Best Hiking Baby Carriers of 2020
We guide you through our selection of the top baby carriers for hiking to provide the ultimate comfort, safety, and reliability for you and your baby on the trails.
Having a baby shouldn’t stop the adventurer in you, and thankfully, hiking baby carriers let new moms and dads take their bundle of joy safely on the trail them. We encourage new parents (especially moms) to go outside and exercise to help deal with some of the postpartum problems that follow childbirth. The right baby hiking backpack will make the hike comfortable and safe for adult and child. The packs on our list of the top hiking baby carriers of 2020 have durable frames and suspensions, excellent padding for baby and adult, secure harnesses, adjustable fit, and a lot of other helpful features. We’ve got packs capable of carrying toddlers and lightweight packs for babies and short hikes. So put on your best hiking boots and give you little one a taste of the great outdoors. We have a buyer’s guide that provides additional information on how to pick the right baby carrier for you.
Best Baby Hiking Carriers of 2020
1. Deuter Kid Comfort Pro (Best Overall Pick)
Weight: 8 lbs. 5 oz.
Maximum Load: 48 lbs. 8 oz.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: 24 to 54 inches
Likes: Adjustable height, zero discomfort points for baby and parent, integrated sun shield, excellent ventilation, super comfortable adjustable seat and stirrups, color-coded harness system for easy fastening, 3M reflectors, and so much more.
Dislikes: The rain roof could be a standard accessory for the price.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Pro sits deservedly on the top spot of our 2020 list for its outstanding comfort, user-friendliness, and safety features. It uses high-quality materials, and the craftsmanship is topnotch. This carrier is crafted with the comfort of the baby and adult in mind.
You will appreciate the breathable shoulder straps and back support if you live in a warm part of the country. The cabin is also designed with ventilated materials to keep your baby cool when hiking in the hot summer months. An integrated retractable sun shield protects your baby or child from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It comes with an easy-to-fasten hip belt that is padded at the hips and has zippered pockets to store small items. The five-point secure harness system is color-coded for easy fastening and adjustable to fit the baby’s comfort level.
You can adjust the height of the frame to fit people of different heights comfortably. Both parents can wear it and have it fit their torso perfectly. The chest straps can also be adjusted for different torso heights and widths. Other adjustable features include the child seat and footrest. A removable pillow lets your child nap comfortably on the trail, and the padded sides provide comfort and support should they slump over. A washable snack area allows you to feed on the trail without worrying about not being able to get the mess out.
There’s plenty of additional zippered storage space in the frame for optional accessories like a rain roof and a water bladder for hydration. You get additional storage space when you take out the day pack from the bottom compartment. The daypack can also be used to carry other items you want to bring on the hike or used to share the load when hiking with a partner.
The kickstand makes an audible click when you open it to the secure position and allows you to set the carrier down safely when you need
a break. It has a broad base to prevent the carrier from toppling over when you set it on the ground. Another safety feature is the 3M reflectors that allow others to see you in low-visibility settings.
We recommend this hiking baby carrier for carrying kids between 16 to 40 pounds. The pack has a total load rating of 43 pounds (baby and gear).
2. Osprey Poco AG Plus Baby Carrier (On Par with the Deuter above)
Weight: 7 lbs. 11 oz.
Maximum Load: 48 lbs. 8 oz.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: 24 to 50 inches
Likes: Extremely comfortable, plenty of storage space and high safety standards
Dislikes: The hip padding on the hip strap may rub on some older models.
Osprey is well-known in the backpacking community for making high-quality packs, and their hiking baby pack is no different. This carrier is fully adjustable to fit people of different heights and sizes.
This pack was made with child safety and comfort in mind. The cockpit has excellent padding and side-supports to keep your baby comfortable even if they slump over. The child seat is height adjustable, and leg hoops provide additional comfort and safety. A multi-point harness holds your baby in place for a worry-free hike.
A built-in retractable sunshade protects your child from UV, and vented sides keep your baby cool in the hot summer months. The sunshade is effective in keeping light rain out, but we recommend that you buy the optional rain cover for full rain protection. The carrier is also extremely comfortable for the adult. It has many adjustable options to help fit perfectly on your back. The frame is designed to transfer most of the weight to your hips, giving your back an easy ride.
