Best Baby Hiking Backpacks for 2020

If you want to do any kind of significant hiking (or snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing, etc.) with babies and toddlers, a high-quality, comfortable, durable framed child carrier is a critical piece of gear for your family.  Our team has rounded up what we personally think are the best baby hiking backpacks to get your family out on the trails together.

Why Framed Hiking Backpacks for Babies

Soft carriers definitely have their place in the early days (check out all our reviews here). But once your kiddo is sitting up and has some torso control, a framed carrier makes getting out there so much easier.

Not only do framed carriers enable you to keep everyone comfortable (and MUCH less sweaty!) on longer hikes and adventures, they also allow you to carry more extra gear.

So how do you find the right pack for yourself, your family and your particular activity level?

Everyone has a different body type and different needs.  Because of this, we always recommend trying packs on before you buy – preferably with your child – because each pack fits each body type differently.

That being said, our team has put quite a few of these framed carriers through the wringer. Here’s a roundup of our favorites – we hope it helps you find the right fit to keep your family happy on the trails!

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Best for Women: Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL

Specs:

  • Volume: 12 L
  • Weight:  5 lbs 8 oz
  • Torso Fit Range: 15 – 21 in
  • Dimensions: 28 x 17 x 13 in
  • Maximum Weight Load (Child + Gear + Pack): 48 lbs
  • Child Weight: Minimum: 15 lbs Maximum: 40 lbs
  • Hydration Compatible: No
  • Sunshade Included: No
A kid carrier designed specifically with mamas’ bodies in mind!

Best for:

  • Wearers with shorter torsos and/or smaller frames
  • Shorter day hikes that don’t require packing much gear

I have to say that in all the dozens of framed carriers I have used over the years, this is THE most comfortable one for me. The torso length is right, the back system is right and the weight is light. And right.

TMM Founder Amelia

Read Amelia’s full review of the Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL here.

Perfect pack for day hikes

What we love:

  • Very lightweight and comfortable for female wearers
  • Does a great job of holding both young babies and toddlers/preschoolers
  • Top pocket is great for sliding diapers/water bottles in
  • Cinch closure on bottom gear area makes it possible for the wearer to access items without having to take the pack off or mess with zippers
  • Large waist pocket with easy zipper

What we aren’t so crazy about:

  • Cinch closure not ideal for keeping gear dry in inclement weather (could be solved by purchasing the Rain Cover Deluxe)
  • Lack of mesh stash pockets for smaller items
  • No integrated sun shade (but one can be purchased separately)
No rain, no problem!

Where to buy:

$240 from REI

BOTTOM LINE:

The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is a perfect pack for day hikes. If you can live without the extra features of an integrated sun shade, some extra pockets or more storage, the trade-off of less weight is worth it.


Editor’s Top Pick: Deuter Kid Comfort

Specs:

  • Volume: 14 L
  • Weight: 7 lbs 1 oz
  • Torso Fit Range: 15 – 21 in
  • Dimensions: 28 x 17 x 13 in
  • Maximum Weight Load (Child + Gear + Pack): 48 lbs
  • Child Weight: Minimum: 15 lbs Maximum: 40 lbs
  • Hydration Compatible: No
  • Sunshade Included: Yes (detachable)
Loaded up and ready to go!

Best for:

  • 4-season adventuring
  • All body shapes and sizes
  • Longer hikes with heavier loads

My husband and I have found that of all the framed baby hiking backpacks we have used, the Deuters fit our bodies best and we can hike long distances with lots of weight in them.

TMM Founder Amelia

Read Amelia’s full review of the Deuter Kid Comfort here.

Perfect for 4-season adventuring!

What we love:

  • Highly adjustable waistband that will fit most caregivers even when layered up for winter conditions
  • Works great in all weather conditions (detachable sun roof stows easily when you don’t need it)
  • Lots of storage pockets (and ability to collapse the kickstand even with the lower pocket fully loaded)
  • Great sleeping comfort for kids

What we aren’t so crazy about:

  • Buckling kids in on their chest (instead of higher on their shoulders) can be tricky and awkward, especially when they are bundled up
  • If the pack isn’t adjusted super well, the top of the cockpit can hit the back of the wearer’s head
Comfortable enough for a nap in any weather conditions

Where to buy:

$290 from REI

BOTTOM LINE:

The Deuter Kid Comfort is our favorite pack for 4-season adventuring. It is built exceptionally well and provides maximum comfort for both the child and the wearer.


Best for Bigger Kids: Deuter Kid Comfort Pro

Specs:

  • Volume: 14 L
  • Weight: 8 lbs 5 oz
  • Torso Fit Range: 15 – 21 in
  • Dimensions: 31 x 17 x 13 in
  • Maximum Weight Load (Child + Gear + Pack): 48 lbs 8 oz
  • Child Weight: Minimum: 15 lbs Maximum: 40 lbs
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Sunshade Included: Yes

Best for:

  • Larger or taller kids
  • Heavier kids (the Variflex hip system is fantastic)
  • All body types
  • 4 Season adventuring (protected by that higher back)

Of all the carriers we own/have tried, the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro gets the most use year-round in our home. Not only is it comfortable for both the child and the wearer, but it also includes safety and convenience features we prefer.

