Is a Hiking Baby Carrier Worth it? The Pros, Cons, and Recommendations
We all know that your little bundle of joy can use some fresh air sometimes, and you may think what better way to do that than to take them hiking. But, if you’ve ever tried to hike with toddlers before, then you know that their legs make it all of 5 steps before they’re suddenly way too tired to go on. If this sounds like your child, then you may be wondering if you should get a baby carrier and is a hiking baby carrier worth the price?
Hiking baby carriers are worth it because they free up your hands and are specifically designed to comfortably carry the weight of a baby or toddler for long periods of time. But, the choice of soft carrier vs. hard-framed carrier each come with their own pros/cons list that depends on trail conditions and your personal preferences.
Let’s review the types of carriers and what type of hiking conditions they’re best for, so you can choose the right baby carrier for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I may receive commission for purchases made through links in these post. All links are to products I highly recommend and have verified.
Soft Baby Carriers vs. Hard Framed Baby Carriers for Hiking
In order to determine if a hiking baby carrier is worth it we need to compare the pros and cons of the two main types: soft carriers and hard framed carriers.
Soft Hiking Carriers
- Holds smaller infants
- Can more easily monitor the babies body temperature
- Smaller and easily transported
- Less expensive
- Can cause you and baby to overheat
- Limited storage options for other hiking gear
- Does not have sun/rain protection
- Some have upper weight limits not suitable for toddlers
Hard Framed Carriers
- Holds larger toddlers with more support
- Provides more airflow for both baby and parent
- Weight distribution is suited for hiking
- More storage options for other hiking gear
- Provides sun/rain protection
- Can only be used with older babies (typically 6mo+)
- Bulkier and hard to put on independently
- More Expensive
When Should You Use a Hiking Baby Carrier
In my opinion, having some form of hiking carrier, whether soft or framed, is a good idea for every hike with babies or toddlers. Otherwise, you probably won’t get very far in the trail before those little legs (or your arms if you’re holding them) wear out.
However, the type of carrier you use will depend on the conditions of the hike. For shorter hikes in cool or moderate weather, a soft baby carrier may be the best choice. These carriers are easy to travel with, easy to put on, and allow you better balance and awareness of your baby on the trail. But, they don’t breath well, making you and the baby hot, and aren’t as adept at handling heavier and larger children.
But, if you’ll be hiking for a longer periods of time, in hot weather conditions, or have a larger toddler to carry, then a hard-framed baby carrier will be better. They are more expensive, but since they’re made for hiking they distribute the weight of your child more properly so you can go further distances.
What are the Best Soft Baby Carriers for Hiking
If after comparing the two types you’ve decided to go with a soft-baby carrier, my recommendation is to pick one of the following options. All three are touted by hiking moms everywhere as some of the best options for soft baby carriers.
The Kinderpack design makes it one of the best soft carriers for hiking due to its breathability and comfort. The koolknit fabric onto some of the carriers promotes air flow, improving breathability and reducing one of the main negatives for a soft-carrier.
But it’s not only the fabric as the structure also makes the Kinderpacks great for hiking. The three-panel pack creates a deeper seat for babies and toddlers promoting the ideal M-seat position. This is safer and more comfortable for growing babies to sit in for long distances while hiking.
You can grab a Kinderpack carrier here
If you’ll be carrying a larger toddler, then you may want to consider the Tula Toddler carrier. It’s probably as close as you can get to the support of a hard-frame back, while sticking with a soft carrier.
This is because of its design. It too promotes the M-Shaped seat, but also has adjustable, padded shoulder straps for ultimate parent comfort. It can adjusted in so many ways for multiple weights, and will grow with your child.
Tula also has amazing infant carriers, if your child hasn’t reached the toddler stage yet.
You can grab a Tula Toddler here.
The Ergobaby carrier is a great option for smaller babies. It has a hip-healthy design (that M-shape I keep talking about), and some extra features including storage pockets that make it a great choice for a soft-baby carrier.
It also has a feature that you don’t often see on soft baby carriers: a hood attachment that provides some sun protection for the baby while they’re being carried.
The downfall to this carrier is that it’s made of cotton without mesh sections. So, it doesn’t breath super well. But if you won’t be hiking in hot weather this may not be an issue for you.
You can grab the Ergobaby Carrier here.
Best Hard Framed Baby Carriers for Hiking
Have you decided on going with a hard-framed baby carrier for hiking? Then let’s review the top two choices you’ll want to consider when choosing the best one for you.
Osprey Poco Pack
Hard frame baby carriers come with a lot of extra features compared to soft carriers, and the Osprey Poco is no exception. For the baby, their seat is cushioned and can be adjusted for height (to ensure they can always see around them). For the parent, the Osprey Poco has extra cushioning in their shoulder and hip straps, making it extremely comfortable to wear.
One of my favorite features of this pack is the reverse harness, meaning that those little fingers will never have the option of unbuckling themselves while you’re hiking. This combined with the several available pockets for storage make it an incredible option for a hiking baby carrier.
Pick up an Osprey Poco Pack here.
A Kelty hard frame baby carrier really can’t be beat if you’re looking for comfort, structure, and protection. This carrier has a roll cage that protects your baby if you happen to fall. This may be an important feature if you’ll be winter hiking, or doing a lot of inclines as baby carriers in general can throw you off balance. You can be assured that this carrier will provide you with that extra level of protection you may need.
But, even if you aren’t worried about falling the Kelty has a lot to offer. It has a lot of storage, including an area for a water bladder and a wet-bag compartment for wet clothing or items. It has extra padding in the straps and hip belt, making it extremely comfortable.
The only downside may be if your toddler is in the upper range for height. The straps don’t always stretch to the upper limit, so if you have a taller child you may want to consider another pack.
You can pick up a Kelty Carrier here.
Hopefully this article has helped you determine if a hiking baby carrier is worth it for you. And if so, then you’ve grabbed one of the recommendations listed above. If you want more hiking recommendations please check out our hiking tips page, or check out any of the articles below.
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