Best Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2022

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Best Baby Carriers for Hiking of 2022

Parenthood can be a shock to the system, especially for outdoor adventurers. My 4-year-old daughter was born on Alaska’s summer solstic

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Parenthood can be a shock to the system, especially for outdoor adventurers. My 4-year-old daughter was born on Alaska’s summer solstice, a time I usually spent swinging for salmon under the midnight sun. Instead, during the summer of 2017, I found myself up all night with constant feedings and the intense anxiety that came with being a new mom. Honestly, the first few weeks I felt trapped by motherhood, and that was until I discovered the freedom of baby carrying. I’ve since tried out many of the best baby carriers for hiking while introducing my daughter to the outdoors. 

My daughter summited her first mountain peak at 6 weeks old, the day my doctor gave me the OK to hike. At almost 5 years old, she’s logged hundreds of miles in kid carriers. She’s been strapped to my back while fly fishing, shed hunting, and deer hunting. For months, baby carriers were the only place she would nap. She would sleep, and I would get a break and some fresh air. I wore my daughter working, cleaning, traveling, and visiting zoos and parks. Using a kid carrier was so convenient, my stroller sat in storage until I eventually gave it away. The best baby carriers for hiking are worth every penny, and here are my top recommendations.  

A black best baby carrier for hiking

Key Features 

  • Carries infant (with insert) to 45 pounds 
  • Forward-facing option along with three other ways to carry including front carry facing in, hip carry, and back carry 
  • Machine washable 
  • Privacy hood (UPF 50+)
  • Cushy shoulder straps 
  • Adjustable 
  • Lumbar support 

Why It Made the Cut 

The ErgoBaby 360 All-Positions Baby Carrier allows you to carry your child in four different positions, including forward facing. Parents can use the carrier from newborn through toddler years with the infant insert. This ergonomically designed baby carrier is versatile and comfortable. It’s easy to adjust and fits a wide range of body types, so both parents can comfortably use it. 

Pros 

  • Forward-facing option 
  • Comfortable on waist and shoulders
  • Machine washable 
  • Lightweight and easy to pack 
  • Adjustable to fit multiple people 
  • Can breastfeed a child in the carrier 

Cons

  • Infant insert sold separately 
  • Hurt shoulders after the child reached 25 pounds, especially in front-carry position  

Product Description

When I was pregnant, the majority of my mom friends recommended the ErgoBaby 360 All-Positions Baby Carrier. They insisted I needed a carrier with a forward-facing option. Moms are always right. As soon as my daughter was old enough for the forward-facing position—around 5 months—she was hooked. 

Forward facing allowed her to see what was happening. It’s a fun way to share your love of the outdoors with your young child. She would watch my husband and me catch fish and spot animals while out hiking. We rarely used any of the other carry positions. 

A man with a baby strapped to his chest fishing
Kids love the option to see what’s happening. Jackie Holbrook

This type of carrier keeps your child close to you, which helps keep an eye on them and make sure their head is in an appropriate position. In my daughter’s case, the close contact and movement would almost always put her to sleep. I would strap her to me while working, cleaning and grocery shopping. It also made airline travel a breeze. 

The infant insert is sold separately, but I highly recommend purchasing it and using this carrier for infants. There are similar ErgoBaby carriers that don’t require an infant insert. I tried using a sling and wrap-type carrier when my daughter was first born, but I found them complicated and uncomfortable. I like the structure of this carrier. It’s really easy to put on by yourself. The buckles adjust smoothly. The fabric is soft. A major bonus is that you can toss it in the washing machine

A blue best baby carrier for hiking

Key Features 

  • Carries from 7 to 45 pounds 
  • Forward-facing option 
  • Multiple positions, including front facing in, front facing out, back carry, and adjustments for toddlers 
  • Breathable and lightweight cotton 
  • Weighs 1.7 pounds 
  • Machine washable 
  • Can breastfeed a child in the carrier 

Why It Made the Cut

Baby Tula has a cult-like following for good reason. Parents rave about the buttery soft fabric and the variety of fun colors used in their slings and carriers. While they also have neutral color options, they are known for their flashy patterns like cactus, rainbows, unicorns, trucks, woodland creatures, and jungle adventures. These packs are in high demand, so if you see a style you want, buy it fast because they often sell out quickly.

Pros

  • Fun colors and patterns 
  • Soft fabric 
  • No need for an infant insert—ready to use out of the box
  • Forward-facing option 
  • Comfortable on waist and shoulders
  • Machine washable 
  • Adjustable to fit multiple people 
  • Can breastfeed a child in the carrier 

Cons

  • More expensive than other carriers 
  • The color/pattern you like, your partner might not 

Product Description

If you’re a parent who is into all the fun, colorful patterns that come with kid’s gear, this is the carrier for you. They have the cutest options and a lot of them. They also come in solid and neutral colors. But parents love these carriers for more than just their looks. 

The Baby Tula Explore Baby Carrier is an excellent all-around carrier. It holds babies from 7 to 45 pounds without the need for an infant insert. The shoulder and waist straps are comfortable. The waist and shoulders are padded. It’s also easy to adjust by yourself. The buckles and straps adjust smoothly.  

