The Best Baby Carrier Backpacks of 2019

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Since prehistoric times, caregivers have been carrying their progeny around on their backs. Luckily, today’s modern baby carrier backpacks are cushioned, lightweight, roomy and well-ventilated. These plush packs are a far cry from the wooden planks, rough blankets and leather straps of the baby carriers of yore.

To help you choose which baby carrier backpack is right for you (and your kin), we’ve sorted through hundreds of customer reviews to highlight the top-rated baby carrier backpacks of 2019. Caregiver-tested and kid-approved, these models from Deuter, Osprey and Kelty come out on top of the stack for their comfort, stability, durability and ease of use.

When choosing a baby carrier backpack, the same advice applies as when selecting a regular backpacking pack. According to Seattle Flagship store employee and pack expert Andy Pelz, the best pack is the one that provides your body’s unique size and shape with the right fit to comfortably enjoy the great outdoors with a wee one on your back.

Deuter Kid Comfort Air Child Carrier

Best for Travel

Deuter Kid Comfort Air Child Carrier

Weight: 6 pounds 3 ounces

Gear capacity: 14 liters/850 cubic inches

Number of exterior pockets: 6 + main compartment

MSRP: $240

Channeling Deuter’s pack expertise into an adjustable, well-ventilated design, the Kid Comfort Air features AirComfort suspension to help your back stay cool and dry. Its cozy cockpit is also ventilated so your pint-size passenger stays comfy and happy. REI outdoor programs and outreach market coordinator, mom, and longtime hiker Jean Flores loves to travel with the Comfort Air due to its compressibility and compact storage.

“Best carrier, period,” says verified REI Co-op customer mboese. “This is the lightest, most comfortable. I have tried 10+ child carriers before making this statement. I thought the lighter model would be less tough, but I have not had any problem with wear and tear.”

Osprey Poco AG Plus Child Carrier

Best for Hiking

Osprey Poco AG Plus Child Carrier

Weight: 7 pounds 11 ounces

Gear capacity: 26 liters/1,587 cubic inches

Number of exterior pockets: 7 + main compartment

MSRP: $290

With Osprey’s award-winning AG (Anti-Gravity) backpack suspension and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt, the Poco AG Plus delivers posh comfort to your hips and back. Its deluxe cockpit is fully framed and features a soft, fleece-covered harness to keep your squirmy little one snug and secure. A built-in sunshade, hydration sleeve and copious gear capacity make it tops for the trail.

Verified REI Co-op customer ash05 says, “I absolutely love this child carrier. My husband and I are avid backpackers and couldn't wait to get our son on the trail. This carrier is so intuitive. The stirrups for our son’s feet are awesome. The pockets are plentiful and there is room enough for you to carry all baby needs and some of your own gear.”

Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Child Carrier

Best for Hiking

Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Child Carrier

Weight: 7 pounds 4 ounces

Gear capacity: 26 liters/1,587 cubic inches

Number of exterior pockets: 9 + main compartment

MSRP: $299.95

The trail can be long and winding with no whining when you and your precious cargo head out with this full-featured carrier. Nine pockets and 26 liters of storage mean you can bring all the gear you need for your kid—and keep it organized. The Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite features a built-in sunshade, making it an excellent option for blue-sky days. This pack ties the Osprey Poco AG Plus in the "Best for Hiking" category—the two are neck and neck when it comes to comfort and adjustability!

“My husband and I love this pack,” says verified REI Co-op customer KBar. “We hiked roughly 6 hours a day on very steep strenuous trails and the whole family stayed happy all day long. The pack has many ways to adjust the height, straps, weight distribution, etc and far more pockets for storage than other packs we had seen. Sunshade, pocket for water and big waterproof pocket for diapers/wet clothes were great.”

Deuter Kid Comfort 1 Child Carrier

Best Under $250

Deuter Kid Comfort 1 Child Carrier

Weight: 5 pounds 7 ounces

Gear capacity: 14 liters/850 cubic inches

Number of exterior pockets: 3 + main compartment

MSRP: $200

With an entry-level price tag, this kid carrier boasts Deuter’s AirComfort back system, making it feel anything but entry-level. Effective ventilation helps reduce your back’s perspiration to keep you feeling dry and cool wherever you and your child wander. A height-adjustable seat delivers comfort, while its 5-point safety harness attaches at each shoulder, each hip and between the legs to secure your little piggy-backer in place.

The Kid Comfort 1 is an excellent, practical carrier according to verified REI Co-op customer Motodude. “I finally decided to give this carrier a try and have been really happy with it, as has my 21 month old,” he says. “He really enjoys being in it and seems to really like the higher vantage point. I use this both in the city where it is much easier to maneuver than a stroller as well as outdoors.”

Shop All Baby Carrier Packs

Baby Carrier Buying Advice

When is a child too young or too old to ride in a baby carrier?

The answer is different for different kids. “The minimum age is the age babies can hold up their heads,” says Pelz. (Typically babies can hold their heads up in a sitting position at around 4 to 6 months). “The maximum is when kids hit around 45 pounds in weight.”

Why should I choose a baby carrier pack over other types of carriers, such as slings, soft-structured carriers and strollers?

Backpack-style baby carriers offer structure and support that ensure long-lasting comfort for both the adult doing the carrying and the child enjoying the ride. Flores emphasizes that baby carrier packs are unique in their ability to help distribute weight and help you tackle the trail with agility. “A backpack-style baby carrier distributes weight evenly and gives the parent more agility on the trail,” she says. Flores also points out the freedom baby carriers offer. While a stroller is constrained by the terrain, Flores says, “a backpack-style carrier allows for more flexibility on where you explore.” Like strollers, baby carrier packs typically have compartments and pockets for baby gear. They can also be fitted with rain covers and sunshades to help keep your baby dry, cool and happy in a variety of conditions.

What features should I look for in a baby carrier pack?

Look for baby carriers with harnesses that can adjust to fit a variety of torso shapes and sizes—it can be helpful for willing adults to alternate turns with the pack during long days on the trail. As with regular packs, ventilation, support and load transfer can go a long way toward making or breaking an outdoor adventure with your wee one. A good baby carrier pack will also have a cozy, secure cockpit and stability—both on your back and on the ground—for your child’s comfort and safety.

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