Best Baby Backpack Carrier
|Price||$350 List||$300 List|
$299.95 at Amazon
$329.95 at Amazon
$275.00 at Amazon
$375.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Useful storage features, comfortable fit and seat, removable day pack||Comfy to wear and ride in, lots of storage, canopy and hydration pocket||Best child comfort, custom fit possibilities, loads of storage||Easy on the wallet, fit for narrower builds, comfy for passengers and parents||Vari-flex waistband, day pack, comfy for baby|
|Cons||Stiffer shoulder straps||Higher price, hard to adjust seat, may be too long for shorter torsos||Doesn't fit all users||Very limited storage, canopy costs extra, no dedicated spot for a hydration bladder||Expensive, harder to use|
|Bottom Line||Comfortable fitting pack with cozy seat and useful features||Comfortable pack with lots of storage, a canopy, and easy to use features||Super comfortable carrier for parents and children with lots of useful storage||This high-quality, less expensive pack is comfortable for babies and parents with narrower builds but the storage is limited||Expensive, high-end pack that is cozy for kids, but harder to use|
|Rating Categories||Thule Sapling Elite||Kelty Journey Perfe...||Osprey Poco Plus||Deuter Kid Comfort...||Deuter Kid Comfort Pro|
|Parent Comfort (30%)|
|Child Comfort (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Specs||Thule Sapling Elite||Kelty Journey Perfe...||Osprey Poco Plus||Deuter Kid Comfort...||Deuter Kid Comfort Pro|
|Usage Ranges||Min-Max: 16 lbs - 48 lbs||Min-Max: 16 lbs - 40 lbs||Min-Max: 16 lbs - 40 lbs||Min-Max: When child can sit upright independently - 48 lbs||Min-Max: When child can sit upright independently - 40 lbs|
|Max Pack Load||48 lbs||48.5 lbs||48.5 lbs||48 lbs||48 lbs|
|Weight||8.25 lbs||7.4 lbs||7.9 lbs||6 lbs||8.5 lbs|
|BGL Folded/Flat Dimensions||14" W x 14" H x 31" L||16" W x 10" H x 31" L||15" W x 11" H x 30" L||16.5W" x 10"H x 31"L||16.4" W x 9.5" H x 34.8" L|
|Fabric||210D Cordura nylon, 420D nylon||Body: Poly 420D Small Back Stafford
Interior: 75D Poly x 140D Nylon Blend
|Main: 210D Nylon Shadow Box
Accent: 400HD Nylon Packcloth
Bottom: 400HD Nylon Packcloth
|210 denier polyamide fabric. Tear and abrasion resistant, watertight to 1500 mm||210 denier polyamide fabric with strong ripstop threads and PU coating.|
|Stirrups||Yes, adjustable||Yes, adjustable||Yes, adjustable||Yes||Yes|
|Hydration Bladder Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Included Accessories||Mirror, removable day pack||Journey Sunshade||Mirror||Daypack, Mirror|
|Care Instructions||Hand Wash||Spot Clean||Hand Wash||Hand Wash||Hand Wash|
Best Overall Backpack Carrier
Thule Sapling Elite
The Thule Sapling Elite is the highest-ranking pack in the review with a perfect score for parent comfort thanks to padded adjustable shoulder straps, a structured waistband, and a close-fitting cockpit. We liked the firm, stable seat pad and the nap-able face rest/drool pad. This pack has lots of storage with a removable day pack and a designated location for a hydration bladder and included canopy. With adjustments you can make on the go, it is difficult to go wrong with the Elite.
While the price of this pack is higher than budget competitors, we think the quality and thoughtful design of the Elite makes it a real contender for families who love being outdoors or going on adventures where a pack will be a benefit. The potential years or use make this option worth the price of admission.
Read review: Thule Sapling Elite
Best Pack Storage
Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite
The Kelty Journey PefectFit Elite has more storage pockets than you can handle with internal pockets, zippered waistband pockets, a waterproof pocket for wet or dirty items, and one of the only water bottle holders the wearer can reach while donning the pack. This pack includes a canopy pocket and a hydration space for a lumbar bladder bag (sold separately). In addition to the variety of pockets, this option is very comfortable for children and parents with adjustable straps you can shift on the go. The Elite provides a snug cockpit, breathable back pad, and load lifters for help with weight distribution or minor adjustments to increase comfort.
This backpack is not a good choice if you are on a budget, as it sports one of the highest prices in our review. It may also be a less than ideal option for shorter torsos, as some petite testers had trouble finding a great fit. Despite these issues, it is an excellent pack if you want a comfortable fit with lots of versatile storage and your budget allows.
Read review: Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite
Best Bang for the Buck
Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL
The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL says it has a fit for women, and the narrow design and shoulder straps make it a better fit and more comfortable than most packs for those with narrow shoulders or less expansive backs. Our testers feel it is less restrictive than other packs and keeps little ones close to the wearer, thereby increasing comfort for longer adventures and less fatigue. Babies seemed to like the close contact, and the cockpit has adjustable features to customize fit with little ones in mind.
