@REI-EricP and @aggieplanner Mom of a now two year old - best tip I can give is to see if you have a hike it baby branch in your area! They know all the good places to get out with your baby and also where to find good used gear locally! Also - if cost is a concern watch the garage sales when they start again. The first time I went to one they had two of the nice backpack carriers in immaculate condition for way cheaper. We're not in a crazy popular hiking city so I'd expect it isn't too much of a fluke that they were there. 

Also, look into soft structured carriers. I have a super short torso so a lot of the backpack / hard frame carriers really don't fit me right. I could use my soft structured carrier pretty much from birth (minimum weight was 7 lbs) and still can use it with my 32lb toddler. 

 

Welcome to the adventure that's parenting!