Storage is a huge selling point for this pack with several zippered storage spaces. You get a pocket for separate water bladders for your child (if they’re old enough to sip from one) and adult, storage space for other items like snacks, diapers, sunscreen, a first aid kit, etc. You also get additional storage in the hip belt for small items.
The Osprey is almost a pound lighter than the Deuter Comfort Pro above but rated to carry similar weights. The Poco AG Plus can carry kids up to 40 pounds and should only be used for babies that can sit up on their own for at least 30 minutes. You can easily and quickly fold the pack for travel, and a stand lets you place the carrier safely on the floor when you need a break.
We highly recommend this baby carrier for hiking.
3. Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite (Best For Smaller Budgets)
Weight: 7 lbs. 4 oz.
Maximum Load: 50 lbs.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: 33 to 51.5 inches
Frame: Internal Aluminum Frame
Likes: Excellent storage includes 9 additional storage pockets for up to 26 liters of storage space. Great comfort and safety harnesses.
Dislikes: None that we can think of
This is an ideal pack for a long hike with your baby. It is lightweight and has tons of storage space all the gear you’ll need for a long hike. The storage space includes the main compartment plus 9 additional pockets for up to 26 liters of storage. A waterproof space keeps clothes and diapers protected from the rain. The many storage compartments allow you to easily organized your gear and keep clean and soiled items separated. A large zippered pocket on the hip belt gives you quick access to small essentials.
The cockpit is very comfortable with ample padding, padded stirrups, adjustable footrest, and excellent side support. Your baby can sit or sleep in the pack for hours without making a sound, which is a testament to its comfort. A 5-point harness securely straps them in so you won’t have to worry about them falling out. An integrated sun shield protects them from the sun in the hot summer months. We recommend buying an optional rain cover for full rain protection.
This carrier pack is also comfortable for the one hauling it around. The back panel is well padded and designed to encourage air to flow through and cool your back. The frame is built to let your hips bear most of the weight, making it easy on your back. You can adjust the torso height to fit people of different heights. The chest, hip, and shoulder straps are also fully adjustable. A kickstand makes an audible click when opened safely and lets you place the pack on the ground safely when you need a break.
This pack weighs only 7 pounds 4 ounces, has a load rating of 50 pounds and can be folded down for travel. It is an excellent baby carrier for hiking.
4. Thule Sapling Elite (Best of the rest)
Weight: 7 lbs. 14.4 oz.
Maximum Load: 48 lbs.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: Not Listed
Likes: Comfortable for both baby and adult, suspension frame design, and excellent storage space.
Dislikes: A bit expensive for the features.
Thule has made their name is a manufacturer of high-quality car baby carriers and they’ve transferred that expertise to the hiking pack market. The Sapling Elite is their top of the range offering with plenty of features, some of which we don’t think is necessary (like the handheld mirror that allows you to check on your baby while hiking). While the mirror may be useful, it is just a handheld mirror that goes into a pocket but allows them to charge a premium.
Everything else is topnotch with this pack besides our little gripe with the mirror gimmick. The child compartment has excellent padding, a comfortable seat with inner-thigh support and stirrups for additional comfort. We also love that you can load your child from the side or top. A retractable sunshade keeps your baby cool and protects them from the sun’s harmful rays in the hot summer months.
The Sapling Elite has ample storage space. You get a detachable backpack with waterproof storage compartments and large zippered spaces to store all sorts of gear for your hike. The hip belt zippered pockets are extra-large on this pack and give you quick access to plenty of small essentials including your phone, bug sprays and sunscreen. You also get space for a hydration bottle or up to a 3-liter-capacity water bladder.
A meshed back panel can be adjusted quickly to perfectly fit adults of different heights, which means you can easily share the carrying duties with your partner. All the strappings are also adjustable to help you find the best fit and weight distribution. A kickstand provides stability when you need to set the carrier on the floor to take a break.
You can also get the Thule Sapling without the detachable backpack, the mirror, and reduced hipbelt storage compartment sizes at a cheaper price.
