Recommendations for back-pack type baby carrier
February 25, 2009 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for back-pack type baby carrier?

The little llama is outgrowing the Bjorn*. Actually, it's less that she's outgrowing it than that her growth is outstripping her parents' ability to carry her around in the Bjorn without taking massive amounts of Advil.

We'd like to transition to a backpack-type system. We like carrying her, aren't really interested in strollers (we've never used one).

So here's what we want: Good design and easy on/easy off (like the Bjorn). Can't be one of those that require two people to get her in, so it's got to be something that sits on the floor or something while we pack her in, then collapses somehow against the back. Good, strong, materials we can be confidant about. Preferably a design that's not too garish or ostentatious -- we're looking for safety, easy of use, and comfort, mainly, but it would be nice if it's not as ugly as the car seat.

We would like to use it as long as possible so it's an added plus if we'll be able to use it for a year or two. We'll use it for outings ranging from trips to the stores to restaurants to hiking.

The little Llama is eight months old and like seventeen pounds or so. (Maybe we're wimpy.)

Any recommendations?

*entirely possible I'm misspelling this
posted by A Terrible Llama to Shopping (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Personally I hated the bjorn - the lack of a waist strap meant all the weight was on my shoulders, which hurt like hell. I recommend trying a mei-tai style carrier. They can be worn on the front or back, and back style is easier on your back when you have a heavy baby. I have a buckle-tai carrier I love, which a friend made for me, so my specific recommendation is no good for you. Try googling mei-tai and buckle-tai (its a mei-tai but using straps with buckle clips instead of tying it in a knot) for options.
posted by Joh at 12:55 PM on February 25, 2009

Also, mei-tais are supposedly better for the little one, since it puts them in a sitting position instead of having all their weight on their crotch :) There might be a baby store near you that sells some you can try out, or look for a local babywearing group near you, they often have meets where you can try a bunch of different carriers out.
posted by Joh at 12:57 PM on February 25, 2009

Extensive reviewing, plus forum discussion and recommendation summaries, are available at might be a good place to start.
posted by Bardolph at 12:59 PM on February 25, 2009

Also, no baby just yet, but I've personally heard really good things about the Ergo and Beco carriers, both of which are considered "soft-structured carriers," or SSCs in the lingo. (The Bjorn, by contrast, gets terrible reviews for comfort.) You might also, as Joh points out, try a mei tai, or possibly a podaegi/ "pod".
posted by Bardolph at 1:04 PM on February 25, 2009

I have a Kelty Pathfinder for my 33 pound one year old. It is very comfortable for both of us, and I heartily recommend it. I can carry him around for several hours with no problem, and he seems to like it as well. The frame is very backpack like, with super comfy hip pads, so when adjusted right all the weight is on the hips. My friend describes it as the carrier that Delta Force would use. It is a better fit for tall people, though. It is also a bit of a trick to learn to get it on and off safely, so practice with help at first. And it somewhat bulky and extends pretty far back, so I have learned to be careful about turning around while wearing it in stores and such. The nice thing is that it stands up on its own. I haven't used the rain hood. The backpack attachment is large enough for a few diapers, a cloth pad, a flat pack of wipes.
posted by procrastination at 1:14 PM on February 25, 2009

I can second the Kelty. Used it around town and to hike up some mountains. The rain hood is also handy for providing shade. How long you can use it depends on how fast the kid grows.
posted by mikepop at 1:23 PM on February 25, 2009

I used a backpack-type carrier (a much more barebones version this) with no problems getting the kid in and out of it by myself. Having a "kickstand" to give the backpack stability while putting the kid in and strapping onto the back was key; having a buckle around the waist made shifting weight (while swiveling or bending) easy. It was comfortable, and wonderful in that I could just peek over my shoulder and talk to the babe or point things out at the same eye-level--it was also very intimate; I liked having my son's face near mine.

(Side note: I found that it worked like magic in getting the baby to sleep, and relied on it for a long time; this made getting him to sleep "normally" much more of a task than it could have been.)
posted by not_on_display at 1:27 PM on February 25, 2009

Best answer: If you really envision using the carrier for hiking, I strongly recommend the Sherpani Rumba. I used it's precursor, the Madden Mountaineering Caravan, to carry my three kids. (The manufacture of this particular pack was taken over by Sherpani when Madden went out of business.) Carries the kiddies very securely, and has a 2800 ci cargo capacity to boot. Great for hauling everything you need for a day in the woods or at the beach. The suspension system on the pack is very good and reasonably adjustable, I comfortably carried kids of up to 30 lbs in the pack.
posted by ArgentineBlonde at 1:27 PM on February 25, 2009

We used Tough Traveler backpacks and loved them - my daughter was 20 pounds by 6 months and a beast to carry in a sling or Bjorn. TT was great because they had a great feature-range on their backpacks and I was able to buy one that fit MY height, not some general "one size fits all" deal.

