Travel gear and gizmos

Hiking Backpack Carrier for Toddlers: Find the Perfect Fit

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Whether you’re a solo gallivanter or novice explorer, the key to traveling is having the right gear and gizmos. Family travel is no exception. As my children continue to get older and heavier, our equipment needs continue to evolve. Traveling, for us, is a way to experience a new culture and dive right into the local life. There’s no better way to do this than by touring an area on foot, even in large cities. Therefore, we do a lot of walking and sometimes our toddler’s little legs can’t keep up. One essential piece of equipment that we cannot travel without is a hiking backpack carrier for our toddler. If you are a traveling family with little ones, read on to find your perfect child backpack carrier.

Man standing in woods wearing a Phil and Ted's hiking backpack for toddlers
Phil and Ted’s Parade Backpack Carrier

Despite what many think, hiking backpack carriers for toddlers aren’t just for outdoor nature hikes! We use our carrier pretty much everywhere the stroller cannot go, and travel would be almost impossible without them. In my opinion, they are a much better option for busy and crowded places like markets, public transit, and airports. Check out all of the places we used our backpack carrier in Bangkok, Thailand.

Before we start, it’s vital that you identify your needs and physical abilities before beginning your search. Backpack carriers can feel heavy when carrying a child, especially for extended periods. I have listed backpack carriers here for toddlers, 25-35 lbs. This weight means they are likely old enough to sit up independently with full head and neck control. Although some feature head and neck support systems for children as little as three months, I wouldn’t recommend wearing them on your back. If you’re ever in doubt, check with your pediatrician.

Backpack Carrier Wishlist:

Even though baby gear manufacturers have done a great job at listening to the needs of parents, choosing the right hiking backpack carrier for your toddler can be overwhelming. Many carriers come with a ton of options for you to choose from. Before shopping for a carrier, I would suggest making a list of the activities you plan on performing while child wearing. Here is my carrier checklist:

Smiling woman carrying a toddler in a Phil and Ted's hiking backpack for toddlers .
Toddler in Phil and Ted’s Parade Backpack Carrier

Storage: We never leave our house without water bottles, snacks, diaper and bathroom essentials, and first aid kit. I refuse to carry an additional daypack if I don’t have to. Therefore, our carrier must be able to hold our stuff.

5 point harness: Urban, nature hiking can get rocky, and kids get sleepy, so the last thing anyone wants is a kid slipping out of their carrier.

Breathable fabric: In colder climates, this is not so much of a must- have, but in tropical and hot environments, I need as much airflow as possible.

Head and face padding: One thing you can almost always bet your money on is kids falling asleep to the rocking motion. Adding in the heat along with sensory overload may cause you to have a napping child. My kids can and will fall asleep in their carriers, and I want them to be as comfortable as possible. Padding that covers the metal frame near their face is a must.

• Compact: There are bonus points if it folds up and can fit in an overhead bin.

Try it out before you take it out

Man with toddler in a blue Kelty hiking backpack for toddlers
Kelty FC 1.0 Child Carrier

Before you venture out, take some time to become familiar with your hiking backpack carrier for your toddler. Make sure you can secure your child in the seat, and you know how to use the harness. Have you assembled the accessories with the rain/ sunscreen and did you locate where all the pockets are? Make sure your little one is comfortable and feels safe in the cockpit and make sure you are wearing the carrier correctly with the straps adjusted correctly. If it’s too hard to operate or it’s just not for you, return it and keep looking. There are a ton out there!

Our Favorite Backpack Carriers:

Deuter Kid Comfort Air

Deuter Kid Comfort Air
Deuter Kid Comfort Air

This backpack carrier is equipped with a unique mesh that creates a ventilation space between the backpack and the wearer’s back and the ‘cockpit’ also has an airy mesh material. The seat and 5 point harness can also be effortlessly adjusted to perfectly fit the size of each kid. In addition to plenty of storage and a thick drool pad that can double as a pillow for extra comfort,  The Kid Comfort Air can also fold flat to make compact storage easy in the home or on a plane.

Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Signature Series Child Carrier

Kelty JourneyPerfectFit in Signature Mossgreen
Kelty JourneyPerfectFit in Signature Mossgreen

Kelty’s PerfectFIT easily adjusts to fit the wearer and also comes with a built-in sunshade. This backpack carrier is also equipped with a 5-point safety harness and padded aluminum roll cage. A wide seat base, adjustable foot stirrups and a large zippered pocket with internal stretch pockets make this carrier ideal for traveling families. We definitely don’t want to forget to mention the zippered hip-belt pockets keep water, snacks, and phone readily accessible.

No matter which hiking backpack carrier you choose for your toddler, it’s essential to do your research and find one that is a good fit for you and your child. Do you have a favorite backpack carrier? Let us know; we’d love to hear about it.

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2 replies »

  1. These are all great tips! Using a backpack carrier makes it so much easier! Even just going for walks in the neighborhood or local park.

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