Move Those Kids! (+ Onya and Tula Baby Carrier Reviews)

We’re in a brand new town, discovering new mountains around us and spending a lot of time tromping (or riding) through the ground to get a feel for the area.  We truly believe the best way to get to know a new place is by experiencing it.  That means leaving the house every day by foot, bike or carrier/stroller (if walking isn’t your forte yet….)  It means talking to every local you can find (and weeding through a lot of tourists to get to them), dodging Bison dung (and keeping an inquisitive almost-toddler with an oral fixation from tasting it), braving the rain and snow and just getting out there.  

Both Mtn Papa and I have lived a lot of places where you really have to work to get to know the community.  It requires engaging in whatever happenings are out there, being ok with the fact that you may have to (gasp!) make your own fun, and just being ok with where you are at.  I find it a great tragedy to run into people who HATE the small town they are in, and yet choose to not go out and discover, explore and BE a part of the community.
As a family, we have a variety of ways to cart around our kids.  We justify the strollers, kid carrier backpacks, wagons, bikes, trailers, and soft structured baby carriers by the fact that they are helping us move as a family and enjoy the great outdoors.
Previously on the blog, I reviewed our Chariot, Osprey Poco Plus, Kelty Pathfinder, Deuter Kid Carrier III, Boba 3G and today I am happy to introduce you to the Onya Baby carrier and Tula Toddler Carrier.  Both are unique in their own respects and have opened up new elements of freedom for us.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think every family needs 100 baby carriers, every framed kid carrier backpack and a variety of bike trailers.  You do what works for your family.  I just take it as my “job” to help you know what is out there!

Back rest up (can also be folded down for smaller babies)
This carrier is really like none other.  It’s special features made me eager to get my hands on it and put it to the test.  However, thanks to the fact that P is a small kid (tipping the scales at somewhere near 17 pounds at a year) I was glad it took a while to check it out.  The Onya just isn’t for small babies.  That said, J (at 3 years and over 30 pounds) still fits comfortably in it for most situations.  However, he is a bit too tall for the sleeping hood to be super effective.

The Onya actually comes in two different models – the Outback and the Cruiser.  The biggest differences are the fabric (cotton vs. nylon/mesh); the weight (3.5 lbs. vs. 3.25 lbs.) and the colors available.  Due to the fact that the Outback was made specifically for hiking and outdoor adventures, it is the one I am reviewing here.
Both models have an integrated chair harness which allows you to strap in your child safely wherever you are.  We have used ours often at restaurants, parties and while traveling.
 ***P is usually quite content in the chair harness, but when he doesn’t want to be in it, he will let you know (and stand up doing it!)  A safety harness is included to keep the chair from tipping back from a table, but we certainly watch this Wiggle Worm closely.  That said, he cannot get out of the harness.***

What I love:
- Machine washable and easy to wipe down.  This is especially important after using the seat feature (where flying food tends to be normal.)  But, in general, I am BIG fan of anything that is machine-washable!
- The mesh lining does keep the baby cooler.
- The structured waistband helps support wearer and baby and is very comfortable.
Putting the chair harness to good use….excuse the food mess!
- Shoulder straps can be adjusted in two different directions.  Hard to explain (so see photo below) but it allows for easier adjustments no matter if the child is on your front or your back.  They are also similar to seat belt material and are smoother than most other carriers.
Adjust shoulder straps from different angles thanks to dual adjustments
- Unique mesh interior to keep both baby and wearer cooler.
- Safety tested to 75 pounds (a HUGE jump from most carriers) *Cruiser is the same*
- Adjustable sleeping hood is large enough to accommodate bigger kids and comfy for bigger sizes (though as stated above, J is on the taller side for using it.)
- Shoulder straps can be worn crossed behind the wearers back (or not if that is what you prefer) when the child is worn in front.

