Hiking is one of life’s great pleasures, and so is having a baby—but you might be wondering about the best way to combine the two. Fortunately, there are a number of baby carriers designed specifically to help you hit the trail with your little one. The trick is finding the carrier that’s right for your family. You need to consider things like comfort and durability, but safety is at the top of the list.
We’ve taken a close look at the most popular baby carriers for hiking and analyzed expert ratings and customer reviews to determine which baby backpacks deliver the strongest all-around functionality and safety.
A consistent favorite of parents and testers, the Poco AG is a top-of-the-line baby carrier that includes an award-winning Anti-Gravity system and one of the most stable frames of any hiking baby backpack. Maximum recommended weight is 48.5 pounds.
Award-Winning The anti-gravity suspension system has claimed accolades, including the Editor’s Choice award from Backpacker.1 It combines contoured suspension and seamless mesh to deliver unsurpassed balance and stabilization that lets you move as if you’re not even wearing a pack.
Stable An extra-wide base, locking foot bar, and dual grab handles provide stability as you load and unload baby.
Loaded with Storage Storage isn’t a concern with the Poco AG. A removable pack provides all the extra storage you need to keep baby’s supplies handy. Plus, you can use it on its own for shorter urban hikes or walks.
Not for Infants You can’t use the Poco AG until your little one can hold their head up. There is no insert or adjustability to accommodate smaller babies.
More Expensive It’s hard to get top-of-the-line benefits without a top-of-the-line price tag, and the Poco AG is no exception. This baby backpack will cost a little bit more than most, but reviewers say the perks are worth it.
The Deuter Kid Comfort 3 has been awarded Best Hiking Carrier by Outside Magazine for its high safety rating and fully-adjustable construction. Recommended for children between sixteen and forty pounds.
Easy to Use This is one of the only baby carriers on our list that is easy to use without assistance.
Well-Ventilated Users report up to 15% less perspiration thanks to Deuter’s breathable Aircontact back system.
Fully Adjustable The Deuter VariFit system easily adjusts to the wearer’s torso length, making it easy to switch from one user to another without disrupting your precious cargo.
Pockets Are Hard to Reach It can be difficult to access necessities or reach water bottles when the pack is on your back.
Unstable on Flat Surfaces The backpack has been known to tip over when sitting on the ground, so users warn against leaving baby unattended when the pack isn’t being worn.
Loaded with extras, the Escape offers comfort, safety, and perks like a rain shield and changing pad. Suitable for children ages three months to three years.
Loaded with Extras The Escape comes standard with a sleeping hood, changing pad, removable daypack, rain shield, mirror, and foot stirrups.
Comfy for Baby Baby is all set for a trailside nap thanks to the moldable headrest and shoulder cradle that offer snug support to developing neck muscles.
Easy to Load You can safely load and unload baby in this secure backpack that features two carry handles and a pop-in and pop-out stand that makes it easy to safely set the pack down—even with one hand.
Heavy All that stability, plus extras, equals a pack that’s fairly heavy even before you strap your little one in.
No Hydration Sleeve This backpack comes with a generous hydration pouch, but despite so many other included extras, the water bladder has to be purchased on its own.
This sporty, soft-structured pack is versatile and completely machine washable, which makes it a rarity among baby carriers.
Sporty Made of ripstop nylon, this soft baby carrier has a stylish look and feel.
Machine Washable Many of the hiking baby carriers on our list can only be spot-cleaned, but you can throw the Outback right in the washer if things get messy on the trail.
Full of Great Accessories The Outback comes with toy loops, a key ring, a microfiber sun shade, and a chair harness that makes it easy to transfer baby from your back and secure them to almost any standard chair.
Scratchy Many parents report that the mesh material that is designed to keep your child cool is irritating and abrasive to skin.
Difficult to Find Proper Fit Although this pack is adjustable, a significant number of users had trouble getting the carrier to accommodate either their or their baby’s size.
Not Freestanding Because this is a soft-structured pack, you can’t set it on the ground to load and unload, which can make it difficult to use without assistance.
Things to Consider in a Hiking Baby Carrier
Choosing the right baby carrier for hiking with your baby can feel overwhelming. It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re going to need. Safety, while certainly the most important factor, is one of many considerations that will impact how comfortable you both are and how long you’ll be able to stay on the trail.
Harness and Cockpit Security
The most important consideration when choosing a baby carrier for hiking is whether or not it will keep your baby safe. A secure child harness and supportive cockpit are must-haves.
Harness Security A secure harness keeps your child safe during every trek. Look for harness systems that are adjustable and comfortable around their legs, shoulders, and arms.
Cockpit Safety The cockpit is the area where your baby sits in the carrier. You want a well-designed cockpit that provides ample support for the neck, head, and back, as well as cushioned support in the front in case baby nods off during the hike.
Age and Weight Recommendations
It’s exciting to take baby on their first hike, but make sure that the baby carrier you choose is appropriate for your child’s weight and age.
Age Considerations Most baby backpacks will provide a recommended age range for use. If you’re eager to take out a newborn, be sure the carrier you use provides the right neck and head support. A baby typically won’t be able to ride in a backpack until they can hold up their head and neck on their own.
Weight Considerations Along with age, baby carriers come with a recommended weight capacity. This is important for you and your little one, as you want to make sure the hiking carrier you use can support your baby’s weight. Consider how long the backpack will last as your child grows.
Baby backpacks aren’t a small investment, make a purchase that will accommodate your hiking needs as long as possible.
Adjustable Sizing Because you probably won’t be the only one carrying your baby in the great outdoors, you want a baby carrier that easily adjusts to fit different adult body shapes and sizes. You don’t want to have to buy two packs for one child.
Multiple Functions Many hiking baby carriers are designed to safely carry your baby from infancy to toddlerhood. Look for baby carriers that grow with your child and can stand up to their changing needs and weight.
When you strap on a baby backpack, you want it to carry as many extras as possible. You certainly don’t want to add a diaper bag to the supplies you need to transport.
Storage The thing about taking a baby on a hike is that they come with extra baggage like diapers, bottles, and snacks. Consider the number and size of storage pockets and look for places to carry other essentials like water and your phone.
Accessories Both you and baby will be more comfortable with a few comforting perks. Accessories like sun shades, rain covers, key/toy rings, and drool pads can make your adventures into the outdoors more pleasant.
Find Out More About Baby Safety
Want to learn more about ways to keep your baby safe while on the move? Check out our Baby and Child Safety Directory, where we provide the answers you need to protect your little one.
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more