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.
|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.
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.