Written by Nia Chauvin
Before you hit the trails with your tot, you’re going to need one of the best baby carriers for hiking of some sort. As much as you think you can carry your child on your shoulders for the entirety of the hike, save yourself the pain and suffering, and get yourself a hiking carrier that fits your needs.
If you think your love for hiking and exploring the outdoors is a distant memory now that you have a little one, that’s not the case at all! In fact, fostering a love and appreciation for the outdoors is a great way to raise your children! There are few things that make me happier than hiking with my little ones. Fun au natural rather than manufactured fun encourages creativity and imagination (you’d be amazed how many things a stick can be) and with no technological distractions (phones, tablets, tv), you can create stronger bonds with your little ones all while getting exercise and fresh air.
Picking the right hiking carrier is important but might be hard to navigate. They vary in price, weight, support, storage, and of course, the bells and whistles they offer, so let us help you. Below are six of the best hiking carriers on the market right now for varying needs.
When Do You Need a Hiking Carrier
It’s never too early to start hiking with your little one. In fact, fresh air is great for your baby and especially a postpartum mama. You can get away with a sling or wrap for the first few months of your baby’s life since they’re so small and you don’t need the kind of back support that hiking carriers provide.
Once your baby gains some pounds and some head control, you are going to want something more supportive and comfortable. There are soft carriers and structured carriers. A soft carrier (I recommend the absolute best one below), gives your baby head and neck support, so you can start using those around 4 months. To use a structured carrier, you will have to wait until your child is at least 6 months old or can easily hold his or her head up.
I should also mention that some of these carriers are pricey, but the good thing is that they last until your child hits about 40 pounds (about three or four). They are all incredibly durable so you can use them for a few years for multiple children, which makes for a long life for these packs. If you use them enough, you will definitely get your money’s worth.
Features To Look For in the Best Hiking Carrier
Hiking carriers come with a variety of features to pick and choose from, so you will have to decide what is important to you.
Features of hiking carriers to consider:
- Integrated sunshade – one of the more important features I would say. Keep your baby out of the sun and in the sunburn-free zone
- Storage– definitely important to consider if you plan on hiking alone. You’ll need plenty of room for water, snacks, diapers, and extra layers.
- Weight – every pound counts when you’re hiking up and down hills while carrying a child and gear on your back.
- Child headrest – If your little one can sleep on the go, the headrests on some of these packs are key.
- Ventilation – Keeping cool, especially in warm summer months makes hiking more enjoyable
Best Baby Carriers for Hiking
Deuter Kid Comfort Baby Hiking Carrier
Deuter has won awards for their stellar hiking carriers, and for good reason. I’ve tried other Kid Comfort versions, but they really got it right with this one. The comfort level is on point, it’s extremely supportive, and the ventilation is unparalleled; making it perfect for hot summer hikes. Deuter also knows that the most important part about hiking with a child is keeping them happy, which is why I assume they made a well-padded soft headrest for when it’s nap time on the go.
If I could tweak it: I would make the pockets around the waistband slightly bigger so I could more easily fit my phone and kid snacks. I also wish there was an easy way to stow away the sunshade as it is not integrated into the pack.
Weight of pack: 7.1 pounds
Weight/age range for the child: Max weight the carrier can hold is 48lbs with the child and gear. Deuter makes no specifications on the age or weight of the child.
Storage space: 3.7 gallons
Sunshade: Included but not integrated
Ventilation: 5/5 stars
Price: 200-$290, purchase here!
Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite
Ooh she’s pretty. This hiking carrier not only looks the part, but it plays the part. It’s well padded for optimal comfort, easily adjustable to fit the shortest to the tallest parent, and my personal favorite: the storage. It has huge pockets on the hip belt to keep your phone, keys, a selfie stick, heck, even a snack. On the back, it has a backpack with two pockets with mesh inserts to organize everything you need on your hike. Beyond that, there is a large pocket underneath the child seat that’s made of a material that wipes clean because, hey, messes happen. Its sunshade is also beautifully integrated into the pack.
If I could tweak it: This one was so close to checking all the boxes, but I wish it had dual access where a child could get in from the top or the side. With this pack, your child can only get in from the top. For small infants and toddlers, this is fine, but once they get bigger and heavier, it’s a little more difficult to get them in and out.
Weight of pack: 7lbs 4oz
Weight/age range for child: 16-40lbs (approximately 6 to 36 months)
Storage space: 6.9 gallons
Ventilation: 4/5 stars
Price: $300, current pricing here!
Chicco Smart Support Hiking Carrier
Chicco exchanges all the bells and whistles that a hiking carrier can feature for a low-cost option for parents. Being half the price of other hiking carriers on the market (and in this post), it’s a good option for parents who want a structured carrier without the hefty price tag. The comfort and support does not match that of the more expensive hiking carriers, so this is better for parents who take short hikes here and there. And bonus! It does come with a small sun shade which does end up coming in handy.
