Having the right baby hiking carrier for you is essential. If it doesn’t fit, you will feel back pain and put the carrier on Gumtree. Don’t suffer and have fun with your child. Know nine essential features to look for and always test a carrier with adequate weight. An empty carrier will not give you the full picture.
The most critical feature is the torso length which suits your body. You can have the most comfortable hip belt in the world, but it will be useless if the carrier doesn’t fit your size. Check not only whether the torso length is adjustable, but also how much. Your torso length matters, not your height.
Every kilogram counts if you walk a bit further. Be sure, that the carrier is lightweight. Three kilos or five feels the same only the first 20 minutes. After that, less weight you carry, more comfortable you are.
A hip belt should be wide and well-padded to hug your hip bones. Three-dimensional shape is essential to comfortably distribute the weight. It is the hip belt which carries the majority of the load, so it must be comfortable.
Your child will sleep or just rest in the carrier. Be sure, that he can not only comfortably sit, but also comfortably lean forward. The chin pad/headrest should be soft on touch and easy to clean.
Dangling legs are neither safe nor comfortable for your child. When your child sits in the carrier, his knees should level with his hips, the head should comfortably lean forward, and he can view on both sides. The child seat has to be adjustable, so as your child grows, he has the same level of comfort and safety. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all.
Shoulder straps are wide and well padded. Although the majority of weight should rest on your hips, still 30-40% will be on your shoulders. It means that if your child weighs 14 kg, you have 2 kg of gear and 3 kg for the carrier, your shoulders will carry 6 kilograms. Anatomically shaped shoulder straps will make huge difference.
There are multiple systems on the market, but 5-point harness is the best. It is familiar to your child because the same system is used in child seats. The five-point harness combines safety and practicality. If you trip over, loosen balance or your child wants to wiggle, the five-point system will hold him in place. Just check, that the harness is adjustable and fits your child. It should not be too tight or too loose.
If you wonder what other systems are on the market, I name a neck-brace type of harness. The idea is that your child’s head is pushed through the collar and buckled to the front of the carrier. Although the harness is quite safe, comfort and practicality are inferior to the 5-point system.
Load lifters on each side shift the weight of the carrier towards your body. It means that the carrier doesn’t pull back and put you off-balance.
The sunroof should be wide enough to protect your child’s head and easy to remove. You remove it each time your child gets in and out, so it should be easy. The material should resist even a small drizzle.
Baby hiking carriers might look the same, but they are not. Once you start comparing the features, you realise that cheap models will be ok just for a 15-minutes long walk. More expensive carriers are made from better materials, which means that are sturdy, lightweight and often better for your body, especially your back. So who wants to see a physio after each walk?
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