If you plan to do some serious hiking and need ample storage, the Osprey Poco AG is a burly pack that will go the distance with you. Looking at an older version? Check out our review of the Osprey Poco Plus here.
Looking for a kid carrier pack is hard. There are so many options and opinions! Some people LOVE a frame pack and some people prefer a soft-carrier style. Some people LOVE Deuter. Some swear by Kelty. Others think Osprey is the bomb. Everyone has a different body and has different needs. Because of this, we always recommend trying packs on before you buy – each pack fits body types just a little different. Even within our TMM Team of 7, we discussed pack preferences and all had different opinions.
I’m tall (5’11”) and not exactly a petite person. I’ve backpacked for years with Gregory and Deuter internal-frame packs. To narrow down my search for a kid carrier, I narrowed it down by what would fit my body, my carrying needs, and style preferences.
A soft carrier was eliminated as an option early on. I wanted something with some serious storage for longer day hikes and even overnight trips. The little mini-pockets on a soft carrier won’t even hold a diaper kit. But more than that, I was tired of sweating to death, carrying my kid like Yoda on my back in a soft carrier. So, we started looking at frame-style kid carriers.
My normal go-to for backpacking and day-hiking is a Deuter, so we looked long and hard at the Deuter Kid Comfort. I thought it was great, but it didn’t fit my other half’s body very well. We are both tall, but he has really broad shoulders and the Deuter just didn’t quite feel right for him, even after lots of adjusting. Since I didn’t want to do ALL the kid carrying, we wound up getting the Osprey Poco AG Plus. I spent almost every day last summer hiking with it and I couldn’t be happier.
First off, the ventilation is great. It has mesh panels in the back and good breathability built in to the straps. It’s nice to not be soaking in sweat all the time. It’s comfortable to wear over long periods, thanks to a stiff, pre-curved hip-belt, padded straps, great suspension, and tons of adjustability. Since we are close to the same height, the pack adjusts really easily between my husband and I, so switches on the trail are very quick.
The load stability is also excellent when adjusted properly, especially considering how far the pack sticks out from your body. The biggest complaint I’ve seen about the pack is that the hip belt isn’t comfortable (which is true for some body types). Carrying a heavy load on your back is NEVER perfectly comfortable if you are wearing it all day. It’s not like you are carrying a fluffy cloud around, so you are always going to notice it some, even with the most well-designed backpack.
That said, I personally think the Osprey hip belt and shoulder pads are very comfortable and the padding holds up over time. Comfort is all about adjusting the pack correctly for your body, and I’ve never had any trouble with the Osprey Poco AG Plus on my frame.
What We Love:
The Poco AG Plus has some nice design features that make it stand out from other packs.
- The clever, built-in shade is super easy to use and deploys very quickly. If you have a toddler who refuses to wear a hat, you’ll be glad you have it! It really helps keeps the temperature down for my little one in the bright Colorado sunshine.
- It has has tons of storage space. This was one of my key deciding factors. There’s nothing more annoying than hiking solo and not having space to carry diapers, snacks, water, a rain jacket, extra sunscreen, first aid kit, or any of the other 8,000 things your child requires in any given minute. Most of the soft carriers only have a tiny pocket that will barely hold keys and your phone, and that just doesn’t cut it when you don’t have anyone else to carry things! The Poco AG Plus has a giant storage area built into the bottom frame, as well as a day pack-sized storage area behind the child cockpit, and FIVE back and side mesh pockets. It has the most storage room of any of the kid carriers, with an impressive 26L of space.
- Most importantly, the child cockpit is well-designed and comfortable. I started hiking with this when my son was about 6 months old. He’s almost two and still fits great, thanks to tons of adjustability. The seat slides up and down for quick height adjustment and the harness is padded, secure, and easy to use. The carrier has adjustable stirrups for little feet, which provides support and prevents their legs from falling asleep mid-hike. When seated correctly, your child will have a good view, which usually helps keep them entertained during long day trips.
- The drool pad is soft and detachable for cleaning. My little guy falls asleep, face-first, on the pad almost every hike. There’s even a thoughtful built-in mirror, so you can check on your child without taking your pack off, which I’ve found is indispensible when I’m hiking solo!
What We Aren’t So Crazy About:
As awesome as the Poco AG Plus is, no pack is perfect! It comes with a couple downsides too.
- All the bells and whistles make the pack heavy. If you are concerned with saving ounces, go with a soft carrier or the new Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL. If you want support and comfort for longer hikes, you’ll have to suck it up and carry the weight! (Just think of it as strength training?)
- There’s a storage area behind the cockpit, which zips off into a separate day pack. I’ve found that feature to be pretty useless. I am never going to zip it off hiking solo. If I am hiking with someone, they will likely want to carry their own day pack, which is more comfortable anyways. It really just adds extra weight for almost no benefit.
- The storage zippered pockets on the hip belt are super nice for keys, but they are too small to fit a smart phone. Guess what I want to have, close at hand, for taking pictures? It’s super annoying to have to carry my phone, or try to fit it under my hip belt, into my pants pocket.
- Finally, the water bladder storage area is between the cockpit and the shoulder harness is poorly designed. It’s very slim and honestly is pretty tough to get a full bladder in there without really working at it. I wish it was just a little bigger.
While it’s a long search for most folks to find the perfect pack, the Osprey Poco AG Plus, is the Golidlocks pack for me. It’s super adjustable, holds a ton of gear, carries my child comfortably, and is built with Osprey’s industry-leading care in design. This pack is tough to beat if you want a pack that fits multiple people and kids, and can handle a lot of weight over long trips. I’ve used this pack hiking all over Colorado and Montana, and it still looks brand new. It’s a tough pack that can really hold up over the long haul!
Ginny has spent her career focused on getting people outside; working with the Park Service, Forest Service, Student Conservation Association and Keystone Science School, as well as spending a decade in the outdoor retail industry. She practices what she preaches, so can usually be found outside: downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, riding her dual-sport motorcycle, running, and SUPing in the summer. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband, 1-year old son, and awesome trail dog.
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