What I am not so crazy about:
- Because of the nature of the Outback, the fabric it is made of, and the attached seat, it tends to be a bit more bulky (and certainly more than the Boba 3G.)  Because of this, I grab it for traveling, eating out and any situation I foresee wanting the chair harness.  But, I tend to use it LESS just around the house or running shorter errands when space is a bit more limited.
- I have been using SSC for three years now and have a good system to get babies on and off my back by myself.  For some reason, the placement of the waist-strap buckle (which is actually attached to the carrier itself) doesn’t work well with that system.  I am doing a lot of reaching and would prefer that the buckle placement fell more at the bellybutton position.  
Waist-strap buckle
Carrier with seat pulled out(zips out of pocket located at base of carrier.
 – The hood has a pocket to put it into, but it really doesn’t stay in there very well.  I find myself constantly stuffing it in.
- All the pockets are located on the back of the carrier, against the child’s back.  I would prefer having one on the waistband.  
J has been worn since he was very young.  I worked with him on my back and wore him when he needed Mama time (and I needed to get things done!)  Therefore, he is very comfortable in carriers.  When we found out we were moving, I started looking into carriers made specifically for toddlers to allow us some freedom to attend events later in the evening (since finding a babysitter would not be easy at first.)  The goal was to have a place that J could comfortably fall asleep and still be with us.  Soft structured carriers in general have allowed us to still get out often with a baby on our back.  We even attended some Western Country dances with J sleeping soundly on Mtn Papa’s back.  Tula was recommended to me as an up-and-coming Polish company making its appearance in the United States.  
The Tula carrier is simple, but allows for easy wearing of children.  Tula also has a more standard sized carrier that is compatible with an infant insert and toddler extensions.  
What we love:
- The freedom of wearing our toddler (Tula is made for about 18 months to 4+ years.)  *We do some hikes with soft structured carriers (like the Onya, Tula or Boba) but do prefer framed carriers for longer hikes simply for the storage room.
- Simple design means less weight on the carrier and comfort for parent and child.
- The higher back and bigger hood allow for a larger kid.  This is truly a toddler carrier.
What we aren’t so crazy about:
- The sole pocket is not zippered and located in an area that we have found gets covered up pretty easily by the toddler.
- The sternum strap is adjustable, but I wish it were on a rail (the movement would be much smoother.)  
 – The hood attaches at a location that can only be adjusted so high (see photo above.)  I wish you had the option to attach it higher on the shoulder straps if you needed to.
Bottom Line:
Both the Onya and the Tula serve their specific purposes well.   Neither one can be used from birth to toddler, but most families who use SSC end up with more than one anyway (if they have more than one child.)  They are made with an attention to detail and love and they come highly recommended by us!
I want to know! What do you think of the Onya and the Tula? Have you used them? What SSC do you use on a regular basis (or do you prefer another kind of carrier)?  Any questions about these carriers? 

Onya and Tula generously provided us these carriers at a reduced rate or no-cost for the purpose of facilitating this review.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.

Amelia lives with her husband and three young children in Yellowstone National Park. As a family, they believe that life is precious, short and should be lived to the fullest. That includes introducing a life of adventures for their boys in the form of skiing, hiking, biking, running, camping and lots of outdoor playing. Amelia writes at Tales of a Mountain Mama in an attempt to inspire others to get outside daily too with tips and tricks, stories and lots of gear reviews.

Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    Just ordered my new Tula online and can’t wait to try it out. I think if I carry my almost 3 year old a bit now and then it might help with some of the jealousy issues over his new sister ;) (whom he sees get carried all the time in our ergo)

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  3. Thanks for this article. We are travelling with our 20 month old in a few months and are looking for a good option. These are the two I have narrowed it down to.

    My partner is tall and thin and I am short and curvy. Also, our son is very sturdy and muscular, with a long torso. It’s been hard to find a carrier that works for our family. Might you have some insight as to which of these (or neither) would work for us?

    • Hi Carleigh,

      I think you would prefer the Onya over the Tula for both of you (and your son). It’s best for bigger kiddos and works for any size wearer (though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for someone that is short AND with a tiny frame. The Onya is GREAT for traveling because of that seat feature (restaurants, etc.)

      Another option is going with the Boba Air, though. Packs up SUPER small (the Onya is a bit bulky…more so than the Bobas) and works for any size wearer. It seems like not much because it is so thin, but I can easily wear my 25 pound child in it for hours.

      Let me know if you have other questions! :)

      Amelia

  4. Merideth says:

    Thank you so much for the comparison! We’re lookinh for a carrier for our 11 month old who is pretty tiny (16 lbs) but aren’t having a lot of luck finding something we like. Thid post as well as the comments have helped so much! I was looking at the outback but now I don’t think its a good choice because I’m really small. I’ve never had the chance to try a Tula so I don’t know how it would fit or how well it would keep my little hotbox baby cool. We didn’t like the Beco butterfly but maybe the air will be better.

    • Merideth says:

      Just realized its the boba air. we’ve never tried a boba either. Ill have to look into it.

    • Hi Meridith,

      Ok, so the Boba Air is smaller, but isn’t necessarily more breathable. The Tula compares to the Boba or Ergo (similar fabric.) I personally don’t think the Onya is great for small frames, but more not great for small BABIES. However, I also don’t think it keeps babies cooler either :( All that said, the Boba is slimmer (less bulky) than both the Tula and Ergo and so is a little cooler. Either way, you have a hot baby next to you! I understand the dilemma!

      Does that help at all???

      =) Amelia

  5. Hi! I came across your website searching for Tula toddler carrier. I need a toddler carrier for our soon to be 4 year old (35 lb, 38 inch). He complained the ergo hurts, but we need to something to take him for our Southern Utah national park trip this summer. I read your Piggyback rider review, but I don’t think it works well when our son is too tired to walk and probably want to sit down. We could invest a framed carrier, but our experience of trying them at stores 2 years ago were that we felt off balance as our son’s weight is too far from our body frame, and it would be even worse now. Which carrier do you recommend in my situation? I appreciate any feedback!

    • Hi Yuko,

      Yes, the Toddler Carrier would work great for that. We really loved the Tula for toddlers and it will be more comfortable for bigger kids and easier to pack too. Does that help? Let me know if you have other questions!

      =) Amelia

  6. Dominique says:

    Hi Amelia,
    Could you possibly give the measurement (width and height) of the Onya’s back panel.
    Thank you
    Grts Mique

    • Sure! IT’s about 17″ at it’s widest (near the shoulder straps) and 18″ from the top of the waistband to the top of the panel. Hope that helps!! My 45 lb. 5 year old fits in it well still!

  7. Hello! Great reviews, thank you! What are the dimensions of the hood on your Tula Toddler carrier? We’ve just received ours and love it, but the hood is so small it squashes our poor LBs head! His head isn’t particularly big, so I was wondering whether we’d received the Tula Baby carrier hood my mistake! Kelly x

    • Hi Kelly – my Tula is lent out right now so I can’t measure it, but you would definitely know if you have a Toddler vs. a Baby size. The hood is big enough for a toddler no problem and the base is significantly bigger (check out our photos on the review to see our then-three-year-old super comfortable in it.)

      Does that help at all? Let me know!
      =) Amelia

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me :) The seller said the baby and toddler hoods are the same standard size – so disappointed! The hood on your picture looks the perfect size for your three-year-old. I guess LO just has a large head‽ They suggested I find someone to make me a larger hood – I’m considering learning how to sew! Any alternative solutions would be very welcome. Kelly x

  8. Hi!! Very helpful information! So, I’ve been checking out the Onya Outback and the Ergo Performance to use in hotter weather with my 3 month old. Staying indoors all summer is just not an option with my 2 year old. We’ve been using the Moby wrap and it has been wonderful so far, but it has entirely too much fabric for the warmer summer months. I’m just looking for the coolest and most comfortable option for me and baby. Thank you for your opinions, they’re very helpful!!

