A couple of months ago, we went on a multi-state 10-day road trip.
- 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…
Top 10 Best Baby Backpacks for Hiking
#1: Deuter Kid Comfort III
#2: Osprey Poco
#3: Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Kid Carrier
#4: Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier
#5: Deuter Kid Comfort 1
#6: Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier
#7: Phil & Teds Parade Lightweight Backpack
#8: Kiddy Kiddy Adventure Pack
#9: Clevr Baby Backpack Cross Country
#10: Deluxe Red Baby Toddler Backpack
But first, before we get into it…
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.
Also read: Hiking With Toddlers: Your Survival Guide
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:
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).
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
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:
- Ultimately, given how expensive baby backpack carriers are, and what they have to do, style just isn’t a super high priority.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.