LuvdBaby Premium Review
Pros: Budget-friendly, good storage
Cons: Lower quality, not very comfortable for parent or child
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The LuvDBaby is a company born of necessity when a dad embarked on the potty training journey with his child. This Irish, family-owned venture primarily sells toilet training and related items, but they recently tipped a toe into other areas and began selling the Premium backpack in the US, as our hiking season is longer (as relayed by the founder).
The LuvdBaby Premium backpack is not that comfortable for the wearer and while it can feel okay at first or with smaller passengers, overall it isn't comfortable enough to use with larger children or on longer adventures.
The shoulder straps are padded but the padding thickness is lacking and the structure is minimal. While the straps have load lifters, some testers experienced significant discomfort with heavier passengers compared to the competition that couldn't be relieved no matter what adjustments were made.
The waistband on the pack is less structured and padded than much of the competition. The shape and design of the band put pressure on the top of the buttocks and some testers complain that it chaffed over time and was generally uncomfortable to wear when weighted down with a passenger. Other smaller testers reported that the lack of contour in the belt resulted in pressure on the front of the hips bones when carrying heavier children.
The back padding on the Premium is better than the less expensive competition and it is one of the few cheaper options that provide torso height adjustment with a range of 3.5-inches.
The LuvdBaby is not the most comfortable pack for children as it lacks some of the features found in the more expensive competition that keeps little one's comfort at the forefront.
The cockpit is roomy and not as secure feeling as some of the competition with less padding overall and small wings to keep little ones contained. There is no side entry on this pack so you need to lift the child up to place them down and into the pack.
The back headrest is virtually non-existent depending on the height of your child and the front lacks a good face pad for napping. While there is a pad present in front of the baby's face, it isn't angled for comfort nor is it removable to keep it clean. The Premium has two lightly padded shoulder straps that connect to the front of the cockpit near the seat bottom. The strap height adjusts with Velcro. There is an elastic sternum strap with a buckle in the middle that moves up and down on the shoulder straps and we were not able to keep in one place. The mechanism (straps and levers) to adjust the shoulder strap lengths are found near the child's hips, which is a strange less user-friendly location.
The manual gives instructions about strap placement for the cockpit and the child's leg and we couldn't see how following the instructions would be at all possible or even comfortable for little ones placing their legs above a strap instead of below.
This pack offers child stirrups to help offer support for the baby's feet and prevent dangling leg discomfort. Our little testers liked and used the stirrups with no problems.
The Premium comes with a canopy included which is nice given that many less expensive packs forgo this useful addition. The canopy is somewhat flimsy and can block the visibility of taller children, but it's better to have protection from the sun and rain than not have protection. It also includes a rain shield, but it isn't as practical in use and we'd hoped.
Ease of Use
The LuvdBaby Premium is relatively easy to use.
The torso strap adjustment is simple and can be done with little ones in the pack. The adjustment is Velcro and requires threading through a variety of slots to make the change. While not difficult, it is somewhat convoluted. Theoretically, you won't be making this change often if the same parent wears the pack.
The shoulder straps are easy to adjust with the pack on or off. The straps have some ventilation for airflow but less than the higher-priced competition. The waistband is also easy enough to adjust, though the strap tightens with a pullback that isn't as smooth as the pull forward more ergonomic adjustment found on some of the competition.
The child's shoulder strap height adjusts with Velcro. The seat height can be shifted up or down using a strap mechanism you pull to increase the seat height and a buckle you lift to release the strap to lower the seat. The process is easy and one you'll likely want to do with your baby out of the pack.
The Premium has a single carry handle (above left) on the back of the pack where the wearer's back goes near the child's face. The pack's kickstand (above right) is easy to push out and pull in. It isn't stiff, it works well and it feels stable.
The LuvdBaby has adequate storage for a pack in this price range with an above-average placement in the group.
This pack has a mesh stow pocket on either side (shoulder level) for water bottle storage. You won't be able to reach these pockets as the wearer and a tall bottle is unlikely to stay in place. The mesh is loose and semi-stretchy across the top. This pack also doesn't have a hydration bladder or location for one, which is a bummer as longer adventures are far easier with a hydration bladder.
The waistband on the Premium has two pockets one on each side that close with a zipper (above left). They are both on the large side and can fit even larger cell phones and other items with the waistband pulled tightly across the hips. The back of the pack also has a low pocket between the kickstand legs that closes with a zipper (above right). This main storage compartment on the Premium is large and deep enough to hold multiple essential items. The compartment is accessed by a zipper that runs across top; it is hard to open this pocket with a single hand.
In addition to the main compartment is a medium-sized, insulated compartment, located higher up on the backside behind a small mesh pocket. Included with the backpack is a well-padded, large changing pad (not commonly included with backpacks), a detachable canopy, and a rain/wind cover that stows in the main storage compartment (also a unique offering).
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz