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*REVISED!* Choosing a Kid Carrier (Deuter vs. Kelty)

**Please note: After posting this review, a representative from Kelty kindly stepped in and informed us of a feature of the pack that we had somehow missed….(amazing how that can happen!)  I have revised this post, but did not revise the video (because it is hard to get a house quiet enough to do that with two young kids!)  But, we now know that you can compress the Kelty more by releasing those yellow straps that lie against the back panel. This allows the area where the child sits to fold down. They MUST be tightened prior to use to make the design work, but if you needed it as “thin” as possible you would want to loosen those straps as well.**

We have gotten fairly swamped with people wanting a fair comparison between the Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 and the Deuter Kid Carrier III (both packs that we have reviewed previously – links lead to those reviews on this blog.)  I am honestly not too keen on comparing the packs because there is certainly a HUGE amount of personal preference, but I also believe in doing real, honest reviews here and so will happily give our opinion!  While I personally believe these are two of the very best on the market right now, Osprey’s Poco is starting to hit stores now, and who knows where that one will stand in the line-up!  It seems pretty great, but I haven’t tested it myself.  I will certainly update this when we do!

Comparing how far they open up.
Comparing widths when compact (this is a revised photo – see note at top of post)

Let me start with saying that both carriers are excellent.  In our family they have both served their purpose and we reach for them for different things and usually for different kids.  This is absolutely our personal preference and opinions and the best way for you to make a decision about a carrier is to go into a store and try one on.

If you prefer to watch the comparison (easier to see some of the features…though note that this video is nothing professional! ;))

What they both do well:
– Ample amount of storage space (1220 Cubic Inches in the Deuter; 1300 Cubic Inches in the Kelty)
– Same weight (7 lb. 10 oz.)
– Area for a hydration bladder
– Plenty of exterior pockets
– Both have sleeping “pillows” for the kids to rest on.
– They retail for a similar price point (Kelty $279; Deuter $299)
– Fold up compact (they are about the same width if you don’t take the removable daypack on the Kelty into consideration – see photo above)

Deuter Kid Carrier III Hydration
Kelty Pathfinder 3.0
Advantages of the Deuter Kid Comfort III (this is the pack J usually rides in):

– Higher back which provides more support and protection for the child.
– Side entry which makes loading easier for bigger kids
– Compresses thinner so despite the length, packs easier; opens up larger to allow for larger kids or more gear (or just easier adjustment.)  *The Kelty has a moveable daypack that keeps its width just a little wider*
– Sun shade is a part of the pack and stows away in its own pocket (the Kelty also has a sun shade, but it is much more complicated to set up.)
– Vari-Flex Hip Wings are AWESOME for carrying a heavier child especially.  They really do move with your movement and allow the rest of the pack to stay mostly still.
– Seems to accomodate a larger child (J at almost 3 fits in it with his snow gear on still).  However, on the other hand, it isn’t so great for small or very young children because they can’t see over it as well.
– We find this pack in general is more comfortable for us when carrying a heavy load (40+ pounds.)

Advantages of the Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 (this is the pack P usually rides in):
– Removable Daypack
– “Roll cage” to protect kids during a fall *This is our very favorite feature of this pack – I truly feel like the child is more protected. However, it also means that it has a limited amount of space to get a kid into because the width is fixed by the roll cage.*
– Excellent support in the shoulder straps (5-point harness).  When P was 4 months old (and had superb head control, he could easily sit in it.)  We couldn’t put P in the Deuter at all until at least 7 months (but he is a small kid.)
– Easier and quicker to adjust the torso length on the pack (it adjusts with a pin in the waist belt; the Deuter adjusts by moving the shoulder straps.)
– Self-retracting kickstand (or “base”) to help with adjustments (and yes, this base is very secure when loading a child.)
– The sternum strap is much easier to adjust (it is on a “track”)

The packs they usually ride in
They still fit in the “other pack” but not as well…

If we could choose just one…..
I know this is the question that everyone has, but it really isn’t easy at all to answer and is totally a matter of personal preference.  But, hopefully this will help…..

If you are doing activities where you are worried about falling and potentially crushing your child (like skiing)….choose the Kelty

If you want your child to be able to comfortably sit in the carrier at a young age……choose the Kelty.

If you foresee carrying your 3 year old (as long as they + gear are under 50 pounds) or have larger children in general…..choose the Deuter.

And if you just can’t make a decision and it is making you crazy…..choose whichever one you can find on sale OR you can find locally! 🙂

Please feel free to leave comments of your own experiences and preferences – we truly want to hear them (and feel as though they are valuable to everyone else reading this post!)  


  • Amelia lives with her husband and five young children outside of Jackson, WY in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom, she quickly learned that the secret to sanity was to spend more time outside where tantrums don't see quite so bad. Amelia started TMM in 2012 to help encourage all families (including her own) to get outside, no matter the weather. Due to the necessity of having to keep so many kids warm and happy, she has become an expert in kids' gear and loves being able to share it with others.

Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Review - Tales of a Mountain Mama

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Heather in MN

Tuesday 12th of June 2018

Hi! Thanks so much for the comparison. We are headed to Canada and don’t hike too much, except we’ve frequented Banff and have our special hikes there. We now have a 13 month old (who loves to be outside) and we have a 7 hr home we’d like to do. Is that a) crazy?? And b) if she’s taller But 50% for weight and our family is taller would you recommend the Deuter? I have the Kelty pathfinder I found at a garage sale but it didn’t seem very sleep friendly ( something I feel like is a must for a 7 hr hike).


Wednesday 13th of June 2018

I don't think it is crazy.....and yes, the Deuter will work better than a Kelty for you. That said, be sure you get her in it often before you go on that 7 hour hike so you know what works for her/you. AND plan on it taking longer than 7 hours.... Also be sure to let her down every couple of hours to stretch her legs, etc.

Kelly O'Keefe

Monday 31st of July 2017

I purchased a Kelty backpack touring 1.0 for my husband for father's day. We were staying in Stowe, Vermont and had it shipped to one of the outdoor sports stores. We were told it was a good product. After spending almost $350 USD - we rec'd the backpack and used it with our 4 month-old little girl. I'm sorry that we ever purchased this item. It is entirely non-symmetrical. Initially, we thought that it may be the fact that our daughter leans right in the carrier but that is not the case. On closer examination, the entire backpack carrier has been sewn incorrectly and veers off to the right. you'll notice that the little lad in the photo above veers off to the left. Coincidence? No amount of shifting buckles or moving straps rectifies her posture. My daughter is now 6 month old and we've had to stop using the pack. She is going to a chiropractor to help fix the damage and my husband and I are both experiencing right shoulder blade pain. Trying to get the carrier fixed or talk to someone at Kelty has proven very difficult and basically impossible. All three numbers including the one above do not work. The two numbers in the 'Kelty Warranty section of their instructions (866-FIX-PACK or 866-349-7225) and (800) 535-3589 HQ were bogus numbers. The first asked us to fill to fill out a survey for a Caribbean cruise - the second didn't exist to Canada (We're from Toronto) and it stated in the instructions that it is an international number. So I give. How do we rectify the problem or how do we get int ouch with this company - who at the moment seem bogus at best.


Monday 7th of August 2017

Oh what a mess! I don't have a good contact with Kelty right now unfortunately :( So sorry!!!


Monday 27th of March 2017

Just a quick question..can either of these 2 carrier be consider as a carryon when traveling by air...thanks


Monday 27th of March 2017

Hi Steve - sorry, I don't know :( Assuming it would fall in the "stroller" category maybe??

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