your baby into a Snugli because – well, they’re uncomfortable — the Deluxe backpack is good value for money and has most of the features you’re likely to see in some pricier models.

It’s not the best quality, and it’s on the bulkier side, but it’s better than a front carrier.

Pros

  • Featherweight and well padded.
  • An easy adjustment system for a comfortable fit.
  • Comes fitted with a sturdy kickstand.
  • The sun visor and rain guard are detachable.

Cons

  • According to some users, the quality of zippers used in this backpack is not the best.
  • The pack is a bit bulky.

How comfortable a backpack is will determine how long you get to use it. The best baby backpack should be a one-time purchase, so consider which fits your lifestyle and budget.

Happy trails!

 

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