5. Deuter Kid Comfort Active
Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz.
Maximum Load: 48 lbs. 8 oz.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: Not listed
Sunshield: No (sold as an optional accessory)
Likes: Exceptional comfort and safety, lightweight, and dual loading/unloading.
Dislikes: Sunshade is not a standard accessory, No dedicated storage for a water bladder.
The Deuter Kid Comfort Air was redesigned in 2020 and renamed the Comfort Active. It is essentially a stripped-down version of the Kid Comfort Pro.
The baby’s cockpit is just as comfortable with plenty of padding and ventilation. A color-coded harness system keeps your child safely strapped in their seat when hiking. You can adjust the child seat and stirrups for the perfect sitting position for your kid. Washable fabrics allow for worry-free feeding. It doesn’t come with an integrated sunshade so you’ll have to buy that separately. There’s a mesh storage pocket to store the sunshade in when it’s not in use. We also recommend getting the optional rain cover for full rain protection.
The Comfort active does not have the storage capacity of the Comfort Pro but has enough space to let you pack plenty of gear for a short hike. There are a few storage areas located at the bottom, behind the back panel, and behind the cockpit. You also get two zippered storage compartments on the hipbelt.
A height-adjustable back panel lets the pack fit most people so you or your partner can take the baby hiking. The pack panel and shoulder straps feature a meshed design with perforation to keep your back and should areas cool. All straps are adjustable to help you find the most comfortable fit. There’s a women’s specific Active SL model that fits smaller waists, torso, and shoulders. The regular Comfort Active fits a minimum waist size of 26 inches.
The kickstand makes an audible click when it extends to the locked-in position. It allows you to place the pack on the ground without worrying about it tipping over. The pack folds down into a manageable travel size when not in use.
The Kid Comfort Active is ideal for those who want a lightweight and strong hiking baby carrier and willing to sacrifice a little bit on storage space.
6. Osprey Poco AG Child Carrier
Weight: 6 lbs. 14 oz.
Maximum Load: 48 lbs.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: 26 to 48 inches
Likes: Lightweight, comfortable, versatile, high safety rating, and excellent ventilation.
Dislikes: Not as much storage and adjustable points as the Poco Plus
This is the base model of the Osprey Poco AG series, which also includes the AG Plus and the AG Premium. The main differences between them are primarily the pack weight and available storage space. The cockpit design and features of the Poco AG are the same as the AG Plus we featured above. You also get the integrated sunshade with the standard AG, which you do not get with the stripped-down version of the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro. We recommend that you buy an optional rain cover to fully protect from the rain.
The standard Poco AG does not come with as much storage as the plus. You don’t get the zippered hipbelt pockets but get stretch-mesh pockets instead. There are two other large storage compartments, including a zippered storage area under the pack and a stretch-mesh area on the front panel. There are a couple that additional small storage areas for storing small items. A hydration reservoir sleeve behind the back panel lets you store hydration bladder to keep you hydrated on the hike.
You can adjust the height of the back panel to suit fit most people. The meshed back panel encourages air to circulate between your back and the panel to help reduce sweating. The shoulder straps are also meshed to provide the same effect. A retractable kickstand allows you to place the pack on the ground safely without worrying about it toppling over.
The Poco AG is rated to carry up to 48 pounds, but the manufacturer recommends it for kids weighing between 16 and 40 pounds. As a general rule, you should only use baby packs for babies that can independently sit up and support their neck without assistance. This is usually from 6 months onwards.
7. Kelty Journey PerfectFit Signature
Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
Maximum Load: 50 lbs.
Fits Hip/Waist Length: 34 to 51.5 inches
Likes: Height-adjustable frame with an excellent ergonomic design for baby and adult
Dislikes: We couldn’t find any
A recent revamp of Kelty’s Journey series has seen them go on par with their deluxe baby carrier competitors Deuter and Osprey. Kelty’s range of deluxe carriers includes the base, Signature, and Elite models. All three models deliver exceptional comfort for baby and adult. You can quickly adjust the frame to fit different torso heights, which lets you share the load with a partner or two.