If I could tweak it: I really wish there was some sort of storage. There’s not even a pocket on this to hold a phone or a water bottle.
Weight of pack: 6.5 lbs
Weight/age range for child: 17-40lbs (approximately 6 to 36 months)
Storage space: 0
Sunshade: integrated but small
Ventilation: 3/5 stars
Price: ~$130, purchase yours here!
Thule Sapling Elite Child Carrier
Comfort on fleek (translation: wow this pack is comfortable). This carrier does three things exceptionally well: support, storage, and adjustments for any sized adult. The support is equal to that of the Deuter and Kelty packs. They’re all incredible on that front. For storage, the Thule has about the same amount of storage as the Kelty pack, but a cool feature is that you can zip off the pack on the back so your hiking buddy can bear the weight burden. Lastly, in terms of adjustments, it does so like a breeze so you can easily switch from a short person to the tallest.
Thule really nailed it with this pack and made the hefty price tag well worth it.
If I could tweak it: This pack is nearly perfect except the support stand that pops out to load and unload your child isn’t very sturdy.
Weight of pack: 7.9 lbs
Weight/age range for the child: 16 lbs weight minimum and able to sit upright without assistance. The maximum carrying capacity for the pack is 48lbs with child and gear.
Storage space: `~7lbs including detachable backpack
Ventilation: 5/5 stars
Price: ~$350, check it out here!
My biggest complaint about this baby carrier for hiking is that it did not exist a few years ago when my son was an infant. We lived in New York City, and when I would go on walks with him using a different carrier, I would say, “I wish there was a pocket on this to fit a small wallet, my phone, a diaper or 2, and a water bottle”. Now, thanks to an innovative mama duo, what I always dreamed of now exists.
And they made it better than I could imagine.
This soft carrier wouldn’t just be used for hiking, but everyday use as well. What’s great about using it for hiking is that it does offer a good amount of support, it doesn’t weigh much at all, and for a short hike or one you’re going on with a pal that can carry a pack, you have all the storage space you need. If you’re looking for a soft carrier instead of a structured carrier, or one that you can travel with that doesn’t take up much room at all, this one’s yours.
Additionally, you will definitely get your money’s worth as it’s an everyday carrier for the smallest infant to a 44lb kid!
If I could tweak it: I wouldn’t. They nailed it.
Weight of pack: 1.9 lbs
Weight/age range for the child: 3 months old to 3 years old
Storage space: Not specified, but about a gallon, I would say. There is this youtube video that shows how much it can fit.
Headrest: No, but your child can sleep comfortably resting against your body
Ventilation: 3.5/5 stars
Price: ~$130, buy yours here!
This is not your average hiking carrier. I wanted to include this as an option because it has many benefits and it’s great for older toddlers and kids. In terms of weight, it only weighs 2 pounds and is extremely compact, so bringing it along on an adventure or stroll for a “just in case” moment isn’t difficult. Additionally, kids really enjoy riding it because it’s fun, and their vantage point is not what they usually experience as they’re higher up than in any other carrier. This is great for older children who no longer fit in any other hiking carrier, but don’t quite have the stamina to hike a trail start to finish.
This is a barebone, incredibly lightweight carrier that barely takes up any space. It is really great for traveling and can be used off the trails when you’re exploring a new city or taking a stroll in the park.
If I could tweak it: With the harness, your child is secure on your back, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off completely. However, I wish it had foot straps that kept your child’s feet secure.
Weight of pack: 2 lbs
Weight/age range for the child: 2-4 years old (up to 50lbs)
Storage space: None
Headrest: No – the child would not be able to sleep with this carrier
Ventilation: 5/5 stars
Price: ~$75, purchase here!
New Addition! Baebi Carrier
One of our other Rookie Moms loves this carrier so much, that we just had to add it on to the list! They are a nature-loving crew that loves hiking, camping, and exploring. Unfortunately, the great outdoors can be a hard place to manage when you have 4 under 8 trying to run off of every mountain they see. Making sure their 7 month-old is securely tucked into a carrier allows the extra hands to help their other children explore safely. The BAEBI Carrier was the most secure, comfortable, and structured carrier this mama had ever used. Both her and her little guy love the thick padding. They also really appreciated the easy but secure snap system, which allows you to get your baby in and out easily. It has become their go-to carrier for all things outdoors!
Weight of pack: 2.2 lbs
Weight/age range for the child: Newborn to 6+ Months
Storage space: Tons of convenient pockets & they are zippered.
Ventilation: 5/5 stars
Price: $160, buy yours here!
About the Author
Find Some Of Our Other Carrier Reviews Here:
7 of the Best Baby Carriers That Will Save Your Back (And Arms And Legs)
Why the Ergo Omni 360 Deserves a Place On Every Mom’s Registry List
How to Put Newborn Twins in a Moby Wrap