Father and baby daughter in backpack carrier looking at scenic view.

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.

 Only the Best for Baby
The Osprey Poco AG Child Carrier is our top pick for baby carriers in 2018, but be sure to check out our Child and Baby Safety Guides for everything else baby related.

The 8 Best Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2018

  1. Osprey Packs Poco AG Child Carrier | Read Review
  2. Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier | Read Review
  3. Clevr Baby Backpack Cross-Country Carrier | Read Review
  4. Boba 4G Carrier | Read Review
  5. Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier | Read Review
  6. Deuter Kid Comfort 3 | Read Review
  7. phil&teds Escape Baby Carrier | Read Review
  8. Onya Outback Baby Carrier | Read Review
Disclaimer: *SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.

#1. Osprey Packs Poco AG Child Carrier

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.

product image of osprey baby carrier for hiking

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Pros

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.

Cons

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.

#2. Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier

The Kelty Tour 1.0 is one of the most lightweight baby carriers on the market, despite its sturdy construction. Recommended for children from sixteen to fifty pounds.

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Pros

Designed with Roll-Cage Protection
A padded, V-bar design creates a safe cockpit with no danger of collapsing.

Safe for Little Fingers
Thanks to Kelty’s patented no-pinch hinge, you don’t need to worry about baby getting hurt as they poke and grab while you’re on the trail.

Lightweight
Weighing in at just under five pounds, the Kelty Tour 1.0 helps keep you on the trail longer.

Cons

Not for Infants
A lack of head support means you can’t use this backpack with children who can’t hold up their head on their own.

No Water Storage
There’s no convenient place on this pack to stow a water bottle or bladder.

Straps Are Difficult to Adjust
Many users report difficulty securing baby’s safety straps, as well as adjusting their own for a solid fit.

#3. Clevr Baby Backpack Cross-Country Carrier

This affordable fixed-frame baby carrier backpack features impressive storage, but it tends to be less comfortable overall. Recommended for children between sixteen and forty pounds.

 

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Pros

Affordable
This is the least expensive carrier on our list, which makes it a favorite of budget-conscious parents.

Lightweight
At five pounds, parents report loving the lightweight construction of the Baby Backpack Cross-Country Carrier.

Loaded with Storage
You’ll find a place for everything with multiple pockets, two water bottle holders, and an extra-large pocket that’s a perfect fit for diapers.

Cons

Less Comfortable
Across the board, users find this backpack to be less comfortable than others, with limited padding and no foot pegs for the child.

Less Supportive
The size and strength of the waist belt and padding aren’t sufficient to avoid slipping and bunching during wear.

#4. Boba 4G Carrier

The Boba 4G is a soft pack that grows with your baby; however, it may be uncomfortable on longer treks. Recommended for use from newborn to forty-eight months, and seven to forty-five pounds.

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Pros

Good for Newborns to Toddlers
The Boba is used as a front-facing carrier for children up to twenty-five pounds, and then it converts to a back carrier for twenty-five- to forty-five-pound children.

Loaded with Extras
Accessories help the Boba support your baby as they grow; the sleep hood is great for napping newborns, and the foot straps provide extra comfort and stability for toddlers.

Easy for Nursing
The Boba is designed for ease and comfort during nursing, so you don’t have to worry about a hungry baby during a nature excursion.

Cons

Not Freestanding
Because the Boba is a soft pack, you don’t have the same convenience and stability you would loading your baby in and out of a freestanding, hard-frame carrier.

Lint Magnet
Keeping your baby carrier clean is important, so the Boba’s penchant for attracting lint has been one of the top complaints of parents.

Poor Fit for Smaller Adults
Even though the Boba is designed to be adjustable, many smaller-framed adults struggle to make it fit properly, leading them to return it.

#5. Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier

This well-designed baby carrier backpack is a stand-out for extras and comfort. Recommended for children between fifteen and forty pounds.

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Pros

Ergonomic Support
The Sapling boasts extra inner-thigh support and stirrups for your little one, which keeps their weight evenly distributed for ultimate comfort.

Mirror for Watching Baby
A viewing mirror gives you eyes in the back of your head, making it easy to monitor your baby throughout the hike.

Hydration Pouch
No one will go thirsty with the included hydration sleeve that is roomy enough for a 3 L reservoir.

Cons

Kickstand Is Difficult to Use
Deploying the kickstand can require force, which causes concern if you need to use it while baby is strapped in.

More Expensive
This is one of the most expensive backpacks on our list, but the solid construction and loaded extras seem to be enough to keep it a favorite for parents and reviewers.

Missing Items at Delivery
Extras are awesome, but not if they don’t come as promised—many customers have reported missing items when they open the box.

#6. Deuter Kid Comfort 3

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.

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Pros

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.

Cons

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.

#7. phil&teds Escape Baby Carrier

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.

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Pros

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.

Cons

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.

#8. Onya Outback Baby Carrier

This sporty, soft-structured pack is versatile and completely machine washable, which makes it a rarity among baby carriers.

image of onya outback baby carrier

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Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Versatility

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.

Extra Features

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.


1. SNews, “Osprey Packs Introduces Award Winning Anti-Gravity Technology into Hydration and Kids Carriers for Spring 2016

 

Written by Rebecca Edwards

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

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