The cockpit of the Signature retains the same comfort level and safety of the Elite model. A comfortable wide seat coupled with adjustable stirrups ensure your baby feels zero discomforts on your hike. The Signature also comes with a built-in sunshade that shields your baby from harmful UV rays and keeps your kid cool in the summer. You may want to buy an optional rain roof for full protection from the rain. However, the sunshade can keep light rain at bay.
The harness system and padded roll cage protect your baby in the unlikely event that you accidentally drop the carrier or bump into a tree or a rock. Six handles let you quickly lift or sit the pack down from different angles. A kickback stand gives the pack a stable base when you place it on the ground.
The main difference between the Elite and Signature models seem to be in the number of storage compartments. Both packs have 26 liters of storage capacity, but the Elite has a “dirty” compartment for soiled clothing and a dedicated sleeve for a hydration bladder. The Elite has a total of 10 storage compartments while the Signature has 7. We don’t think the two extra compartments are worth the additional $40 you pay for the Elite model.
You should buy the Signature model if you don’t mind the missing storage compartments (there’s storage space for a large hydration bottle, and you can still buy a hydration bladder and place it in the main storage compartment). It has all the other features of the Signature pack, so you’d be saving yourself $40.
8. BabyBjorn One Air 2020 Baby Carrier (Best Frameless)
Weight: 2 lbs. 13 oz.
Maximum Load: 33 lbs. (see important details below)
Fits Hip/Waist Length: Unavailable
Likes: Lightweight and well-ventilated
Dislikes: No storage pockets or sunshade
A frameless babywearing carrier like the BabyBjorn One Air is not a typical hiking baby carrier but may be ideal for those looking for a lightweight carrier to carry their little one on a short hike. It has no built-in storage, so you’d struggle to bring any gear without an extra bag.
This is a fast-drying carrier with excellent ventilation to keep your baby cool in the summer months. The seat and back support are well-padded, and a foldable headrest supports the baby’s head should they take a nap. Adjustable straps let the adult find the best fit and weight distribution for the best comfort level.
The baby can either sit facing you or away from you. The manufacturer recommends different weight-ratings for the different carry positions. They recommend a minimum weight of 24 pounds and a maximum weight of 33 pounds with your baby facing you, and a minimum of 8 pounds and a maximum of 26 pounds with your baby facing away from you.
We love that this carrier does not require any inserts for newborn babies, unlike some competitors.
We placed this carrier on the list for those looking for a lightweight, frameless carrier even though it is not a baby hiking pack. An excellent alternative to BabyBjorn is the Ergobaby 360 Cool Air.
Hiking Baby Carrier Buyer’s Guide
Factors that affect your choice of Baby Carrier
A newborn brings new joy to any parents, but they often take your attention away from other activities you love. However, a baby carrier can ensure that you carry on your love for the outdoors after becoming a new parent. This guide informs you about what to consider when buying a child carrier for hiking.
Age of the Baby
Most full-size baby carriers are not rated for carrying newborns. This is because they can’t sit upright independently and support their head without assistance. So, you’ll need a frameless infant career if you need to take your newborn on short hikes.
The packs above are rated to carry babies that can sit upright independently and support their head for at least 30 minutes without assistance. This typically happens from 6 months old.
On the other hand, the packs have a maximum weight rating, so they may not be able to support your 5-year-old toddler. Consider the following before buying a hiking pack for your child:
- Can your child sit upright on their own without you helping them?
- Ideally, your child should weigh at least 16 pounds (typically around 6 months old).
- It may be an excellent idea to consult your pediatrician before letting your baby use a carrier.
- Most carriers have a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds. This weight also includes any items you store in the various storage spaces on the pack.
Safety and Comfort
You should take the comfort and safety of your baby into consideration when buying a baby pack for hiking. An uncomfortable child will be an unhappy child that will cry a lot on your hike, and you don’t want that. The packs on our list excel in the areas of comfort and safety.