Kelty has redesigned their backpacks a couple of times since then and they seem like really nice units as well.

If your baby can sit on your hip, don't discount a sling. The same rather large child mentioned above was carried on my hip in a sling for shorter jaunts (grocery/mall/around the block) until she just got TOO big and could do it herself.

I would have died (no, really) without my sling and backpack! What fabulous baby-things!
posted by Incognita at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2009

Arrgh! My first post and I bollixed the link. Here's the the correct link directly to the pack description.
posted by ArgentineBlonde at 1:31 PM on February 25, 2009

I second ArgentineBlonde's recommendation. I bought a Rumba for my sister and her baby and they love it. Actually, the whole family loves it, since we have all used it to hike the tyke around. My dad who is around 5'10' and my mom who is around 4' 8" have both been able to get a comfortable fit out of it, which is pretty good considering the size difference. We've gone on some mountainous dayhikes with the kid and it stayed comfortable.

Definitely go try a couple different kinds out first, if it's at all possible.
posted by otolith at 1:54 PM on February 25, 2009

I really like the Ergo. It's versatile in that you can use it as a front carrier when they are really small, a side carrier when they are a little bigger and a back-pack carrier, too. We still carry our 30 pound 22 month old in it all the time. The waist strap really does put more weight on your hips (as opposed to your shoulders or back).
posted by mattbucher at 2:04 PM on February 25, 2009

Ergo Baby Carrier

I really love the flexablity of it, including the option to pull the child around to the side (a hip carry).
posted by anastasiav at 2:10 PM on February 25, 2009

Ergo, Ergo, Ergo. I also have the Bjorn, mei-tai, and ultimate baby wrap. I've tried on the backpack carriers. In my opinion, dads seem to like the backpack carriers, but for me (5'4") they're just too much stuff and sometimes twice again the weight of the baby. But I love my Ergo. I used it with my first from about the age of 9 months to maybe 2.5yo (and I bet I could still use it with him at 3.5yo/40lbs). Can't wait until baby #2 is big enough to fit in it. Practice a few times on your bed putting baby in and out. Now it's easy for us, but it did take a few tries to learn how to swing him over and in (and out).
posted by cocoagirl at 2:20 PM on February 25, 2009

Another vote for the Kelty. My son is nearly 2 and still fits in it just fine and it's perfectly comfortable for me to carry him.
posted by sbrollins at 3:41 PM on February 25, 2009

Best answer: I have a mei-tai and love it. I don't think I would love it for long hikes, though--a more structured backpack like the Kelty might be better for that, I'd think.

I was just going to chime in to say that, if you possibly can, do try carriers on. I was able to go to a shop about an hour away and try on a number of styles, and was surprised by how different even the same type of carrier felt. Some mei-tais were just not comfortable for me, and some were, for instance.
posted by not that girl at 4:58 PM on February 25, 2009

Best answer: Kelty for hikes, Ergo for daily life. My little daughter lived in the Ergo till she was over two. She would cheer when it came out, and it never hurt my back.
posted by rdc at 5:00 PM on February 25, 2009

I love my Beco. It can be worn for front carries or back carries. My daughter is 18+ lbs and it's still awesome. Plus, it's way more stylish than the Ergo. We just used it today at the museum for about 3 hours - I use it nearly every day and can count on one hand the number of times we've used our stroller.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:39 PM on February 25, 2009

Ergo. They are great.
posted by Badmichelle at 1:40 AM on February 26, 2009

The Sherpani packs (Rumba and Ultralight) are on sale right now (or they were a week ago). My wife and I picked up a Rumba at 60% off retail price. Haven't tried it with the kid yet as he's still in utero, but it fits me fine and I'm 6'4".
posted by caution live frogs at 6:16 AM on February 26, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everybody--I'll be checking these all out...

Good call those who said I'd need two, I kind of imagined I'd be able to get something that would work in stores and on hikes but I don't think that's possible. I really hate anything bulky indoors and I don't want to have to worry about knocking into things too much (mobility is a really big deal to us--that's why we haven't used a stroller, especially those SUV style things), so I think I need a lightweight carrier for that indoor stuff and more serious structured deal for hiking.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:29 AM on February 26, 2009

The only problem with the Ergo is if you are very small, it's impossible to make the straps small enough. This is actually a problem with every baby carrier that has buckles or straps in my experience - they're made primarily for the American market of large people. Next time I'm trying a mei tei.
posted by daisydaisy at 4:03 PM on March 1, 2009

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