One of the best baby presents we got was our baby backpack. A sturdy Kelty green and purple, this carrier got us hiking and moving in ways few other carriers can.
(Here’s a more updated version from Kelty that looks well-loved by its users.)
It was lightweight and comfortable. But best of all it allowed me to move with ease while my babe was sitting pretty up top. (Although much to my dismay, my daughter really took a liking to drumming on my head – occasionally with a rattle!)
And it wasn’t just for hiking – although it ventured with us on many a trail. I used it to go shopping or to the library. It’s great for museums. And plenty of parents use it to keep little ones from underfoot when doing household chores.
Baby carrier backpack comfort tips:
For Mom or Dad, comfort means comfortably padded straps that are easily adjustable to your body.
It should have a well-padded lumbar strap that fits around your waist snuggly and buckles in front. This strap helps place most of the weight on your hips rather than pulling against your shoulders. So you want it to pull snug and rest on your hips, not over them.
Make sure the shoulder straps are adjusted to keep your backpack at this height on you.
The shoulder straps, in contrast should not be pulled as tight as possible. They should be tight enough to stabilize the pack but still let most of the weight go into the hips and lumbar strap.
Finally a sternum strap, a strap across your chest, further stabilizes the whole package and also makes it more comfortable.
For baby, the backpack should be padded around the leg holes and in the back and front to make it a comfortable ride. The seat should be adjustable to accommodate growth so no matter how small your tyke, she can still peer over to see what’s ahead.
And webbed fabric placed strategically in carrier structure can help improve air circulation and keep it cool.
The straps that hold your baby in should be padded as well.
And we made liberal use of a lightweight sun/rain canopy that kept the little one riding in comfort no matter the weather.
Baby Backpack Safety Tips:
Always always have your baby locked in. Some babies (like mine) are little monkeys and find all kinds of ways to invite danger with a little squirming.
Practice getting it on and off with a friend or partner nearby before going it alone. The easiest way to put it on is to place the backpack on a table with baby in it and put your arms into the armholes.
Similarly, when it’s time to take it off, find a stable place and rest the backpack on it as you extract your arms one at a time, holding on to the backpack with your spare hand. I sometimes would squat down and do this on the ground.
One of the down sides of a backpack is that you cannot see your baby and remember they have arms. I’ve experienced my little one’s grabbing a branch and throwing me off or grabbing a can in the supermarket. Be aware.
Other Baby Carrier Backpack Qualities To Look For:
Our baby backpack’s stand let us use it as an impromptu high chair for a meal on the road. Make sure the stand part is sturdy and locks properly.
Our backpack also had a removable bag that could serve on its own as a diaper bag and then zip on for a hike. It had a single waist strap so that you could easily put it on if you were moving around without the backpack but still wanted to keep your baby essentials close.
My husband is very big around the chest and shoulders. And I’m not so big. So we wanted a backpack that was easy to adjust between the two of us. Your backpack should only need adjusting in 2-3 places to move from one adult to the other.
Some backpacks are designed to shift into a stroller which gives you a break and some flexibility. You may also want one that shifts from a chest snuggly for when your wee one is an infant into a backpack for when they are older.
Finally, some have extra bells and whistles like toys or loops for toys in the babe zone up top. This might have relieved my head of drumming duty if I had it then.
So take your baby backpack hiking and exploring. But also use your baby carrier backpack for the more mundane like vacuuming or a quick hike to the store. With the extra 15 plus pounds you can turn any ordinary activity into a workout.