When it comes to older children, there are nearly no limitations in being an active tourist, it gets a little more difficult with younger ones, but there are many useful solutions that will make traveling easier for us. Hiking (not just around mountains, but also in places like a beach – we have used it both in the summer and winter) is made easier by a backpack carrier.

Children love being carried around in a carrier. It lets them be close to the parents, see the world from an adult’s point of view and travel over longer distances. For parents it’s a huge convenience as well, they can go places that a stroller can’t reach, and if the child can walk already, once they get tired it is possible to walk around with them in a safe way. How to choose a backpack carrier that will be comfortable and safe for the child and the parents alike?

There are several different models of baby carriers for hiking available on the market, so there’s a lot to choose from. They differ in price, which might vary from around $200 to as high as $800, features and the convenience of the child and the parent. It doesn’t mean the cheap ones aren’t good, though. When choosing a carrier, we should mostly take convenience and functionality into account, of course the price matters as well – although it’s a very subjective criterion. Sometimes there might be ads on tourism-themed message boards about used carriers for sale, at a good price and in a very good condition. Here are several tips that will help choose a carrier and use it.

When to start using a carrier?

First of all, in order to be able to carry a child around in a carrier, they need to be able to sit on their own. A carrier can work anywhere, indoors, on mountain and flatland trails, on a beach, even in the winter, although in such case it is especially important to watch out not to get the child cold! 

Where to buy a carrier?

A carrier is a purchase for years to come – if we take good care of it, it might be used with several different kids, up to 4 years of age (it is very demanding on the parent’s back, though). Our carrier is currently being used by the second child already and there will probably be more of them using it in our family. A new one can obviously be bought on Amazon.com, it’s a good idea to look for discounts. Used ones can be found on many tourism-themed message boards. We could ask our friends, they may have such carrier and let us borrow it to see if it fits. We may also rent one, bigger cities have adequate rentals available.

What to pay attention to when choosing a carrier?

When buying one, we should definitely make sure if the baby feels good in it, if it fits well (not too big and not too small, whether the straps hold the child without shaking). We should try it on at the store, in a rental place, at friends’ house – it is better when the child spends a little more time in it than just a while. Let them have a chance to get used to it and grow to like it or not.

We should remember that it is supposed to be comfortable both for the child and the parent alike, which is why it should have a comfortable, adjustable shoulder strap, wide suspenders that don’t dig into shoulders, a wide and comfortable chest strap – it really helps keep the carrier stable. A carrier with a baby in it weights a lot, which means that the paddings under the straps and suspenders shouldn’t be hard.

The frame should make it possible to put the carrier down – it makes it easier to put the baby in, we should remember not to leave the child unattended in the carrier though, as it might tip over.

A comfortable carrier should allow to keep the baby’s necessities in it – ours is packed with a portable burner and a pot, diapers, baby wipes, food and water, sometimes raincoats and other stuff (toys, a picture book etc.).

It’s a good idea for the carrier to come with an adjustable baby seat, mostly vertically (it’s important, as the child will grow) and horizontally – they’re not always dressed in the same clothes, sometimes they will need more space.

Stirrups / foot pads – important for older kids, so that they have some place to put their feet in. Stirrups can be custom-made using nylon tapes that are available in tourist stores. They just have to be sewn (with a sewing machine or not) and attached to the carrier.  

Sunscreen (roof) and a rain cover – very useful, especially when on a trail, in case of unpredictable weather. The former will protect from the sun at least a little whereas the latter can even entirely protect from rain or wind. It’s a good idea to make sure that the rain cover protects the baby’s entire body while also maintaining a good air ventilation and visibility.

Spacious bag for essentials (diapers, food…) and pockets for different little things, like a camera or a favorite toy.

The baby should be easy and convenient to put in and out, and while strapped, they should be comfortable and unable to unstrap themselves while on the road – which of course is possible until a certain age.

The material the carrier is made of should be durable and nice to touch in places where it contacts the baby’s skin.

We should remember that hiking should be fun for the parents and the child, only then can we truly enjoy it, which means that if the child cannot get used to the carrier, we shouldn’t force them to.

 

Published by Lois Marten