    • Hi Amanda,

      I totally get you as far as not wanting to be hot in the summer months. And yes, I agree that wraps are totally out in the summer :)

      I am in the process of testing a Lillebaby All Seasons. It looks like it will breathe better than any of them….but I will let you know! Watch the blog for that.

      The Onya isn’t particularly cool for really hot days, but better than a wrap. I haven’t used the Ergo performance yet!

      Thanks!!
      =) Amelia

  9. Hi! Thanks for the awesome review. I was pretty sold on the Tula until I heard about the Onya – but I still can’t make up my mind. My son loved the Moby and then eventually transitioned to the Beco Butterfly, but he was a big guy who got hot easily.

    I am expecting baby boy number 2 in September and would like to get something for him. I’m thinking he will most likely start out in more of a wrap/sling situation until he gains some head control. But what my husband and I are really looking for is the ability to be hands free to get things done around the house, for errands, for neighborhood walks and small nature hikes etc.

    I would expect that because he is number two, he will be born a lot in order for us to keep up with a very active toddler and I’m also guessing that by the time he is ready for a SSC, will be spring/summer. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • Hi Liz,

      My personal opinion is that you will love the Onya for warmer weather. The Tula is great, but it is more of a “look good” carrier while the Onya is more focussed on performance. I am working on a NexStep (their newest carrier) review right now and actually prefer it to the current Outback model. It’s softer and more pliable. I heard on good authority that the Outback is being revised and the newer models will be softer though too. The Onya also has the option to cross the straps when they are worn in the front (which is much more comfortable.)

      I am also going to be testing their infant insert which you have to use until 15 pounds. It should be here any day. Watch the blog for some previews and the review or feel free to email me next week and I can give you my initial thoughts!

      Thanks!
      =) Amelia

  10. Hi, came across your review trying to decide between the Boba 3g and the Onya Cruiser. Would you have the seat width and panel length measurements of the Boba 3g? My daughter is 22mo, tall(82cm ) and slender (11-13kg). I’m hoping to get a new carrier that will last us into toddlerhood, as she’s outgrowing our Ergo. We’ll be travelling to visit family in Jan next year, so she’ll be 2yo. Will her movements be very restricted in the Onya, given it’s narrower at the top? Hoping to carry our passports on the carrier as well for easy access and safe-keeping. Would you know/recommend which will best suit our needs?

    • Hi Sarah,

      Both carriers are great and come highly recommended. I could put my son when he was 4 easily in both of them – she would not be restricted in either carrier. The only reason I would steer you towards the Onya in your case is having a pocket for passports (they would not fit into the pocket of the 3G.) The weight limit on the Onya is higher so she will be able to use it longer – but since she is slender, it may not ever be an issue for you. Does that help at all??

      Thanks!
      =) Amelia

  11. Thank you so much for the review!! I have been looking for a good tula and onya comparison. I am a first time mom looking for a good ssc. I am petite and my son is kind of thin. 19lbs, 31 inches. If you have time, may i please know what you would suggest for us as an everyday carrier? We are relocating to the philippines this coming winter (we are currently in northwest indiana) and we are expecting humid weather. I understand the tula canvass is 100% cotton and maybe the cruiser may be cooler in humid weather. But is the onya as padded as the tula? I have scoliosis and the padding and back support is kind of a big deal to me. I am pretty much sold on the tula because of the really cute designs! But a piece of my heart is kind of telling me to get an onya. I am so torn!!! I hope you could give me sound advice. If i can afford both, i would get them but i don’t want to spend too much for two carriers if i could have one that can do the job. Looking forward to hear from you! Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi Diane,

      How old is your son? And how often do you wear him? Daily or just for walks/hikes?

      Bottom line: Yes, the Tula is cuter (all those fun designs), but I prefer the Onya (I would go with the Outback for breathability in the humidity) for the ability to cross straps and a higher weight limit. That’s my personal preference. But, answer those questions and we’ll discuss more :)

      Also, have you seen this? It’s a big project we are doing comparing a bunch of carriers :) http://talesofamountainmama.com/great-babywearing-project

      =) Amelia

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