The cockpit should have ample padding all around to prevent any pain points for the child. It should also have excellent support for the head, arms, and legs. Comfortable and adjustable seats, stirrups and padded thigh pads help prevent dead legs. A good harness keeps your baby securely strapped into their seat. They shouldn’t be able to unbuckle themselves and should remain strapped to their seat when you tip the pack. Padded frames can act as a roll cage to keep the baby safe if you somehow manage to drop the pack accidentally.
What You Should and Shouldn’t Do with a Hiking Baby Carrier
- Hike well-maintained trails
- Carry your baby around the city
- Hike on slippery trails including trails littered with loose rocks
- Participate in trail running
- Go rock climbing
- Ride a bike
- Participate in any fast-paced activities like running.
- Use the carrier as a car child seat
Features to Look Out For in a Baby Pack
Storage is essential for bringing all the things the baby needs with you on a hike in the outdoors. All the framed packs on our list 2020’s best hiking packs have great storage space. Most have a main storage space and other pockets to accommodate a hydration bottle or bladder, zippered pockets on the hip belt for easy access to small essentials, and pockets for soiled clothing, mobile phones, etc. Some packs come with a removable day pack that can hold extra items like diapers. You should consider the things you need to bring with you on the hike and get a carrier with enough storage space for them.
The frame/suspension system
Your comfort is as important as your baby’s comfort when it comes to packs. You want a pack that is comfortable on your back, let’s your back breath, distributes the weight the way you want, and fits right. Most of the packs on our list have frames that can be adjusted to fit different heights. This makes it easy for you or your partner to carry the baby, and you can share the load if you’re hiking together.
You should opt for carriers with tubular aluminum frames. They are lightweight but durable, and the best frames are designed to let your hips do most of the heavy lifting.
Adjustable straps are also crucial in finding the perfect fit for most people. Ideally, the straps should be adjustable at the shoulders, chest, and hips. The straps should also have padding for comfort and meshed ventilation to help reduce perspiration. Osprey, Deuter, Kelty, and Thule excel in the area of adjustability, but cheaper brands tend to be down the pecking order in this area.
Sunshade and Rain Roof
You don’t want to expose your baby to direct sunlight in the summer months. The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun can be harmful to the baby, so you need a way of shielding them from the sun. All the premium packs on our list come with a built-in sunshade that does an excellent job of keeping the sun rays away from your baby. The sunshade is typically stowed away in a pocket behind and above the baby seat. The base model of the Deuter and Kelty does not have a built-in sunshade, so you’ll have to buy it as an optional addon item. All the Osprey models on our list come with an integrated sunshade.
There’s always a chance of rain when you’re in the outdoors, which is why you need to have a rain roof or rain cover. None of the baby carriers on the list come with a built-in rain cover. The manufacturers sell them as an optional accessory. We recommend that you buy a rain cover for full rain protection for the model you buy, although the sunshade on some models can provide adequate protection from light rain.
Ventilation is important for both adult and child. The most important ventilation area for the adult is the back panel, which is in contact with your back. A poorly ventilated back panel will lead to excessive sweating and discomfort. You want a pack with good padding and plenty of mesh material on the back panel to encourage air flow through your back.
The baby’s cockpit is usually well ventilated through various openings in the top, sides, and bottom. Deuter Child Comfort has exceptional ventilation panels for both adult and baby, while the other also excels in this area.
Ventilation doesn’t matter that much in colder climates, and the packs can only keep you as cool as anyone can get in a sweltering and humid environment.
We’ve mentioned Stirrups a few times through this article. For those who don’t know what this term refers to, stirrups are padded loops hanging off a strap either side of the pack that help acts as a foot rest for toddlers and older babies. They help relieve some of the pressure on longer hikes and prevent dead legs. They’re typically adjustable and removable, so you only use them when needed.
Any baby carrier sold in the U.S.A has to meet stringent standards set down by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This means they shouldn’t have any sharp edges, fold accidentally, contain exposed springs, and a list of other safety requirements. Some manufacturers take safety a step further by using independent third-party testing services to put their product through further safety sets. These brands state that they are JPMA certified. Having a JPMA certification does not necessarily mean that a pack is safer than its competitor’s packs, but it can be reassuring that they’ve put themselves through additional testing.