This baby carrier is very similar in style to the ErgoBaby 360. The child is carried comfortably against your body so that you can check on them, and it encourages napping in younger children. This carrier is great for airline travel and housework. I found this carrier more comfortable to wear on my back than the ErgoBaby 360. However, the ErgoBaby 360 is the best baby carrier for hiking in the forward-facing position.  

A blue best baby carrier for hiking

Key Features 

  • Weighs 7.89 pounds
  • Carries up to 48.5 pounds
  • Built-in sunshade with UPF 50+ protection 
  • Folding aluminum frame 
  • 26-liter gear capacity  
  • Hip belt pockets 
  • Torso length adjusts from 15 to 22 inches 
  • Fits waist/hips from 26 to 49 inches 
  • Deluxe padded cockpit with soft contact surfaces, anatomic fit, and ventilated side panels 
  • Adjustable child seat height with safety leg loops and removable, adjustable stirrups

Why It Made the Cut

The Poco Plus has the largest capacity for gear storage. This storage comes in handy for snacks, diapers, water, and extra layers. It also makes this backpack usable for backpacking trips. 

Pros

  • Large storage capacity  
  • Built-in sunshade 
  • Easy to use harness system for child 
  • Adjustable frame 
  • Folds down for easy transport and storage

Cons

  • Started to hurt hips and shoulders when carrying over 35 pounds 
  • Tough to get the child in and out once they’re a toddler 

Product Description

Babies can move to a backpack carrier for hiking when they can sit up independently, with full head and neck control. We transitioned our daughter to the Osprey Poco Plus at 7 months old. It was a welcome change from the soft structured carriers. The frame makes a backpack carrier much more comfortable on the shoulders. 

This carrier opened up so many adventures for our family. We used it for hiking, hunting, and fly fishing. The adjustable frame made it easy for my husband and me to wear. If we were logging lots of miles, we could switch back and forth to give the other person a break. This pack can carry a lot of gear, and we could easily fit toys, water, snacks, bottles, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes, and more on backcountry adventures. 

The carrier sits upright, thanks to a foot bar. It’s relatively easy to get the child in and out. However, as she got older, her shoes would come as we lifted her out. Losing shoes is partially what led to us eventually purchasing a new pack. The foot bar is collapsible, making it easier to hike with and transport. The locking hinges and rotating side arms allow the frame to fold down for storage. The harness system and buckle for the child are easy to use and adjust. It also has adjustable stirrups for the child. There’s a soft, removable drool pad that’s comfy as a headrest for a nap. There’s also a loop to attach toys, snacks, and pacifiers. 

A blue best baby carrier for hiking

Key Features 

  • Weighs 7.2 pounds 
  • Side entry for child 
  • Carries up to 48 pounds 
  • Torso length adjusts from 15 to 20 inches 
  • Hip belt pockets 
  • 12-liter gear capacity 
  • Height-adjustable child seat 
  • Detachable sunshade 

Why It Made the Cut

The Deuter Kid Comfort series includes several packs that are designed to be safe, comfortable, and lightweight. The Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier is a baby carrier designed for backpacking and I find it to be the best baby carrier for toddlers. Its ergonomic and adjustable design makes it easy for multiple people to use comfortably. The side entry is perfect for toddlers who want more freedom and for parents who want a break from lifting heavier kids. 

Pros

  • Side entry for child 
  • Comfortable to carry at max capacity 
  • Adjustable frame
  • Folds down for easy transport and storage 

Cons

  • Sun/rain shade falls out very easily and can get lost 

Product Description 

The Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier is true to its name, comfortable, even at max capacity. We weren’t planning on purchasing another backpack carrier, but when the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier began to hurt our shoulders at around 30 pounds, we knew we needed to try something new. While the Deuter Kid Comfort Active Child Carrier has less gear carrying capacity, it’s the perfect pack for toddlers. In addition to being more comfortable for parents to carry, my daughter says it’s more comfortable for her to ride in. 

A woman fishing with a toddler in a red backpack
This Deuter carrier keeps you mobile and your kid shaded. Jackie Holbrook

The best toddler-friendly feature is the side entry. Instead of lifting her in and out, I unbuckle the side, and she climbs right in on her own. The seat and stirrups are adjustable, which is great for toddler growth spurts. It also has a soft removable headrest for naps. 

My least favorite feature is the design of the sun/rain shade. The front of the shade comes with buckles that keep it in place. However, the back is two poles that tuck into pockets. When hiking through brush or forested areas, it’s easy for these poles to get caught on something and pulled out. If the front isn’t attached, it can fall off completely and become lost. We learned this the hard way. Luckily a hiker behind us found it and caught up with us to return it. Despite those cons, if you’re in the market for the best baby carriers for hiking, the Deuter Kid Comfort ranks high on any list. 

A green wrap baby carrier

Key Features 

  • Weighs 1.1 pounds 
  • Front carrying facing in only
  • Carries up to 25 pounds 
  • Fits petite to plus sizes
  • No pockets or other capacity 

Why It Made the Cut

The SollyBaby Wrap packs down to almost nothing, making it easy to add to your bag or pack. The stretchy fabric creates a secure fit every time.

Pros

  • Low-packed volume
  • Comfortable
  • Can tuck in newborn legs for added security
  • Fits virtually all sizes

Cons

  • It takes some practice to get the wrapping of the fabric right
  • Does not accommodate wearing babies on the back

Product Description

When my kid was very small, it could be difficult to get out of the house with all of the accoutrements of life with a baby: diapers, wipes, spare clothes, bottles, pacifiers, etc. But it was easy to stuff the Solly Wrap into a bag at the last second, and I was always glad I did—especially when the opportunity for an impromptu hike or walk came up. 

The Wrap is essentially a long piece of stretchy fabric, and it can be intimidating to use for the first time. But I found that after a few practice sessions (and I am no origami master), that it was simple to use and required fewer adjustments than more heavy duty baby carriers. Because the wrap is so form-fitting, my balance was better than with other baby carriers, and I was less paranoid that a foot or hand would become snagged in a cord. I also appreciated having the option to tuck in tiny feet on days when the wind picked up. 

Because the wrap can hold fairly large babies—easily past their first year—I was able to switch from this straight to a more traditional backpack style carrier without the need for anything more robust in between. -Laura Lancaster

FAQs

Q: How do you hike with an infant? 

In my experience, babywearing is amazing for bonding, getting stuff done, and the freedom to explore the outdoors safely. I began using an age-appropriate baby carrier with my daughter the day she came home from the hospital. By the time I got the OK from my doctor to hike at six weeks postpartum, she loved being in the baby carrier. 
As an infant, you carry your child on the front of your body. Our daughter would fall asleep with her head against our chest. This makes it easy to make sure their head is in a safe position. This also makes it easy for moms to breastfeed if they wake up hungry on the hike. We used a built-in sunshade to keep the sun off her face. We would always dress her in a layer warmer than what we were wearing. Even though she had a rain suit, we tried to avoid taking her out when it was raining or cold. 

I always made sure to carry enough diapers and breastmilk/formula, and then some. Getting caught on a hike with a hungry kid or no backups for a wet/poopy diaper is something you want to avoid. Extra clothes are also key because you never know when there will be a blowout or spitup. 

Q: Can I use a baby carrier for hiking? 

Yes. As long as the baby carrier is comfortable for you to wear and safe, age-appropriate for your child, you can wear any baby carrier for hiking. For children under six months, they should be in a wrap, sling or soft structured carrier on your chest. As soon as your child can sit up on their own and has good head control, they can move to your back or a backpack child carrier. 

Q: What should I look for in a hiking baby carrier? 

As long as the carrier is age appropriate (see above), comfort is the most important feature—for both you and your child. You won’t make it far if the child and/or you are uncomfortable. A lot of comfort comes from the fit of the carrier. Most child carriers are designed to be adjustable and fit multiple body types. Play around with the fit at home and on short outings before you do a long hike. Expect the fit to change as the child grows. Always take the time to adjust the fit for yourself and the child before every outing. Kids grow quickly, things change. 

As your child grows, you’ll need to condition your body to the weight. I found this was particularly important for my shoulders when I would carry my daughter on my chest in soft-structured carriers like the ErgoBaby 360 and Tula Baby Explore. By the time she was 6 months old, I was thankful to be able to move her to a backpack-style carrier that distributed the weight better. However, lots of my friends who breastfed continued to wear their child in front because it made for convenient feeding. 

If you don’t plan on doing long hikes, you can probably use a lighter pack with less gear storage. However, if you plan to do any long hikes, multi-day trips or activities that require gear, you’ll be thankful for the extra storage space. Storage also comes in handy for non-hiking situations. When flying, instead of a stroller, I used a baby carrier. My daughter loved being able to see what was going on, and it was way easier to maneuver crowded spaces. The storage space allowed me to carry toys, snacks, and extra clothes. 

A woman carrying a child in a red backpack smiling
Including your kids on your adventures is a great way to get them to love the outdoors. Jackie Holbrook

Final Thoughts 

These are the best baby carriers for hiking that I’ve tested and they will all work well for their intended uses. But, if you have friends who are parents, ask to borrow one of their carriers before buying your own to get a feel for it. If you’re looking to save money, there’s a pretty big secondhand market. Kids grow quickly, so many are still in great condition. 

Carrying my daughter on hikes has been a huge part of our life together. Like anything in parenting, it was a learning curve. Whether it was overpacking or being afraid she’d get cold, the more adventures we took together, the more comfortable it became.

Now that she’s almost 5, she’s ready to trade in our baby carriers for hiking for a pair of hiking shoes of her own. My back is thankful that I’m carrying her less and she’s walking more, but knowing that this season of motherhood is coming to a close is bittersweet. I cherish every mile of adventure we’ve had together. But I’m also looking forward to the miles she’ll travel beside me. 

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