In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Tula Explore Review

While comfortable for the wearer, this carrier is complicated and less comfy for baby
tula explore baby carrier review
Credit: Abriah Wofford
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Price:  $199 List
Manufacturer:   Tula
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 16
  • Child Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Parent Comfort - 35% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 30% 5.0
  • Ease Of Cleaning - 10% 4.0

The Skinny

The Tula Explore is a soft structured carrier that works for children weighing 7-45 lbs. It has padded shoulder straps, an adjustable waist strap, and child seat adjustments for three different carry positions. While we like the idea and find it similar to competitors, Explore struggled to match the best baby carriers in our review for baby comfort and ease of use. The sheer number of adjustments and straps makes this carrier harder to use, and keeping the instructions handy is a good idea, especially as your baby grows. It also requires line drying, which can take more than a day, given the padding. This carrier is also more expensive than much of the competition. Those on a budget should consider a higher-ranking, less expensive baby carrier for getting around with their child.
REASONS TO BUY
Comfy for parents
Variety of colors and patterns
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Several adjustments
Harder to clean
Not as comfortable for baby
Editor's Note: We updated this gear review on October 18, 2022, with additional paragraphs with product comparisons and information on what we would buy.

Compare to Similar Products

 
tula explore baby carrier review
This Product
Tula Explore
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award 
Price $199 List
$199.99 at Amazon
$90 List
$64.95 at Amazon
$60 List
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$190 List
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$45 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
59
87
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68
Star Rating
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Pros Comfy for parents, variety of colors and patternsEasy to use, comfortable to wear, cozy for baby, affordableBudget-friendly, easy wrap, machine wash and dryEasy to put on, super comfortable to wear, cozy for kidsMachine wash and dry, comfy for baby and parents, economical
Cons Expensive, several adjustments, harder to clean, not as comfortable for babyHang to drySize specific, no adjustabilityLong drying time, lots of buckles and straps, expensiveHarder to use, lots of fabric
Bottom Line While comfortable for the wearer, this carrier is complicated and less comfy for babyEasy to use, comfortable sling to wear and sit inInexpensive, easy to use, wrap style without the wrap hassleMost comfortable to wear with a cozy seat and easy attachmentBudget-friendly wrap that is comfortable but harder to use
Rating Categories Tula Explore Nalakai Ring Sling Baby K'tan Original BabyBjorn One Boba Wrap
Child Comfort (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Parent Comfort (35%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
8.0
Ease of Use (30%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
4.0
8.0
10.0
3.0
10.0
Specs Tula Explore Nalakai Ring Sling Baby K'tan Original BabyBjorn One Boba Wrap
Min/Max Weight 7 - 45 lbs 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 35 lbs 8 - 33 lbs 7 - 35 lbs
Carry Positions Facing In (7 - 45 lbs)
Facing Out (14 lbs/5 mo - 22 lbs/12 mo)
Back Carry (Head/Neck/Torso Control - 45 lbs)
Facing In (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Carry (8 - 35 lbs *BGL recommends Head/Neck/Torso Control)
Kangaroo Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hug Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Adventure Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Explore Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Hip Position (8 - 35 lbs)
Facing In (0 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing Out (5 - 15 mo./26 lbs)
Back Carry (12 - 36 mo./33 lbs)
Facing In (Newborn - 35 lbs)
Weight 1.73 lbs 0.9 lbs Sm: 0.89
Lg: 1.04 lbs
2.26 lbs 1.41 lbs
Packable Size Medium Small Small Large Small (5.5 yards in length)
Fabric 100% Cotton 58% Bamboo
42% Linen
100% Cotton Cotton, Polyester, PU Foam 95% Cotton
5% Spandex
Hood Yes No No No No
Storage Options Velcro pouch on waist belt Pocket on the tail Pouch on the belt. None Storage Pouch
Other Features & Notable Adjustable Seat Width, Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 None Azo Dye-free Adjustable Seat Width,
Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1
None
Included Accessories None None None None Storage Sack
Care Instructions Machine wash cold, hang dry Machine wash cold, hang dry Machine wash cold, tumble dry low Machine wash warm, hang dry Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Tula company started when Ula and Mike couldn't find a great sling or carrier for their baby. Inspired by those they saw working while wearing their children in wraps, the couple created their own carrier. After realizing a market demand for baby carriers, they began making and selling them full-time.

Performance Comparison



tula explore baby carrier review - the explore is not comfortable for all children in all positions.
The Explore is not comfortable for all children in all positions.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Baby's Comfort


This carrier should be comfortable for babies, given the padding, but it struggles to match the competition regarding baby comfort. The padding is nice, but the fabric isn't as soft as other Tula carriers we've tested. While it is better than average for child comfort, it could use improvement.