TMM Founder Amelia

Read Amelia’s full review of the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro here.

What we love:

  • Wide range of adjustments for the wearer make for a great fit on virtually any body type
  • Slim design (can utilize full cargo capacity with the kickstand collapsed)
  • Highly breathable for the wearer
  • Tons of pockets for storing anything and everything
  • Super cushy chin pillow for maximum child comfort

What we aren’t so crazy about:

  • No zipper on the lower cargo compartment

Where to buy:

$330 from REI

BOTTOM LINE:

The Deuter Kid Comfort Pro remains our favorite carrier to use from 6 months – 3 or 4 years old. As with all Deuter packs, it is extremely well made and comfortable for the child and the wearer.


Best for Maximum Gear Storage: Osprey Poco Plus

Specs:

  • Volume: 26 L
  • Weight:  7 lb 14.4 oz
  • Torso Fit Range:  15 – 22 in
  • Dimensions: 28.74 x 15.75 x 19 in
  • Maximum Weight Load (Child + Gear + Pack): 48.5 lbs
  • Child Weight: Minimum: 16 lbs Maximum: 40 lbs
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Sunshade Included: Yes
  • Exterior Pockets: 10+
Storage galore! This pack has SO MANY POCKETS.

Best for:

  • All-season adventuring
  • Longer hikes or backpacking trips with heavier loads
  • Average height wearers (shorter or taller people could have fit issues)

I really love the ease of use on this pack, the straps adjust easily, the child harness is simple and secure, and sunshade deploys and stores easily. Lets not forget about the storage, SO MUCH STORAGE! There are pockets everywhere!

– TMM Team Reviewer Jami

Read Jami’s full review of the Osprey Poco Plus here.

The sunshade provides incredible coverage

What we love:

  • Double halo harness with forward facing arm loops and buckles in the back makes it possible to get even wiggly kids in safe and secure
  • Fit-on-the-fly adjustable hip belt makes adjusting the hip belt quick and easy between adult wearers
  • Stowable sun shade is there when you need the protection, and it slides back in its pocket easily when you are done

What we aren’t so crazy about:

  • The front of the cockpit and front handle hits shorter wearers in the back of the head, making it difficult to look up and see especially when walking up hill
  • The leg holes are not adjustable and do not open up, making it a little difficult to get your kiddo in with bulky footwear and even more of a challenge to get them out without help or stepping on the pack to hold it down
  • The sidearms can be a bit tough to clip in when opening up from the stored position
A comfortable pack makes for happy baby AND happy mama

Where to buy:

$330 from REI or Osprey

BOTTOM LINE:

If it fits you well, the Osprey Poco Plus is a great pack for all day adventures in any season. It has an easy to use and secure child harness to keep your kiddo comfy all day long.


Best Budget Line: Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite

The Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite is Kelty’s top-of-the-line framed pack and is $30+ cheaper than comparable packs from Osprey and Deuter.

Specs:

  • Volume: 26 L
  • Weight:  7 lbs 4 oz
  • Torso Fit Range:  15.5 – 21 in
  • Dimensions: 28 x 15.5 x 22 in
  • Maximum Weight Load (Child + Gear + Pack): 48.5 lbs
  • Child Weight: Minimum: 16 lbs  Maximum: 40 lbs
  • Hydration Compatible: Yes
  • Sunshade Included: Yes
  • Exterior Pockets: 7
Dialing in cockpit adjustments for a comfortable ride

Best for:

  • Hiking in sketchy terrain (padded aluminum roll cage helps keep kiddos safe in the event of a fall)
  • Kids who still need naps on the trail
  • Adults and kids who are on the shorter side

Our MOST FAVORITE feature of this kid carrier is the comfort level for kiddos! In all the many miles Trail Baby has traveled in his 2+ years of life, he had only ever fallen asleep in a carrier ONE TIME. The SECOND time he went out in the Kelty he totally sacked out. It wasn’t even naptime, but he just couldn’t resist the pull. We put my nephew in it and the same thing happened to him! He normally rides in a soft-structured carrier and ends hikes fussy and ready to be done, but in the Kelty he snuggled up to that drool pad and was in for the long haul.

– TMM Team Reviewer Emily

Read Emily’s full Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite review here.

Nothing beats a good trail nap!

What we love:

  • Super safe and comfy ride for kiddos
  • Well-padded and adjustable for maximum wearer comfort
  • Tons of storage, including lined wet bag compartment
  • Numerous, sturdy grab handles

What we aren’t so crazy about:

  • When the sunshade is up, it blocks the back grab handle on the cockpit
  • No rainfly available for the pack
  • Fit adustments a bit confusing at first (but this video helps a ton!)
  • Height limitations for both kids and adults
A rainfly would be nice, but in a pinch the sunshade does the trick!

Where to buy:

$299.95 from REI

BOTTOM LINE:

The Kelty Journey Perfect Elite is a safe, comfortable pack with an abundance of storage! Ideal for adults and kiddos who aren’t on the taller end of the spectrum.


© 2020, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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