This pack has a plethora of features for comfort for both the wearer and the passenger, but it lacks advantageous storage features making it less suitable for longer trips that require more supplies. It also doesn't come standard with a canopy or hydration bladder, and while you can buy them separately, it is an added expense, and they will take up some of the limited storage space you find on this pack. However, the Comfort Active is so comfortable to wear, especially for smaller wearers, that we can overlook the storage problem and encourage users to pack lite with only the essentials.
Read review: Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL
Best for the Tightest of Budgets
The Luvdbaby is a wallet-friendly choice for families who only need a backpack occasionally or for shorter adventures. This pack has good storage for the price point and some features parents will find useful when traveling with a baby on board. It is one of the lightest packs in the review, limiting the amount of extra weight you need to carry that isn't a baby or supplies.
This pack lacks some of the features and design elements that create a truly comfortable pack for kids or parents. However, if your trip is short or your baby is smaller, you probably won't know what you are missing. Also, it isn't capable of storing a hydration bladder, so you'll need to carry a water bottle, which could be less crucial if you aren't going far. Overall, the Luvdbaby is a basic pack for parents who need something for quick trips or tourist activities where long-term comfort is less of a concern.
Read review: LuvdBaby
Most Comfortable Pack for Baby
Osprey Poco Plus
The Osprey Poco Plus provides the most comfortable riding experience for children, including a secure cockpit, wide padded seat, and harness, and an angled, removable, cozy drool pad/face rest. Little ones will enjoy the added comfort features of adjustable stirrups and a canopy with side protection. This pack comes with toy loops to keep treasures secure and a side mirror for keeping an eye on your passenger. Parents will appreciate the easy-to-use adjustments and features, as well as the close-fitting cockpit and breathable back pad with adjustable torso length.
This version of the Poco is not included in the 2017 recall that affects Poco packs made from 2012-2014.
The Osprey has a higher price tag than most of the competition, making it a poor choice for families on a budget or parents who only hike occasionally. However, it brings a lot to the table, and we think it is the best choice for parents who favor passenger comfort over other metrics.
Read review: Osprey Poco Plus
Why You Should Trust Us
Our baby backpack carrier review had so many contributors and testers it is hard to pay justice to them all. With a background in outdoor products from our sister company OutdoorGearLab, we were poised to create a testing process with the true outdoorsman and adventurer in mind.
This review was led by our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician. Bob Wofford, father of 7, outdoor adventurer, and Senior Review Analyst for the last 7 years, worked with the OutdoorGearLab founder to create testing processes and choose outdoor trails for testing the packs. Multiple testers and parents assisted in the testing process, wearing the packs on trails with their littles. Senior Review Editor Wendy Schmitz wraps up the analysis with her 7-years experience in gear reviews and hiking with children literally on board. Abriah Wofford, Senior Review Editor joins the team with product testing and photos.
We tested each product with various wearers and passengers to ensure a useful cross-section of shapes and sizes to help find the average for comfort and usability by identifying the differences between packs and which have the best features and functionality. We considered the parent and child comfort, as well as storage and ease of use. With parents and children varying in size and ability, this diverse testing group helps provide a good overview of each product's abilities.
Related: How We Tested Baby Backpacks
Analysis and Test Results
We bought, tested, and compared 8 popular baby backpacks for several months side-by-side to determine which contenders are the best and why. Our on-the-trail hiking and in-house lab comparisons are designed to help ferret out the details you'll want to help you make the right decision for your needs. We rank the packs on overall performance and tester feedback from regular use. Metric scores determine the pack's overall scores with an emphasis on comfort for all.
Related: Buying Advice for Baby Backpacks
We believe a backpack for carrying a baby is a long-term investment you can use for multiple children up to around 40 lbs depending on the pack guidelines and parent ability. As the going prices are somewhat high, ideally, you want to purchase only one pack for the duration, so doing your homework and choosing wisely is crucial.
While a backpack should be viewed as an investment, we feel packs are valuable for helping families have more adventures with their babies. The investment pays off in more ways than just the convenience of the pack itself. The Luvdbaby offers an affordable price that most families can afford. While it failed to score as high as some award winners, it can be a useful pack for those who take only occasional or shorter adventures, saving money without skipping the fun. The high-scoring Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL, while more expensive, is still worth considering if your budget allows, as it offers more comfort for both the passenger and the wearer, especially those with a narrow build. While cheap packs can be very tempting, we caution that you get what you pay for when it comes to baby backpacks and the less expensive options are typically uncomfortable to wear for longer periods in our experience, offering poor-quality and hard to use features you aren't likely to be happy with for long.
