The Tula Explore is a structured carrier that allows for forward-facing, parent facing, and front and back carry positions. It has padded shoulder straps, an adjustable waist strap and child seat adjustments for different carry positions. While we like the idea and find it similar to competitors, the Explore struggled to match the competition for baby comfort and ease of use. The sheer number of adjustments and straps makes this carrier harder to use and keeping the manual 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 which means keeping it clean will be hard. This carrier is also more expensive than much of the competition, so parents on a budget should consider higher ranking, less expensive options. Overall, the Explore has some nice features, but there is better fare elsewhere in this lineup that will also keep more money in your pocket.
Tula Explore Review
Pros: Comfy for parents, variety of colors and patterns
Cons: Lots of adjustments, harder to clean, not as comfortable for baby, expensive
Compare to Similar Products
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 carriers, they began making and selling them full time.
This carrier should be comfortable for babies given the padding, but it struggles to match the competition when it comes to 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.
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.
Parent or user comfort is the metric where the Explore really shines. The structure of this carrier is similar to other structure 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.
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, whistles, and changes for comfort it offers. Putting the carrier on and getting the baby in place requires two hands and an engineering degree (just kidding on the degree). But it isn't getting the carrier on that is the real problem, it is all the adjustments for baby's size and 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 carrier also comes with a head "Cap" for baby to both support their head and to help shield sunlight. This feature may require an assistant to use 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).
Ease of Cleaning
The Explore can be machine washed in cold water. this is a nice feature as babies can be messing and low maintenance cleaning is key. 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 fully dry leaving you without a carrier when you need one. The fabric does spot clean well for on the go messes, but you'll want to limit how much water you use as once again the padding can take extra time to dry.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz