For me and many people I know, the Kinderpack (KP) is the Cadillac of soft structured carriers (SSCs). It is so comfortable, easy to adjust, and well fitting that you can actually forget you are using a carrier and just concentrate on enjoying your hike! It is why we think the Kinderpack for hiking is an ideal use of the carrier.
Why a SSC for hiking?
Why choose a SSC over a frame carrier for hiking? Stability and comfort are my main reasons. Frame packs are great for having kids up high and getting airflow and being able to pack more supplies, but they throw off your center of gravity a lot and I never felt comfortable on steeper hikes (especially on the way down!) in them.
SSCs keep your child close to your body so movement is a lot easier and you carry their weight more with your core than with your hips. When I carry a frame pack I feel the weight pretty fast in my hips and thighs. While a SSC is of course utilizing a hip belt too, my whole body bears that weight more evenly.
I also like that SSCs aren’t bulky when not wearing a child so I always have one on “just in case”. Just in case someone gets tired, gets hurt, needs a break or a snuggle. I wouldn’t carry a frame pack just for “in case” scenarios.
A downside to an SSC is that the child is usually lower down if being worn on the back. Sometimes the hip belt can be placed above the belly to get the child up higher, but this is never something I found comfortable.
Why a Kinderpack for hiking?
I have tried a lot of carriers, and nothing really comes close to the fit and comfort of the KP. The design difference between Kinderpacks and most other SSCs on the market is the three panel design.
Most carriers are sewn with darts, and the kinderpack is sewn together more like a bodice on a dress (which was the inspiration behind its design) so it is perfectly form fitting.
The three panel design creates the deepest seat of any of the carriers I’ve tried, your child is supported in the optimal “M” position (froggy) with knees above their bum. The tall panel also perfectly supports their spine and supports right up to their neck.
The waist and shoulder straps are perfectly padded (for me). Kinderpack made several iterations of strap padding, and while my favorite was “mid-puffy straps” that were made years ago, the current iteration is also awesome.
Their original straps were even more padded and more wasn’t better in this case. The curvature (or potentially the lack of curvature) of the straps is also extremely comfortable.
The hoods are great too. There are too options for hoods, a hoodie hood that comes on carriers with full panels, and a mesh coolknit hood that comes on carriers with a mesh center panel (more on that in a minute).
The hoods are easy to attach when front wearing, but you might need a hand to clip them when baby is on back. Reach straps are available aftermarket (etsy sellers) to help with this.
kinderpack for hiking Fabric and Size Options
There are two types of materials used in Kinderpacks. I would love to see a nylon/waterproof material carrier (like the Onya), but as of now the options are three panels of a cotton print, or two panels of cotton print with a middle panel made of coolknit mesh.
All Kinderpacks have a cotton canvas inner skeleton backing the cotton panels.
Coolknit sounds great! Does it make the wearer cooler? Well, not really. It helps circulate air better for the child’s comfort, but not exactly for yours. You still have your (potentially) hot sweaty child snuggled sweetly onto your back.
If they’re cooler you may stay slightly cooler also but it’s a small difference. The best way to stay cool yourself is to use a cooling towel between your back and your child.
Kinderpack for Hiking: Panel Sizing
Kinderpacks come in four sizes. And this is a great thing. Yes, it means that you have to buy more carriers, but it is WORTH IT, especially for families out hiking a lot.
One size fits most is not a great recipe for comfort or quality. By using a sized carrier it is made specifically for a child of a certain size and will always fit that size child great.
- Infant: Soon after birth to 2 yrs: 8-35 lbs/ 22″ and up
- Standard: 8 mos-3yrs/ 20lbs-40 lbs/ 28″ and up
- Toddler: 18 mos-4 yrs/ 25 lbs-45lbs/ 32″ and up
- Preschool: 3-5yrs/ 35lbs-55lbs/ 38″ and up
*Note KPs can be worn on front or back but do not support forward (outward) facing.
The infant sized carrier utilizes a webbing cinch that reduces the size of the bottom of the panel. It’s the best design of all the infant carriers, no need for an infant insert and you can get perfect knee to knee as the child grows. There’s a huge difference between a newborn and a 2yo but they really can both fit great in an infant Kinderpack for hiking!
Standard, toddler, and preschool Kinderpacks don’t have a cinch, and the child may not always be knee to knee. But this is not a critical component of fit for older children, if they are comfortable knee to knee is not necessary.
It is, however, important that you not use a carrier that is too big as a child’s legs could become hyper-extended; and rarely will an oversized carrier be comfortable without modification.
We have owned every size KP and while we definitely have used smaller carriers if a bigger kid needs a break, as mentioned above never put a smaller child in a larger carrier. Right now we own just toddler and preschool sized carriers, as my children are 3, 4.5, and 6.5.
I can put any of my children in the toddler sized carrier. It is of course more comfortable with my 3yo compared to my 6.5yo, but it really works fine with any of them.
My preschool carrier I mostly bring if my husband and I are both potentially carrying children, or if I know it’s likely to be a hard day for my 4.5yo and my 3yo seems like she’s up to walking the whole way.
Kinderpack for hiking: Strap sizing
In addition to the four carrier sizes, Kinderpacks come in two strap sizes, standard and plus. This is a great option, allowing for 4 additional inches of strap in each size. However, because the body panel size grows with each larger carrier size, the strap length doesn’t adjust accordingly.
For example, for the infant size KP I actually prefer plus sized straps, so I buy infant/plus. In standard size, I can wear a standard/plus, but it has to be tightened completely.
In a toddler size, a toddler/plus is too loose even with the straps completely tightened, so I have to also tighten the PFA’s completely. In a preschool size, I can not wear a preschool/plus.
Kinderpack for hiking: Fit
Kinderpack has some awesome features that I immediately miss when wearing another brand carrier. One of my favorites is the dual adjust buckle. I always keep the buckle adjacent the panel so you never have buckle on your underarm!
It’s really easy to find a sweet spot when you’re able to adjust it in both directions.
The buckles also can unclip and be crossed in the back. I never found this comfortable but it’s a nice option to have because everyone’s body shape is different so options are so great! It also makes getting out of a tandem carry easier sometimes to have straps that unclip.
Every carrier has a slightly different fit, and depending on your body type some may fit you great and some may just not work no matter how well they are constructed!
It’s very helpful to try on a number of carriers if you have that option, either through a local babywearing group with a lending library or at a local shop.
The Kinderpack for Hiking: The Bottom Line
what i love about using a kinderpack for hiking
Kinderpacks are comfortable, easy to wash, well designed, readily available, and have lots of options for different-sized wearers and wearees. They’re also made in the US by a small family team. Kinderpacks should be high on your list of carriers to try if you are in the market for a hiking carrier. I love using my Kinderpack for hiking
What I don’t love about using a kinderpack for hiking
I’d love for the strap sizes to be more consistent between sizes. While our babies and children grow, we as adults usually do not; strap length should be standardized throughout the line taking the increased panel size into account.
The hoods can be hard to secure if a baby on your back falls asleep. Reach straps are an after-market accessory you can use to fix this, or you can have one side of the hood buckled and behind the head and then use that to grab the other side if necessary.
Would love to see a more hiking-friendly fabric, though wearing a babywearing jacket over the carrier on rainy days is always an option.
where to buy a kinderpack for hiking
Kinderpacks can be purchased direct through Kindercarry. They also usually have a $99 sale section so be sure to check that out for deals!
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