Many hikers love taking family trips into the great outdoors, exploring and sharing this experience together. It is never too early to teach your child to love nature! However, if you are traveling with a baby or a toddler you want to make sure they can keep up with the adults and the best way to do that is by bringing a baby carrier on the trail.
Typically, you put a child carrier on your back in a similar fashion as a backpack – most baby carriers made by hiking gear companies have the same foam padded hip belt and comfy shoulder straps as a high-quality backpack. The baby is safely and securely positioned on your back while features like rain or sun hood protect the little one from the weather conditions.
A good child carrier allows you to include your child in the hiking experience while also making them feel comfortable and secure being close to you at all times. In between seeing all the beautiful sights and enjoying the outdoors, they will be able to take a nap when they get tired.
Choosing the best child carrier to take hiking is not an easy task. Because of that, we have compiled a list of our top-rated baby carriers.
But first things first – here are some things you need to consider before buying a child carrier.
Can you hike with a baby?
You absolutely can! Babies love being outside and sometimes it is a nice change to head out for a hike rather than just a walk around the neighbourhood.
You can start thinking about hiking with a baby when it is at least one month old. Newborns are not ready to be exposed to the sun, strong winds or rain, and they will not be too happy about all the jostling from walking on tougher terrains.
As the baby grows older, gains more awareness of its surroundings and has more energy, the hiking experience will get better for them and for you!
When you are planning a hike with a child, it is important to understand that it will be more difficult than hiking on your own.
You might want to bring a partner on the trail so that you can take turns carrying the baby and the supply bag with diapers, bottles, extra baby clothes, and other items.
Traveling with a baby means extra weight added to the load adults have to carry so it is better to share that burden with a partner.
What trails should you choose when hiking with an infant or a toddler?
Look for easy trails that aren’t too steep and don’t have any obstacles because you will be carrying extra weight and will have less freedom of movement.
When is a baby big enough for a child carrier?
Typically, it is recommended to wait until the baby’s weight reaches at least 8 pounds before taking them out on a hike. There are different kinds of carriers and the best option for infants is a frameless sling carrier that straps the baby to the front of your body. These carriers usually come with head support which is absolutely necessary for small babies.
Once the child grows bigger and reaches around 16 pounds or six months of age, you can upgrade to a full-size child carrier. It is time to get a carrier of this kind when a baby can sit up on its own.
Toddlers like to walk around and explore on their own but they still get tired rather quickly so you should still bring a child carrier on the trail.
Baby carrier key features: what to look for
Full-size baby carriers typically have a sturdy metal frame, a cushioned seat for the baby and additional features like storage space, a sun hood and compartments for a hiking water bottle or hydration system.
Here are the most important features you should look for in a baby carrier:
- Adjustability. You will want to adjust your carrier to fit both you and the baby. Look for a carrier with adjustable torso length (check out our article on how to measure torso length here) and the child seat should also be adjustable to fit as your child grows bigger.
- Light frame. Child carriers have a metal – usually aluminum – frame. Make sure that the frame is lightweight because you don’t want to add too much extra weight when you already have to carry a baby and supplies.
- Storage space. While most child carriers won’t replace a high-capacity hiking backpack, they have some storage space at the bottom and sides, and some even have a detachable daypack.
- Kickstand. Baby carriers with metal frame have a kickstand that makes the carrier stable enough for you to load and unload your child.
- Protection from the elements. Most child carriers have a detachable sun or rain hood but sometimes you need to buy it separately. It is a must-have accessory and you should not take your child out on a hike without one. There are other accessories like a bug net for extra protection.
NB! As you can see from the picture above, the baby carrier that Thomas is using does not have a sun hood on the picture. This is because we removed it due to clouds. The next day, hiking back, we took it out as the sun was shining bright. You CANNOT under any circumstances go hiking with your baby (or child or yourself for that matter) without proper sun protection!
Best baby carriers in 2021
Bring your most precious cargo along for all your outdoor adventures with the Kid Comfort Active. Perfectly engineered to fit the needs of both children and parents.
Breathable padding made of ventilating hollow chamber foam lets cool air in and hot air out. The firm foam on the outside is modelled to the anatomic shape and transfers the load to the hips, allowing you to carry heavier loads for longer.
The VariQuick back length adjustment system allows for personalized comfort and the best fit.
Built-in sunshade easily stores and deploys for UPF 50+ UV sun protection.
Deluxe child cockpit with Double Halo child harness and adjustable and removable foot stirrups; Drool pad is removable and washable.
Zippered hipbelt pockets with an adjustable Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt and large front panel compartment.
Adjustable torso to fit a wide range of adults (up to 6" of adjustability).
The lightweight frame only weighs 5.5 pounds yet is sturdy enough to be comfortable for both baby and adult for hours. The straps and hip belt are comfortably padded and the carrier features energy-absorbing lumbar padding that keeps you cool and secure. Waist band extends to approximately 60".
Storage compartment under the carrier is large enough to hold bottles, diapers, sweaters, phone, keys and the included baby changing pad. No need to carry extra bags along. Includes a mini backpack that is removable (small enough for toddlers to wear, yet provides extra storage when attached to carrier).
Your child will be carried safely in his padded cocoon with safety straps and stirrups. The Baby Backpack also has a removable stowable sun visor that shields your little one from the elements.
You may be carrying your baby or toddler for hours at a time. We have designed our baby back carrier to be height adjustable. The straps are heavily padded and the belt is load bearing to spread your precious cargos weight.