Supporting your baby's weight comfortably can make all the difference between a fun day adventure and a short, uncomfortable walk around the block. We test each backpack for parent comfort, looking at shoulder straps, load lifters, waistbands, torso adjustment, back padding, and breathability. As with typical hiking backpacks, adjusting the pack on-the-fly can be critical for overall comfort. Backpacks aren't as useful if they don't offer adequate padding or structure, are challenging to adjust, or if we can't find a fit that doesn't result in discomfort or rubbing.
The Thule Sapling Elite has the top score for parent's comfort with a 10 of 10. This comfy pack has various features for comfort, including a stronger waistband structure, smooth strap movement for adjustments, padded shoulder straps, torso height range of 6 inches across 4 settings, and breathable back design (goodbye sweaty back!). The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL has a design where the contour of the shoulder straps were less comfortable for our male testers, with pressure too high for most of them. This makes sense as the company claims a fit specifically for women. However, our female testers felt it was one of the best in the group, giving it a score of 9 for comfort.
The Osprey Poco Plus, Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite, and the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro all earned 8s. The lowest-scoring options were the Phil and Teds Parade with a 1 that lacks adjustability in the shoulder straps and torso and the Phil and Teds Escape with a 3 and shoulder straps that don't tighten enough and a saggy waist strap that isn't supportive.
Keeping little ones cozy creates the ideal environment for longer adventures and fewer complaints. Little details like angled drool pads, stirrups, padded harnesses, supportive seats, and secure cockpits all make backpack riding more enjoyable for your little one. Our little testers influenced test results in pack reactions, including napping positions, signs of discomfort, and how secure we could make the cockpit through adjustments without upsetting the passenger.
The Osprey Poco Plus earned a 10 of 10 for child comfort with a firm supportive face rest that curves out on the ends for additional napping support (less head lolling) and easy to adjust stirrups to avoid dangling legs.
The Thule Sapling Elite, the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro, and the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL (above) all earned 9s with features for comfort like a secure cockpit on the Thule Sapling Elite. The Active SL seat is contoured so that it is wide under the tushie and narrows between the legs. It has thick padding that offers good support for passengers without being bulky and uncomfortable. The Kelty PerfectFit also earned 9 with a wide seat with padded leg holes, seat height adjustments, and soft-covered harness clips. The lowest scoring option is the Phil and Teds Parade with a cockpit that doesn't feel secure and has limited adjustability with no napping face rest (hello floppy head).
Ease of Use
How easy or challenging a pack is to use impacts your overall experience with each use. Straightforward features and easy functionality can differentiate between a quick prep and an enjoyable journey versus a frustrated baby and parent. Our ease-of-use ratings rank each pack on its adjustability, on-the-go alterations, canopy, user manual, and hydration bladder capabilities.
The high score for ease of use is only 7 of 10 for the Thule Sapling Elite, Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite, and the Osprey Poco Plus. Each pack has easy adjustments you can do on the fly, and you can adjust most child cockpit needs with your child in the pack.
The second-place product for ease of use is the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro with a 6. The most complicated or difficult to use packs earned 4s and include the Clevr Cross Country and Phil and Teds Escape. The lower-ranking options have challenging adjustments and features that can cause frustration during testing.
Taking children anywhere means you'll need supplies, and these supplies will need to be packed somewhere. Backpacks with useful storage are those with space for critical items like diapers, wipes, clothes, and hiking essentials such as water, snacks, canopy, sunscreen, and rain protection. Backpacks with a variety of pockets and internal organization features are more impressive than those with single open pouches, even if the pocket is large. Packs with larger waist pockets and storage within reach of the pack wearer are also an advantage. A removable daypack is also a great feature, as seen on the Thule Sapling Elite.
The Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite has a 10 of 10 for storage features with more pockets than any competitor. Its storage includes a designated pocket for a hydration bladder. It includes the only reachable water bottle holder in the group and a large waterproof pocket for dirty or wet supplies. The Elite has two zippered waistband pockets with one that holds an average-sized smartphone, and the other has a mesh pouch for a water bottle.
The Thule Sapling Elite (above left) also offers impressive storage with a score of 9 and waistband pockets that fit a larger mobile phone and have a wide opening in the main pockets. The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL has some storage, but overall, it is largely lacking and potentially insufficient for longer adventures earning a score of 6 in this metric. The lowest storage result is the Clevr Cross Country with a 3 (above right). The Clevr has fewer pockets than the competitors, with nuisance fabric flaps that make the pockets stupidly hard to use.
With a variety of baby backpacks available, it might be challenging to figure out which option is the best and why. Many packs look the same on the surface or lack useful features making it hard to tell from a picture or an advertisement if it is the right pack for your needs. After days of real-world testing with little ones, we can honestly attest that some carriers are definitely better than others, and some features are more useful. Some of the contenders in this review didn't meet our expectations, with a somewhat large disparity across competitors' features and quality. Luckily, we've done the dirty, uncomfortable, but often fun work for you during hands-on testing. Our real-life trail testing means we can provide the information you need about comfort, ease of use, and storage to help you make your best buying decision. We've gathered our observations and award winners so you can find the best pack for your needs and budget.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz