For heavy use, you’ll need a baby carrier that can stand up easily to your chosen activities. For long walks or hikes, it’s usually easiest to carry your baby on your back. However, most everyday child carriers offer a front carry position only.
External Frame Baby Backpack
Kelty, Sherpani, LittleLife, and Deuter all offer external frame baby backpacks, which provide numerous advantages to an active parent. Like the internal frame backpack that you may already own for backpacking, it distributes weight evenly on your hips while enabling you to carry heavy loads for long distances. If you plan on doing any hiking at all with your baby—even if it’s just short day hikes—this is a great investment.
Most external frame baby backpacks come with a “kickstand” (part of the frame that you can pull out so that the backpack stands on its own on the ground while you get Baby situated). Another useful feature is an attached daypack that can zip off, and/or a large pocket that allows you to pack diapers, snacks, and other necessities. A bottle holder (preferably two) is a must, since both you and baby will need to stay hydrated. Some even come with a little “rearview mirror” so that you can peek at Baby even while she’s on your back (and so that you can amuse Baby when she starts to get restless, because few things amuse her more than looking at her own little mug in a mirror.) Most come with (or have available for additional purchase) a rain canopy, which also provides shade from the noonday sun.
Baby backpacks are generally very comfortable for your child—the rhythm of being carried often lulls a baby to sleep. (Some baby backpacks offer better padding for nodding off than others.) Generally speaking, baby backpacks are intended for children with good neck and core control—usually over six months, but check with your pediatrician.
If you don’t hike, but regularly take long walks around town, you might not need a full-fledged baby backpack. Instead, consider the Ergo, which is basically a cross between a non-frame backpack and a nicely padded mei-tai style carrier, with some extra bells and whistles. It offers a very supportive carry for baby that distributes weight comfortably on your hips, and it even includes a pocket for your wallet, a diaper, or a quick snack. The Ergo allows parents the flexibility to carry a child on the front, back, or even the hip, making it a great all-around, versatile carrier. A special infant insert is needed for babies younger than four months, but it can last well into the toddler years.
Want to be active with your kids in tow?
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