The Explore design puts baby's mouth right near padded shoulder...
The Explore design puts baby's mouth right near padded shoulder straps which will lead to sucking and chewing on straps requiring regular cleaning.
The Explore adjusts the seat bottom width with buttons and the...
The Explore adjusts the seat bottom width with buttons and the waistband with sliding expanders that use Velcro.

Depending on your baby's size, the straps and structure of the carrier can get in the way of movement and the ability to see, or it can offer unintentional places for chewing and sucking (above left). This design can be frustrating for babies and parents. Also, the strap placement and button seat width adjustment (above right) can impede natural body placement and grow uncomfortable over time as little ones are forced to put legs and arms where they may not naturally go. If you forget to make adjustments as your baby grows or their position changes, you'll have new problems, and regular reference to the manual is probably a good idea.

The Xplore has padded straps and waistband that make it more...
The Xplore has padded straps and waistband that make it more comfortable for parents to wear than some of the less padded competition.
Front carry on the Explore means the straps will connect across a...
Front carry on the Explore means the straps will connect across a parent's back making it a struggle to make adjustments on the go without a helper.

Parent's Comfort


Parent or user comfort is the metric where Explore shines. The structure of this carrier is similar to other structured Tula carriers and has a variety of strap adjustments to help parents find the right fit. The shoulder straps, center strap, and waistband all offer adjustment points, and some offer more than one way to make changes. Most of which you can do while wearing the carrier, but you may need help depending on the position or your range of motion. The straps are well-padded, and the carrier moves enough when you walk to avoid discomfort, but it isn't as form-fitting or free moving as a sling.

While placing your baby in the Explore requires two hands, it isn't...
While placing your baby in the Explore requires two hands, it isn't challenging and feels natural.
Putting the baby in the Explore will take two hands to accomplish...
Putting the baby in the Explore will take two hands to accomplish but most of the process will feel like second nature.
Reaching the Explore's cross strap will be challenging for some...
Reaching the Explore's cross strap will be challenging for some users and may require a helper to get it on, making adjustments to the straps in this position is part of why the carrier is so challenging to use.

Ease of Use


Right out of the box, the Explore is troubling, with more adjustments and straps than much of the competition. This carrier is definitely not intuitive if you plan to take advantage of all the bells and whistles and adjustments for comfort it offers. Putting the Explore on and getting the baby in place requires two hands and an engineering degree (just kidding about the degree). But it isn't getting the Explore on that is the real problem; it is all the adjustments for your baby's size, comfort, and position that will take time to learn and adapt. This carrier has buttons, straps, and Velcro adjustments throughout, and some you won't be able to manage without a helper.

The head support cap on the Explore is hard to use without a helper...
The head support cap on the Explore is hard to use without a helper depending on the carry position and some children may not like the way it prevents movement or visibility.
Pulling the Explore's waistband strap from the back might prove...
Pulling the Explore's waistband strap from the back might prove difficult for some users.

The Explore includes a removable and detachable hood. You can use it to support an older baby's head if they fall asleep in a back carry position or to help shield sunlight. This feature may require an assistant to help set up if you have your baby in a back carry position (above left). The rear waist tightening strap could also be troubling and require assistance depending on your shape and size and how flexible your arms are (above right).

tula explore baby carrier review - washing the explore is easy in the machine, but it needs to be line...
Washing the Explore is easy in the machine, but it needs to be line dried which could take more than a day given your climate and the carrier padding.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Cleaning


The Explore can be machine washed in cold water; however, it needs to hang to dry, which is troubling when a carrier has so much padding. Depending on your climate, this carrier could take longer than overnight to dry thoroughly, leaving you without a baby carrier for when you need one. The fabric does spot-clean well if messes occur while on the go with your baby, but you'll want to limit how much water you use as the padding can take extra time to dry.

Should You Buy the Tula Explore?


The Explore may have some attractive features, but overall, it didn't perform well in the competition. Its design is complicated and lacks the comfort for little passengers to compete with top-ranked baby carriers. Plus, it's expensive, which is a factor to consider. Considering that the lineup includes higher-ranking contenders that will keep more money in your pocket, we think you should pass on this option.

What Other Baby Carriers Should You Consider?


The Tula Free-to-Grow is the Explore's relative worth considering. It's easier to use and all-around more comfortable, including softer fabric. If you think a sling might be your thing, check out the Nalakai Ring Sling. It is a high-ranking sling that's easy to use, comfortable, and cheaper than the Explore.

Manufacturer Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz
 
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